|Instrument Makers and cases|
All of the members of “Labyrinth” owe a special debt of gratitude to the instrument-makers who supply us with some of the finest quality instruments which are available. Here are some of the details about some of the most important instrument-makers for us which will hopefully be useful to other musicians in search of instruments:
DIMITRIS RAPAKOUSIOS: OUD, KEMENCE (lyra of Constantinople), BOULGARI, LAVTA, EGYPTIAN RABABA: Dimitris Rapakousios is unquestionably one of the most talented instrument-makers in Greece today. He is particularly well-known for his ouds as well as for the Cretan saz-like instrument known as boulgari of which he is certainly the best maker available. The oud is a very difficult instrument to successfully construct and the level of competition is currently very high for good quality ouds as there are many excellent makers worldwide. Dimitris, despite his relatively young age, is definitely in the top class of oud makers worldwide and his instruments are used by some of the instrument’s best players. He has greatly benefited from the generous guidance of the great Turkish oud-maker Faruk Turunc and has in recent years begun constructing Arabic ouds with the guidance and counseling of top-class players such as Haig Yazidjian. The boulgari made by Dimitris is a particularly interesting instrument. It is a type of saz that was used on Crete in the past as well as in certain regions of Turkey. It is smaller than the usual baglama saz and has a very distinctive and sweet sound. Dimitris’ unique work on the boulgari is destined to play a decisive role in the revival of this worthy instrument. Contact: www.dimitrisouds.com
NIKOS BRAS: VIOLIN, CRETAN LYRA, BOULGARI, ANCIENT GREEK INSTRUMENTS: Nikos Bras, amongst other things, has made two of Ross Daly’s most important instruments. The first lyra with 3 playing strings and 18 sypathetic strings which was designed by Ross Daly and has served as a model for this instrument type was made by Nikos Bras and Ross Daly himself in 1990. He has also made the excellent boulgari which Ross Daly has used on most of his recordings. Nikos Bras is primarily a violin-maker whose work has received numerous awards in Greece and abroad, but he also does excellent work constructing folk instruments. In recent years he has dedicated much of his time and energy to the revival and reconstruction of ancient Greek instruments and is considered to be one of the foremost pioneers of this very difficult subject.
LEONIDAS SPANOS: LYRA, TZOURAS, LAOUTO, ETC.: Leonidas Spanos is a very unique instrument-maker. He is based on the island of Cyprus where he is well-known as a sculptor, even though he seems in recent years to devote almost all of his time to instrument making. Leonidas almost never makes two instruments the same and he is continuously experimenting with new designs and ideas.
His instruments are of a very high quality and it is absolutely essential for anyone interested to visit his workshop in the village of Dali on Cyprus and try all of them. Each one has a very individual sound of its own and the challenge here is for the musician to find which instrument best suits his individual needs and desires. This process takes time however, as Leonidas has a huge number of instruments in his workshop at any given time and they’re all worth trying.
PETER BIFFIN: TARHU Peter Biffin is based in the town of Armidale in Australia and he has developed a totally new type of instrument known as the Tarhu. He has a very extensive website of his own which can best inform anyone interested about this unique creation of his. www.spikefiddle.com Ross Daly plays the lyra-tarhu as well as the large standard tarhu and has the very highest opinion of these two instruments. He also makes a kemantche version of the tarhu which enormously impressed the Iranian virtuoso of the instrument Kayhan Kalhor, who immediately ordered two of them after playing one. It is highly recommended that bowed string instrument players visit his website and study carefully the information contained therein. A life-changing experience!
AKDENIZ SAZ EVI: SAZ The Akdeniz family of instrument-makers in Istanbul, Turkey has a brilliant history which extends over many decades. Ragip Akdeniz began this workshop which is continued by his sons Mustafa and Refat today. His other son Cetin is one of Turkey’s foremost virtuosos of the saz. The Akdeniz family specialize in the construction of the saz, Turkey’s main folk instrument. The quality of their instruments remains unparalleled today and most of Turkey’s best players use their instruments. Ross Daly has several sazes made by Ragip Akdeniz himself which he values very highly, as well as an extraordinary laouto which was made in 1985 on special order.
FARUK TURUNC: In the world of the Turkish oud, Faruk Turunc needs no introduction. He is universally regarded as Turkey’s foremost oud-maker and he definitely deserves this recognition. Faruk originally studied physics and his approach to instrument- making is a fine balance between that of the traditional craftsman and that of a scientist. www.oudmaster.com
: CASES FOR MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS No matter how good one’s instrument might be, without a good case, it is imprisoned in one’s house. Yannis is the person who has given a home to all of our poor homeless instruments, and due to his excellent work, they have survived countless encounters with barbaric baggage-handlers in most of the world’s major airports. Yannis makes what is usually a mass-produced item with the mentality of a traditional craftsman and takes exceptional care over each case he makes. In fact, each one is effectively custom made, and all of this for very reasonable prices.