This, was the sound of 1900s hybrid era.(?)

Raptors, feathers, buffalo horns, tortoise shell plectrums and a different sound!

At the end of the 19th  beginning of the 20th century,  the new hybrid instrument called bouzouki carried more than three pairs of stings.

Some of the survived A. Stathopoulos bouzoukia  carrying the original bridge and bone, verify the hypothesis of  multi-stringed instruments, customized by their players.
Most common set up of the strings appears to be the 2-2-3 or 2-2-4 even though, traces of other string  set ups as 3-2-3, 2-3-3 , 2-2-2-2 have been mentioned.

The bouzouki in its hybrid form ( ~1880-1910 ) appears to be the sole instrument accompanied the singer's voice (song or amanes) and not an orchestral instrument (with accompaniment from other music instruments). 

The use of additional strings especially at the mourgana position, in combination with the use of soft long-nose plectrum,  or the use of eagle (or vulture, or hawk) feather quills- similar to the ones used for laouto, oud, saz and Neapolitan mandolins,- ( as we also confirm from the 1911  NY advertisement, by the luthier Theodore Karampas who was selling eagle feathers as picks for  laouta and bouzoukia), tends to produce an "ORHISTRIKO" sound   from a single musical instrument.

Images taken from

Some more information regarding the feather quill as plectrum for the laouto, we collect from Foivos Anogianakis ( musicologist, musician, researcher, author, collector, and Honorary Doctor of the University of Crete) at "Νεοελληνικά χορδόφωνα: το λαούτο" (1972)

"The plectrum or pick, as usually is being called by the  musicians, was made by raptor's (bird of pray) feather, usually vulture, eagle or hawk.  Best plectrums are considered the ones made by vulture's feather,  since the quill of this bird has longer lasting durability , is softer and gives a very sweet sound. The eagle feather quills are more hard and they break easily.
The quill of a vulture feather has two sides . The upper part with a darker color, and the lower part with a white color. Best pick is considered to be the one made by the white side, since is softer more flexible and gives sweeter sound. Musicians used the white quill when they wanted to play soft melodies for few passionate listeners , and the black side quill for long hours, hard loud playing at weddings and  festivals"

Alternative to feather quills, bouzouki players during the hybrid period used picks made by animal horn and Tortoise shell.

Last week I spent a lot of time researching and purchasing wild Turkey quills from which I made a quill plectrum (anyone who possesses a raptor feather, and doesn't meet the requirements-Being native American and even have certification of tribal membership and the appropriate registration license to acquire one legally,- could face fines up to $100,000 and a year in prison.), Buffalo Horn pick, and a special made pick with similar material properties as the natural Tortoise shell.

I put all the plectrums under test and I recorded the same sound sample played with my Stathopoulos bouzouki.
Here is the difference in sound quality.


  1. Many thanks for that! Now all I need to do is find a wild turkey quill or a dead tortoise.... I'm amazed just how much difference that makes. I used a brass pick a while ago, that i had for my bass guitar, and it was not very good at all, so don't bother trying that!

  2. Hello Chris
    you will find wild turkey quills on eBay.Is also a company named


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