INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Sitar Forum: Hemen Roy Sitars


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Hemen Roy Sitars Sep 12, 2003 01:40 p.m.

I have been talking a lot with HemenSen about ordering a sitar and am going to go through with it. Does anyone here own one of his instruments, or at least one from the workshop he works at.
Beenkar Ted Ceplina
Re:Hemen Roy Sitars Sep 12, 2003 04:17 p.m.

"Hemen Sen" is the owner, and I am pretty sure the actual name of the shop is "Hemen & Co." I have also been looking at his sitars but including air shipping the prices are a bit high for me...

Here's the official "website," if you could call it that. All the makers on this site seem to use the same description, very general and kinda cheesy.

"Customer�s satisfaction is our basic motto. We used to believe (??) that customer�s are the very much important visitors in our company. They never disturb us while they give us the opportunity to serve them. No. of satisfied customers proves the merit of our company." used to believe- that says it all!

Re:Hemen Roy Sitars Sep 12, 2003 03:09 p.m.

I dont own one, but I have played a Hemen. It is a good Sitar with strong, firm tone.

At you know they have a good reputation and so you can't go wrong if you get a Hemen.

Re:Hemen Roy Sitars Sep 12, 2003 03:35 p.m.

Hey Beenkarji:
Is there a difference between "Hemen," "Hemen Roy," and "HemenSen"
Re:Hemen Roy Sitars Sep 12, 2003 04:39 p.m.

Beenkarji: The reason why I asked if there was a difference in the names was I figured you would have seen Tony's "Hemen." I've seen two Hemens; the one that Tony use to own (Mark, are you listening?) and another one that belongs to a friend of Tony's. Both sitars are IMHO excellent in quality. The one that Tony's friend owns has the best craftmanship I've seen on any sitar, next to Anoushka's N.M.
Re:Hemen Roy Sitars Sep 12, 2003 08:29 p.m.

Hi Ted...I've owned a Hemen in the past and played 2 others. The decorations were all nice and the tone of the instruments was pretty good. The volume was very poor though on all of them, even one that was about 10 years old.
They do look great though, keep in mind there's no returning one if you have them made for you by Hemen. That's why I don't have any because it can't be made 'subject to approval'.
Re:Hemen Roy Sitars Sep 12, 2003 08:38 p.m.

Ted, Lars: I noticed the volume thing on the two that I've seen/heard. Although I don't know if I would consider this a "problem." Just depends on what you're looking for, eh?
Re:Hemen Roy Sitars Sep 12, 2003 11:35 p.m.

That's odd! My very old Hemen is much louder
than my other sitars - maybe age has something to do with it.

This sitar has very fine and tasteful penwork. The overall decoration is simple but beautiful. The instrument is still very sturdy while still being very light. to handle. Its a nice instrument but for some reason, the one I play the least.

I think that their fame as sarod makers has
overshadowed their sitar making reputation.

Re:Hemen Roy Sitars Sep 13, 2003 04:15 a.m.

Well, I guess I will just have to find out for myself. I think that is the only maker I have never played an instrument from, but everything I hear is generally good, so it may be worth it for my friend to order some for his store. I am also really excited to get some of Sanjay Sharma's instruments, I am going to work out getting a Vilayat Khan style sitar in Mahogony from him. It is a shame that there is only two authentic beenwallahs alive, and there are many wonder sitar craftsmen, maybe someday one of them will learn the proper mantras and techniques and start making nice bina again.
As far as good sitar go, I still am going to have to say this Naskar I have is beyone words, although I will give you a few to help out Its sound is a cross between Nikhil Banerjee's sitar/s and and old Hiren Roy one that is a favorite of Vilayat Khan's. Which is naturally a good choice, since apparently (according to a sitarst-friend) I sound a lot like Vilayat Khan, but since I am dhrupad based I am much more surreal in my playing, and expressing. The frets are made custom for the instrument, and have perfect conture. It is not extrememly intricate as far as inlay, but it does have so really nice engraving on the tabli, of some deer. Also the the carving on the gourd is really detailed, not intricate and overdone, but really detailed. The only issues it has are from the previous owner. He glued the bridge on, put a clear plastic pick gaurd on, tight the frets like a kid, and put a literally flat jawari on it. But I did the jawari work first to see if it was worth refinishing completely on the tumba, and the sound was amazing, and same with the projection. So if any of you have or find another Naskar sitar (not the one from Brian, thats the one I have) thats older, please let me know, I love the one I have a lot. And I will post pics of it once I am done refinishing the tumba.
Beenkar Ted Ceplina
Re:Hemen Roy Sitars Sep 13, 2003 09:00 p.m.

Maybe a stupid question, but we're not confusing Hiren Roys with Hemens - are we?

IOW: What does the -ROY- in Hemen Roy represent?


I have been talking a lot with HemenSen about ordering a sitar and am going to go through with it. Does anyone here own one of his instruments, or at least one from the workshop he works at.[/quote]

Re:Hemen Roy Sitars Sep 13, 2003 09:55 p.m.

Hi, Roy is HemanSen's surname, and Sen is just added to denote respect. I am so happy he is still in good health through all these years. But in definatley is not a stupid question...I remember there was a time I wonder how Zakir Hussein could be the son of Ustad Allah Rakha Khan, but I have sorted out my brains since then....I think I have anyway...hehe
Beenkar Ted Ceplina
Re:Hemen Roy Sitars Sep 14, 2003 12:44 p.m.

I've played Hemen's before. For the most part, they tend to be a very good instrument. Since I play a teak, volume is not a big deal to me. But keep in mind that ALL makers make a lemon now and then. Those are sold to the tourist market.

Swansong, I looked at a number of the related sites on the yellowpages, and two things become obvious. First, the descriptions of the companies are generic. The exact same stupid wording is used for several companies. Second, whoever wrote them does not have a good command of English. In a multilingual country like India, English is only one of many competing languages. So, you have to cut some slack here. Hemen is a respected name, so they would have to care about customers.

Re:Hemen Roy Sitars Sep 14, 2003 02:34 p.m.

that's the thing, I completely dissociated the description with the maker because it is so phony. I trust that he has made a name for himself without the help of his website, it's just that somebody should change it to keep from scaring people away. I wonder how big of an impact the internet has on sitar sales to Indians, virtually none I would guess otherwise there would be more information...
Re:Hemen Roy Sitars Sep 14, 2003 03:21 p.m.

I think you're right. The damn broke with using the internet as a marketing tool somewhere around 1996 in the US. From what I've seen, its only in the last two years that India has seen what a powerful tool internet marketing to the world really is. They still need massive corporate funding like we had before it really gets going there. That plus better phone lines.
Re:Hemen Roy Sitars Sep 15, 2003 12:11 p.m.

Hemen is quite well known for his sarods - in fact he is THE maker for Allaudin Khan style sarods. I have only seen one professional sitar player use this instrument. Hiren and Rikhi seem to be the choice.

I do not mean to imply that Hemen's instruments are inferior.

I learnt that amoung the professional makers, the actual body of the instrument is made only by the specialitsts. All shops (yes even in the past) purchased the body from other makers.

The tabli finishing, fretting, and jawari are done by the maker. Poli shing may or may not be done by the maker. The penwork and and carving are does by non-maker specialists. This is ofcourse a very his level breakup.

Therefore you can imagine the inconsistent quality this will produce. The relationships between a "maker" and these specialists was different in the past, causing the quality to be more consistent. That is one factor that has changed. Some makers today, still profile the wood to the body-makers, while others do not.

Frankly, the wood, tabli, body, polish, fretting, and bridge/jawari seem to make the most difference in the sound/feel. With all the factors and the current process...frankly any maker's instrument can suck...or an unknown maker's instrument sound great.

As for customer service, I would not give the words on the site any credit. Indians are BAD service providors in this area. It is in our genes I think .


Re:Hemen Roy Sitars Sep 15, 2003 01:00 p.m.

...if you say so...
Indeed, Hemen, Hiren Roy, Rikkhi Ram and all the rest predate the internet by decades. They don't need it. I'm actually surprised to see that Hemen & Co. has a website. Guess somebody told them they could sell more instruments that way....
Re:Hemen Roy Sitars Sep 15, 2003 02:53 p.m.

Russ (Sep 15, 2003 01:00 p.m.):
...if you say so...
Indeed, Hemen, Hiren Roy, Rikkhi Ram and all the rest predate the internet by decades. They don't need it. I'm actually surprised to see that Hemen & Co. has a website. Guess somebody told them they could sell more instruments that way....

We have the same thing here in the US, its in Japan, Europe, all over.

There are maggots that go around saying they are marketing gurus, saying they can give you an Internet site for $600/a year, they will "market" it and everything, and what you actually get is the US, Japanese, European flavored site that you see with Hemen and the rest.

These "gurus" have a staff of perhaps half-dozen people, some in sales, others that build the actual sites. The guys in sales get photos and basic data to the builders, the builders spend an hour or two, the fixed cost is quite low, the incremental cost is minimal, and these people suck the money from all these companies for years. Fortunately, most of them don't charge much. Unfortunately, there are more and more that do. I've seen the same type of crap for $299 a month!

They get away with this because they are selling to people who don't know their Internet from a hole in the ground.

How do I know all this? I almost got suckered into working for a former friend running one of these operations. Nothing his company is doing is illegal, but its immoral. It is taking advantage of people who don't know better. And the "marketting" always consists of some pseudo-yellow-pages just like the Calcutta page you saw.

So sad. I just hope that those people who were sucked into that Calcutta operation get at least some return on their money!

Now don't get me wrong, I think having a web pressence is great, but there are enough people out here that can do it right, and probably for little or nothing more than these sleeze sites charge, at least for a small site.

Billy Enigmar Godfrey
Re:Hemen Roy Sitars Sep 15, 2003 03:03 p.m.

Just an example: remember my little web site I put up about my new Srushti Standard,


From taking the digital photos, building the page, typing in or copying in the text, and putting it on a website, took me well less than an hour, and it looks a whole lot better than those sleeze marketing sites (if I do say so myself!)

It doesn't take a lot of smarts to learn how to build good sites, it does take a little education, and knowledge of the tools and processes. And don't get me wrong, I have sites that's taken me weeks to build, I have one site for a large organization that's been in transition since I took it over 18 months ago. I'm just saying that these sleeze people should be ignored, because if its a simple site you want, there's probably thousands of hot-shots out there that can build you a better site.

Billy Enigmar Godfrey
Re:Hemen Roy Sitars Sep 15, 2003 03:48 p.m.

Billy (Sep 15, 2003 03:04 p.m.):
It is taking advantage of people who don't know better.

Isn�t that the basic rule of marketing? selling knifes and forks to China so too say...
or getting you to dring your coke?


Re:Hemen Roy Sitars Sep 15, 2003 05:46 p.m.

...selling freezers to Eskimos.....and if you're really good, also selling them the ice cubes to put in it? Yowzah!

Lars used a commercially available software program to design his site, and I think its well done. Just takes a little education, a few days, and some cash for the software. That can be make back quickly with initial sales. The money they blew on that dog of a site in Kolkata is wasted! A bunch of it doesn't even make sense.

Re:Hemen Roy Sitars Sep 15, 2003 08:58 p.m.

Yes, Russ....I used Frontpage to build it with the idea I'd never have to learn/use HTML, ha ha ha....while I'm comfortable with all of it now, I don't recommend it. Use Dreamweaver....
Re:Hemen Roy Sitars Sep 16, 2003 05:47 a.m.

heck if I had some free time I'd offer to make Hemen and MKS more professional and useful sites. maybe they would be gracious enough to offer a token of appreciation... heh Would any of you think this to be a disservice to fellow sitarists, burdening these makers with a higher volume of export orders so that they cannot maintain high standards? I find this problem quite perplexing, I wonder if we are to blame for forcing them to hire more workers with less experience to meet demand and still make profit. not like it doesn't happen in good ol' USA.
Re:Hemen Roy Sitars Sep 16, 2003 02:05 p.m.

Dreamweaver is a good app, but it is not cheap at all. In fact, I think it is the most expensive editor available. In my other life as a e-commerce guy I used it a lot. However, html is so easy. All you need is a text editor (I use Vim). Look at the source of a page on the web that you think is nice for inspiration.


Hemen Roy Sitars Oct 09, 2003 11:04 a.m.

You have to realize that these guys - tho they may make masterpiece instruments - are not the least bit internet savy. The make their beautiful instruments while sitting on the floor of filthy hovels they call workshops. I've spend time at Hiren Roy, Hemen etc. The places they work out of - are to a longtime India-wallah, very charming and prosaic. But the worst off crack addict welfare recipient in an American "inner-city" neighborhood - would refuse to soil their acid washed jeans by sitting down in such a grubby depressing environment. I've seen public toilets that are cleaner and more appealing that Hemen's Calcutta shop. These guys have in all likelyhood never looked at a computer and have no idea what email entails. They all have addresses listed on their generic single-page sites - but they never answer emails sent to them. They have been sold a bill of goods by local web-page hacks - who have convinced them that the miracle of the "Information Highway" will make them rich without ever having to raise a finger. Even Rikkhi Ram which is run by the comparitively cosmopolitan Sharmas - only began actually began regularly answering emails less than a year ago.
Re:Hemen Roy Sitars Oct 09, 2003 05:07 p.m.

Hey Prabhu,
I sent an email to HemenSen and he replied a few months later, but he didn't quote the question, so i forgot what I asked him ! Nevertheless there was a price quote. So maybe these guys are slumming in the internet world a bit these days, or getting people to respond for them.

It is incredible that such nice instruments can come out of such a simple shop.


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