I have been taking sitar lessons for a few months. On sitars etc. website, there are oil holder-things, what are they for? What oil should be used? for what? where? Could a more experienced sitar player please elaborate? I'd appreciate it greatly.
You use it on your index/middle fingers to "glide" over the strings......you put a piece of cotton ball in the oilbox as a "pad", add some oil, most guys use "Parachute" oil, comes in a blue bottle, I believe it's coconut oil, although olive oil will work well too.......mineral oil, such as baby oil, will soften your callus', so I don't think that's so hot.....most people add a little bit of scented oil, such as Nag Champa or Sandalwood just so it smells nice, as well......each person seems to have a preference as to what oil works best for them....anyway, you dip your index/middle finger into the oilbox, coat them well before you play, helps your fingers to glide/slide on the string(s).......just make sure to wipe your strings down really well when you're done playing, you don't want to leave oil on them.....I'm sure there's lots of people here can offer you lots of ideas concerning various oils......I've been using an Indian hair oil a friend was kind enough to send me, not available here in the states....but once it runs out, I think I'll be using good ol' olive oil............
Welp the oil does just what you think it might, it makes things slippery. You get one of those little pill box things at Sitars Etc (or do what I did until I got one, and use an empty Carmex lip stuff jar), put a cotton ball in it, and pour some coconut oil in it. Then while you're playing, you stick your index and middle finger on that cotton every now and then, and makes it a lot easier to go up and down the string, since you're really supposed to keep that index touching.
Others recommend other oils, such as Buckingham recommends a mix of olive oil and mineral oil, and there's even some kind of musician's oil you can use, but I like the coconut oil. Put a little smelly stuff in it to make it more pleasent if you wish.
You'll probably have to go to an Indian grocery to find the coconut oil, but it should be too hard to find such a place. I think you can also get it at other Asian stores.