haha, master interior decorator, good one AJ. Hey Tarsi, I like the bone thing at the bottom (name I always forget). I think it is a nice touch. But if you look at the masterpiece sitars Sanjay makes on Lars site, he just uses a metal one. Kind of a shock to me if he went to such an effor to make such a sweet looking sitar, why not get the fancy bit at the bottom too?
Well, since you asked..... Sanjay prefers the metal langot, they don't wear out or break. I've never had a bone langot break but know a few people that has happened to. Sometimes as they wear they have to be adjusted also.
Don't know why - they are the builders or carpenters:-) Someone told me that the bone thing is good for finer tuning and sound - the less metal on the instrument the better vibrations. Seems logic to me - compare the sound for ex. of a bone or brass nut on a guitar, bone being oldfashioned, more bassy. But the influence of that string holder may be rather unimportant. Ecologically and mentally metal also has advantages: I always thought it is sort of disturbing to hear Rag Sarang (=deer) played on an instrument built partly of deer horn ... there is no Raag associated to camel, ebony or metal??
Uppps, Lars, I didnt scroll far enough, so my comment on the the builders wasn't related to Sanjay, but to pg's post. If bone is not preferred on that string holder because it doesnt break, then the bone jawari calls for replacement also - with every stroke it breaks a little bit. Do Sanjays Sitars have a bone bridge?
As far as I have read about guitars and acoustics in general, the upper "nut" at the neck and the bridge are the most crucial contact points for string and transfer of vibrational energy, and so anything else outside of that doesn't have as much impact on the energy of the string. However I would say strings that go through the guitar vs. anchored behind the bridge have more wood contact and usually have more bass response and sustain, IMHO.
Other than aesthetics, since we're talking about the string vibration it's possible that a bone anchor might provide a better continuity of sound since it was chosen for virtually every other part that isn't wood, though one could possibly argue that the string is metal and so it shouldn't matter if it the anchor is metal too... Regardless of the material it is joined to the gourd with glue or pins and thus there probably is a loss of vibration because of this infinitely small gap. Bottom line is that if its a crappy sitar it wouldn't matter, and on a good sitar I bet you would have to try really hard to compare the two to hear... Maybe a physicist or materials engineer would like to step up to the challenge??