Bouzoukis and Citterns

The Irish bouzouki and cittern are part of an ever evolving family of mandolin family instruments. Both are essentially big mandolins tuned an octave lower, with the cittern having an extra course of strings, usually higher, but sometimes a lower course is added. I build bouzoukis with a 26"/66cm scale and short scale citterns or octave mandolins with a 22"/56cm scale. Soundboard can either be flat with a fixed bridge or carved with a floating bridge and a tailpiece. Soundboards are spruce, Sitka or Engelmann, and a selection of timbers is offered for the sides and back: Indian Rosewood, mahogany, Tasmanian blackwood and Tulip satinwood are available and other (Australian or exotic) timbers can be sourced as required. Pickups can also be fitted.

The type 1 bouzouki or cittern with a small teardrop shaped body is a good all-round accompaniment or melody instrument, especially in a band environment. The strong midrange gives a tonal contrast to both guitar and mandolin, with a separate voice in the instrumental lineup.

The larger bodied type 3 gives a tonal range more that of a small bodied guitar, but still with the slightly nasal tone characteristic of the bouzouki. It has more richness in the bass, while keeping the crisp higher register. An excellent choice for solo accompaniment.


The type 2 blends the best qualities of both the type 1 and the type 3, and still sits on the leg comfortably. Prices start at A$3000.

Graham McDonald Stringed Instruments

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                        Phone: 0402 026 962   +614 02 026 962

                        PO Box 365 Jamison 

                        ACT 2614 Australia