The Best Oud Instrument to Buy
Types of oud
First, this amazing instrument comes in different types, the most common being the Arabic Oud. This is the most common type due to its versatility and the deep, melodious tone it produces. It has a bowl-shaped design and comes with 11 strings.
You will first need to know what type of Oud you want to buy, as there are several types of Oud available: Arabic Oud, Turkish Oud, Iraqi Oud, and Iranian Ouds.They all have their unique characteristics and shades. Therefore, the types and attributes of Oud to buy should be the first thing to consider before making any purchase.
Turkish Oud is quite different animals. Turkish Oud is brighter as they are tuned in a higher pitch than Arabic Oud. They are also built with a thinner soundboard that creates a lighter and brighter tone and stamp. Turkish Oud can be a good bet for beginners as the action is likely to be low and make it easy to play. Also, inexpensive factory-built models tend to be quite reliable and well-built.
Turkish Oud is pretty easy to find. This is not always the case, but the soundboard is very rarely coated. It is usually a very light wood color most likely due to the use of spruce. The fingerboard and soundboard are usually flush. Where the fingerboards join the soundboard, there is a small ornament that looks like an extension of the fingerboards that joins a point as the picture on the right.
This is a very general ornament that can tell you immediately what kind of Oud you are looking at. However, some Arabic Oud has this ornament as well. Turkish Oud is slightly smaller than their Arab counterparts. They are about 58.5 cm long from the bridge to the walnut.
An important factor about Turkish Oud is that factory-made Turkish Oud is more reliable than factory-made Arabic Oud. It is possible to get a decent Turkish Oud under $ 500. However, they may not last long, as the thinner soundboard tends to shorten the life of the Oud. But the loud, clear sound is the preferred sound in Turkish Oud. Turkish Oud usually comes with three sound holes that are slightly smaller than the sound holes of the Arabic Oud and are usually decorated with rosettes. The many Oud builders and the mass production of Oud in Turkey have made this market quite competitive, and it is easy to find a decent low-priced Oud from Turkey.
Arabian Oud is by far the most popular Oud available. You will find them used in the music of North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Levant. They are known for a nice, deep, round sound with very low support. Low sustain is not a bad thing, in fact it is the preferred sound. Arabic Oud has many forms. In general, Arabic Oud is usually between 61-62 cm from the bridge to the nut. One or three sound holes are common, which are usually decorated with rosettes. A combination of different types of woods can be made. The soundboard is thicker than Turkish Oud by comparison.
The Oud can be ornate or simple. There is a lot of variation in style and design in this Oud, but the shape of the bowl is large and round and creates a deep mellow tone. The pegs are the same as all the Oud, a style of friction similar to a violin peg. Most models now have five double-track nylon strings with one single bass string for a total of 11 strings. It is possible to find 10 string Oud and 12 string, but 11 string is the norm.
Iranian Oud is again a very different breed. They are called Barbet with Farsi and are the focus of research into the design of historical Oud in Middle Eastern art and literature. The Oud was apparently an important instrument in Iran but for some reason fell into disuse in Iran and became the most important instrument in Arabic music. Barbet has been reinvented in the last 30 years only in Iran by one particular luthier. It made the body smaller allowing for more playability further down the neck. The shape of the bowl is less wide, but slightly deeper, making it easier to hold and giving the bass notes a punchy sound. The bass sound is deep, punchy and loud, but the top level is a bit weaker than Arabic Oud. It fits well into the sound needed for Iranian music and ensembles.
Iraqi oud may have a floating bridge which means the bridge is not attached to the surface of the wood. It also gives a brighter tone. The bridge is similar to the construction of some Irish Mandolins and Bouzoukis, where the strings are attached to the bottom of the instrument instead of the bridge. I personally love the sound of this Oud, but some people don't like it either. It all depends on your preference and the sound you want to make.
Electric Oud is a new creation that has been designed in multiple forms. There are a few Oud builders who make them now. There is nothing special about this Oud except that you can stick them and go nuts.
Most are solid body, but one Electric Oud created by Godin guitars is attracting a lot of attention because of the excellent sound, playability, and electronics that you can work with.