The bouzouki is descendant of the long necked lute, which was known from Ancient times. Same type of instrument was played in Pre-Hellenic civilizations like Egypt & Chine. In ancient Greece predecessor of a bouzouki was known under the name of “pandouris” that changed into “tambouras” during Byzantine era. The National Archaeological Museum of Greece displays the “tambouras” that belonged to the hero of Greek revolution of 1821, and which bears great similarity to the bouzouki used by “rembetes”.
The guitar-like instruments go as far back as the Ancient time, but the instruments that can actually claim some relation to the modern guitar can be traced only as far back as 14 century. The look of that guitar used to be very different from the one known to us. These guitars were much smaller and the number of strings varied greatly until the four double strings guitars, called the “four course” guitars, excelled in popularity by 15th century.
Mandolin can be described as a small, short necked lute with eight strings. The most well know type of mandolin is the Neapolitan, a small 60 cm long lute, with deeply vaulted ribs and a table slanted downward at the lower end. Being type of lute, mandolin reaches back to some of the earliest instruments, some of which appeared as early as 2000 BC in Mesopotamia.