Goldtone BZ-500 Irish Bouzouki

  • Body: Spruce top/Mahogany back and sides
  • Neck: Mahogany/Blackwood fingerboard with snowflake inlays
  • Hardware: Sealed Schaller tuners, ebony bridge with compensated bone insert
  • Pickup: LR Baggs B1446 Radius

The bouzouki is a popular Greek instrument, brought there in the 1900’s by Greek immigrants from Turkey, and became the central instrument in the rebetiko genre. The traditional bouzouki has a flat front, with a bowled back, played with a pick and has a sharp metallic sound, similar to a mandolin but pitched lower.

This is what’s known as an “Irish bouzouki,” and has a flat back. It likely first appeared in the late 60’s when Irish musician Dónal Lunny was given a Greek bouzouki by a friend. Being left-handed, Lunny reversed the strings and mounted them in unison, changing the character of the instrument. This modified bouzouki became fully integrated into Irish folk music when Lunny popularised it in his band, Planxty, in 1972. Also known as a cittern, it can be tuned many ways (GDAD, GDAE, ADAD, and CFAD).

This is part of Goldtone’s “Folkternative” series of cool and somewhat offbeat acoustic instruments. They’re good folks and I’ve enjoyed working with them over the years.

I have this set up with Goldtone octave strings for the third and fourth courses and unison strings for the first and second courses (.016 .016 / .020 .020 / .035w .016 / .045w .020), and tune it to GDAE like an octave mandolin. It also sounds cool when plugged in using effects pedals.

More info at Gold Tone Music Group.