INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Tabla Forum: tabla recommendations


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tabla recommendations Mar 17, 2003 12:02 a.m.

I intend to begin tabla lessons soon. I have spoken to my prospective teacher about buying tablas. He told me to make sure that the baya is around 3 kg. He also recommended that I buy from the Ali Akbar College of Music store. Their "regular tabla set" has a 2 kg baya, so I am thinking of getting the "mixed tabla set" with a 3 kg baya.

I have a few questions:

1. What is the difference between the Bombay and Calcutta tablas?

2. Has anybody purchased tablas from Their "tabla set 3" has a 3 kg baya and includes a case. Can anybody attest to their quality?

3. Are there any other reputable tabla dealers who have reasonably priced tablas?

Re:tabla recommendations Mar 17, 2003 11:13 a.m.

Personally I don't think it's a wise decision to buy any musical instrument without first seeing it, and if possible letting someone you know and trust also take a look at it with you. The quality of instruments varies varies to a large degree even within number of instruments a store has in stock at any given time.
I'm seeing more and more 'toy' quality tablas being sold as "professional" instruments and at at higher and higher prices.
One store is selling a 'premium' tabla set for $943.35 !!! and does not including shipping. On the other end of the spectrum, a friend from India just brought back two beautiful, large Bombay dahinas he paid $65. each. Either way a piece of junk is a piece of junk no matter how much much you paid for it and owning a tabla that cannot be played or properly tuned because it is broken, damaged, or improperly made will be the most frustrating experience you will ever encounter as a student. At the very least demand that the store you purchase your instrument from will give you a reasonable return policy. Anything less than that and you will only have yourself to blame if you get ripped off. Don't get me wrong, there are trustworthy dealers who are committed to their customers and who will give you a fair and equitable price. There are also other sources where a good bargain on a well-made tabla set can be found, but footwork and a high degree of patience will be necessary.
Re:tabla recommendations Mar 17, 2003 12:07 p.m.

From my colleagues comments, I think that both kala kendra and buckhimgham are good suppliers in the USA. I only wish that I could say the same in the UK where a 'TOY' tabla set can cost you around �130 (about 200 US $).

As I tend to visit India regularly, I get my supplies from a Mr Prafulla in Mumbai.Please note that I do not wish to glorify or demean other suppliers and I wish them well.

Good Luck!

Re:tabla recommendations Mar 18, 2003 04:26 a.m.

I recently bought a tabla set from Prafulla Athalye. He sent me a set that was excellent. Made by Sadanand, Its the best quality for the price. Look into it - He definitely has my recommendation.
Re:tabla recommendations Mar 18, 2003 07:10 a.m.

Rob (Mar 18, 2003 04:26 a.m.):
I recently bought a tabla set from Prafulla Athalye. He sent me a set that was excellent. Made by Sadanand, Its the best quality for the price. Look into it - He definitely has my recommendation.

The quality of Mr. Prafulla Athalye's tablas may very well be at the very top of the list, I don't know, and I have no way of finding out for myself except to purchase one. However, three things I find bothersome; one, the price is not listed (I didn't fill out the order form to find out!), two, the details are limited, yet, three, the stipulation is made quite clear " Refund : Under no circumstances will there be a refund given once the transaction is complete."
Again, I would advise anyone not to buy their tablas sight-unseen as even the most perfectly made tabla can and usually is damaged during shipping, if not in packing. And again, at the very least there should be a return policy that reflects some equitability if such damage should occur through no fault of the purchaser. The alternative is that some unscrupulous dealers may sell damaged or used instruments to the unsuspecting as opposed to taking the financial loss upon themselves.

Re:tabla recommendations Mar 18, 2003 08:27 a.m.

Aaanaddha, Yes you do have a point there and I agree with you that you need to 'see' the goods beforehand. I made a mistake of actually telling a salesman in a Mumbai shop that I was a beginner but I wanted the 'best quality' and ended up buying expensive inferior quality. Best to take along someone more proficient or take recommendations.
Re:tabla recommendations Mar 18, 2003 10:47 a.m.

Perhaps my experience is different than most; my Guruji made makes it possible for his students to obtain tablas from the same source and for the same price that he obtains his own tablas. I just happen to believe that as the prices increase and the standards of quality decrease everyone suffers, not just the newbies purchasing their first set of tablas. That it is our responsibility as well as to our own benefit as knowledgeable consumers to be aware of false or misleading advertising and to let retailers know that there are limits to what we will accept at any price.
Re:tabla recommendations Mar 19, 2003 03:54 a.m.

You all do have a point with Prafulla's ordering system. It took me quite a while talking to him, and asking about the quality of the drums to make sure that what I got was the best quality. He is definintely a very good player and really knows his stuff. After months of talking to him I decided to at least try - besides its only money - and having a good tabla supplier is worth its weight in gold. Turns out the drums that he sent were pretty darn good. But I realize that the return policy is quite bad. This is due mainly because of the high price of shipping from India.
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