The girl had a work trip that took her to Athens Greece which meant remote-work with free hotel for me. I was enjoying it as much or more than any other working vacation situation with the hotel providing a nice view of and walk-able distance to the Acropolis. As is always the case, I did not have an instrument handy nor did I think I would feel the need to play around my time working and site-seeing. That changed on April 21st 2016 upon hearing of Prince’s passing. Like many other musicians, I had this need to pay tribute or mourn the passing of this music legend except I found myself without access to my guitars or keyboards. Being a buyer of souvenirs and all things musical, I popped into a music store in the busy shopping area in Athens and purchased a couple of traditional Greek Instruments – an eight string (4 courses, = Think 12-string guitar versus a 6-sting guitar) Bouzouki and a smaller variation on the more popular Bouzouki called a Tzouras. It’s name comes from the Turkish Cura and comes in 6 and 8 string varieties.
The six-string model has the same arrangement of strings tuned to the same pitches as the six-string (trichordo) bouzouki. There are three pairs of steel strings, tuned to D3D4–A3A3–D4D4 or D4D3–A3A3–D4D4. The tzouras is about the same length as the bouzouki, with a similar neck and head, but with a much smaller body, giving it a distinctive tone.
Some instruments with the same/similiar/work-able tuning:
Same tuning (course-wise)
Baglams (a.k.a Baglama, Baglama Saz, Baglamadaki) – Greece
Bouzouki (a.k.a Tetrachordo bouzouki) – Greece
Cümbüş, Tambur – Turkey
Three stings with the Tzouras tuning can be found together within instruments having 4 or more stings:
Cittern, Irish (a.k.a Celtic or Flatback Cittern) – D2 D2•G2 G2•D3 D3•A3 A3•D4 D4 – Europe
Cittern, Modal D – D2 D2•A2 A2•D3 D3•A3 A3•D4 D4 – Europe
Daruan (a.k.a Bass Ruan) – D2 A2 D3 A3 – China
These instruments have only 2 and even just 1 tuning across all stings
Dulcimer, 3 course (a.k.a Mountain Dulcimer, Appalachian Dulcimer, Lap Dulcimer, Dulcimore, Delcimore, Delcimer) – US
- 3-string: A3•A3•D3
- 4-string: A3 A3•A3•D3
- 5-string: A3 A3•A3•D3 D3
- 6-string: A3 A3•A3 A3•D3 D3
Alternates (see notes):
- Mixolydian: D4•A3•D3
Dorian: G3•A3•D3 Aeolian: C4•A3•D3
- Galax (“Unison”): D4•D4•D3
The hand-made beauties set me back a total of around $600 US and are worth it if only as wall art (for my fellow non-practicing-enough-ers).