I am sorry to dissapoint you - I really do not know that much about instrument quality as you think Russ, Lars, and other folks on this board have contributed a great deal of knowledge over the years. One important point to remember is that it helps to know what level of your learning stage you are at, what your budget is, what type of music you wish to play, and where you want to go with the instrument. Depending on these factors, folks may be able you guide you better.
Hi Lance, with Bina maybe 1 out of 25 will be acceptable but you have to find that one. Acceptable meaning you can actually play it without have to compensate for flaws. This pretty much applies to most of the instruments in that price range. They are known for an entry level student quality instrument. Since you are going in 'sight unseen' just be careful. If you have access to one locally then go try it out and see for yourself. If you are looking online, then call the merchant and ask many questions and have them play the sitar you would actually be buying for you over the phone. If this Bina you are looking at is in the US and you're sure it has been adjusted properly then maybe it would be a good instrument for you....Make sure there is a guarantee, etc. And I strongly recommend that you don't order directly from India unless you know someone there personally that can help you. With sitars, no 2 are the same, really. They are handmade, you can spend $2500 on a famous brand name and not get your money's worth. Sometimes you can also find a $700 sitar that is fantastic. But you are doing the right thing in asking people about it. Don't be in a hurry and try to get the best instrument you can...you will find it.... Good luck and I hope to see you also asking questions about playing someday soon!
perhaps you may be surprised but i bought bina musical sitar in London Southhall. though i was new to sitar and still i am i new, that i was not getting proper tone out of this sitar. Now i have learned that when sitar is delivered from India it requirs twiding or something to make it properly playable otherwise one can hear wrong notes all the time and get used to those noted as nornal.It pays even for the beginers to get the right sitat from a dealear who offers these service.please find out from the internate and ask questions before buying.