INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Sitar Forum: Where can I find a sitar


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Where can I find a sitar Oct 08, 2001 07:18 p.m.

I live in Phoenix, AZ and I have about $800 to spend on a sitar. I was wondering if anyone knows where I should get one. I don't think any retail stores in Phoenix sell them. Should I make a trip to California or should I buy one online? Thanks.
Re:Where can I find a sitar Oct 08, 2001 07:28 p.m.

I almost forgot- I'd be very appreciative if someone could tell me what to look for in a sitar. (I know very little)
Re:Where can I find a sitar Oct 09, 2001 04:18 p.m.

zeppelinofled (Oct 08, 2001 07:28 p.m.):
I almost forgot- I'd be very appreciative if someone could tell me what to look for in a sitar. (I know very little)

Hi. I thought this formum was dead. GLad to see its not. I think you and I live in a "sitar free" zone here in the desert southwest. I live in Las Cruces NM and I know only a handfull of people who have ever heard of a sitar.

I will try to give an extremely basic answer to your questions. Best advice I can give is from my own experiences. You can either surf the net for "sitars" and look at the websites or get advice from lots of people on which dealers are reputable and which aren't. Just because they have a famous name doesn't always mean they care about your satisfaction. Secondly, call or email the dealers and ask lots of questions. That way you can find out if they know anything about sitars or care for that matter! You can buy though the mail, but make sure they have a return policy in case they try to sell you a lemon. Its happened to me once and it still bugs me! I prefer to travel to the dealer and play the instrument before I make any money committment. In general, I would not recommend Ebay as quality is just too variable. Also, California is not the only place that sells sitars and they are almost always overpriced. Texas is another good place to try (Dallas, Ft. Worth, Houston, etc).

As far as what to look for in the instrument, that can get complex. It depends on the quality you would expect, how much you can spend, your personal preferences as to wood, stringing, size, and other things. Just like people they come in small, medium and large. Prices range from around $100 to thousands of dollars. Remember you get what you pay for. A cheap sitar will also sound cheap.

These are good basic questions for a beginning sitarist. I would encourage others to input their opinions and experiences and keep this thread going for awhile. THanks.

Re:Where can I find a sitar Oct 17, 2001 08:44 a.m.

I located a very good source in India, Delhi Musical Stores. They manufacture and sell instruments that others manufacture. You can get a top quality Calcutta made sitar, or a Miraj sitar, for well under $800 including shipping. They will ship to your door thru Fed Ex for about $200. The best sitar costs $375 or so American, so for 500-600 you can have a toip quality sitar delivered in about 6 days after you wire the money. The sitar case is an extra $8. The proprietor is Inni Singh, and he is very respponsive. He is also a musician, which helps Their website is at Hope you get one!
John Robles, Ventura, CA
Re:Where can I find a sitar Oct 21, 2001 05:53 p.m.

Hello, I've bought a number of sitars and have researched maker, suppliers, etc. While getting one from India seems like a good idea, I would be cautious. As Russ said (I think?) you get what you pay for but also you may pay to much for a famous name brand that won't live up to your expectations. Since there's a banner/link already on this wonderful site I would wholeheartedly recommend my friend Peter Cutchey's Buckingham Music. I've bought 2 sitars and a tanpura from him. The Mangla Prasad Sharma sitars are they best I've ever had. I think a tun sitar (mahogany) will run a little more than $800 but would be well worth it. Good luck with your search!
Re:Where can I find a sitar Nov 16, 2001 12:24 p.m.

In my opinion, it would be best to shop around on-line due to the fact that there are student sitars which aren't very relibale as well as Professional quality sitars that sound great. But, if you want to go straight for the gusto, go on-line to E-Bay and do a search under "Sitar". I'm sure you'll find what your looking for at an affordable price (for alot less than $800.00 and even including shipping and handling, that's for sure).

Sincerely, caasi

Re:Where can I find a sitar Nov 17, 2001 09:20 p.m.

Hi Caasi,
I'm afraid I would have to respectfully disagree with you. Most of the sitars on ebay come from the same importer and are drop shipped. While you could get one that was OK, you could also get one not so good. I've personally seen one from there and was shocked as I remember that maker as being a very good quality back in the early 80's. I think there are a lot of people who become interested in Indian music/instruments and then go out and get a sub standard sitar, tabla, etc. and get disappointed and quit which is a shame. If getting one from ebay or wherever, at least be sure it has been thoroughly checked, jawari done, etc. otherwise you'll be doing the $60 a pop return shipping thing assuming there is a return policy.
Re:Where can I find a sitar Dec 08, 2001 08:56 p.m.

Hi everyone, especially Caasi,
I would like to offer my humble perspective for what it's worth. I play several instruments, started playing at 12, 43 years ago. I have made every mistake in the book purchasing instruments. I might suggest that you look at every website you can, which is what I did recently. I also suggest that you purchase, or save for, the very highest quality instrument you can afford. During my years playing stringed instruments (as most musicians) I have come to affect most of my own repairs and also thereby having affected repairs for friends as well, including straightening and reseting necks, re-fretting, fret polishing, setting the action etc., I mention this as I have found even some to the best brand name guitars need to be "tweeked" in order to play and sound "sweet". The parameters that I used to purchase my Sitar were: the instrument must come from a dealer who cares about the end user and is not just "pumping out" instruments. The instrument must come to me adjusted, tuned and timed if you will, by this same dealer. I saved for a long time as I refuse to purchase a low end instrument and then worry whether it is my personal inadequacies that might be interfering with my playing or the limitations of the instrument. The instrument I purchased is a Mangla AAA Tun, the latest model, from Peter Cutchey at Buckingham. My instrument will be delivered this coming Tuesday or Wednesday and I will repost at that time. However, I have no worries about the quality of this instrument as I, like Lars, spent easily over and hour in my initial conversation with Peter after having cruised EVERY site on the internet selling sitars and having found only Buckingham meeting my parameters for information and selection..Peter played the instrument for me over the phone and I just had to have it, what a sweet sound. You will find two things very prominent with a higher end instrument..They seem to play themselves and nearly call to you when you walk in the door..if things don't work out and you quit (not likely when the instrument veritably sings to you) you will most likely get your money out of it. A poor instrument winds up sitting in the corner because they generally are difficult to play (action too high, frets not adjusted and more) and usually sound awful thereby destroying your interest. Truly sorry for being so long winded but I'd personally like to see you get the best leg up you can....good luck from myself and the rest of the Ragaphobics here...namaste
Re:Where can I find a sitar Dec 10, 2001 10:16 a.m.

Hey Ken;
I think you mean ragaphille(a lover of ragas)? Like you, I've been playing since I was around 12, about 6 instruments at last count. You're a few years older than me, but same generation. Anyway, I'm heading to Peter's place in about one week to look at and hear his teak Manglas. Peter and Lars did a good job of "psyching" me up for it! I have a 31 year old sitar, not well made, but I have too many memories of playing it for others to part with it. But I'm also looking for a pro-level instrument. So, I'll add my observations to the board when I take it out for a "test drive".
Re:Where can I find a sitar Dec 10, 2001 05:30 p.m.

Hey everyone!!
I live in Holland and teachers and sitars are rare over here. I was lucky to find a good teacher. She is from India and every year or so so goes to India for familybusiness. On the way back she buys a couple of sitars for her students. I was lucky to buy my sitar this way. She warned me not to buy through internetshops, because they're a) overpriced and b) you can't check them: sitars are very fragile instruments. Perhaps finding a teacher would be your best shot, since he or she can help you track down a good instrument


Re:Where can I find a sitar Dec 11, 2001 11:16 a.m.

Russ, Lars, everyone,
Yes yes, ragaphille's was what I meant, thank you. I guess correctly a ragaphobic would be one who was allergic to raga's.. Ragaddicts might have been closer to my meaning. So my Mangla should be here today or tomorrow, but in the meantime I couldn't resist and also purchased a set of AA Tabla's for my wife, Peter accused me of doing out of guilt, she still doesn't know I got the Mangla. Last night while listening to Ravi she was counting out the beats (she's quite a good percussionist, Bodhran, scottish side drum, dumbek, table tops etc.) She has always loved the sound, better late than never. By the way I basically agree with remco's teacher as well as Lars. I am in sitar siberia here in North Carolina, my only hope for a lesson being to corner the odd sitar player coming in to perform for the Charlotte Hindu center.
I play Bagpipes (main ax), uilleann pipes, scottish small pipes, whistle, flute (last order from Peter includes a basic bansuri, 8 bucks what the hey), guitar (nice George Lowden, mahog back and sides which is why I went for the Tun.) Good luck all.....
Re:Where can I find a sitar Dec 10, 2001 07:27 p.m.

Or maybe "Ragamaniacs"?? Will be looking forward to hearing your opinion Russ.......and also Ken too when he gets his Mangla....
As for Remco, glad to see you have found a teacher and she's basically right about internet shops. However there is always an exception to the rule and Buckingham music is it........nuff said! In my humble opinion
Re:Where can I find a sitar Dec 11, 2001 06:23 p.m. guys have a spouse to jam with. Lucky you. I'm doing a solo out here unfortunately. Hey, did we lose the Zep (original requester) along the way?
Re:Where can I find a sitar Dec 11, 2001 08:27 p.m.

Hey Ken,
Wow......your wife likes Ravi?? Very wife likes both types of music: Country AND Western, hee hee. It's god awful I tell you. She does like the Uillean pipes though but I'm not up to learning my hands full with the sitars. Don't know what happened to Zep but that's OK. Where's the email Russ?hint hint.....what did you think of Raga Charukauns??
Re:Where can I find a sitar Dec 11, 2001 08:51 p.m.

Hey ya'll (that's country and western for Hi guys),
Yes it is way cool to have the spous on hand for to keep the timing...great stuff. So I am now with Sitar, hit the office at about 3:30 this afternoon. Needless to say I got no more work done today. It's now 9:30PM and I have tuned it, gone through Ashwin's #1 tape (he spent the whole tape on tuning, actually very nice thing, even though I wanted hand techniques right off) I like his style of teaching but wish he would move along....(not fair to the uninitiated newbies, this tape is excellent for them) I can't wait to get tape #2. Also got Ram Avtar's book which I like as well.
I was originally worried about the case since I didn't take Lars advice on getting the fibreglas case and the only entry level case I'd seen was the ugly grey one on another site. The case that came with my Tun is a semi-hardshell case reinforced with steel bars. I'm quite satisfied with this one.
So I finally let Debbie in on my Sitar. She said she wanted to get mad but the instrument was so beautiful she just couldn't. Also once the 4 main strings and the chikaris were tuned it sounded good, but once the sympathetic strings were in Wow. All I can say is Oooooooh. I normally reserve six O's for instruments over 2k, but for the price this is great. Like the extra goodies, in the old days when you were in a band and you bought a guitar (in my case Bass) the dealer would "throw in" a couple of picks, a strap and maybe a set of extra strings if the instrument was high end enough, they don't seem to do that anymore. Peter's from the old school though and throws in a bunch of esoteric stuff, which, in my haste to get home and study, I left at the office, however I did manage to stash a mizrab in my pocket. By the way where IS the original guy? Zepster are we helping you???
Any way good luck to you, and the rest of yuz as well. Finding this site made my day...thanks everyone...ken
Re:Where can I find a sitar Dec 11, 2001 10:39 p.m.

Hi Ken,
Glad you're having fun and happy with your new sitar! Hey, there are a number of books to help you out there that will get you much furthur than the Ram Avtar book although that one is good to get going with, also I have a fairly detailed sitar instruction manual in electronic format that I can send you. Email me: if you would like it? It's about 900k in size but very nice and free of course. Is that tun sitar you got the one with soundholes in the bird eyes. I remember Peter mentioning he had one like that and was thinking of doing that to mine to open it up a little but will probably fret about it for a year first :confused:
Re:Where can I find a sitar Dec 11, 2001 10:45 p.m.

Well, so much for html at the end of my previous message......forgot my login name, etc. so I can't change it either :eek:
Re:Where can I find a sitar Dec 12, 2001 06:13 p.m.

Ken and Lars;
Ken, I've had the #1 and #2 Ashwin videos for about 5 years now. From the way you talk, I get the feeling you are already ahead of the game. That second video is OK, but Ashwin just doesn't put enough "meat" into it for me. He shows plenty of exercises, but they are very simple and can be mastered in about a month. Then what? I talked to him on the phone a couple of years ago about doing at least one more video, introducing the ornamentations and gamak (there's a bunch of them), and he said he would like to, but didn't have the time. So, I get the feeling he's not going to any time soon. Bummer!
Lars, didn't you get the email I sent a few days ago, "beaming" about Charu Kauns? I see what you mean about it. A masterpiece to be sure. Anyway, maybe I'll try again. Well, heading out tomorrow afternoon to drive to Ft Worth for a friends's graduation, and then on to Peter's in Austin early next week. So, I'll talk to you again after I'm back. Have a great holiday, both of you.
Re:Where can I find a sitar Dec 12, 2001 08:16 p.m.

I would like to say forget about the "tweaking your sitar" video too......not worth it. Russ, never got your email!! Maybe you could resend it:
The address works....AT&T sorted the whole mess out finally. Have fun in Texas!
Re:Where can I find a sitar Dec 15, 2001 10:52 p.m.

I have recently come from India and have a sitar (Calcutta make) for sale for $400. I can give the carrying case free. The sitar is 6 months old and I don't want to carry it back.
Re:Where can I find a sitar Dec 17, 2001 03:23 p.m.

zeppelinofled (Oct 08, 2001 07:28 p.m.):
I almost forgot- I'd be very appreciative if someone could tell me what to look for in a sitar. (I know very little)

I have a 6 month old Calcutta sitar with me available for immediate sale for $400. The sitar sounds very good. I can give the carrying case free. I also have a Taalmaalaa (electronic tabla-works on 220V or 110V AC) with instruction manual for $250. The items need to be disposed of before I return to India next month. I can be contacted on (40 865 1650

Rohini Prasad

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