Recently I had a two very first-class high-end sitars come in for repairs and they had bridges that were of synthetic materials. Both were owned by Indian players who swore that they liked them better for the reduced mass and less frequent need for jawari. They said the bridges were made with a new harder plastic - but could not tell me the name of it. Both instruments were Calcutta built but not by makers I'd heard of. Any thoughts?
Hey Keshav Das, I changed mine recently. I really like it. My sitar is not a high end model, and I am not an Indian master, but the plastic bridge sounds great. I wrote about it a while back. I haven't had it very long, so I don't know how long it will last.
You can be sure there are more than one or two people making the new plastic bridges in all of India. If the two we repaired had been Rikhi Ram it would have been hard to miss. The two I saw were on Calcutta made sitars and not from Sanjay Sharma. I'm a big fan of Sanjay's work and own a number of his instruments. My point is, that parts like this once available to one maker - quickly become available to all the others. It's pretty much impossible to be the "exclusive" purveyor of any instrument techology in India. Without being pedantic (hopefully): the "jawari" itself - can't be done by anyone in India - when your sitar is in the USA.
The Calcutta bridges I've seen are on the Hiren Roys and are a lighter material, the sounds is good though. My teacher and friend also had another type from HR that was more dense and I couldn't tell the difference. The one I got for Paul did indeed have jawari done, you can make them this way or get them from certain makers. You then have to install the bridge to the proper angle and height by filing down the legs (which are left a little longer to accomodate any variation). Of course it involves a lot of work as Paul would tell you but as imperfect a solution that it is, it's the only option other than sending your sitar out or doing jawari yourself....Paul had very good results but others may not...his sitar tabli is almost completely flat which probably made the mounting easier. I remember also seeing a site based in the UK that sold bridges this way, forgot the name... So to sum it up, the only makers using syn bridges that I know of anyway use different materials, there's also a local guy near me that uses something similar to corian. The one Paul got and that come as spares on my instruments from RR/Sanjay are a type of urethane and sound very nice. My favorite though was the one I heard my teacher use but don't know where it came from, I'll have to ask one of these days....also you guys can check out Green Onion but he's hard to get a hold of, he makes a decent synthetic bridge also..........
"The one I got for Paul did indeed have jawari done"
I stand corrected. I suppose I was thinking in terms of bridges for "just any sitar" as opposed to one where the person making it, is familiar with the specific instrument onto which it will be installed. I would also assume this would entail knowing in advance the gauge of the strings to be used. Is that right? It seems to me that this would be the only way to create an effective jawari without actually hearing the instrument. Thanks in advance. This is the reason I like to post to this site. I don't claim to be an expert on everything. Cheers K
Keshav-ji, They're set up for either style of string set-up, yes....the jawari is good, done on a sitar and all that. The trick is to get it in the right spot/height, still an imperfect solution. And honestly might take longer to set up than if you were to do jawari. But Paul's a fellow addict, ha ha...Best to have someone do it on the instrument of course.