Rebetiko > Instruments

The Rebetiko Instruments

In Rebetiko, you will hear several main instruments. You will also hear the human voice of course, as most Rebetiko pieces are songs rather than instrumentals. The singing can be amazing, ranging from the gravelly sound of Markos Vamvakaris to the extraordinary voices of Marika Papagika and Roza Eskenazi.

There are variations in the make up of a rebetiko band as well, that have to do with its time period and location. In the very beginning, the bouzouki as we now know it did not exist. The Smyrna style made more use of the violin, the oud, the saz, the kanoun, and other "oriental" instruments. The singers were usually women.

In the Pireas style, men sang and they mostly played bouzouki, baglama, guitar and accordion more than other instruments.

Because I am interested in the trichordo bouzouki, tsoura and baglama, I am not writing much about the other instruments on this site. Instead, I will attempt to provide links to sites whose authors know much more about their favourite instruments than I do.

The Bouzouki

The main instrument of Rebetiko, without a doubt, is the bouzouki. Originally developed from the tambouras and saz and various other lute-like instruments, the first bouzoukis had six strings. More...

The Tsoura

This is a smaller bodied version of the bouzouki. As far as I know, it has much the same length as a bouzouki, but a more twangy sound. More...

The Baglama

The baglama is the smallest bouzouki variant, a stealth bouzouki, you could say. It is regarded as the second vital instrument in any Rebetiko band, and has an amazing ability to be heard over the other, larger instruments. More...