INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Sitar Forum: day excursion: sunburt sitars in the wild!


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day excursion: sunburt sitars in the wild! May 28, 2003 11:09 p.m.

I wen sitar shopping today about a 2hr drive from my home. However, when I got there the sitars they were on sale for $1000 + were in such bad condition, I couldn't believe it. I would have been embarrassed to sell them.

The 1100$ one had a corkskrew neck, e.g. warped about 25 decgrees. The finish was 'baked' on, the fancy edges were peeling off and there was about a half inch of dust encrusted over most of the sitar! The 1000 $ model had wiggly fretts and was completely un tunable or playable. I was in shock. Is there a rule that whenever the proprietor sells clothing, the sitars are junk?
No big deal, I had great sushi for lunch and forgot about my ordeal.

Plan B, which was on my homeward journey, was to vist someone selling instruments and teaching sitar, harmonium, tabla etc. That person was great, very helpful, extremely knowledgable and the sitars were fantastic. (They were Radha krishna's, but with a bina label, I think. Didn't know bina sold RKS). They sounded good, looked good, felt good, I felt good. The proprietor played it and it sounded good. Too bad I couldn't use visa. I will go back and get it later with cash. In fact, I will suggest my instructor send students there too.

My new rule: don't buy a sitar from someone who doesn't play and if possible , go and look at it and play it.

Re:day excursion: sunburt sitars in the wild! May 29, 2003 11:32 a.m.

Rule of thumb: don't go to a chinese restaurant and order mexican. Another rule of thumb: don't go to a clothes place to buy a sitar.

I have heard horror stories about unscrupulous retailers who switch an unknown label for a famous one, not only among clothes, but also among sitars! Buy only from a dealer you trust!

Word to the wise: Radha Krisha Sharma sitars are produced in large numbers nowdays, and sold to retailers based on how well they're paid. This is why their quality is now variable, sometimes quite good, sometimes terrible. Bina will buy them, keep the RKS label, and then sell them to you for a small markup. Don't know much about the quality, but I imagine it would be about "average".

Sushi was the name of my siamese cat. There's a good joke built in there, but I'll resist it for the moment.

Re:day excursion: sunburt sitars in the wild! May 29, 2003 04:43 p.m.

Hey PB, everything that I've heard about buying from Bina suggests that it's a BIG gamble. May I suggest that you take your instructor out for sushi and afterwards have him/her take a look at the instruments. Hey Russ: I had a siamese cat named Gomjiggy which translates to "So cute you could eat it."
Re:day excursion: sunburt sitars in the wild! May 29, 2003 05:20 p.m.

yes that is good avice. I will see if I can drag him there.
Re:day excursion: sunburt sitars in the wild! Jun 03, 2003 02:07 p.m.

I was just cruising the posts over in the Indian Music Forum and saw the postings about Bina. Not very pretty. I've never bought from them, so I can't relay any experience. But I prefer to buy in the US, preferably from someone I've met and talked with. Makes for a more satisfying experience. Did your teacher ever get a chance to go and play the instrument? What was his/her impressions? Just curious...
Re:day excursion: sunburt sitars in the wild! Jun 03, 2003 09:55 p.m.

Hey Russ,
the one that was selling the bina's was actually very good. I was apprehensive to go because they were bina. It was only after I saw such garbage at one place that I decided to stop by her home. She has someone picking them out for her in Delhi.

The sitars she had sounded good too, but I will definately take my teacher with me before I pay for it. They were in excellent condition. I think the cloth bag inside the case goes a long way to protecting the finish on the way over. This should meet my needs until I get a nice one from Lars ( I like his Calcutta traditional).

What kind of sitar do you recommend, Russ?

Re:day excursion: sunburt sitars in the wild! Jun 04, 2003 11:15 a.m.

Thanks for asking.
I have the feeling that if the sitars that Lars sells sounds and plays as good as they look, they will soon become highly recommended. They appear to be high quality, plus you can't beat fiberglass cases and air shipping. Ask the opinion of someone who has bought one of them.

Other than that, the traditional Kolkatta families offer quality sitars. But its always best to play them first, as each one of them has several different grades based on quality, and the price is reflected in that. I have played a Hiren Roy that sounded OK, but was poorly made, soon to break down. Personally, I would keep my eye on the new companys coming out of Kolkatta over the last few years. Lars' "Shristi" is one of those. They most likey will be replacing the old "stand bys" from years past, whose quality is beginning to suffer.

Re:day excursion: sunburt sitars in the wild! Jun 04, 2003 01:06 p.m.

Pb, Russ
For sure I strongly suggest a fiberglass case, in general for all acoustic instruments you need to bring or ship via airplanes.

I had a terrible experience when I brought my sitar from India to Italy. I receive the Instrument in the luggage claim area with a big beat on the back of the cases. Also some of my friends told me that somebody see from the airplane window a Sitar case falling down from the �stairs� (I am not sure about correct name) during its boarding!!!
Luckily and finally, there was no damage on the Sitar at all, just an abrasion on the cases. Fiberglass characteristics and behavior in case of crash is great and guarantee instrument safety in all types of travel.

It is useless to say the that best option in case of traveling in airplane is to bring the instrument as hand luggage � but is not always is possible, often can depend on dimension, type of ticket, operator and last but not least, about � politeness (I was able to bring an Indian harmonium in Italy from India as hang luggage without additional charges). Otherwise you have to buy additional ticket �


Re:day excursion: sunburt sitars in the wild! Jun 04, 2003 01:35 p.m.

Hi Delta;
In the recent past, many people paid extra and carried their instrument onboard the plane with them. But in the last year, there are great restrictions on bringing personal items onboard with you, especially in the US. All this is a result of "terrorism protection". Big pain. So, it has to go as cargo. Yes, fiberglass is the way!
(PS-stairs are most likely a cargo conveyer belt)
Re:day excursion: sunburt sitars in the wild! Jun 05, 2003 04:12 p.m.

Hi All: A warning about fiberglass cases: Although they protect much better than the standard cardboard or wood cases against puncture or crush type damage, they still don't offer complete protection from shock. A pro touring sitar player knows all too well that's it's only a matter of time before he/she opens the sitar case to find pieces of gourd scattered about. Because of space limitations, there's only so much foam you can line a case with. The thinner the foam, the stiffer it has to be to keep the instrument from banging into the shell of the case during a big jolt. The stiffer the foam, the more energy is transmitted to the instrument. As Gilda would say, "It's always something." There are cases that are designed for orchestral instruments that are of the "suspension" design, where the instrument is suspended inside the case by shock cords and/or thick SOFT foam. The problem is the cases are so friggin' big! It's one thing if the L.A. Phil is paying the airfreight, but most of can't afford a $500 bill just to fly our sitar. If I were flying my sitar, I would pack it in a fiberglass case INSIDE another box filled with SOFT padding and/or Styrofoam peanuts. That way the energy from a jolt gets absorbed before it reaches the sitar.
Regarding the airlines and security risks, what the hell are the scanners for? Maybe they�re worried about one of those new high-tech, sitar-shaped assault rifles slipping through
Re:day excursion: sunburt sitars in the wild! Jun 05, 2003 05:30 p.m.

Ha ha. Yeah, Ana Rosanna Danna had it right!
Those people who operate the scanners at the airports most likely don't have a clue what a sitar is. Proably looks like a bazooka or stinger missile to them on the scope.
"Paranoia strikes deep, into your mind it will creep" as another person used to say.....

I read over on the yoohoo sitar club last year about a guy who had a custom gig bag made for him by a company in New York. They advertise on the net somewhere. But he paid a fortune, and it sounded something like your suspension-type thing. Was originally made for a cello I think, but they extended it to accomodate his sitar.

Re:day excursion: sunburt sitars in the wild! Jun 05, 2003 08:44 p.m.

Hmmmm.........if you're ever shipping in your case by air, always add extra foam inside the case and you'll never get shock damage. This actually works well, all of the sitars I sell make it just fine that way. Most sitars are just a little smaller than the fiberglass case! Also be sure to put your sitar in a cover before using the foam or you'll have to repolish the finish but it's much cheaper than a suspension case with the same results unless you're flying Delta........


Re:day excursion: sunburt sitars in the wild! Jun 12, 2003 04:59 p.m.

Does anyone know where to buy a fibreglass case for a sitar (single tumba)? I've searched the net and can't really find a seperate case (that is: without a sitar included). Here in Holland Green Onion sells them for (gasp!!) $ 450,- That twothird of the price I paid for my sitar.



Re:day excursion: sunburt sitars in the wild! Jun 14, 2003 07:28 p.m.

I saw some online for ~$90 or so CAN at in Toronto. I don't know what the quality is like though. I wonder how much Lars' cases are?
Re:day excursion: sunburt sitars in the wild! Jun 14, 2003 09:52 p.m.

Hi Remco......
I think the Green Onion cases are very nice actually but if using one to go on a plane, etc. I would detach the top tumba first and pack it in foam as that connection isn't strong enough to survive a trip, even in a case.
Ali Akbar sells them for $400, I don't have extras as each is needed for a sitar.....


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