Whether you are new to playing these wonderful instruments or have been playing them for years, you will have come across the big question: Arabic Oud vs Turkish Oud. It is a pretty tough one to answer, but we’re going to give it our best shot today!

Arabic Ouds

We will begin to pick apart the big question: Arabic Oud vs Turkish Oud by going over the origin, sound and construction of the Arabic version first.

These guys are the ones that are the most common. You will most often see them played in Palestine, North Africa, Iraq, the Arabian Peninsula, Iran and Jordan.

Typically, the sound would be described as deep and well-balanced. If you are attempting to serenade your lover on the steps of their building, you will be pleased with the romantic sound that the Arabic Oud gives you.

Usually, you will hear a shorter sustain with this kind of Oud, yet you will benefit from the smooth rumble of the bass strings and stark notes of the highest ones. Quite the all-rounder we think!

The Arabic Oud’s construction varies drastically which can (unfortunately) make this section a little tricky since different makers put them together in their special ways. But, generally, this kind of Oud will be 60-62cm from the nut to the bridge, regardless of who has made it.

The soundboard is rather thick on this one which contrasts nicely with the ornate rosettes that can be seen around the three sound holes. Although you might find that there are no ornate decorations on the Arabic Oud’s you have come into contact with — as we said, it just depends on who built them!

You’ll probably be pleased to know that one aspect does stay the same amongst these Arabic Ouds and that is the bowl shape. No matter who made it, the signature deep bowl that gives out a mellow tone which seems to resonate through your soul, will be featured.

Professional Kamil Gul Turkish Oud made of Purpleheart woodTurkish Ouds

Now, we are halfway through our discovery of the answer to the big question: Arabic Oud vs Turkish Oud! So, it is time to delve into the latter part of the query and talk about the origin, sound and construction of the Turkish Oud.

You definitely wouldn’t forget hearing one of these being strummed — they produce such a unique sound! Unfortunately, unless you have adventured in Turkey or Greece, you probably wouldn’t have had the pleasure of hearing it since it tends to stay within these borders.

Compared to the Arabic Oud, the sound you will become accustomed to with this one consist of a much longer, higher note that you can’t help but notice as it soars high above any other instrument in an ensemble.

If you are someone who loves a bit of vibrato — the Turkish Oud will take you to heaven!

Construction-wise, they are much easier to spot since their design doesn’t differ quite as much. The soundboard on these little guys is never coated so you should expect to see nothing but the color of a light wood here.

From the nut to the bridge they are only 58.5cm so a fair bit smaller than their Arabic cousins which makes them a tad more convenient for certain players.

The Answer

Finally, we are going to answer the big question: Arabic Oud vs Turkish Oud!

We wish we could give you a black and white answer for which one to purchase for your collection, but we just can’t!

If you are looking for a lovey-dovey sound with a more ornate overall design, then the Arabic Oud is the one for you. But, if you are after a distinguishable yet simple look with a very clean sound then you should opt for the Turkish.

In short, it depends on the player! If in doubt, let your next instrument pick you!

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