Irish Bouzouki Irish Bouzouki Irish Bouzouki

Page map :

  • Intro : How did I came to play Irish Bouzouki ?
  • Chords : Chord dictionary for bouzouki (GDAE tuning)
  • Tabs : Tabs for bouzouki (GDAE tuning)
  • Tips : Tips and advices
  • Pictures : Pictures of a bouzouki made by Franck CHEVAL
  • Links : Cool sites for Irish bouzouki

  • French translation French translation (last update : 06/01/2000)

Irish bouzouki
Logo : Thierry Chabanis
Last english translation : Jun, 01 2000


After having broken a lot of strings while accompanying jigs, reel and hornpipes with my guitar, I had luck to find a second-hand Irish bouzouki. The instrument is the work of Andy Manson. I didn't have any idea of the way to play it, but the possibility to play the same things that Donal Lunny in the Bothy Band gives quite a lot of imagination...

I started while using the most usual tuning (G - D - A - D). But after having met in Ireland, a musician of which I don't always know the name and that had astonished me while playing incredible rhythmic AND melody, I decided to adopt his tuning: G - D - A - E.
That's me !
Photo : Thierry Chabanis
I played my Manson bouzouki during some years, until I decide to invest while buying a second instrument to Franck Cheval. And I don't regret this decision ! This instrument is superb, powerful and has a precise sound.

I now have the possibility to let my "old" bouzouki tuned G - D - A - D, and to return more regularly to this tuning.

Chord dictionary

For those of you interested in chord theory, I wrote a chord dictionary for bouzouki (GDAE tuning)

The cover page
The cover page
(Thanks to Christian GENIEUX)
Exemple 1
Exemple 2
Two pictures representative of the book's contents

As for the guitar, some students can join my workshops during the master class of Le collet d'Allevard (generally at the end of august).

Download Bouzouk instinct Click here to download the book (Word 97 format) Mail me If you don't want to download a large file (possible printing troubles...), mail me by clicking here

To begin quickly to play

Here are first of all some basic chords positions. They are all very useful and it is necessary to know them imperatively

Basic chords for GDAE bouzouki

Here are the basic positions (simple chords, in top of the fingerboard) that permit to begin to play quickly.
Some positions can be played with a barré (B, Bm and possibly F), others can be played over the fingerboard, with the use of the inch of the left hand (D, Dm, Em and F).

  • M = Major chord
  • m = minor chord
  • If nothing is specified, the chord is call "neutral" or "modal", that is to say that it doesn't contain third.
  • If the chord is accompanied by a / , it's a reversed chord. In this case, it is not the fundamental of the chord that is played in bass, but the note that follows this symbol. Example: "Dm/A" must be read "D minor with A on bass"

Here is now a set of neutral chords (without third) that will be appreciated especially in Irish music.

Some positions come out of tonalities usually met in Irish traditional music, but it is not all the same a reason to ignore them completely !

Neutral chords for GDAE bouzouki

In the emergency, it would be preferable to memorize the most frequent chords first (D, A, G, C, E, B and F).
Come then the reversings of these chords (with a fifth in bass), then the other chords.

  • The number that is placed on the left of the diagrams indicates the number of the slot where begin the chord.
  • If no number is present, a double lign represents the 0 fret in top of the diagram.
  • At the top of the diagram, a cross indicates that the corresponding string must not be played (F, F# and G# chords for example).
  • Some positions are only feasible on instruments whose fingerboard is relatively short (65 or less). F/C for example.

To find chords diagramms for differents tunings (DAD ou ADAD), go to Han Speek's Homepage

Han Speek has also work on a GDAE chords dictionnary. Having participated to the verification of this work, I thought that it would be interesting to convert this dictionary into TablEdit's format
This program permits to print, to modify and to listen to every chords of the dictionary. It is possible to work on a tune while importing the dictionary. It is then possible to choose in this imported catalog, the wanted chord.

Click here to download the TablEdit's file

Download the dictionary in TablEdit's format

Han Speek's chord dictionary for GDAE bouzouki

A book about Irish Bouzouki can be found :
"The irish bouzouki" by Niall O Callanain, published by Waltons
(tape available)

This book is also distributed by Mel Bay. But it is not necessary to hope for some of miracle. It seems very limited to me from a convenient viewpoint (no tabs, tunes are only given in solfa, without fingerings indications, chords name face the partition but without exact chords positions, what limits dramatically the interest ). It's a good presentation book, by a very good musician, but it is not indeed a method.
Walton's Music


Here are some of my tabs for bouzouki (GDAE tuning). You can download them. The files are in TablEdit's format

You will recover these bouzouki tabs on the Guitar's page of this site where they are proposed in several formats : TablEdit files, Gif Pictures, Midi files.

Lord Inchiquin . From Turlough O'Carolan. Finger picking version. The level of difficulty is middle

Download Lord Inchiquin

Sonny Brogan's jig nº2 . Trad. Finger picking version. A few more difficult than the precedent, because of the tempo.

Download Sonny Brogan's jig nº2

Josefin's Waltz' . A beautiful waltz from Röger Tallroth. Flat picking version, with double stop.

Download Josefin's waltz

La galerie pourrite . From Gervais Lessard (Quebec). No particular difficulty but a work that must be precise with regard to the accompaniment. Flat picking version.

Download La galerie pourrite

Snug in a blanket . Trad. A simple and efficient air. Flat picking version

Download Snug in a blanket

You can download a demo version of TablEdit here :


Tips and advices

You will find in this category, technical or stylistic advices on the use of bouzouki in Irish music : finger picking and flat picking, solo or accompaniment...

You can consult the page Guitar page of this site: a comparable category gives very near plans

This exercise proposes a special D scale : use of the non fretted strings to change the left hand position. It will permit to keep fluidity and regularity whereas one moves on the whole fingerboard. In fingerpicking style, this technique is also interesting insofar as it is then possible to change chords position smoothly.

JPG file. Size : 27 ko TablEdit file. Size : 2 ko Midi file. Size : 2 ko
Download the exercice's gif picture Download the exercice's TablEdit file Download the exercice's midi file

Click here to download a demo version of TablEdit


Franck Cheval's bouzouki

My first bouzouki has 8 strings. I use GDAE tuning (from bass to treble). It's an instrument built by English luthier Andy MANSON and repaired by the French luthier Franck CHEVAL. Franck's work is so perfect that I asked him to make me another instrument. I have this new bouzouki sice june 99. Amazing...

Cheval's bouzouki

Cheval's bouzouki

Cheval's bouzouki

A wonder !


Cool links :

THE Bouzouki page. Makers, chord charts for various tunings, pictures of bouzoukis, rythm patterns... : Han Speek
Irish Bouzouki Blog : very nice blog, many links to YouTube's videos with bouzouki : Irish Bouzouki Blog
Citterns 'n stuff : Anthony de Waal' homepage. Infos about "Citterns on Ice" (a home recording project by the Cittern mailing list). Many links to other related bouzouki's sites. Citterns 'n stuff
Information on bouzouki, and similar instruments. Cittern & mandolin : Cittern & mandolin
You will certainly find good things on this cittern page. Cittern : Cittern
The Master ! My master... Donal Lunny : Donal Lunny
A page that with precise information about ornamentation on Irish bouzouki. This very good initiative of Mark Fitzsimons is based on the works of Roger Landes Mark Fitzsimons
Daniel Lafontaine is a bouzouki-maker (he also makes other instruments). His site is very interesting and you will find numerous information on the acoustics of stringed instruments as well as amplification : Daniel Lafontaine
Stefan Sobell's Homepage. High quality instruments... Stefan Sobell
To find the most exotic instruments and the corresponding accessorieses : Hobgoblin music
It isn't easy to find a good flight case for an instrument like the bouzouki... Gama cases will help you in your quest, with good products and low prices : Gama cases
The best flight cases, but not the cheapest... Calton
Capo is nearly an indispensable accessory... But it must be reliable ! Kysers capos are probably the best : Kyser
Use this banner to link your page with "Banwarth sur le ouaib. Irish Guitar & Bouzouki" Banwarth on the ouaib. Irish guitar & bouzouki

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