The bouzouki is a relative newcomer to Irish music. It is quite versatile harmonically and different approaches to playing are constantly being developed. Billy Mag Fhloinn is a well accomplished Irish bouzouki player and his two courses work from the ground up. The beginner’s course will give any aspiring bouzouki player the necessary foundation for Irish accompaniment and the intermediate course is a great follow-up to this. Build on your skills while building your repertoire with Alan Reid’s Bouzouki Progressions course. It’s packed with skills and quirky techniques to help you get the most fun out of this fabulous instrument.
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Recommended Bouzouki for Beginners by Billy Mag Fhloinn
It is often the case that people who take up bouzouki may already have experience playing a stringed instrument, such as a guitar. Others may come to the instrument with no experience at all. Making the right choice for you, therefore, depends on what you want to achieve.
For those who wish to find out what a bouzouki plays like, but are not willing to commit much money, there are quite cheap options available. Suppliers such as Thomann have bouzoukis available for as little as €175. These are very basic models, and one should not expect much from them in terms of amazing sound quality, but they are real instruments, making real music, and one will soon get the feel for what it is like to play. Another example of an entry model would be a Hora bouzouki, made in Romania.
There are other, middle of the road options available too, if one wishes to take it a bit further. One reasonable choice would be the Trinity College bouzouki, an all-wood construction with a relatively good sound. It is easily found online from several sources. An Irish store selling a wide range of instruments is Moloney Music. Suppliers such as Hobgoblin also have a decent selection of mid-range instruments, from makers such as Ashbury or Hathway.
If you are willing to fully commit to being a bozouki player, you should consider investing in a hand-built custom instrument from a master luthier. This should be considered your ‘forever’ instrument, one you would be happy to play with for the rest of your days. It will involve a considerable financial outlay, but these top end instruments tend to hold their value. You should expect to pay at least €2000, and up to €6000 or more, but the difference between a good bouzouki and a great bouzouki is immense, and well worth it. Besides the basic instrument itself, consideration should be given to things such as scale length, decorative inlays, exotic woods, pickups and a decent travel case. These will all effect the overall price, but the latter two, at least, are necessary expenses.
Some examples of top end makers would be Joe Foley, Stefan Sobell, Peter Abnett, Nigel Forster, Davey Stuart, Phil Crump and Roger Bucknall. There are more makers of course, and it is worth doing research to find out the type of bouzouki that is right for you. Care should also be given to where the maker is located, and how long the waiting list is.
Good luck in your playing, and remember to practice often.
Advice Starting Out with the Bouzouki
As you will already be familiar with playing the bouzouki, you are recommended to be open to new ways of structuring your music or interpreting chords and so on. It helps to have a good feel for Irish music, so spend as much time listening to it as you do practicing your new rhythm structures. These lessons are structured in a very specific way, each building on the other, so you are very much encouraged to follow the lessons in their sequence.
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