INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Sitar Forum: RKS Sitar

 

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jaym
RKS Sitar Aug 18, 2003 10:17 a.m.


My teacher recommended I buy a RKS sitar. Does anyone have one? Which model? I would love to hear some reviews and also some recommendations.

I can't wait to get a new instrument!

Beenkarji
Re:RKS Sitar Aug 18, 2003 11:55 a.m.


Hi, do yourself a favor, DO NOT get a Radha Krishna Sharma sitar, unless it is at least 15 years old. I suggest you go to www.sitarsetc.com thats where the good sitars are coming from in the US. Otherwise www.silverbushmusic.com, the owner Brian is closing the store, but he may be able to get you a really good deal on a sitar. Ali Akbar College of Music is okay, but their prices are very high. Just dont settle for a low grade instrument, dont get an RKS.
Beenkar Ted Ceplina
jaym
Re:RKS Sitar Aug 18, 2003 12:03 p.m.


WOW! I am surprised at the response. Even the RKS #2 and #1 are cheap instruments? What would you suggest? I am hoping to spend no more then $600.....

Thanks

Billy
Re:RKS Sitar Aug 18, 2003 12:53 p.m.



jaym (Aug 18, 2003 12:03 p.m.):
WOW! I am surprised at the response. Even the RKS #2 and #1 are cheap instruments? What would you suggest? I am hoping to spend no more then $600.....

Boy, I know where you're coming from, I just went through a few weeks of the same decisions. I too had about the same spending limit. I advise to save up a couple hundred more and take Ted's advice, look at SitarsEtc. I just ordered the Srishti Standard, hope to get it by the end of the week. For someone with limited funds, I'm guessing its got the most bang for the buck. Call up Lars, he'll play sitars over the phone, which surprisingly gives you a good idea of their sound. He's super helpful and friendly, and very knowledgable.


Namaste',
Billy Enigmar Godfrey
jaym
Re:RKS Sitar Aug 18, 2003 01:25 p.m.


Billy-Thanks for the info. My teacher also mentioned talking to Lars so, I sent him an e-mail.

I think you are right, I should suck it up and make the right investment. What made you decide on that particular sitar?

Billy
Re:RKS Sitar Aug 18, 2003 02:35 p.m.



jaym (Aug 18, 2003 01:25 p.m.):
I think you are right, I should suck it up and make the right investment. What made you decide on that particular sitar?

It was a process of elimination mostly; I knew the absolute highest I could spend, so I went around and found all the sites I could selling sitars. I knew from instinct that some of these were not music places (ie, sold too many clothes) so I eliminated them. I knew some had very bad reputations, so they were quickly eliminated. I also eliminated eBay, because for something like a sitar, you really need to know who you're buying from. I ended up with Sitars, etc., AACM, and Buckingham. I wanted a seller that would stand behind their items, and would do some of the tweaking. And I wanted someone who wasn't jacking up the prices too much. After all this, and sticking to my price range, I pretty much ended up with Sitars, etc.

Lars pretty much had already sold me before I made my final decision because of all the help he'd been giving me. I had a junker sitar I'd been tweaking with, really learning a lot about what makes a sitar tick, and he'd given me a lot of help (along with other members of this board.) But I think Lars went over and above the call of duty.

From what I've heard, some of the other Srishti's are pretty darn great, but I haven't seen any review or comments on the Standard, so I'm really going on a gut feeling with this one. But I've heard it played, it does have some features you won't find on other sitars in its price range, and hopefully it will last me until I win the lottery.

(BTW, Buckingham is only a couple of hours drive from where I live, and it was real hard for me to eliminate them in favor of someone 2000 miles away, a very hard choice. I believe it will turn up to be the right choice.)


Namaste',
Billy Enigmar Godfrey
jaym
Re:RKS Sitar Aug 18, 2003 02:57 p.m.


Billy-Well, I had a great conversation with Lars and have purchased a Srishti Standard! I am so happy with the decision and can't wait to get it. We will have to talk about this again when we get our sitars!

Bahut Bahut Accha!

pb
Re:RKS Sitar Aug 18, 2003 03:17 p.m.


Ha ha, yes, I was there too. I bought a cheap student sitar for $350, man was it bad. My instructor hated it so much he insisted that I sell it to someone who promised not to play it! It was barely tunable, unplayable and sounded awful. The tarabs were hardly audible. I managed to sell it for 200 and it hangs on someones wall.

So, I bought another one, which I like. It is a RKS, the top model, but caveat emptor: I bought it from a sitar teacher in Montreal who has people picking them out in Dehli, and my instructor came with me to pick it out as well. So, be very careful. I spent about 4 hrs tuning and playing to get the one that is pretty decent. I think this one sounds pretty good. Once I ware out the the bridge I will get a better one from Lars at sitarsetc. I think a custom jaipur will be in my future!

Pb

Jeff
Re:RKS Sitar Aug 18, 2003 06:38 p.m.


Right now I have two RKS sitars, I had 3 but gave one to a friend to "hang" on his wall. I have the ultra pro and the next one down, I guess you'd call it the #2 (that describes it to a T) The Ultra pro is very beautiful but the jawari really sucks and the decorative "binding?" is coming up in places. The few times I did play it, it sounded ok and the action is good but it needs a lot of work. If I could find someone to do a good jawari on it I think it would be a halfway decent sitar, But I wouldnt recomend it.
The #2 is the same story, nice sitar but needs a ton of work. Personally I think these sitars are only worth half of what they're going for.
Go for the Srishti standard, I havent heard or played one yet but Lars at sitaretc,,, has been playing for quite sometime
and seems to know sitars. Oh thats right you did order one, good for you.
Let us know all about it when you get it. I'm saving up now for a Srishti, not sure which one yet but most likely one of the higher end ones.
pb
Re:RKS Sitar Aug 18, 2003 07:11 p.m.


Hey Jeff,
I noticed my RKS sounded a bit flat and I repositioned the bridge sligthly and it is a lot better now, and my instructor and I have put in a lot of hours tweaking it. The main string has a nice twang/snap/shimmer to it.

As far as the look, I think it is pretty sexy, not as sexy as Matt's manipur by a longshot though. One of the problems is that many of us see so few sitars in person, so to speak, which makes it difficult to pick out a good one. I have only seen and played about 10, not including the tripe that I avoided (although I like to eat tripe). To make things worse, what sounds good initially may sound worse in a few months as you get better and expect more from your instrument , not to mention hear what a good sitar is supposed to sound like.
ranting, shields up
I think this is exactly what we need: someone with Lars dedication to quality, but aiming at the midrange market e.g. up to the $1k price tag. Hey Beenkarji, are you listening/reading?
rant done

Ok, I feel better now.

Pb

Jeff
Re:RKS Sitar Aug 18, 2003 07:24 p.m.


Hey Pb,
Yep, next to my MPS rose petal the RKS's leaves alot to be desired. (is "alot" one word or two Hmmm) I just cant understand why RKS wont go that extra little bit and put out a nice sitar. I know someone "as I mentioned before" that has an older one maybe 20 years give or take and the thing kicks A$$.
Well I learned a lesson about buying sitars I guess, sort of??? I think. All I know is I'm stuck with these sitars that I'll never play. Maybe I'll hang them on a wall too!
Lars
Re:RKS Sitar Aug 18, 2003 08:24 p.m.


Wow, thanks for the nice comments and support, I'm sure they will live up to your expectations!
Jeff: The binding will come up on all sitars in places after awhile, it's not a big deal...get some Elmers carpenters glue and stick it back on. There are problems sometimes if the wood shrinks and pops the binding up, that's another problem but I don't run into that one usually.....
Lars
Beenkarji
Re:RKS Sitar Aug 18, 2003 11:13 p.m.


Hey Pb, I am listening, and I plan to offer professional sitars by the end of the year. I know many people are unsure about Miraj instruments so I also have been talking with quite a few Calcutta makers. The sitars I am going to offer will be the best I can have made, and I plan on having them sell for around the 1k mark. I just ordered the fiberglass cases, some really nice ones with extra compartments and wheels for people on the go. I am just as excited as many of you are because I also ordered a rudra veena from both Calcutta, and Bharatiya Tantuvadya Kendra in Miraj, so I also have a pleasent future to look up to. I should mention I am a sitar wallah, and have constructed mayuri, sarangi, morin huur, charango, as well as other stringed instruments. I just am in love with how stringed instruments are constructed, and repaired, however I am not into tabla repair and all that, it's just not my thing. My present project to keep me occupied until the instruments arrive is taking an old bina sitar and converting it into a mayuri veena, i.e., not the bowed type, but rather a plucked mayuri. I know all of these instruments are going to be in Chicago when they come, but seriously if someone want to meet me in Chicago, I would be more that glad to show you all of them. Heck, I live in Central Wisconsin, and my job is in Chicago repairing and offering isntruments to musicians (sorry no museums and collectors allowed), however I would completely enjoy it to meet up with another instrumentalist who is enthused about the music, and instruments as much as many of us are on this forum. And I need to make a note, even though I have never seen in person a sitar that Lars has sold, he is a fellow musician, and I want to make it very clear that I in no way want to compete with him, I simply enjoy selling and repairing instruments, and above all getting up every morning to play rudra veena for 3+ hours, it is refreshing to have the music fill you body, it has even lead me down a whole spiritual path, and has gotten me convinced to go and study abroad. That is what music has the potential to do, and thats exactly why this forum is here, so we all can share our experiences.
Beenkar Ted Ceplina
Jan
I just played a 30+ years old RKS Jan 11, 2004 04:34 p.m.


My friend and remote teacher is in Norway again, i just got to play his instrument a 30+ year old RKS, and all i can say i where the **** can i get one of those?
It is the best sitar i have ever tried. My RR is good sure enough but compared to the RKS there is no chanse. The sound is just superior and i cant wait to my instrument gets 20 more years added to the pumpkin . The weight allso surprised me, it was a lot lighter that my RR, the sice is about the same. its a very plain to look at instrument, without the heavy ornamentation. Looks like a VK but has a upper tumba and a full set of strings. There is allso somethinng with the finish its not that glossy in its apperance. Well what more can i say... im in love ; )

jan

Keshav Das
Old RKS Sitar Jan 12, 2004 10:02 a.m.


The mention of the old sitar in the previous post reminds me: I'd like to put it out there: Tho I sell sitars - my main field of "expertise" ha ha ha, is harmoniums and drums. I have during my visits to various players in India, had the honor to handle some very old sitars and the ones made in the '60s and '70s are always so light! Is there anyone out there who can say with authority (or with sound theory) what exactly happens to the wood with age. I've been playing guitar since I was a little boy and I haven't found my old guitars to seen any lighter. But every longtime sitar player tells me that their instrumens have decreased in weight over the years.
K.K.
Re:Old RKS Sitar Jan 12, 2004 12:51 p.m.



Keshav Das (Jan 12, 2004 10:02 a.m.):
The mention of the old sitar in the previous post reminds me: I'd like to put it out there... what exactly happens to the wood with age...every longtime sitar player tells me that their instrumens have decreased in weight over the years.

The simple answer is the wood dries out. Here's some info I found on a violin restoration site:
"...In fact, the violin improves with playing, the varnish dries, the wood gets more crystalline (therefore, it vibrates better), and the tone becomes sweeter. With the passing of the years, the wood gets more and more carbonised and, therefore, more hydrorepellent than a fresh piece of wood and, unlike the latter, is less subject to the changes of humidity. Besides, it gets lighter with time because the walls of the cells get thinner: therefore, having a smaller mass and not absorbing humidity (being carbonized), this wood has a higher quality factor..."

Keshav Das
Re:RKS Sitar Jan 12, 2004 01:26 p.m.


Hi KK,
That's pretty much what I would have guessed also. Maybe what I really meant, is: Why is it so much more apparent in sitars? I've owned pre-war Martin Guitars and they always seemed average in weight. Yet really old sitars of quality - are so light it seems like magic. It must have to do with high-density woods used for guitars as compared with tun which is relatively soft and pumpkins. I've only handled a few teak sitars and they were always new ones. I'm guessing sitars made from teak won't won't exhibit such dramatic transformation. Thanks for the feedback.
K
K.K.
Re:RKS Sitar Jan 12, 2004 03:40 p.m.



Keshav Das (Jan 12, 2004 01:26 p.m.):
...Maybe what I really meant, is: Why is it so much more apparent in sitars?

Hi Keshav: I think most woods used in high quality guitars are more close-grained than tun wood, so there is not as much moisture to evaperate? Plus the sitar has much more mass than the guitar so combine this with the tun wood being more open-grained (therefore holding more moisture) and you have a more noticeable difference in weight after the moisture evaperates. Just my theory

AJ
Re:RKS Sitar Jan 12, 2004 03:29 p.m.


I would also imagine it would have to do with the finish..........the finish on a guitar seems to be much thicker/heavier than a sitar............

Just a guess! : )

AJ

Lars
Re:RKS Sitar Jan 12, 2004 11:41 p.m.


I have an old teak HR and it's very light, much lighter than a new tun sitar. I think it depends on the type of teak, burmese is the lightest...the CP teak is the heaviest and teak from Assam in between.....
Lars
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