Karabas, 1918

1918 Karabas, New York

Giannis Tsoulogiannis sent me this picture with the following info:

Karabas was a Spartan luthier in New York from 1895-?. This instrument dates from 1918 and has a scale length of 715 mm. It has all original parts and is influenced by the “tampoura” as opposed to the mandola. It was Karabas’ least expensive model.


Hopefully Mr. Tsoulogiannis will be able to provide us with more pics and measurements at some point.

Published in: on September 24, 2009 at 3:11 am  Leave a Comment  

Gig bag for old bouzouki!

One of the great things about living in the San Francisco Bay area is that people are into so many different things here. So when it came time to find a case for the old bouzouki I just bought I discovered the world’s greatest custom gig bag maker a couple of miles from my house!

Glenn started the first professional gig bag company, Reunion Blues, but is now solo. He uses top quality materials and makes bags for everything from unusual percussion items to full size harps, with 2000 patterns on file. But, this was his first bouzouki case! If you have an old bouzouki I highly recommend contacting Glenn, if yours fits the dimensions of mine you will save the cost of having a new pattern made.

Contact Glenn directly, or email me if you have any questions.



Published in: on July 26, 2009 at 10:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Politis, 1951

1951 Alexandros Politis, New York (currently owned by David Murray, Oakland, California)

Scale Length: 645 mm

Nut Width: 31mm

12th Fret Width: 38 mm

Body Width: 245 mm

Body Length: 355 mm

Body Depth: 150 mm

Original String setup: 8, converted to 6

This bouzouki is a bit of a mystery, hopefully someone can help solve.

The label inside said “867 Forest Ave. New York, NY. 1951”. The maker’s name was handwritten but seems to say “Alexandros Politis” followed by “Professional Violin Maker”. If anyone has heard of a New York luthier with a name that might match, please let me know!

It’s hard to believe that this was built in 1951 as this type of instrument had been out of style for at least 20 or more years. I like to speculate that Politis did some repairs or modifications to an older bouzouki in 1951. We’ll probably never know!

When I got the instrument it was set up for 8 strings, I’m not sure if that was original or if it had been modified. Paul Hostetter (Santa Cruz, Ca) built a new bridge, nut and installed new tuners (and was kind enough to disassemble them and soak in ferric acid to make them look older!) and made some other repairs and adjustments….it sounds great!


Full back

Full front


Published in: on July 26, 2009 at 10:14 pm  Comments (1)  

Stathopoulo, 1910

191o Stathopoulo, New York (currently owned by Grigoris Spiliopoulos)

Scale Length, nut to bridge: 635 mm
Neck width at the nut: 28 mm
Neck width at the 12th fret: 39 mm
Body length: 375 mm
Body depth: 16o mm
Body width: 225 mm

The instrument was restored by luthier Nikos Fronimopoulos. His site has photos of the restoration process HERE.



Published in: on June 17, 2009 at 5:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

Evanghelides, 1904

1904 Evanghelides, Athens (info sent by luthier Giannis Tsoulogiannis, Sparta)


Length, nut to bridge: 630 mm

Body length: 349mm

Body depth: 140 mm

Body width: 230 mm


Current owner unknown. It was found in Sparta.

Body : Brazilian rosewood 15 staves,Curly maple

Neck : Maple with brazilian rosewood  veneer

Top: low quality spruce

Decoration: Tortoise Shell and mother of pear


Sounds great!




Published in: on June 3, 2009 at 10:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

Stathopoulo, 1912

1912 Stathopoulo, New York (currently owned by Stavros Kourousis)

Length, nut to bridge: 64o mm
Neck width at the nut: 31 mm
Neck width at the 12th fret: 37 mm
Body length: 35o mm
Body depth: 14o mm
Body width: 235 mm






Pre-restoration pics from Ebay (thanks to Paul Hostetter for saving these!)

Pre-restoration pics from Ebay (thanks to Paul Hostetter for saving these!)

Published in: on June 2, 2009 at 3:28 am  Leave a Comment  

Stathopoulo symposium

Let’s all head to Sparta!


A few pics from the Sparta conference, courtesy of Giannis Tsoulogiannis:




Published in: on June 1, 2009 at 6:20 pm  Comments (1)  

Stathopoulo from around the Internet

Here’s a couple instruments that can be easily Googled. First, a restored Stathopoulo from 1911 residing at the University of South Dakota.
more pics and info here





This one appears to be undated….link here.



Published in: on May 29, 2009 at 6:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Luthier: Anastasios Stathopoulo

1873 – 1915 Anastasios Stathopoulo

Anastasios Stathopoulo was the son of a Greek timber merchant, born in Sparta Greece in 1863. At the age of 10 he became interested in building musical instruments. Under the influence of his father he had acquired a natural sense and feel for wood and wood working. According to the family literature created in the 1930’s, Anastasios built lutes, violins and traditional Greek Lioutos supporting the local music of the time. He was good at it and his interest grew as he aged and chose not to follow in his father’s business.

There were limited opportunities for the growth of his father’s business in Sparta and apparently better options in Smyrna, Turkey. The Strathopoulo family moved to Smyrna in 1877 when Anastasios was 14. They adapted well to their new surroundings and the family appears to have been successful. By 1890, at age 17, Anastasios struck out on his own and established a musical instrument manufacturing business building mandolins, lutes, violins and traditional Lioutos. Anastasios was also busy building a family: he married Marianthe in 1892 and had his first son Epimanondas (Epi) in 1893. Sons: Alex and Orpheus (Orphie) and daughter: Alkminie (Minnie) soon followed.

The political situation in Turkey in the 1890’s was devolving as ethnic tensions increased. Greek immigrants were under steady persecution and this pressure on the Stathopoulo family plus the promise of greater opportunity in the United States led to their decision to try a new life once more in America. They arrived in 1903 – just about the same time that the Gibson Company was being formed. 
1907 – America

The family took some time to reestablish itself but by 1907 they had taken up residence at 121 West 28th Street in Manhattan. They lived upstairs and operated a shop at street level. They remained there for about 5 years until 1912. During this time Epi and Orphie worked with their father in the shop learning the family business.

The timing was good. America had entered a mandolin craze. Mandolin Orchestras were formed from coast to coast. New York was at the heart of setting musical trends with Tin Pan Alley churning out musical scores and distribution networks that could reach Chicago and the Pacific shores within days. There was no TV or radio yet and every house had a music room. Every child had some degree of musical training usually including sight reading as a primary form of social interaction and entertainment. This meant there was heavy demand for good quality and sweet sounding mandolins, violins and banjos. The Stathopoulo family arrived at the right time. Strathopoulo family instruments labels stated: “A.  Stathopoulo, Manufacturer-Repairer of all kinds of Musical Instruments”. The instruments caught on and business flourished. The House of Stathopoulo expanded into a new shop / warehouse on 247 West 42nd Street. The family enjoyed the fruits of a successful business and the children received a good education were raised in the trappings of privilege.

Unfortunately, in July 1915 Anastasios died at the age of 52 from cancer.

Used with permission from www.AcousticMusic.Org

Published in: on May 29, 2009 at 4:08 am  Comments (1)  

Stathopoulo, 1910

1910 Stathopoulo (owned by Joan Friedberg, Los Angeles) 

Length, nut to bridge: 648 mm
Neck width at the nut: 31.75 mm
Neck width at the 12th fret: 38 mm
Body width: 235 mm
Body length: 368 mm
Body depth: 178 mm
# of strings: 6 total (3 courses of double strings)
Wood: looks like alternating Cherry and Maple staves, but I can’t verify
Date: 1910, New York
Maker: A. Stathopoulo
Place of purchase: Ebay, from an estate sale (in Philadelphia, I think)
Playability: excellent


Joan says: I had fantasized about getting my hands on an early bouzouki ever since seeing photos of them in the Fivos Anoyanakis musical instruments book. I never thought I would find one outside of a museum. Then one day I happened to find this one while browsing on Ebay. I put in a bid, and then got totally caught up in the excitement of the auction. I ultimately went way past the limit I had set, but I won the bouzouki away from one other bidder, after other bidders had dropped out.

The bouzouki’s face was unattached from the body and needed repair work, so I took it into Marina Music, in Culver City, a shop owned by Aleko Sioris. He took a look at it and finally asked me, “Did you get this on Ebay?” I told him yes. “Ah, so you’re the one!” He had been the other bidder. Aleko is at least a thousand times better player than I am, so I feel privileged to have this bouzouki in my possession.

Published in: on May 29, 2009 at 3:49 am  Comments (1)  

Stathopoulo, 1922

1922 Stathopoulo, New York (currently owned by Pavlos Kakouris, Sacramento)

Scale Length: 648

Nut Width: 29

12th Fret Width: 38

Body Width: 232

Body Length: 367

Body Depth: 152

Original String setup: 8




I had been playing mandolin since I was 5 years old. Bouzouki was rare in the 40’s in the USA. I listened to recordings of the old masters and would try to get the tunes down but I knew the sound was really different. In 1951 I took my first trip to Greece at age 14. That’s when I saw a bouzouki for the first time. I say with great pride that I saw Tsitsanis and Papaioanou playing bouzouki. I fell in love with the culture and of course the bouzouki. At that time it was not socially acceptable to play bouzouki. The connection with the subculture, REBETIKA, hashish dens, and the lower working class in those days and long before, was the reason my mom would not allow me to bring a bouzouki back to the USA. About 1957 bouzouki players began appearing in California. There are sites on the net to find historical info. I looked for a very long time to find a bouzouki locally until one day I stopped to browse at a large junk store in south Los Angeles and there I saw high on a shelf covered in a heavy layer of dust my first bouzouki. Made in New York City in Feb. 1922.by the House of Stathopoulo. I still have it.


Mr. Kakouris has recently had his instrument restored by Gary Hegedus of San Pablo, California.


Published in: on May 29, 2009 at 3:47 am  Comments (4)  

Kopeliadou, Date Unknown

Undated Kopeliadis, Athens (currently owned by Michael Kaloyanides, New Haven)
Kopeliadis died in 1933.

Scale length (from nut to bridge): 672 mm
Neck width at the nut: 27 mm
Neck width at the 12th fret: 35 mm
Body width 244: mm
Body Length 388: mm
Body Depth 170: mm
Original and/or current number of strings 3 COURSES OF 2 EACH

Rosewood Fingerboard with
Inlay at frets 3,5,7,10, 12, 15, 17, 19, 22, 24, 27
Woods: Don’t Know
Staves: 19 plus 2 Winer side panels
Maker’s Label: Organopoieion, Emm N. Kopeliadou, Kolokotroni 47B, Athenai.

base of body has SIGMA BETA initials inscribed (probably that of owner).



Published in: on May 29, 2009 at 3:45 am  Leave a Comment  

Panagis, Date Unknown

Undated Panagyris Panagis, Piraeus (currently owned by Hank Bradley, Seattle)

Scale Length: 669mm
Nut Width: 28
12th Fret Width: 39
Body Width: 244
Body Length: 380
Body Depth: 164
Original String setup: 8


The mikrasiatis father, Panagyris Panagis (Panagyris was apparently an Asia Minor form for Panagiotis), born in Makri, died before 1940. His workshop was in Piraeus, and he was clearly most known for his laouto, guitar and mandolin making. His sons were called Georgios (1911-1995) and Vassilis (1914-1998) and their heyday was 1950s-1980s. (thanks Tony!).



Pictured here with the 1933 Kopeliadis

Pictured here with the 1933 Kopeliadis

Kopeliadis on the left

Hank says: I was given this one by Sandra Layman, who I think got it from Lark in the Morning some time since 1975. It’s had some modifications in its lifetime (somewhere back in the 80s or 90s Paul Hostetter at my request converted it from a 4-stringer to 3, which explains the very unusual 3-post tuners in the peghead). Paul may also be responsible for a nice new fingerboard and a tension-rod in the neck (I just can’t remember). The label is only partially legible, begrimed with some mysterious substance, but the biggest letters look to be ΠΑΝΝΓΥΡΗ ΠΑΝΑΓΗ. It appears to be another mandola-bodied instrument, having a distinct bevel in the top at the bridge, and the top also has a transverse camber. The sound hole is a wide oval, and the scratch plate fills most of the top between sound hole and bridge.

Published in: on May 27, 2009 at 3:41 am  Leave a Comment  

Kopeliadis, Date Unknown

1933 Kopeliadis, Athens (currently owned by Hank Bradley, Seattle)


Kopeliadis died in 1933.



Scale Length: 674

Nut Width: 31.5

12th Fret Width: 39

Body Width: 244

Body Length: 379

Body Depth: 180

Original String setup: 8


BouzKopeliadis 008BouzKopeliadis 004

Hank's Panagis on the right

Hank's Panagis on the right

the Panagis on the right again

the Panagis on the right again


Published in: on May 27, 2009 at 3:40 am  Leave a Comment  

Stathopoulo, 1910

1910 Stathopoulo, New York (currently owned by Nikos Politis, Athens)



Scale Length: 645

Nut Width: 27

12th Fret Width: 35

Body Width: 232

Body Length: 367

Body Depth: 152

Original String setup: 6






As it appeared on Ebay before restoration.

As it appeared on Ebay before restoration.


(thanks to Paul Hostetter for saving these!)

(thanks to Paul Hostetter for saving these!)

Published in: on May 27, 2009 at 3:36 am  Comments (2)