INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Sitar Forum: Buying direct from India

 

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swansong
Buying direct from India Mar 02, 2004 07:42 a.m.


I figured it might help to make a new topic as well. I bought my Monoj Kumar Sardar sitar directly from his shop with the help of my teacher. follow the link to some pictures and comments on my little adventure.

My new sitar experience...

Bad Ustad
Re:Buying direct from India Mar 02, 2004 09:34 a.m.


Congratualations! You took a big risk and lucked out. Some questions . . . Did you know that the cargo section of jets is not heated like the cabin? (Everything in cargo gets quite cold) Did you know that should be no duty on sitars at all? Properly classified, they come under the heading of "wooden handicrafts". Did you know that Manoj speaks English quite well and needs no translator? (which is not to imply that you didn't need a middleman to assure quality - one always does) Re: UPS you are fortunate that you beautiful new instrument came undamaged. UPS is totally famous for destroying stuff and going through endless contortions to keep from paying insurance claims. If anyone out there is thinking of buying direct, insist on using Fedex! Lastly - what was your final price for the sitar with shipping? I expect everyone will want to know.
jaym
Re:Buying direct from India Mar 02, 2004 10:43 a.m.


Great information and a very nice looking instrument. Did the whole process give you anxiety attacks!?

How much did the sitar cost? I am having Tony Karasek build me a VK style at his shop in Pune and his prices are great! With the high costs of sitars it makes you concerned that the sitar must be 'cheap' if it isn't $800+

Who is your teacher and what school do you study at??

K.K.
Re:Buying direct from India Mar 02, 2004 01:11 p.m.


Swansong:
Wow, you scored! What a beautiful instrument. I want one!
swansong
Re:Buying direct from India Mar 02, 2004 02:35 p.m.


This'll be a long response...
Bad Ustad:
Obviously airlines wouldn't waste their money on heating cargo- that would be a ridiculous expectation. I meant that it could have come from kolkata-singapore-Los Angeles which would have been faster and subject to less "freeze-thaw" from ascent and descent of the aircraft. I guess if it had stopped in a warm climate that might be worse because of the extremes in temp., so I guess now that its flight through alaska was not so bad after all.
As for Monoj, he understood me when I was asking about basic things like deer horn, electronic merchandise, fiberglass cases, freight, the usual customer chit chat. However he failed to mention I needed an A/C number to wire the money properly, and that's when I spent about 10 minutes describing to him what it was for and all he could say was "achar"... Luckily I talked to this random australian guy in the store who helped me out. There's always the case that he could be bs-ing me, but if I'm sending him money why would he stall? In email I would ask him a few pretty basic questions about the shipping and other things and strangely his replies were always one sentence and didn't clarify anything. Did you speak to him personally regarding more than just his inventory? If UPS is bad then I guess Fedex would be the way, though I deal with them at least once a week and even they are prone to losing packages (i ship refrigerated serum samples and they have thawed several boxes). Lastly- that's intriguing about the customs thing. If you can tell me where it says this (semi-) officially I'll add it to my page, that's really good to know. Fortunately I got a good price so the taxes weren't too bad. One inspector even joked and and told the other to list it as "personal" which I guess was free, but the guy I was with had a straight face and proceeded to punch in the numbers in the calculator. This same guy also made me take a number even though there was no one else in the office, what a kook.

Jaym/QehQeh:
Both sitars I ordered were supposed to be the same model VK, though the other for some reason had 13 tarabs and a much darker finish, which really says it all about the uniqueness in construction of these things...
Honestly I don't know what was said and all by my teacher but in the end my sitar added up to about $500 with all the costs factored in, and he told me it would probably be worth at least $12-1500. btw my teacher is Ustad Nishat Khan and I am fortunate enough to have been learning from him 4 days a week for the last 4 months at UCLA. He is an amazing teacher, very patient and surprisingly humble, not to mention a remarkable innovator who "meends" the rules (haha) to their furthest extent while still holding strictly to his traditional principles (as you can imagine).
-ss

sangeeta
Re:Buying direct from India Mar 02, 2004 05:25 p.m.


Swansong,

Is there a professional quality or it is a student model? Also does the price include shipping and a fiber glass case?

-
Sangeeta

Bad Ustad
Re:Buying direct from India Mar 02, 2004 11:18 p.m.


Swanji,
It's my understanding that all Fedex and UPS shipment out of India go through customs in Alaska - so that's probably unavoidable. If a person lives close enough to the destination airport and is picking up from the airline's clearing warehouse - then the buyer ends up going to customs to have the shipment cleared and the customs guys are pretty easy going about classifying Indian instruments. If Fedex or UPS are handling customs you are at their mercy and they often have a hard time grasping what it is that is being shipped if the invoice has a lot strange Indian stuff on it.
In all events, it sounds like you did very well pricewise. Someone asked if you went through a lot of anxiety while waiting. I got anxious just reading your webpage's description of all the various uncertainties involved. Congratulations. About the customs thing, I have a few friends who have been importing statues and clothes from India for 30 years and they always bring a few pair of tablas and cheap tanpuras to sell at their nicknack shop. They were my source for this info. I suspect Lars could confirm this.
Lars
Re:Buying direct from India Mar 03, 2004 12:15 a.m.


Oh sure, bring up my name....I don't know about cheap tanpuras and statues but.....
I've never had UPS or FedEx route through Alaska. Always through Europe and then to the lower 48.
Nice page you did Swansong...! You did not owe duty so you'll have to get a refund but it involves paperwork, especially through FedEx. Email me privately with the details of where and who you paid it to and I'll help you with it if you like....
Lars
Jeff
Re:Buying direct from India Mar 03, 2004 09:19 a.m.


BU, Lars, anyone, Will customs actually open the package? If they do and dont repack it properly and its damaged then what? Has anyone ever heard of them breaking open a sitar looking for contraband? Will the government/customs replace the instrument or are you just basically screwed?
Or do they x-ray this stuff.
And how can customs scratch their head over a sitar and not know what it is as someone mentioned. They must have seen thousands of sitars pass by them.
Jeff
kedar_india_pune
Re:Buying direct from India Mar 07, 2004 03:04 p.m.


who is tony karseck? i havent heard of him?..does he live in pune ?....... one of those osho people?
swansong
Re:Buying direct from India Mar 07, 2004 04:47 p.m.


I've heard many good things about tony karasek but never met him. apparently he's a sitarwallah from the US who has now taken residence in India...

he has a very nice page, hopefully we can get some testimonials on his instruments very soon.

http://www.karaseksound.com

It's quite fascinating to see more westerners taking on the craft (the only other I've heard of is JS Hackleman from Los Angeles), hopefully this will lead to more consistent quality and better prices if shops open in the US.

pb
Re:Buying direct from India Mar 08, 2004 01:03 p.m.


Hey swansong,
I doubt better prices if they are made in the US. Maybe consistency. A colleague of mine just bought a Ramirez classical guitar and I was jealous of how easy it was to buy a nice instrument! The quality control on guitars seems good. I think Sanjay is heading down this route and I hope the trend continues.

Pb


swansong (Mar 07, 2004 04:47 p.m.):
It's quite fascinating to see more westerners taking on the craft (the only other I've heard of is JS Hackleman from Los Angeles), hopefully this will lead to more consistent quality and better prices if shops open in the US.
kedar_india_pune
Re:Buying direct from India Mar 08, 2004 02:25 p.m.


hi...
thanx for the info on tony karseck...
i am going to koregaon park area tomrrow as it is ... i will see if i can find him there
he seems to be pretty good..
take care
bye bye
jaym
Re:Buying direct from India Mar 08, 2004 04:30 p.m.


Tony K. is building a VK Pearl sitar for me.

Through my conversations with him and some comments found on the web about him, I have put my trust in him and look forward to having my sitar built by him!!

If you visit him, tell him Jay said hello

Gurdip
Re:Buying direct from India Mar 08, 2004 06:40 p.m.


Congrats on your new sitar from MKS, I've always been a personal fan of his work.

However someone has miss-lead you on the customs classification of the instrument. The proper classification number is 9202.90.. Which is defined as 'String acoustical instrument other..' It hardly makes a difference if you only imported once, but if you miss declare something, the penalties could be severe. US Customs also has the option of reviewing importers in which they suspect are miss declaring items coming into the States. The correct duty rate without a GSP into the US is correct at 5%. It�s not worth the headache of having to pay penalties or worse confiscation for something as small as 5%.

By the way, �wooden handicraft� that could also be something like a piece of wood with a carving on it?

Gurdip

Juan Carlos de E
Re:Buying direct from India Mar 19, 2004 07:17 a.m.


Congratulations, I have enjoyed visiting your web!

I have ordered also my instrument to India but I'm very afraid because this is a real nightmare. The supplier said me 10 days and today is 36 days from de order and 22 from the money arrived to India. The problem is that I need a left-handed instrument, then the music store has ordered for constructing "fresh" to RKS. In a first momet I have considered very few time 7 days for finish a instrument but since they finish the sitars with frech polish (I think) that let a quick dry time, they are a great workshop with great production and in this workshops usually have the diferent parts ready to ensemble I trusted in the dealer.
Now I have serious doubts about all the process. I doubt about the date of delivery, I ask myself because the supplier not answer my e-mails till one week after when a answer is given, I can't understand because the money took 14 days for arrive by wire trasfer, and I can't understand because the bank of India has not confirmed to my bank the receipt of the payment till 10 days after was requested, I can't understand nothing but that I don't have my instrument...

Sincerely,
Juan Carlos

P.D. Excuse my English

Keshav Das
Re:Buying direct from India Mar 19, 2004 08:50 a.m.


At this point the best thing may be to pray a lot . . . for patience. Indian banks have for the most part not even entered the computer age and are notoriously sloppy about record keeping. As to the time it takes for your instrument to be built, this is pretty typical with most Indian instrument builders. It's also typical that salesman everywhere in the world tend to underestimate the time needed to complete a product. Hang in there.
Juan Carlos de E
Re:Buying direct from India Mar 19, 2004 11:20 a.m.


Thank you,

Yes, will be perhaps a question of waiting and waiting. I have other estimates from sitar makers and seems that three of four weeks is sufficient for complete a instrument, but I think that all depends if the salesman has a good contact in the workdhop, etc...
Please, let me a question, what mean "hang it there"?

Regards,
Juan Carlos

rudrani
Re:Buying direct from India Mar 19, 2004 01:23 p.m.


[quote]Juan Carlos de E (Mar 19, 2004 11:20 a.m.):

Please, let me a question, what mean "hang it there"?

It means "be patient while waiting" or "espera sin desespera"

pax

Juan Carlos de E
Re:Buying direct from India Mar 19, 2004 02:38 p.m.


Thank you.

Good advice, I will try to put in practice but is a bit difficult

Regards.
Juan Carlos

jingle
Re:Buying direct from India Mar 22, 2004 01:07 a.m.


who is the dealer you ordered from in India?
this would be helpful for other customers.

Thanks,
jingle

Juan Carlos de E
Re:Buying direct from India Mar 22, 2004 02:11 p.m.


The sealer is India Music Store (New Delhi).
I have choosen this supplier just from the links in this website.

I wonder if there is in this forum somebody from New Delhi that can help me speaking by telephone with this salesman because he don't reply my e-mail and I don't speak English (I only can write and read a bit) and when I have called him he was not in the store.

Any help would be welcomed. Perhaps is a question of waiting or perhaps is other thing but I think that don't costs too much reply a e-mail informing about the state of the instrument.

Thank you
Juan Carlos

jingle
Re:Buying direct from India Mar 23, 2004 01:24 a.m.


i have never heard of this store. in delhi there many stores but best ones would include rikhi ram, dms, bina or others. who is this?
what is the name of this gentleman who you are dealing with?
Juan Carlos de E
Re:Buying direct from India Mar 23, 2004 01:29 p.m.


At last! An e-mail from the dealer! I have not sitar yet but I'm happy olny with the reply!

Juan Carlos

Jan
Re:Buying direct from India Mar 23, 2004 04:40 p.m.


There you go : )

Why dont you ask for some pictures as well?

Jan

Jerry
Re:Buying direct from India Mar 25, 2004 12:31 p.m.


[quote]Bad Ustad (Mar 02, 2004 09:34 a.m.):
Did you know that should be no duty on sitars at all? Properly classified, they come under the heading of "wooden handicrafts".

I was very interested when I read this as I was charged over �300 duty on my MPS Teak being imported into the UK from Buckingham Music.
I wrote to HM Customs quoting what Bad Ustad had said in the hope that I could claim a refund on duty.
This is what they replied:

"Dear Jerry,

Thank you for your e-mail received 24 March regarding duty on hand made
goods.

Only some article of hand made goods are eligible for duty free import.
However, musical instruments are excluded from that category.

If you have any further concerns relating to the above, please respond,
quoting our reference number to the National Advice Service e-mail address
at enquiries.lon@hmce.gsi.gov.uk or alternatively contact our National
Advice Service helpline on 0845 0109000 for queries concerning other
matters."

Obviously this only applies to the UK, but it's disappointing nonetheless. I was pretty shocked to be charged over �300 duty on my sitar.

Jerry

pb
Re:Buying direct from India Mar 25, 2004 02:23 p.m.


Hey,
the US has no duty. When I imported my sitar to Canada (from the US) I took 7% duty hit (because country of origin blah..) and a 7% tax hit as well.

I had the customs agent call me to inquire whether a sitar is "plucked" or "bowed". Aparently we have different categories/rates for these!

(of course I said, which one has the least duty, but they have no sense of humour)

Pb

[
quote]Jerry (Mar 25, 2004 12:31 p.m.):


Bad Ustad (Mar 02, 2004 09:34 a.m.):
Did you know that should be no duty on sitars at all? Properly classified, they come under the heading of "wooden handicrafts".

I was very interested when I read this as I was charged over �300 duty on my MPS Teak being imported into the UK from Buckingham Music.
I wrote to HM Customs quoting what Bad Ustad had said in the hope that I could claim a refund on duty.
This is what they replied:

"Dear Jerry,

Thank you for your e-mail received 24 March regarding duty on hand made
goods.

Only some article of hand made goods are eligible for duty free import.
However, musical instruments are excluded from that category.

If you have any further concerns relating to the above, please respond,
quoting our reference number to the National Advice Service e-mail address
at enquiries.lon@hmce.gsi.gov.uk or alternatively contact our National
Advice Service helpline on 0845 0109000 for queries concerning other
matters."

Obviously this only applies to the UK, but it's disappointing nonetheless. I was pretty shocked to be charged over �300 duty on my sitar.

Jerry


Jan
Re:Buying direct from India Mar 25, 2004 03:55 p.m.


This is interesting, in Norway i guess i would have to pay as well. But i went to India and picked up my instrument, with the help of my friend and my free spirit improvisation teacher Anand Kumar Mishra. I got my Rikhi Ram and tok it home myself. I was surprised with the chunk of cash i had to show for at the airport to get them to ship it home (about 200 US)
but all in all i got a short stop in India (3 weeks) and a really nice Sitar : ) At the airport in my home town there was no question about anything regarding the instrument. So with 300 UK you would allmost have the ticket. And i can assure you that the prices in India (if you dont get ripped off that is�) are more pleasing to my wallet. So if you shop around for nice price airfair you will benefit from taking the trip in many ways : )
In your case i would say that Buckingham have failed to give you the propper info, if that is the case. Not to dig up that old fart (pre topics... quite funny some of the comments and some quite on the opposit side of the scale). Read the topics while you save up for that India trip and hand pick your Instrument and feel the joy of picking the upper shelf goodies and bring it home. Still you are able to go to a dealer near you, and hand pick in the same way, to a fair price considering we are not a living in a low cost country like India. I would like to go and see the whole process like in this exellent sequens.
http://f2.pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/jay_m_222/album?.dir=/11fa

Well anyways we all have the option, thats clear. Its possible to go for the weekend if its a matter of time more than cash.

thats my 2 �re

Jan

Keshav Das
Re:Buying direct from India Mar 25, 2004 04:55 p.m.


The import duty to Europe (especially Britain and Sweden) are pretty crippling. When I used to tour (British/Irish/Scottish trad. folk) in Europe I used to bring guitars to sell because it was so hard to earn enough $ from just touring. Americans are always astounded at the price of good musical instruments sold in British shops. I have a friend who used to courier instruments to Britain. He would get a free roundtrip ticket to London and $100.00 and the recipient still managed to save a lot of money over buying in London. On the plus side for Brits - you can fly cheap to India in half the time! If I could do that I'd still be going to India three times a year.
Gurdip
Re:Buying direct from India Mar 26, 2004 12:44 a.m.


As stated earlier in my post, I think there is some really bad information being past around.

For those who are importing into the US, you can click on the link http://hotdocs.usitc.gov/tariff_chapters_current/0400C92.pdf

The correct code for Sitar is 9202.90.60 the duty rate is 4.6%

The same code is used for importing into Canada. at a duty rate of 5% with a GSP. and YES you will be charged Gst. on ALL imports into Canada.

As for the other countries, im sure there plenty of information available online.

If anyone has any questions, please email me directly, we've been importing/exporting for the past 32 years, im sure I can help.

pb
Re:Buying direct from India Mar 26, 2004 10:21 a.m.


Calling customs is not a lot of help, they insisted that I had to pay duty, pst(%8) and gst(%7)! (=21%)

Fortunately, I didn't have to pay pst when it arrived. They probably used the wrong classification on mine (9207.90.90.90 duty 6%). Sitars don't need amplification as far as I know...

Pb

Keshav Das
Re:Buying direct from India Mar 26, 2004 08:30 p.m.


I think some of the confusion may have to do with folks who have brought instruments back as personal possessions. When I was first starting up my company I used to ship back say twenty harmoniums and a bunch of tablas on the plane as accompanied cargo, which were ostensibly - for my students. When I would go to claim them, the customs guys always categorized everything as "wooden handicrafts" and consequently duty free. But that of course was in a theoretically "non-commercial context". I suspect that is what the other person was referring to. I have been told since that this is easier to do at certain airports and almost impossible at others. Apparently federal customs standards are not applied in a uniform fashion. What works at one office can be verbotten at another.
jingle
Re:Buying direct from India Mar 30, 2004 05:47 a.m.


you never mentioned which website did you order from? do they have genuine products. i mean does he really have the original of what you ordered?
please mention the name of the person and his site so i can contact him for one for myself.
thanks,
jingle
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