Have you ever thought about playing this instrument called the “Irish Bouzouki”? 

Or perhaps you simply love listening to people playing it, and you find the sound and character of it incredibly beautiful and unique?

But why is the Irish Bouzouki so amazing? These are my top 3 favorite things about this great instrument:

1. The Double Unison Strings

So of course the first thing any beginner will notice is that compared to an acoustic guitar, this instrument has 8 strings. But these strings are in fact tuned in pair, where each pair is in unison.

So anything you play, be it rhythm or melodies, will almost sound like two instruments played perfectly together as one. This is partly why the Irish Bouzouki has such a rich sound.

Btw, there are versions of the Irish Bouzouki where you tune the lowest pair of strings in octave instead,  but that is more the Greek tradition.

2. The Tuning in 5ths

The Irish bouzouki, as well as its cousin the Greek Bouzouki, is tuned in 5ths instead of 4th like the guitar. Tuning in 5ths will make the chords sound more open, but it will also make playing scales and melodies a little bit more tricky.

The reason is that you will have to move your hand around the fretboard more. However, the upside of this is that you are basically forced to do a lot of amazing sounding slides.

The classic Irish bouzouki is tuned completely in 5ths, so G, D, A, E. But I have tuned the highest string to D, which is actually very common, and this makes rhythm playing even easier, as the open strings are now a suspended chord, and you can easily reach the major and minor chord by just changing one string. 

3. The Folk Character

I’m not sure how to explain it, but I always felt that instruments like the Bouzouki, and the whole mandolin family, have a kind of “folk music sound”, compared to the clean and polished tone of the acoustic guitar. Perhaps it is because the double strings, perhaps it’s because of the tuning, or that is simply is more rough around the edges in the best possible way, like an old, traditional and lovely pub. Regardless, I find that playing the Irish Bouzouki simply radiates such amazing character.

The Sound in Action

Let’s listen to the Irish Bouzouki in action, so you can hear it’s lovely character, and unique sound.