INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Sitar Forum: First sitar, thoughts


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First sitar, thoughts Jun 11, 2003 09:02 a.m.

I just got my first sitar, thought I might share my experiences. It's a Super Krishna from New Buckingham Music, which is supposed to be a midrange instrument as I understand it. I pretty much had to get one through mail order, no one around here sells sitars.

Wow, these are really beautiful instruments, they sound great, especially once you get them all tuned up and humming. The only flaw I've found with mine is a couple of the pegs for the sympathetic strings don't seem to fit their holes too well so they won't anywhere near keep tuned. They arrived already chalked so when I get time I might try the sandpaper/file thing to get them to stick. This model has 13 strings so even if I can't fix them I can just leave the strings off of them and use it with 11 strings, probably easier to tune that way anyway.

Other than that it seems pretty well put together and keeps tune better than I expected it to what with the rather primitive friction tuners. It does sound like there are some small somethings rattling around inside the gourd, is this a cause for concern?

I stupidly broke some of the sympathetic strings tuning them too high. I changed them but is there some way to remove the remains of the old string from the peg at the bottom of the gourd without taking all the strings off? I can't seem to get at them with all the other strings looped around it.

I can really see that this would be a difficult instrument to master. It's more primitive, fragile, and beautiful sounding than I expected it to be.

One thing I'm not sure of is why the two finger method (left hand)? I don't see the advantage. I know Ravi throws the third finger in there too so I'll likely follow that. I was always one to want to use all four fingers on the guitar although many people tend to use three. Maybe this is just a beginner's question.

Re:First sitar, thoughts Jun 11, 2003 11:33 a.m.

Heh-I think these are the same questions we all asked ourselves the first time we got our hands on a sitar. Sitar is an odd mix of modern and ancient. Its only about 250 years old, which makes it somewhat modern, and the 20-string model with tarabs only dates back 50 years. But some of the components like friction tuning and the bone bridges are quite old. And the veena-style goes back a long, long way.

Let's see...a few responses not in order...
The rattling you hear is gourd seeds which are left in the main gourd. If no rattle, its not a gourd! So, no problem.
I have never found a good way to get the remnant of broken strings off the langot peg. Just cut the barbs off with wire cutters to the point where they won't stick you.
If you use sandpaper to shape the pegs for better fit, be carefull. Only sand to the point they fit. You can do too much very easily, and now they will slip on you.
The two finger method is traditional style. The third finger is used only when playing really fast, which I can't do yet. Also being a guitarist, I found using only two fingers difficult in the beginning. But I'm used to it now. Just practice a lot to get used to it.

Re:First sitar, thoughts Jun 11, 2003 10:26 p.m.

I've been able to get alot of the stuff out of mine by turning the sitar upside down and if there is a hollow space from the neck into the sitar,the stuff will move down the neck, then remove one of the big pegs and shake the sitar back and forth the stuff will fall out, but I'd only do it when you've learned how to tune you sitar very well, as for the pegs, try to push them a little tighter into the neck................Peace
Re:First sitar, thoughts Jun 13, 2003 04:19 a.m.

Seeds! Who'd a thunk it? I'm not worried about getting them out, they don't rattle while playing, only when picking the sitar up and moving it. Anyway, I guess it makes a good conversation piece.

I'll try to be careful with the pegs but they're pretty much worthless the way they are now so I don't see how I can make it worse. As I said, if I mess it up it's not really a concern, I don't need the two extra strings.

One more thing I should say about getting a first sitar. Yeah, that mizrab really bites at first (as do the fingertips). But it looks like the calluses kick in after the first few days because it's comfortable to play now.

Re:First sitar, thoughts Jun 13, 2003 10:04 a.m.

It has been very rainy and humid in the New England area and the seeds in my sitar have started to sprout. I should have little, baby teak Manglas within 6-8 weeks. Much easier than having to shop on-line for a good sitar. The litter looks to be 4-6 sitar pups, so if anyone wants one let me know ASAP as they should be ready to play by summers end.


Re:First sitar, thoughts Jun 13, 2003 12:11 p.m.

PS Just found out through the ultrasound that one of the pups is a tun Mangla. The sitarji doctor said they all appear to be healthy with solid construction and nice detail work.
Re:First sitar, thoughts Jun 13, 2003 02:46 p.m.

OK, who's the father? I'm a goin' after my shotgun. Better keep an eye on them frisky sitars. Too many guys eyeballin' em nowadays!
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