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Constructing the Middle Eastern Oud, Part Two

Constructing the Middle Eastern Oud with Peter Kyvelos, Part Two

by R.M. Mottola

previously published in American Lutherie #95, 2008

See Also,
“Constructing the Middle Eastern Oud with Peter Kyvelos, Part One” by R.M. Mottola

The Top

The top of the oud is “flat” and features ladder bracing and one to three sound holes with fretwork rosettes in them. However, the top is constructed to either passively encourage or actively shape the kind of bellied-in-front-of-the-bridge, humped-up-behind-the-bridge distortion common to all instruments with string anchors at the glued on bridge. More on this in a bit.

Peter uses German spruce for his tops and he generally joins and then thickness sands tops well in advance of building, inventorying the joined tops for years before actually using them (Photo 1). Finished top thickness will average around 2MM, depending on the stiffness of the wood, so tops are thickness sanded accordingly at this point.

The first steps in preparing the top are to cut it to shape and then mark and cut channels for the sound hole purfling (Photo 2). He uses a custom made fly cutter to cut the channels. His purfling scheme is pretty simple, and he generally uses black and white fiber violin purfling strips for this. The ends of the purfling strips are mitered and dry fitted before being glued. There is no fingerboard extension to hide the butt joint, so this work is a bit finicky (Photo 3). The purfling is glued into the channels and then scraped down once the glue dries. Then the sound holes are cut out.

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