The oud (or ud) is one of the most popular instruments in Middle Eastern music. Its name derives from the Arabic for 'wood', and this refers to the strips of wood used to make its rounded body. In Greece it is known as the outi and in Iran as the barbat. The neck of the oud, which is short in comparison to the body, has no frets and this contributes to its unique sound. The most common string combination is five pairs of strings tuned in unison and a single bass string, although up to thirteen strings may be found. Strings are generally made of nylon or gut, and are plucked with a plectrum known as a risha or mızrap. Another distinctive feature of the oud is its head, with the tuning pegs bent back at an angle to the neck. The oud used in the Arab world is slightly different to that found in Turkey, Armenia and Greece. Different tunings are used and the Turkish-style oud has a brighter tone than its Arab counterpart. The European lute is a descendant of the oud, from which it takes its name (al-oud).

The purpose of this site is to provide an information resource on all aspects of the oud. Please email me with any comments, or send me photos of your oud to appear in the Oud Gallery with as much info as possible on its history and construction.


Iraqi-born oud player Saif Al-Khayyat has released his debut CD 'Ahlam Babiliyya (Babylonian Dreams)' together with percussionist Nora Thiele.

Brian Prunka, a Brooklyn-based oud player, has formed the group Nashaz to combine Arabic music and jazz. Their eponymous debut album is available from Bandcamp, CD Baby, Amazon and iTunes among others.

Check out the brand new CD 'Doğuş' from Japanese oud player Tetsuro Shibayama. For more details, you can email Tetsuro (in English) or visit his website.

Saif Karomi has released a new album, 'TasaulaT', which he says "explores profound recurring questions about life that we often find ourselves facing". The album can be purchased in MP3 form here.

Eric Ederer has released his first self-produced album, 'Tune', which is also the first to feature his new instrument, the Nautilauta. The album can be purchased here.


Copyright © 2001-2014 David Parfitt  All rights reserved. Last updated 17th December 2014.