The Cumbus is a relatively young instrument. It was developed in Istanbul in the early 1900's. The inventor, Zeynel, was born in Salonika, now known as Thessaloniki, Greece. He eventually settled in Beyazit, Istanbul, opened a music shop, and became known as Zeynel Abidin Bey. He was also known as a local Oud performer. Eventually he began to design new instruments. It was on January 24th 1930 that Zeynel’s instrument received its name from a fellow native of Thessalonica, the famous Ataturk Mustafa Kemal. Ataturk began his service to Turkey as a soldier. Later as a national leader he founded the republic of Turkey, and became Turkey’s first president. Drawing on the sound of the instrument for inspiration, Ataturk dubbed it "Cumbus". Pronounced "joombush", "Cumbus" is Turkish for "revelry". Soon Zeynel was manufacturing and selling his Cumbus. In 1934 the Surname Act was passed, requiring all Turkish citizens to take a family name. Zeynel Abidin Bey now became Zeynel Abidin Cumbus. About 30 years ago, the Cumbus stepped off the classical stage. Today, it is still played by the people out of the cities, especially at weddings, and special ceremonies.
Originally this Turkish chordophone had a leather soundboard, much like an American Banjo. The narrow fretless neck was designed to easily disassemble from the aluminum body by loosening a large screw mechanism. It has been said that the body looks like a kitchen frying pan; the back and sides are solid. There are vent holes on the top surface around the soundboard. Today the Cumbus have Mylar soundboards held in place by a bolted tension ring. For its light weight, the Cumbus is very sturdy and remarkably loud.
The Standard Cumbus is tuned like the Turkish Oud and one step higher than the Arabic Oud. Almost any Oud tuning can be used.
Check out our Cumbus accessories, too.
SPECIAL NOTE - No Warranty on Strings: Whether you purchase an instrument on-line or in a neighborhood store, manufacturers recommend that you change the strings on your instrument as soon as you receive it. Your instrument has completed a long journey to your home. During this time the strings WILL oxidize and this may shorten their life expectancy and may reduce their sound quality. On occasion instruments may arrive with a broken string, therefore, it is recommended that you purchase a replacement set of strings and consider changing your strings as soon as it arrives. Learning to change strings should be the first lesson learned when embarking on the journey of playing a new instrument.