INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Sitar Forum: Is this a real sitar?


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Is this a real sitar? Sep 04, 2002 02:52 a.m.


I'm new to this forum, I'm very glad I've found it.
I have never seen a sitar in real life, but I want to buy one.
I have an offer, I have only got photos till now. It has 4 playable strings and about 10 (theys can hardly be seen) sympathetic strings, is this normal, isn't it?
The sitar has no tumba! There was one, bot there is only ahole left in the back of the instrument. What does this mean to the sound?

Thank You, Oli

Re:Is this a real sitar? Sep 04, 2002 09:06 a.m.

I found some more information... as it seems there never was a tumba at this sitar, the strings also seem to be OK.
Here's the link to the auction. What do you think of this sitar?
I could also send you some good photos of it if anyone could help me.

Thank You, oli

Re:Is this a real sitar? Sep 04, 2002 09:13 a.m.

I have registered now, hope to be able to post pictures...
Re:Is this a real sitar? Sep 04, 2002 10:04 a.m.

Hello Oli;
Your sitar looks very similar to my original, now 33 years old. That style has not been made since the sixties I don't think. The sitar in the photos in your article does have a tumba. That's the big round thing at the bottom. Without it, you would have only a stick and some string!
For that style, you should have at least 6 top playable strings, and 9 sympathetic strings underneath. Mine has 7 on top, and 11 underneath. That was standard in those days.
Re:Is this a real sitar? Sep 04, 2002 12:16 p.m.

Hello Russ,

thank you very much.

When writing the topic I thought every sitar had two tumbas. Now I now this is OK.

I think the sitar has 6 playable and 12 sympathetic strings, I hope that I can take a look at it tomorrow.

What about this sitar's quality, do you think it is OK or is it in the range "more toy than instrument"? How much should a sitar like this cost?

Thank You, Oli

Re:Is this a real sitar? Sep 04, 2002 02:08 p.m.

Hi Oli: This sitar HAD a top tumba at one time. You can clearly see the hole where it was once mounted. The tumba probably was broken and the owner just removed the mount. Also, judging by the position of the sympathetic string bridge, this sitar is not set up properly and I would bet it's going to need at least a hundred Euros' worth of work to get it into playing condition. That's my two cents worth. Anybody else have any advise for ol' Oli? - K.K.
Re:Is this a real sitar? Sep 04, 2002 02:18 p.m.

Thank You, KK.

The owner says that there whewrw the hole is a hook has been to make it possible to hang the sitar on the wall.

The sympathetic string bridge is the big or the small one?
On other pictures of sitars I've seen both bridges are very close together, which is not the case with "my" one. Is this the problem you see?
What do you think has happened with the bridge and what has to be done? To bring it to the correct position, do you use glue or what else?

Thanks again, Oli

Re:Is this a real sitar? Sep 04, 2002 03:44 p.m.

Hi Oli;
The use of two tumbas on sitars has only become popular because of players like Ravi Shankar, who prefers them. There are plenty of well-known artists who only have one tumba. Their sitars sound fine, provided everything else is OK. Six main strings should also be OK. Make sure they're not rusty though. Strings don't last long.
Sympathetic bridge is the small one. It should be just underneath or just slightly in front of the big bridge. Its not playable where its at now.
Price on the instrument depends on what condition its in. I can't really tell from the pictures. If the frets are quite rusty or badly pitted, or the strings tying them on are frayed or broken, you will end up paying a lot of money to have them replaced. In this country, $200 minimum. If the bridge is quite worn down and needs work or replacement, more than double that amount.
So, if that is its condition, I would not buy it. Otherwise, if everything looks good, then a starting price of $200 perhaps? I don't know what they is in Euros.
Re:Is this a real sitar? Sep 04, 2002 04:09 p.m.

Thank you once more. I'll make sure the frets are in good condition.
I don't really understand the thing with the bridge... the sympathetic strings are below the other ones, right? If so, the position of the sympathetic string bridge should only influence the sound, not the playability, I think...
I don't see why the position is so important as you do not fret on those strings... I could only imagine the sound gets better when making the sounding part of the strings longer by moving the bridge.
I'll take a look; i hope I can repair it myself - is the bridge glued to the body?

So many questions... I'm sorry but the auction ends tomorrow. It's at 61 � now, � and $ are nearly the same.

Greetings, Oli

Re:Is this a real sitar? Sep 04, 2002 05:15 p.m.

OK,price is not bad. If it doesn't look like a lot of work (or money for repairs) ,then buy it. But personally, I would hold out for a fully functional sitar in good shape, even if it costs a little more. I always think you get what you pay for!
You are right that placing the small bridge further back lengthens the strings. That in itself makes the sound better. It increases the effective surface available for sympathetic vibration. In addition, most sitarists also strum those strings as part of keeping beat. So, although you don't fret them, you do play them with the fingernails. Listen closely next time you play a sitar record or CD. I do not recommend gluing down the small bridge. Pressure of the strings when tuned up will keep it in place.
Hope this helps.
Re:Is this a real sitar? Sep 04, 2002 11:29 p.m.

Hey Oli,
Don't go over 100 may be a lemon.....are you over in Europe? There's a dealer there in Germany called India instruments, if you want a good sitar buy it from someone that knows about them. You may find a good cheap sitar but the odds are against it, especially on ebay. If you end up with a bad instrument then you may get discouraged, but if you get this one and need info then we can all help......Good luck.


Re:Is this a real sitar? Sep 05, 2002 02:32 a.m.

Thank you all.
I will teka a look at the sitar today. I play guitar, bass and mandolin, so I hope I'll be able to judge the instruments quality roughly and also repair it.
Also i'm not able to pay a lot of money for a real sitar. But as i'm from Germany, i'll do a search for the dealer Lars mentioned.


Re:Is this a real sitar? Sep 05, 2002 06:55 a.m.

Another dealer out of Germany is Klanghaus. They just opened a branch shop here in Louisville, Kentucky (of all places) named Alop-Jor (sic) that is carrying some very nice instruments. So you might try them. I agree with the rest of the bunch. You can find okay quality sitars in the 400-500 dollar range. There is something to be said for purchasing a sitar that is already broken in (not broken). But the add should read: "very nice example, very well maintained, [name brand] sitar". I would think that a nice sitar would not be sold on Ebay. Rule of thumb for Ebay purchases: you get what everyone else passed up. So I'm not so sure that you "win" the auction. Believe me, the more you can spend on a sitar, the more pleased you will be with the quality. But, no need to go way over budget on your first sitar, there is more than one out there and as a few of these guys on this forum can claim, you are allowed to own more than one sitar. Let us know if you need further assistance in your search for a wonderful instrument.
Re:Is this a real sitar? Sep 05, 2002 08:41 a.m.

Klanghaus? In Louisville? Well, now I done seen everythang.....Hey Stephen, will you email me? Dumped my email in a crash a week and a half ago.......
Oli, here is the link to India instruments...

I'll bet you can get a decent sitar there, he has a great philosophy as well.......


Re:Is this a real sitar? Sep 06, 2002 03:33 a.m.

Unfortunatelly I didn't get the sitar... I took the wrong direction on the motorway and couldn't even see it. I decided to take the risk and spend 140 �, but someone else got it for about 150 �.

This are all the sitars from Indian Instruments below 750 �. Unfortunatelly there are no pictures on the website.
P. & Brothers / M.K.Sardar simple deco: 560 �
Monoj Kumar Sardar Vilayat Khani: 560 �
Calcutta student model: 390 �

Klanghaus offers one: "standad quality, good work, 1 resonance body" for 388 �.

There is one more on eBay, obviously of higher quality (lotus pegs). I'll post the link later as the site is maintained at the moment.
Unfortunatelly a new sitar is way over my budget as I study the guitar at a private school what is quite expensive.

Greetings, Oli

Re:Is this a real sitar? Sep 06, 2002 04:28 a.m.

Here's the link to eBay sitar #2!

Re:Is this a real sitar? Sep 06, 2002 10:17 a.m.

Hello Oli;
I looked at the new sitar and read the description (using what little german I still remember from my university days of long ago), and this looks/sounds much better to bid on than the other. Plus, this includes a case, and they both appear to be in good shape. The other one just didn't sound like a good deal at all! As Stephen recommends, Ebay is not the best place to search for a sitar, but perhaps this one may work for you. I would recommend a bid of 200 euros to start this one. A sitar of this quality would start around $400 in the U.S. Good luck....
Re:Is this a real sitar? Sep 06, 2002 11:10 a.m.

Thanks Russ.

I've translated the description; it doesn't say very much.
"Handmade in India by a master of the sitar. Saddle and bridge made from bone. Beautiful deco. Completely handmade. Super Sound. Finest material. With wooden case."

Unfortunatelly eBay seems to be the only possibility to buy a sitar if not a new one from a shop. I never found one in classifieds.

Regards, Oli

Re:Is this a real sitar? Sep 06, 2002 01:36 p.m.

Hey Oli: It's not unfortunate at all that you didn't get that sitar. Hopefully, whoever DID get it is planning on using it as a decoration in their apartment. The new (recent) one you're looking at on ebay looks like a much better gamble, especially if the price doesn't go much over a couple hundred Euros. (You might ask the seller what's up with that funky sticker on the peg box.) Which ever instrument you end up buying, first thing, take it to someone who PLAYS sitar (not your local music store.) You want to make sure it's set up properly before you start your adventure with it. As Lars stated, if it's not set up properly, you could get discouraged very quickly, not realizing it's a problem with the instrument, and not your technique. Good luck - K.K.
Re:Is this a real sitar? Sep 08, 2002 03:37 a.m.


I didn't get this sitar as well.

What do you think of the ones I mentioned from Klanghaus and India Instruments?


Re:Is this a real sitar? Sep 08, 2002 11:38 a.m.

The sitar in the pic on E_bay is a half-size sitar, not at all playable. as to buying on E-bay most of what I've seen in sitars on there, they are junk. I would find someone whosells instruments at a store, & buy one from there........peace
Re:Is this a real sitar? Sep 08, 2002 12:25 p.m.

My golden rule as to buying sitars is to play then pay. I want to know how the instrument feels as well as sounds. Never buy without a satisfaction guarantee and return policy. Another reason why I don't recommend Ebay....unless you like to gamble!
Do you live anywhere near Braunschweig? If so, I would make the trip to India Instruments there and try out their sitars. They welcome you to do that. From their offerings, the P & Brothers standard at 560 euro sounds like your best bet (although they show no pictures, and there is at 16% tax charge). They have a generic "student" model at 390, but I have no opinion on that.
Re:Is this a real sitar? Sep 08, 2002 01:39 p.m.

Hi Oli,
Yes, go and see Jens Eckert at India Instruments, I've talked with him a few times and he also has a good reputation. I would check out the Manoj Kumar Sardar first, then the P&B bros. I played a Manoj a few months ago and it was OK........


Re:Is this a real sitar? Sep 09, 2002 03:38 a.m.


sitarsrule, what is a half size sitar? I know 1/2 and 3/4 and 7/8 guitars, they are smaller than normal ones... but I can hardly recognize how big the sitar in the pictures is as there ist mostly white background. Also, the guitars I mentioned are playable; there's nothing wrong with them, they're just smaller.
I cannot imagine are sitar beeing not playable at all, in fact it is quite a simple insrument as guitars and bass or mandolin are. I cannot imagine one built so badly that it is not playable at all.


Re:Is this a real sitar? Sep 09, 2002 06:32 a.m.

I tried one of their sitars at the shop in Louisville and found it to be okay. The javari was closed (how I like it), and meends were very "slippery". The quality isn't concert grade, but then again it was much nicer than a student grade sitar. This instrument is a good example of a medium grade. But be forwarned, the same model of instrument by the same maker, doesn't imply that the sound and quality will be the same. The instrument I tuned up (as I'm probably one of the only folks in Kentucky that has ever done this) took a bit of time to coax as the frets had never been moved (although they were close). I also had the disadvantage of not having any oil pot next to me (as Frank Zappa once querried "did your fingers get stuck?") and had to use "head oil" (oil from forehead) and had to deal with wearing plastic coated mizrabs for the first time (newly found dislike).
I should point out to you that Buckingham Music can do international shipping (If you want an instrument that has travelled 3/4 of the way around the world to get to you).
Re:Is this a real sitar? Sep 09, 2002 10:13 a.m.

I had thought about mentioning Buckingham. Oli, they also have a very good reputation. Their super Calcutta looks like a very reasonable entry-level instrument, and not high priced. Plus, Buckingham does "tweak" (optimize) their instruments, and it sounds like India Instruments does not. That can save you a lot of trouble.
Re:Is this a real sitar? Sep 09, 2002 06:04 p.m.

I played a Super Calcutta when I was down there at Buckingham and yes, for the money they are very good!! The only drawback for Oli might be shipping.......


Re:Is this a real sitar? Sep 14, 2002 07:27 p.m.

Most of the 1/2 size are kid's toys, or for haning on the wall. I've played , or try'ed to play 2 different ones. As I examined them, I found that no amount of tweeking allowed it to bring forth sounds of real sitar Quality. So I hope you don't waste time on these junk things. Find a real sitar from a dealer who can tune it and set it up............Peace
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