What is an Octave Greek Bouzouki?

By | April 12, 2021


The octave Greek bouzouki is a guitar-like musical instrument that has a pear-shaped body, is usually about 53 inches long (unless you use a smaller version that resembles a mandolin) and has four double course strings over the frets. Many Irish and Greek citizens use the instrument and have special settings that suit their own style of music. It is used in Irish jigs and reels, bluegrass and old-time down-down music, as well as Swedish fiddle songs, rock-n-roll and jazz.


Irish mainly use the tuning of GDAE or GDAD (from low strings to high strings) for their genre of music while the Greeks usually only used DAD when the instrument had only three double-sided strings. The Greeks will still use the three double course bouzoukis but have adapted to the four double course strings and the Irish standard atmosphere. The Greek bouzouki usually extends with octave strings on the lowest two string pairs. The Greeks would only move up the neck on the top two strings, because if they went beyond the fifth fret on the bottom two strings, they would normally sound incredible. They only play simple chords on the lower two strings between the first and second frets for position chords and drones.


According to the Acousticguitar.com website, the instrument historically came from ancient Persia and Byzantium. The first bouzouki was like the modern Turkish saz and the name evolved from the Turkish name of the medium-sized bozouk saz.

Famous Bouzouki players

Famous musicians who use bouzouki in their music are Alex Lifeson, the guitarist from the Canadian rock band Rush. Colin Melroy and Chris Funk from the musical group Decemberisten used the instrument in songs from their album ‘The Crane Wife’ which was released in 2006. Greek composer and singer Giorgos Zampetas from Athens, Greece was known as one of the greatest bouzouki players to ever come out from Athens.

Another type of bouzouki

The Greek baglama is another version of the bouzouki except that it is set to one octave higher. The body of the instrument is usually hollow from a kind of wood and it usually supports the sound of bouzouki in the ‘Pireas’ style of Rembetika. It is smaller than bouzouki and is useful for musicians who need a small oblique instrument that is easy to transport. The Greek bouzouki gives a unique and quality tone that resembles a guitar. Coming from the guitar family, it has also been around for centuries and was used historically in many Eurasian countries before it became an instrument for musicians around the world.