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Review: Tambura by Dusan Brankov

Review: Tambura by Dusan Brankov

Reviewed by John Calkin

Originally published in American Lutherie #57, 1999 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume Five, 2008

Dusan Brankov
Tamburitza Association of America, 1998

The tambura is a Yugoslavian version of the guitar featuring four courses (the first string is doubled), a Fender-style headstock, a floating bridge, and an oversize pickguard inlaid into the top. Back and top are ladder braced. This only describes the middle member of the tambura family; the smallest tambura has a body carved from a solid board and a much smaller scale, and the two largest members have cello-like scroll heads. I gather that tambura makers in eastern Europe have always taken an individual approach to the size, shape, and construction. Brankov’s mission is to garner international recognition and respect for the instruments he loves, and to standardize them as much as the violin family has been standardized. He doesn’t anticipate the first happening without the second. Only time will tell if he is successful.

Brankov’s book is a good one. Anyone wishing to build tambura should find all the information they need here. Instruction is put forth in a formal and reasonable manner. There is a lot of math for those who wish to study it, along with a good dose of scientific theory about the way stringed instruments function. This scholarly approach is no doubt part of the quest for international status for the tambura.

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