Leonidas Lainakis

Leonidas Lainakis was born in Chania in 1984. His father's friends, teachers and associates contributed to his musical education, "legends" of Cretan and folk music such as Kostas Papadakis or Navtis, George Tsagarakis (or Tzimakis) , Michalis Polychronakis, Giorgos Gombakis, Petros Karpathakis and many other notable musicians such as Lefteris Sarzetakis.

He was taught and studied a variety of musical idioms, most notably those of the Cretan music tradition, which he serves faithfully. He is particularly involved in the research, rescue and promotion of urban folk music in western Crete, the so-called Tampachaniotika. He is a master at lute, bulgari and three string bouzouki. In 2004, he created his own musical ensemble, which interprets Tambachaniotika, Kissamatic folk dance, traditional music from the rest of Crete and Greece and old rebetika and smyrna traditional music. He participates in concerts and presentations of Cretan traditional music, music and dance festivals and he is the organizer of the Rotonda music festival. In recent years he has also been involved in instrument making, especially the rescue and revival of the original Bulgari, but also in the manufacture of lutes and other traditional instruments with a high quality in both music and construction. At the same time he is active in teaching traditional music by teaching Bulgari, lute and other traditional instruments in his workshop. He is also involved in music composing, having invested in music documentaries and films, and in 2012 he and his father and his sister released the book "Tampachaniotika, Urban Songs of Western Crete", along with a ray tray with 16 well-known and anecdotal tampachaniotika songs.

Instrument Making

He was inducted into the art of instrument making by his father, Stelios Lainakis, who was in turn taught by Stelios Foustalieris and was able to preserve and showcase a special cretan musical instrument, the bulgari. The making and the play style of this urban cretan stringed musical instrument would have been lost without the love, the enthusiasm, and the research conducted by Stelios Lainakis. He was taught the secrets of instrument making from various old instrument makers, such as Georgios Fraggedakis, and began to experiment by making his own bulgari instruments, based on the mold of the instrument of Stelios Foustalieris, in order to achieve a sound just as good as his. He spent endless hours carving wood from mulberry tree, and it was as if the wood was waiting for years to be imbued with a new shape and voice, so that the sound of this special instrument would not be lost into the sands of time. One day, Stelios Lainakis gave his son a beautiful log of black mulberry tree, and that was the spark that created Leonidas’ ongoing interest in the practice of instrument making. He was enchanted by the smell of the wood and the process of crafting it. Alongside his father and other instrument makers, such as Georgios Fraggedakis, Nikolaos Mpra, Kostas Kontaxakis, and Manolis Panigirakis, Leonidas began to learn the art of instrument making. In the words of Kostas Kontaxakis, “Manolis Panigirakis is a teacher for all of us, he introduced us into the world of frequencies, and he taught us how to tune an instrument”. He also considers all of the old instrument makers as his teachers, such as Joseph Terzivasian, Emmanuel-Georgios and Lefteris Fraggedakis, Theodoros Mountakis, Emmanuel Stagakis, Abdul Kalimerakis, Emmanuel Kopeliadis, Panagoi brothers, and Apartian, all of whom he met though a vast collection of their musical instruments.

His occupation with instrument making also has its roots from his own need as a musician to find the right musical instrument. Being a musician himself, he observed the sound and the technique and ventured into making his own instruments that would fully serve his own needs as a musician. Besides, as he distinctively says, “it is difficult to make a musical instrument if you have not heard it or don’t know it. You need to listen to the vibrations of the instrument”. He himself plays every instrument that he makes and verifies its high quality both musically and structurally.

In order to serve the art of instrument making, you need devotion and tranquility. He carefully selects old pieces of wood, such as black mulberry tree or walnut tree, and devotes several hours in his workshop to design and build the instruments. His criteria for making the instruments are a harmonious sound, easy to play, and a beautiful appearance. The instruments that he makes have a natural sound and are based on the old timbre. In the previous decades it was observed that with the rise in popularity of the electric sound, there was a gradual change in the way the lute was played, in its tone, as well as in its making, especially all over Crete. This observation was a nudge for Leonidas to dive into the art of instrument making and into the study of every old instrument that were salvaged. The old instruments differed in their build, because the sound needed to be generated clean and loud. Nowadays, on the other hand, mass production of musical instruments has minimized the interest in the sound of the instrument, as the priority is given to the ease of play for the musician, as the sound can now be adjusted using the console and the magnet.

Leonidas Lainakis has studied and assimilated the knowledge, the techniques, and the secrets of the old instrument makers, and he specifies in the restoration of the instrument making process of the original bulgari. The original, cretan bulgari is a very special instrument with a distinct sound and feel, and the main criteria for its build is the sound and the music it produces. The standard for the production of the original bulgari is the bulgari of Foustalieris which is dated at 150 years, as well as a second bulgari, potentially even older. Additionally, he builds lutes and other traditional instruments, always making sure that every instrument that he makes will produce a unique and quality sound.


Having studied himself along established experts of the traditional music, and based on his love and passion for preserving the original music sounds, Leonidas Lainakis also teaches traditional music with a line of traditional instruments. In his workshop, he teaches bulgari, lute, folk guitar, mandolin, mpouzouki, mpaglamas, and tzoura. He preserves and develops distinct old methods of music playing (the mpenterlidic and the bulgaric methods for the lute and the bulgari) and he teaches the correlation between the music and dancing of chaniotika syrta songs.

Along with the teaching of music theory (rhythm, musical scale, improvisation, tunes and songs), his main goal is to turn his students into musicians. He believes that apart from the playing technique, what matters is the essence that a person can imbue into the musical instrument. Additionally, he performs with his student in musical concerts, such as the concert “Sounds of Generations” in the Eastern Moat of Chania in the August of 2017.