Le Son Continu 14-17 juillet 2022

Ce festival revient en force, tout un classique pour les amateurs de musiques et danses populaires. Les concerts, les planchers de danses et bien sûr les luthiers vous y attendent pour partager de beaux moments musicaux. Nous serons de retour cette année pour y montrer nos créations. Venez nous y voir!

Bouzouki Strings

custom lacombe tailpiece for bouzouki

Strings for the Irish Bouzouki

There are many possibilities when it’s time to string a bouzouki. On the next lines, I will explain the different options that we have when it comes to Irish bouzouki strings.

Octave Mandolin, unison or octave strings?

Unison Setup

On the unison approach to the bouzouki setup, the string pairs are the same thickness. This leads to a powerful and big body sound, perfect for chords and rhythm.

Normally, unison is the standard setup for Caroline Lacombe Bouzoukis. We mount D’Addario strings by default but sometimes we use GHS and Elixir strings.

The strings gauges for short-scale bouzouki from top to bottom are:

The gauges we use for long-scale bouzoukis from top to bottom are:

If you compare the gauges, the long-scale bouzouki has thinner calibers.

Octave Setup

Here, instead of having the same thickness, the 3rd and 4th pairs are one octave apart from each other. Have you ever heard a 12 string acoustic guitar? Well, it’s the same idea. Some players like this setup as it adds brightness when you play lots of melodies.

If you are interested in this setup, we mount it on demand when you order your Caroline Lacombe bouzouki.

Best bouzouki strings – D’Addario j81

If you want strings specifically made for bouzouki on octave setup the J81 set by D’Addarío is a very interesting option

This 8 string Irish Bouzouki set is designed to bring out the distinct characteristics found in the traditional Irish music repertoire. Each wound string starts with high-quality phosphor bronze precision-wound onto high carbon steel cores and paired with tin-coated plain steel strings for a warm and balanced sound.

Using Acoustic Guitar strings for Irish Bouzouki

We usually don’t have many options when it comes to Irish bouzouki strings, the offer for strings specifically designed for the zouk is very limited in contrast with the thousands of brands, materials, and quality of the strings for acoustic guitar.

We made our tests, and good acoustic guitar strings sound awesome on the bouzouki if you choose the correct gauges and material, by using this you will not have to worry anymore about breaking a string and having to order online as any regular music shop will have strings available at any moment.

However, this option requires that your tailpiece accepts ball-end strings instead of the loop ones, let’s talk about this.

Tailpieces for Bouzouki

After lots of tests, I decided to make my own brass bouzouki tailpieces, they are prepared for ball-end strings so you can use regular acoustic guitar strings as described above.

I like to add wooden decorations on the tailpieces and they are fully customizable.
If you would like to have your own design there, just talk to me about it and we’ll study your case. This commissioned custom bouzouki tailpiece features a Jera rune from the old Futhark runic alphabet.

Boulegan à L’Ostal 2019

boulegan caroline lacombe

St-Jean-du-Gard, always as vibrant! The music, dance and luthiers festival! The luthiers’ salon is always very busy! There, you can find all kinds of instruments that you will have a chance to try. This is the annual musical event not to be missed on Easter weekend. And we love being part of it!

One hour from Montpellier, towards the massif, Saint Jean du Gard greets you its streets, its bars and its dance halls during its international music and dance festival. Bars and cafes open their doors to spontaneous sessions, dances by their terraces, all in an enchanting setting!

The program includes a luthiers fair where you can meet more than 50 luthiers. In addition, you can participate in specialized workshops in order to learn more about dances and instruments from other regions.

So, if you are looking for a new instrument, a good dance or musical experience, you must come to Boulegan a l’Ostal … And of course, come and greet us!

Bouzouki Chords

Bouzouki Irish chords

The first thing you want to learn when you get a new instrument it’s the basic chords. The bouzouki has an open tunning; so it will be easy for you to get used to the bouzouki chord shapes, it may look challenging at the beginning because of the 8 strings, but if you look closer you will see that it’s more like having just 4! as we only have 4 double orders 😋

Bouzouki GDAD chords

We have seen many Irish Bouzouki chord charts and always found the same problem. they add many complex chords like add11 / DIM9 / Maj7 / and this might be interesting for experienced or professional players, but for any amateur player this will be the best chart.

This chord shapes are for Bouzouki GDAD Tuning but don’t worry if you have chosen another tunning, keep scrolling down and you will find other charts 🙂

Bouzouki GDAE Chords

Again, this is a very simple and clear bouzouki chord chart for GDAE Tunning, in this one you need fewer bar chords, but we need a bit more pinky here and there, I hope you enjoy this chords.

Basic Jig Rythm with 3 GDAD Octave Mandolin chords

Today we will be looking at the basic ‘JIG Pattern’ with only 5 chords. The jig is a nice Irish traditional music rhythm in 6/8.

The most useful and by far the most popular chord for bouzouki is the D 5th, furthermore, the (5th) part of the name means that it can be used as a D major chord or D minor chord; so, by learning this one, you’ve actually learned two chords in one.

This is actually quite a common feature when learning the octave mandolin, many shapes can be used as major or minor, so this is very handy and quite different from the guitar.

D 5th Chord for GDAD Bouzouki

This chord, the “D 5th low chord” is played on the bottom string on the seventh fret. I’ll leave you the individual chord shape down below.

D 5th chord octave mandolin

Using the fingering featured on the image facilitates easier movement from one chord to the next.

G major Chord for GDAD Bouzouki

Here is the second chord to learn, the “G major chord” located at the bottom and of the instrument.

G major chord octave mandolin

A 5th low chord for GDAD Bouzouki

Our third chord is the “A 5th low”, another quick change chord again, all the chords with “5th” in their name work as both M and m, because we are always skipping the “3rd” this one is the note that describes the chord as Major or Minor and we are not playing it.

A 5th chord octave mandolin

The Jig Basic Ryhtm for GDAD Bouzouki

There are already many Tunes that you can accompany by using just these three chords, so let’s look at one of the most popular dance types in Irish traditional music, that’s the jig. Like the rhythms played on a guitar all the rhythms on the bouzouki are just a series of upstrokes and downstrokes.

The black arrows on the image down below represent a downstroke that has to be a bit longer (1/4 note) also represents accentuation and exactly where you have to change chords. The white arrows are a bit faster, they equal to a (1/8 note)

Simply play this rhythm until the tune stops. basic jig rhythm uses the three chords we’ve already looked at.

basic jig pattern bouzouki

Extra chords for part B Jigs

If you want a little bit more variety to make your playing more interesting, I’ll show you a couple more chords to use on the second part (B part) of the jigs you like to play. The final two chords are the B minor and the “A Major high” you can see the shapes down below.

B minor chord for GDAD Bouzouki

B minor bouzouki chord   

as you can see the B minor chord is quite difficult to learn but it is well worth knowing from the start as it adds a lot of harmonic interest to your accompaniment, you need three fingers to play it because it uses three strings, you can feel a little awkward but please stick with it and try your best to learn this chord as it is used regularly often to substitute the middle D 5th.

A Major High chord for GDAD Bouzouki

A major high Chord bouzouki

Ok so now you know all the FIVE CHORDS, put them together to get some really interesting chord progression.

If you have to play jigs in other keys you can just add your favorite capo to the correct fret of the instrument and play the same chord shapes!

Le Son Continu 2019

caroline lacombe stand

LSC the luthiers gathering at La Chatre (France)

Le Son Continu (The continuous sound in french) is one of the most famous luthier gatherings of all Europe. Every year, during the weekend of “the bastille” day, lots of traditional instrument makers gather there to show new models and most importantly, to show their passion and love for the craft. It’s like a musicians dream, you can try ALL the instruments on the booths until you fall in love with the instrument you are seeking for!

Le Son Continu concerts

This folk festival in France is not only about us (Luthiers) it’s made by and for the musicians, every year they manage to bring the best folk musicians of the world to play their music there, certainly the shows are awesome!