I have owned two sitars since i've been playing, and both have given me tuning problems. The Sitar I currently have is pretty good, the ma string holds its tuning on big meends, but any kind of meend on the lower bass strings and the pegs slip. My first sitar was terrible for this. It gets worse in the winter with the dryness (i live in canada) and I was wondering what tips or advice you guys can give me on this. I know some people are against the chalk, saying it makes slips worse. I've met some people who lightly file the peg with a very rough file or rub the edge of a coarse saw down the peg. Any ideas?
Hi, You can rough the peg up with sandpaper, file, etc. Make sure of course that you're using carpenters chalk with no wax! It won't hurt the peg. I'm getting ready to test a new product soon instead of chalk and will let you know..... In worse cases, the peg may not fit right and have to be recut or replaced.
Big L: Whoever told you that chalk increases slippage must have used blackboard chalk, which contains wax to decrease the problem of chalk "dust." As Lars stated, carpenters chalk or regular "sidewalk" chalk, available at toy stores/craft/art supply stores, is the right stuff. Unless your sitar is 20 years old, you need to chalk the pegs. If chalk doesn't help, search the archives on Sitar Forum for other solutions, it's all been discussed before. One other thing; are you applying enough inward pressure to the pegs as you turn them?
I live in a dry climate too (New Mexico). I have the slipping problem on the bass strings too now and then.
Apart from chalking or filing, what I found was to make sure there is no slack on the tuning peg head. Pull the string upwards off the frets, then tighten back up until no slack is felt. Also, make sure your string looping is tight at the sitar's base. Realize however that brass and copper don't "snap back" as easily as steel when they're stretched. You will probably have to fine tune the 3rd and 4th a number of times as you play them. That's just a characteristic of these metals and wood-on-wood friction.
You should go to Lars' new website http://www.sitarsetc.com and go to "Sitars, A-Z", there's an extremely good and helpful section on tuning your sitar, makes mention of chalk(and other ways to increase friction on the peg), and pulling up on the Sa/Pa strings, meending the Ma on the 7th & 8th, 13th & 14th frets to stretch the string (so it hopefully won't go overstretching you out of tune when you play!)
Scroll down to "STARTING TO TUNE", it's well written and very clear, gave me a large measure of self-confidence, and more knowledge than I had before, a great help to me!