I received my Cümbüs last night. It’s a hybrid of an ud and a banjo, for those wondering (and, being turkish, it’s pronounced “joomboosh”). Big metal resonating bowl, stretched skin face, fretless neck, double-strung with six courses of strings. Echo-y, twangy sound. For those of you that watch BBC America or Channel4, think the opening plucky sounds in the theme to Graham Norton.
Tuning thus far has been an adventure. It’s supposed to support most Ud tunings. which I’d assume it does. Generally, it’s tuned by 4ths. However, most tuning notation is a la turka which is a 4th below a la franka, so my tuning was a 4th too high. And I was using the
wrong standard tuning anyway, so it was a 5th too high, actually. This
led to three strings breaking. I’d had the thing 10 minutes and already
broke three strings.
What little playing I was able to do on it demonstrated that while I need practice, it does make sense to a fretless string player like myself. The fairly long scale makes it easy to play the quartertones of any given maqam, although it also requires me to stretch my hands more than I’m used to.
I have yet to figure out how to mic it. And I need to damp the strings
when not in use, as they resonate sympathetically with any other sound in