I have decided to avoid mid-east, RKS and Bina and instead to contact Monoj Kumar Sadar of Calcutta. I don't mean to undercut any US distributors but I just can't afford more than about $700 so the srishti standard is still beyond me. Any words of wisdom regarding purchasing directly from a maker, or is this not usually done? I would insist on hearing it first but other than seeing pictures of other sitars made by them I still have little idea of what kind of quality to expect. Any comments/suggestions on this particular shop, and would it be stupid of me to try and save money by buying it directly from India? I have only been playing 3 months on a decent RKS and P. and brothers at my school so I know pretty well what it should look/sound like, but are there any other questions I should ask or things to look out for? Thanks to all of you!
Hey EricK, I've been there, as have many other here, I bet. I would advise caution here, unless you have someone in india who can pick you out a nice one. Shipping and issurance can be very expensive also, ~$300 or more. You need to get a good case, e.g. fiberglass, which might cost extra. The problem is that it is very expensive to return it so it is not really worth it if there is a problem.
Any body in Dehli or miraj around that can make suggestsions?
You might want to contact Prafulla Athaly. He said he was interested in shipping sitars out. see www.tabla-player.com and get his contact addr.
Just save up a little more and go for the Srishti standard. Better safe than sorry. Plus you say you have access to some sitars at your school, so you have something to practice on at least until you save up some more. Dont jump the gun, have patience and good things will come!
Are you saying then there is more of a concern with shipping damage than mere mistrust of the maker's ability, or is it that each maker has a high variability between instruments, even if they are custom made? That's really unfortunate you can't trust a sitar maker to judge his own achievement. I wish I could go to India myself!
Unless you have somebody there in India for you, it is very difficult to ensure a good quality instrument. Most of the time they will just assume you are some american interested in the beatles and will probably send you a piece of crap. Yes it's very sad, but true. I think you need to purchase a good quality sitar here in the US, then once you understand what features you like and dislike about it you can contact a maker and feel more confident. By the way, never ship by sea, always opt. for air since this ensures a lot less damage, and stress.
Beenkar Ted Ceplina
wow, so many responses in one day, i appreciate the suggestions. I was just looking at this distributor called Tarang in Germany with a varied selection, and their prices seem comparable to US dealers but they don't include a fiberglass case like Lars does. I guess the Srishti standard or calcutta is what I'm after then, and I hear his service is excellent as well. I also noticed he has a Radhey Shyam Sharma from benares, does anyone (even Lars) have any comments on this shop's quality? Also Beenkar, you mentioned you would have some sitars as well, do you have any detailed descriptions of the models and decoration other than what is depicted on your website? Please email me at email@example.com. If the kolkatta style sitar was made by the same guy that built the vinas and the "sitarod" then I'd bet his quality of sitar workmanship is outstanding. thanks again to all of you guys...
Hi Eric.... Well since you asked....This Radhey Sharma I have will be the last one as they put the wrong size bridge on and so I had to replace it which is not a problem but still time consuming. I have high expectations and if a maker can't consistantly produce what I want then that's it.... The Srishti's are consistantly good and there is soon to be a surprise this winter.... If you go to Manoj, etc. you're still looking at at least $600 out the door plus wire transfer fees. If you order directly from a maker, you will probably not be satisfied for reasons previously stated on this board by others. The way my business is structured is that personal friends are involved from India, all are players and have a voice as well with presentations, etc. and compensation is directly related to quality. If by chance I get a 'lemon' then it is either corrected to better than original or not offered for sale and that's the bottom line. Best of luck with your search and don't forget to have fun!