Hi. I wen sitar shopping today about a 2hr drive from my home. However, when I got there the sitars they were on sale for $1000 + were in such bad condition, I couldn't believe it. I would have been embarrassed to sell them.
The 1100$ one had a corkskrew neck, e.g. warped about 25 decgrees. The finish was 'baked' on, the fancy edges were peeling off and there was about a half inch of dust encrusted over most of the sitar! The 1000 $ model had wiggly fretts and was completely un tunable or playable. I was in shock. Is there a rule that whenever the proprietor sells clothing, the sitars are junk? No big deal, I had great sushi for lunch and forgot about my ordeal.
Plan B, which was on my homeward journey, was to vist someone selling instruments and teaching sitar, harmonium, tabla etc. That person was great, very helpful, extremely knowledgable and the sitars were fantastic. (They were Radha krishna's, but with a bina label, I think. Didn't know bina sold RKS). They sounded good, looked good, felt good, I felt good. The proprietor played it and it sounded good. Too bad I couldn't use visa. I will go back and get it later with cash. In fact, I will suggest my instructor send students there too.
My new rule: don't buy a sitar from someone who doesn't play and if possible , go and look at it and play it.