INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Sitar Forum: Sitting in the corner under a lot of pressure

 

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Bob
Sitting in the corner under a lot of pressure Feb 28, 2003 01:24 p.m.


First, thanks to everyone who has responded to my questions! I really appreciate all the great advice.

Here's another thing I'm curious about. On the Buckingham Music site, the late great Peter C. suggested that one should leave one's sitar leaning in the corner to counteract the many pounds of pressure the strings put on the neck. I haven't been doing this because the corners around my house aren't very safe places (pets, people, etc.). I also have not been following Peter's advice to occasionally tune it all the way down to relieve pressure. After 18 months, I notice no ill effects on the sitar. I'm very much hoping that it continues in good health. How do other folks on this forum feel about this matter? Am I endangering the instrument by keeping in the case rather than in the corner?

Russ
Re:Sitting in the corner under a lot of pressure Feb 28, 2003 03:49 p.m.


I've heard that bit of advice from many sources, but I don't do it. Mine simply sits on its back, balanced by both tumbas, covered by a cloth. In theory, leaning in a corner will keep it from becoming "bowed". But that effect would likely only come about over many years,in fact decades. I seriously doubt that modern sitars made with quality materials would ever have that problem. I have had one of my sitars nearly 33 years, but I see no bowing effect on it.

If you tune no higher than C#, then you need to detune only now and then. Gives the instrument neck and bridge a rest. And you only need tune it down a couple of notes, not all the way. All the way down may cause your strings to develop kinks, which will then break when the string is tuned back up. I found that out the hard way! So, that's my experience.

Stephen
Re:Sitting in the corner under a lot of pressure Feb 28, 2003 04:25 p.m.


While on the subject of bowed necks, I would like to present this question. I have noticed that on the Shankar DVD, Pandit Shankar's sitar seems to bow forward quite a bit. My Mangla Rose Petal seems to bow a bit as well (I own the one in the photos of the Rose Petal on Buckingham's website and you can see the bow in the side views. I am now wondering if this really hurts the instrument other than the added distance from string to fret. Could someone briefly explain the mechanics of how this might effect the sound quality of an instrument. I tend to think it doesn't make a lot of difference as what seems to be important is the tension of the string and the and it's length which ratio is altered by fretting and pulling of the string, especially on an instrument that has non-fixed frets.
I follow Junius' "laws" and leave my instrument fully tuned at all times. It gets a few hour break once a year when I change all of the strings and polish the dand.
Russ
Re:Sitting in the corner under a lot of pressure Feb 28, 2003 06:00 p.m.


Might not actually effect the sound quality that much. I believe you said it already, that bowing would make the instrument harder and harder to play due to the increasing string to fret distance. Some players actually like this high action better. Perhaps Raviji is one of them. One could compensate to a limited extent by filing the bridge legs down to lower the action, but then you're in danger of fret-buzz or string-kill if its too much! So, I wouldn't worry about it unless it becomes extreme.

Anybody else want to jump in here?
The other possible aspect is that too much bowing my induce microfractures in the wood of the neck. That could make keeping the tarabs in tune a problem, and won't be too good for the shellac finish either.

Matt
Re:Sitting in the corner under a lot of pressure Feb 28, 2003 06:41 p.m.


Oh, this topic is about sitars - I thought you were talking about my job! LOL! Just glad it's Friday...
Russ
Re:Sitting in the corner under a lot of pressure Feb 28, 2003 07:21 p.m.


I heard that!!!! I think I've done enough damage for one week. I'm out of here.........
sitarsrule
Re:Sitting in the corner under a lot of pressure Feb 28, 2003 08:35 p.m.


I pretending to know it all, I've been play string Instruments since 1977, I've learned a few tricks from everyone I've met .My father played jazz guitar in 50's so I've met a few greats as well they came to the conclusion that when only needed should the tension be taken off the instrument because this leads to microscopic stress factures which over time leads to sound loss, neck warpage , and other other undesired effects. I picked up a real nice sitar in 1992 I 've only done a full string change once,if kept clean the sympathtic strings will last a great while, I change the other strings when they break of really no longer hold a tune . I try to play at least 30 minutes a day sometimes for sevral hours
and have left the sitar in the case, I found no loss of the wonderful sounds that the Sitar is able to make. I'm guessing the Sitar to be 40 yrs old made in calcutta by Makhan Lal Roy & sons . Besides the Sitar I built out of Mahogony I own a no name brand which Plays well These Instruments
sound as well as the day I put all new strings on them. so as not to ramble ...Peace
DaveP
Re:Sitting in the corner under a lot of pressure Mar 01, 2003 12:32 a.m.


G'day all from down under (NZ)

I have 3 sitars (Hiren Roy, Hemen and Rikhi Ram - yeah, yeah eat your hearts out!) My Hiren Roy, which was made by Hiren himself for me in 1975, has been mainly stored in its case under full tension for most of its life and the neck has remained stable.

My Hemen, which must be about 50 years old, and my Rikhi Ram (a recent experimental model with an all wooden bridge) are left under full tension leaning into corners. Again I have never detected any bowing of the neck. I would assume that if the instrument is from a reputable maker I wouldn't worry too much about the way it is stored as long as it is safe from being knocked around

Lars
Re:Sitting in the corner under a lot of pressure Mar 01, 2003 12:42 a.m.


I've heard both sides of this issue but personally I also leave them tuned and in a corner when possible. If the maker is good, you won't have any problems especially with teak wood.....I have a 45 year old Hiren Roy teak that has always been played and kept in tune and the neck is as straight as can be....I've never noticed Ravi Shankars sitar being bowed.....don't know for sure but I think the action on his sitar is lower.....

Lars

Freid
Re:Sitting in the corner under a lot of pressure Mar 01, 2003 07:37 p.m.


I think I saw this somewhere?...What can anyone tell us regarding this Rhiki Ram experimental model?


G'day all from down under (NZ)

I have 3 sitars (Hiren Roy, Hemen and Rikhi Ram - yeah, yeah eat your hearts out!) My Hiren Roy, which was made by Hiren himself for me in 1975, has been mainly stored in its case under full tension for most of its life and the neck has remained stable.

My Hemen, which must be about 50 years old, and my Rikhi Ram (a recent experimental model with an all wooden bridge) are left under full tension leaning into corners. Again I have never detected any bowing of the neck. I would assume that if the instrument is from a reputable maker I wouldn't worry too much about the way it is stored as long as it is safe from being knocked around[/quote]

DaveP
Re:Sitting in the corner under a lot of pressure Mar 01, 2003 09:36 p.m.


My Rikhi Ram sitar has only 6 main strings instead of 7 and therefore there are only 6 main tuning pegs. This means that they were able to make the peg box shorter. It looks a little "dinky" but you get used to it. The distance between the bridge and nut is about half an inch shorter than my conventional sitars but it seems happy at C#.

The main gourd has been cut flat. Not like a surbahar but instead the gourd has been attached in the normal way and then about half cut away and replaced with a flat piece of wood. The overall depth of the instrument is about that of a large acoustic guitar and I am able to easily carry it round on my back in a soft cello bag. Very portable!

It has all wooden bridges (ebony I suppose) and produces a very clear sound. The wood seems to give it a drier, less jangly tonality although I have set it up with quite a round jawari. I notice that Vilayat Khan uses these same wooden bridges in some of his recent photos.

I really like its sound and its always a toss up each day between it and my Hiren Roy.

If anyone's really interested I can email them a photo or two of it . Contact me off list-

Dave Parsons
dakpa@ihug.co.nz

Russ
Re:Sitting in the corner under a lot of pressure Mar 24, 2003 05:15 p.m.


Here's a reason why it might be a good idea to loosen the tension on the strings now and then. I learned this the hard way.

This last Saturday morning, I heard a loud "boom" from inside my music room at the other end of my house. I walked in and looked around, but saw nothing odd. Later that night, I walked in to put a couple of hours into playing sitar, and spotted what looked like about two inches of a white broken pencil lying on the floor. Picked it up and still wasn't sure what it was. But then I looked over at the sitar, and all my strings were piled up in a heap on the floor. The white thing was what was left of the post at the base of the gourd where the strings tie on (don't know the name). It not only broke, it shot out of there under pressure and bounced off the wall. Hence, the "boom".

Now my sitar is unplayable. That post was tough ceramic, and its not going to be that easy to replace. So, there's a reason for detuning. Bummer!
So, now I have an unplayable sitar

Neal
Re:Sitting in the corner under a lot of pressure Mar 24, 2003 06:00 p.m.


Hey Russ, I am sitting here chuckling to myself, between reading this post and what I have been going thru lately with bridge feet and Jawari mishaps - It is amazing what a high maintenance instrument/ venture we have all chosen by pursuing ICM. I guess all you can do is laugh. I mean, think about it, your sitar basically EXPLODED! I can't stop laughing, partly out of humor and partly out of misery.. Best you wear protective goggles next time you go into that music practice room. Good luck my friend. Neal

Here's a reason why it might be a good idea to loosen the tension on the strings now and then. I learned this the hard way.

This last Saturday morning, I heard a loud "boom" from inside my music room at the other end of my house. I walked in and looked around, but saw nothing odd. Later that night, I walked in to put a couple of hours into playing sitar, and spotted what looked like about two inches of a white broken pencil lying on the floor. Picked it up and still wasn't sure what it was. But then I looked over at the sitar, and all my strings were piled up in a heap on the floor. The white thing was what was left of the post at the base of the gourd where the strings tie on (don't know the name). It not only broke, it shot out of there under pressure and bounced off the wall. Hence, the "boom".

Now my sitar is unplayable. That post was tough ceramic, and its not going to be that easy to replace. So, there's a reason for detuning. Bummer!
So, now I have an unplayable sitar[/quote]

Russ
Re:Sitting in the corner under a lot of pressure Mar 24, 2003 07:58 p.m.


Oh well, that's why the late great Peter C compared a sitar to a woman. A very high maintenance item with tough demands, but in the end most agree its worth it. You live with the good and the bad. And on this forum, misery loves company (ha ha).
K.K.
Re:Sitting in the corner under a lot of pressure Mar 25, 2003 12:10 p.m.


Hey Russ: I think this is called the "shear modulus of elasticity." This is why the sitar is sometimes referred to as a "machine." Don't worry, with your skills, you won't have any problem getting it back into shape. I'd replace that whole post section with one of the nice bone ones. Maybe Lars can set you up. Also, now's your chance to give the sitar that detailing you've been wanting to do!
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