Ismail Fencioglu Canadian Oud Shop
 
    Since a very young age, playing musical instruments has been a part of my life, and I don't know where I'd be without it. I think, it's highly unlikely that a young boy would ever want to play with musical instruments rather than playing with cars and building legos except in my case where it was the exact opposite. My favorite toys were the ones that belonged to my older siblings as they were old enough to be bought a musical instrument by my parents, however they did not have a chance to practice them. Those instruments were voilin, mandolin and cumbus. 
 
    My mother and her family played a huge role in sparking my interest for playing musical instruments. I was twelve years old when my uncle saw me for the first time playing "Taksim" with cumbus. He was slightly surprised to see me playing “Taksim”, but mostly thrilled and amazed with my extraordinary performance at the twelve years of age. So, he decided to give me his own valuable oud and sent it to me via cargo. I got so excited and happy with the gift my uncle gave and it didn’t take too long for me to settle for the oud since oud wasn’t hurting my fingers as much as cumbus.
 
      Unfortunately during shipment, the oud got damaged. Even though the damage wasn’t that important, we still had to get it repaired before I could enjoy practicing it. If my memory doesn’t fail me, I was thirteen while trying to find a way to fix my damaged oud. I didn’t know any oud repair shop or even didn’t know anyone who could help me out by then. There was a saz maker on the way to my father’s work. I visited him once and he referred me to a luthier, the professional stringed instrument maker. When I met this luthier, I was totally impressed with his work and couldn’t help myself watching him for hours. I admired him greatly and he did inspire me to pursue a carrier just like his. Eventually my interest in making ouds started all because of a damaged oud at the age of thirteen and I have been enjoying crafting them ever since.
 
    The time went by so fast and I enrolled to the department of chant of the State Conservatory in Istanbul. The conservatory gave me an opportunity to meet some of the luthiers throughout Istanbul as I met  some others by the time I lived in Istanbul. Actually I became close with one of the luthiers, named Engin Erogluer who was a unique descendent of Manol usta (master). Engin, Hadi Usta’s son had a workshop quite close to our neighborhood. The shop's being at a convenient location helped me to stop by there almost four times a week. I got to spend considerable time in his shop watching him at his craft in its almost every phase except for mounting the sound table. For this, I was willing to work very hard with him and asked desperately if he could have accepted me as an apprentice but every time I got refused, probably because of a small working space to share with someone. At those times, anyone who would ever want to visit the workshop just for watching the work, could be welcomed with a great pleasure by the owner which is very unlikely today. The attitude has changed quite a lot for the past recent years. Like if you are not interested in purchasing anything in the shop, you wouldn’t be able to take the attention for help, instead you would be ignored not to disturb the person by distracting him while working. The truth definitely hurts but I think it is one of the consequences of  the global change.
 
  After graduating from the conservatory in 1992, I met my first actual master, Mustafa Cobcuoglu and worked with him as his apprentice for almost one year. He taught me quite a lot such as how to use the tools, how to prepare them, how to choose the woods and make the body and where to find the necessary materials.
 
A year later I started running my own shop and have been running it ever since. As an oud player I’ve always preferred an oud that has manol style sound to play. The ones that I ‘ve played had a size of a typical Turkish style, but I’ve also crafted ouds with different size, even the long ones. Since the Turkish style ones are hand-friendly by size and more convenient particularly for a player with an average body, especially in long term, I ‘ve been building ouds of that size more often. I believe size is also an important issue for the sound whereas the Turkish tuning requires slightly smaller size than the Arabic style since the Turkish tuning is one tone higher than the Arabic one.
 
According to my 20 years of experience in crafting ouds, I believe the most important component is the sound table and the bass bars underneath. Even though every part is glued to each other at the end, finding the correct sound board is the key point. Second priority belongs to its design, the size of the sound halls as well as their coordinates, their diameters and where  exactly  to glue the bridge on the board. Adjusting the thickness of the sound board is another issue that needs to be considered since every spruce has different stiffness which requires a preparation with the correct thickness as well as the bass bars. Other than these, the sound table needs to be  enough solid and needs to be  like a diaphragm as it prevents the board from being under compulsion and helps to generate a desired sound while playing. Otherwise the oud wouldn't sound very good and the harmonics wouldn't be heard at all. Actually there are many possibilities of badly crafting depending on different conditions that really needs to be tested meticulously while crafting. Making an instrument is really a complicated and a challenging task to complete. Beyond its incredible complexity, it's a real art that I've always enjoyed.