INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Sitar Forum: sitar - keeping in tune


Author Message
sitar - keeping in tune Mar 07, 2002 08:09 a.m.

Hi all, When I bend my bronze strings (mainly 3rd and 4th, 2nd too, but less), they are getting out of tune, and after few minutes they are getting back in tune (almost). I thought it's because of material these strings are made. Pegs are OK, I also use carpenter talc.
I heard CD Ravi Shankar Pandit, he is bending these strings a lot with no problems.
Thanks for your help
Peter from Slovakia
Re:sitar - keeping in tune Mar 07, 2002 10:28 a.m.

Hi Peter, bronze generally has more of a problem getting back in tune as it is more elastic (has a higher modulus of elasticity).
Brass snaps back better as it is less elastic (has a lower modulus of elasticity).
You will see on many sitars that the 4th string is brass because of this.
So, change to brass wire for your 2nd, 3rd and 4th strings and this will be better. Still a problem, but better.
Also take the strings between thumb and forefinger at the top bridge (peg head end of the neck) and pull gently downwards toward the main bridge about 3 inches to take up the tension at the peghead. Retune the string and do this again, repeating until the string stays in tune. This will help.
peterc Mar 07, 2002 12:54 p.m.

sorry for mistake, I have brass strings of course, but this problem I have even after pulling of the strings. Thing is, that if it's in tune after pulling them, they are "getting shorter" after while if they are not bending and they are tuned higher . So finally it's the same nightmare. As I wrote, while listening Shankar's bending of these strings, there was everything OK. I know he has no ordinary piece of sitar, but...
Maby he has some special strings. Who knows.
Thanks for answer, if you find something else that could help, please write me. Thanks.
Re:sitar - keeping in tune Mar 07, 2002 02:09 p.m.

Hi, Peter.
So you have brass strings on 2nd, 3rd, and 4th positions? Very unusual!
The technique of carefully pulling of the strings I describe was shown to me by Indrajit Banerjee personally during a lesson.
It needs to be done in exactly this way, not pulling the string away from the neck or bending it across a fret.
The string is pulled down along its length for 2"-3" from the top bridge. Then retuned, pulled again and retuned, etc. until it stays in tune.
Also you should not have too much strung wrapped arounf the peg. 6" is reasonable. More than that and have a "spring" in there at can work to detune you string in meed.
If you have done exactly this and failed to get it to stay in tune then you have some other problem of which, not being close to you and your sitar, I can not be of help with.
When Indrajit has been here and tuned up some sitars in my showroom using the exact technique I have descrobed they stay in tune for a very long time.
BTW the 4th string on any normal sitar will, of course, not fret accurately even at the first fret. If you listen carefully to Ravi Shankar you'll hear that all his 4th string notes are under meend (pulling) to get the notes. It is therefore the ear and fingers that is finding the notes on this string so it matters little if it is a little out of tune when this is happening provided it doen't move too much.
Re:sitar - keeping in tune Mar 07, 2002 03:01 p.m.

Hello both Peters;
Got almost the same issue going under the topic "#2 vs #3". I don't have a problem with my second string, but the third does go flat when doing meend (its bronze), and the fourth bass string is an adverture unto itself! I'm experimenting not only with brass vs bronze, but also with string gauges to get the best, most stable sound I can. Still can't get it to stay in tune. At the moment, I've replaced the bass string with the same as the second string, but I do miss my bass!
Re:sitar - keeping in tune Mar 08, 2002 01:32 a.m.

I bought my sitar in India 4 years ago and also a couple of string sets and big bunch of single packed strings. By that time I played gutiars, oud, bazzouki, synth...but no sitar. I had no experience with sitar. It was my dream to buy it and play it. In Slovakia it's impossible to buy sitar. I know about one more man in our country that own and play sitar ! So, as I said, I bought more strings, most of them have no sign of material they are made, only gauge. Only a few of them were signed as bronze or brass. Now I have brass /#2,#3,#4./, especially #4 much thinner then before and it's better/sounds more softly, better in tune/. I have some sets with #4 thick as a brick, enough to drag the car. In my oppinion it could be good for tanpura only.

Well, how can I find out which string is made of bronze or brass, they look the same.

Re:sitar - keeping in tune Mar 08, 2002 09:37 a.m.

Generally for a typical alloy, bronze should have more of a reddish copper color to it, and brass should have more of a yellow or gold color. Use steel wool, fine sandpaper, or "Scotchbrite" scouring pads if you can find that. Shine the strings up to a good lustre and you should be able to see these color differences.
[Previous] [Up] [Next]