INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Sitar Forum: New Pen Etchings on all new Manglas

 

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neal
New Pen Etchings on all new Manglas Mar 06, 2002 09:05 p.m.


Okay, on a lighter note... If you were recently shipped a new Mangla - what is the consenus on the changed pen etchings. It's a reddish/burnt orange/rust color. Thumbs up? Thumbs down? And the winner is...
K.K.
Re:New Pen Etchings on all new Manglas Mar 06, 2002 11:34 p.m.


Hi Neal: My new teak has the new red etchings. When I first saw them, at Peter's, I was a little disappointed. But after about 5 minutes, I forgot about it. Now, after living with it for a couple of weeks, the multi-colored etchings looks strange to me. I guess it's just a matter of what you're use to K.K.
peterc
Re:New Pen Etchings on all new Manglas Mar 07, 2002 01:31 p.m.


Dear Neal, as I have explained to you via 'phone and e-amil there are many forces at work here:
1) All sitars, being hand made, have variances apropos cosmetics, etc. At this time I am seeing virtually all sitars coming out of Calcutta to have red based penwork. This from Manoj Kumar Sardar and Sons as well as Mangla, and many others. It is a case of what is the thing being done at the time.
2) Since the workmanship and sound of sitars is considered to be of paramount importance a maker will quite often make changes to the look of the instrument without regard for cosmetics, save that the instrument is still the best he can possibly make (assuming he is a good maker).
Most makers would laugh at reference being made to such cosmetic changes without proper reference being made to the quality and sound of the instrument itself.
However we do take our customers' input seriously no matter how unusual and I do remember saying to you several times that we would be prepared to take the instrument back and retrun your money since you seem so terribly offended by this color change... even to the extent of your wishing at some time in the future to send the instrument back to Mangla Prasad Sharma to have all the ornamentation stripped out and replaced with brown penwork.
My offer still holds good. Phone me, I'll give you an RA. Insure the instrument for it's full value, pack it well and send it back to me. We will promptly credit your card upon safe receipt of the instrument in it's original condition.
4)One is not sourcing a Fender robot-machine-made instrument or a mass produced sports car. One is sourcing the output of a sitar making genius.
Sitars of good class (and there aren't many makers any more that make these - most have gone the tourist sitar route) are an expression of the creativity of the maker and as such he may get up in the morning having had a vision of changes he feels he must make and that's how he will change the instrument until his next creative dream comes to him.
For instance the old grommet type tarraf device has now changed to the pillar support system on virtually all Calcutta made sitars including, again, Mangla. But I don't see people protesting about this, as the old grommet system is prone to breakage. The new system also seems to give better response.
4) Digital photography is notoriously inaccurate as is indeed are all forms of photographic reproduction.
5) This is further complicated by the fact that colors, etc. are not reproduced faithfully by different video monitors and the fact that web pics are all in 72 DPI as this is the resolution of all computer video monitors.
None of the above makes for accurate color rendering. However one may temper this by saying that what one is really buying is a great instrument irrespective of cosmetic details as long as there aren�t actual severe blemishes.
I am only responding to this posting because you have chosen to make this issue public. Therefore this situation and response is of your own making.
Please send the sitar back if you wish, but don't keep it and complain about it as I don't wish a fine sitar like this to be the subject of grudging ownership - they deserve, and usually get, better then this from discerning players.
Peter Cutchey, Buckingham Music, Exclusive US Importers of Mangla Prasad Sharma hand made sitars.
Russ
Re:New Pen Etchings on all new Manglas Mar 07, 2002 02:49 p.m.


Hey Peter;
A couple of questions I had, not related to the etching design issue:

1) ..."grommet style tarraf device changed to a pillar support system".. What are these things?

2) Been trying to get Indrajit to consider doing a short workshop for us Mangla sitar players, ideally in the Austin area when he is in town again doing concerts (late spring so he says). Any way you can "twist his arm" a bit? I think a few of us could certainly make it.

K.K.
Re:New Pen Etchings on all new Manglas Mar 07, 2002 03:27 p.m.


Hi Neal: I agree with Peter in that I think the Mangla is just evolving. IMO, the red etching compliments the color of the teak wood rather well. Perhaps if you stand back and look at the sitar as a whole, and not focus on one detail. Just a thought. - K.K.
Ken
Re:New Pen Etchings on all new Manglas Mar 07, 2002 04:32 p.m.


Hey all,
My two cents for what it's worth...Check out the Ravi Shankar Bridges CD. He's playing a Rikki Ram hon there with red and looks like black etchings. Deb and I (my wife and Tablaji) have been collecting Indian art for some time and find the hues of reds, rusts, browns and blacks to be an integral part of Indian artform.
I'll address the mute thing here again as I did on a previous post entitled "Basic Sitar Instruction" which seems to have disappeared, but here again: different woods take a bit more time than others, not just time but playing time, to begin having their voice. Some high end Martins that have Indian Rosewood back and sides may take as much as 3 to 5 years to really have a voice. This is why 10, 15, 20 year old instruments wind up haveing so much value, their sound has been developed. The same is true for these instruments althogh the mahogeny comes on right away it still get's better with time. Again I chose my personal guitar, a Lowden F12, with Mahogeny back and sides for this precise reason. Those of us that haven't ever had a Sitar in our hands before purchasing our Mangla's might have a bit more skepticism than our more experienced bretheren but that's our lack of knowledge/perspective. I am used to an action on my guitars that is set for fingerpicking so I was a bit put off at how high the action was on my sitar but after getting with my teacher found that the action is superb....two people walking down the street, it starts to rain, one says "ugh this makes my hair funny, it's sticky, it smells, my feet are wet.. the other breathes in deeply says "Aaah what great fragrence, how refreshing this is, opens my nostrils and delights my senses... see what you will.....ken
Russ
Re:New Pen Etchings on all new Manglas Mar 07, 2002 06:14 p.m.


Agreed with you guys. Neal, don't bail out just because of the color of a design! The Mangla is an obviously well made instrument as far as I can tell, and it its the best value for the money, I believe. Anything else approaching it will be much more expensive, and maybe not better! You and I need faith in these instruments that they improve over time.
peterc
Re:New Pen Etchings on all new Manglas Mar 07, 2002 08:12 p.m.



Russ (Mar 07, 2002 02:49 p.m.):
Hey Peter;
A couple of questions I had, not related to the etching design issue:

1) ..."grommet style tarraf device changed to a pillar support system".. What are these things?

2) Been trying to get Indrajit to consider doing a short workshop for us Mangla sitar players, ideally in the Austin area when he is in town again doing concerts (late spring so he says). Any way you can "twist his arm" a bit? I think a few of us could certainly make it.


Hi Russ,
What I mean is the little white circular pieces that are used to carry the tarraf strings through the fingerboard. To me they always look like a tiny version of the grommets used to keep electrical cables away from sheet metal as they pass through an electrical chassis.
Sometimes referred to as "Mogra", but this depends on where in India you are speaking from.
Anyway, sometimes the strings cause these little guys to split where they pass over them It's not something that happens a lot but the new system takes care of that by having the strings exit via a smal hole drilled in the usual place where a Mogra may be. In front of this is a small pillar with a notch in the top. Like a small bridge, really. The string goes over this and the material is very unlikely to break as it seems to be of something like PTFE (Teflon).
I first saw this system on Aashish Khan's quite wonderful Hemen sitar which he chose to sell though us, but this one had just one piller and the rest were Mogras.
Then I saw this all over a Rikhi Ram.
Now the leading makers in Calcutta are nearly all using them.
It may be a little difficult to adapt a Mogra equipped sitar to take these, but one could just leave the Mogras where they are then make and fit the pillar in front of each one.
One could make the pilars if one were good with a model lathe. I think there's a small protrusion in the center of the bottom so it will fit into a small hole in the neck's surface. A smal dab of yellow glue would probbably hold it there OK then aneble one to easily remove it should this need to happen. The pressure fo the string should keep it in place as the yellow glue son't, of course, stick to the PTFE very well.
Re. workshop. Indrajit does give lessons while he's here so perhaps may be persuaded to do a workshop is he had enough people signing up ahead.
Normally Indrajit and Tablaji Gouri live in College station where they're here for a while.
I'd say f you could get enough "Signer uppers" with money up front he'd be happy to do this.
He is, like many modern Indian music teachers, a very gentle person when teaching... not at all like the old A. Khan style of "Tie you to a tree and beat you up" style of teaching at all.
I very much enjoyed my lesson with him.
He also has a major concert in Austin May 4th. so perhaps it would be convenient to organize the workshop around that date so the concert was the big climax to all this?
He has performed at many house concerts in Austin and the surrounding area (As have such luiminaries as Ustad. Aashish Kahn and the legendary Pdt. Mani Lal Nag who kindly gave a lecture/demo for selected people when he was here).
So, at last Sri Indrajit is to perform at a major concert here.
Sri Indrajit is a remarkable player and has techniques very i tune with the more modern approach to classical sitar as well as having a very firm ground in the more traditional classical styles.
Pdt. Mani Lal Nag was Indrajit's first teacher and indeed Mani Lal himself also gently reminded me that he was also Ravi Shankar's first teacher and sitar influence in the Paris early days of the dancing troupe as Mani Lal was one of the musicians with this troupe.
It is truly amazing how much can be traced back to this great player.
Nikhil Banerjee was Sri Indrajit's mother's teacher and specified the sitar for her that Sri Indrajit now plays. It is a 50 year old Hiren Roy.
It amazes me how intricate the history of Indian music is and the ledgermain that abounds in it.

neal
Re:New Pen Etchings on all new Manglas Mar 07, 2002 08:26 p.m.


Dear Peter,
Never once did I express dissatisfaction with the quality, worksmanship or musicality of these instruments. It has never been anything but a pleasure to deal with you. The purpose of this board is to allow individuals to politely and openly express their thoughts, ideas, concerns, opinions and questions. I was surprised when the sitar arrived to see the changes, that's all. I brought that surprise / dissapointment to your attention. We both agreed that I would indeed keep the sitar (which was never in question) and a some time in the future, should I still desire and the maker can oblige, I could pay for the additional service to change the decorations to suit my taste. Obviously craftsmanship and musicality are of paramount importance. The decoration is of secondary concern. My question simply asked others what they thought of the new pen etchings. If I somehow offended you or the maker by expressing my preference, I truly apologize. There was no mean-spiritedness intended. Period. When dealing with the public, you'll find we all have different ideas and perceptions. To be able to express those very thoughts and feelings freely and openly is the basis of life. I love the musicality of the instrument. I do have a few sonic concerns that have been discussed on a previous thread. Once again, if I erred in judgement by politely posting my question regarding the makers (Manglas) changes, I am deeply sorry. I really am. Neal
peterc
Re:New Pen Etchings on all new Manglas Mar 07, 2002 10:00 p.m.



Russ (Mar 07, 2002 02:49 p.m.):
Hey Peter;
A couple of questions I had, not related to the etching design issue:

1) ..."grommet style tarraf device changed to a pillar support system".. What are these things?

2) Been trying to get Indrajit to consider doing a short workshop for us Mangla sitar players, ideally in the Austin area when he is in town again doing concerts (late spring so he says). Any way you can "twist his arm" a bit? I think a few of us could certainly make it.



Oh yes, BTW, it was Mani lal's father, Gokul Nag, that taught the young Ravi Shankar in Paris.
As Lars pointed out to me Mani Lal, presently 62, would have been just a tad young for this in 1939.
Thanks, Lars.
Ken
Re:New Pen Etchings on all new Manglas Mar 08, 2002 06:09 a.m.


Peterc,
Those little bitties in front of the mogras ( my Tun still has the grommets) are rightly called "string shoes" and have been used for centuries on celtic harps. They serve two purposes, keep the string from hogging out the hole and also, as you stated, act like another bridge thereby improving both intonation and volume.....ken
Russ
Re:New Pen Etchings on all new Manglas Mar 08, 2002 10:10 a.m.


Hi Peter;
Indeed, Mani Lal would have to be over 100 years old at least to have taught Ravi! Or an extremely, extremely talented toddler at the time?
Re: the Alludhin Khan style of teaching, my hair's not long enough to be tied to a tree anyhow (ha ha).
On the mogras, back in 1980, I found how those mogras would split under pressure from strings. So, I placed short pencil leads about 4 mm in front of the mogra. Kept it from further splitting, and raised the string up higher producing a cleaner sound too. Maybe the new sitarjis are finding out this is a better way to go.
OK, let's work on planning the details of workshop offline. I'll contact you via email soon. As I mentioned before, I don't have long-distance telephone capability from my end.
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