Searching for Ouds at the Frankfurt Musikmesse

Some of you have already heard my story about it…

by Chris Stack

I was in Germany at the Frankfurt Musikmesse, the largest musical instrument tradeshow in the world. I was working in the EMC/Moog booth the whole time, but the last day I had a small window of time and decided I would go in search of ouds (Arabic lutes).
It took me forever to find, but I finally stumbled into the booth for a Tunisian company that made incredible electric ouds. They had amazing instruments… double neck beasts with oud on one neck, fretless guitar synth on the other… oud and cumbus… oud and guitar, electric kanun… an unimaginable variety of things I really wanted to try.

Only problem was, by the time I found them, I really need to get back to the Moog booth. At that point I did not own an electric oud and really wanted to try one. I walked up to one of the people in the booth. He spoke English, but not very well.

I pointed at one of the electric ouds and said, “can I try it?”

He looked at me and said, “it’s not a guitar?”

I said, “I know, can I try it?”

He looked at me again and said, “no frets… it has no frets.”

I said, “I know, can I try it?”

He looked at me and said, “it’s an oud”.

I said, “I know, I have five ouds.”

He really looked at me then and yelled to someone else in the booth, “get the amplifier!”

They hooked me up and after I started playing, he yelled to someone else, “get the video camera!”

I had mine with me too, so I got them to film a bit with it as well. This is that footage.

After I was done playing, we talked a bit and he asked me “where are you from?”

I replied, “America”.

“What part?”

“A little mountain town in the South called Asheville.”

“Really???… and you play oud?”

At this point I couldn’t help messing with him a little bit.

“Man… you can’t swing a cat without hittin’ an oud player where I’m from.”

“Really… I must visit this place.”

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