INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Sitar Forum: Taking instruments to India....


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Taking instruments to India.... Sep 01, 2003 01:52 a.m.

Okay so I know I am going to New Delhi to study rudra veena, and basically thats all I am taking with me. Has anyone gone to India from the US with any sort of large instrument before, and how easy is it. My rudra veena comes in two cases, one for the dandi, the other for the tumbas, but both are quite large. Any suggestions?
Beenkar Ted Ceplina
Re:Taking instruments to India.... Sep 03, 2003 10:58 a.m.

Send it Fed Ex. and hope for the best. And get good insurance.
Jeffrey R King
Re:Taking instruments to India.... Sep 03, 2003 11:44 a.m.

As you say, a rudra veena is a big and fragile instrument, not easy to repair or replace. It might make things much easier if you could lease an instrument while you're there, and leave your instrument at home. Or perhaps borrow one for lessons from someone else (fellow student)for this period. Just something to think about.
Re:Taking instruments to India.... Sep 03, 2003 12:57 p.m.

Hey, Beenkarji - I'd buy an extra seat for it on the plane... and get it the kosher meal. Yum!

Seriously you may want to check into that as an option. Best of Luck.

Re:Taking instruments to India.... Sep 03, 2003 01:40 p.m.

Maybe you can have a look at flightcases for bassdrums for the tumbas. There are several sturdy molded plastic brands around.



Re:Taking instruments to India.... Sep 03, 2003 04:23 p.m.

You might want to talk with a company that specializes in shipment of sculpture or objets d'art. These guys can ship eggs from Paris via group 5 racers over the Dakar course and they will end up in Senegal unscathed. I would just have another custom built veena waiting on me when I got there though, probably cheaper than the shipping, and then leave it with Asad Ali Khan for you (or other students) to use when you are there.
Re:Taking instruments to India.... Sep 03, 2003 05:22 p.m.

Howdy Ben!

How did it get to the US in the first place?
As someone said a flightcase is really safe, but heavy.
You can build one your self...


Re:Taking instruments to India.... Sep 04, 2003 07:09 a.m.

Take a look at this page: there are several options for bassdrum flightcases. I've used some of their rackmount cases. Extremely lightweight, but still sturdy enough to guard your instruments.



Re:Taking instruments to India.... Sep 04, 2003 01:37 p.m.

Speaking of cases, where can I find a case for my top tumba? I guess an SKB case. Every place I checked for drum cases only sell them as sets of different sizes.
Jeffrey R King
Re:Taking instruments to India.... Sep 04, 2003 02:02 p.m.

Lucked out locally and found a bongo case, cost me $90. Actually big enough for two top tumbas, plus string sets, wire cutters, etc. Good strong case too. Bongo case is about the right shape too.
Re:Taking instruments to India.... Sep 04, 2003 07:52 p.m.


I'd tried to get a 10" X 10" tom case from Music 123, man that turned out to be the biggest hassle! They finally sent me a bloody snare case (altho the packing invoice said 10X10 Tom, sheesh), and then I had the worst time getting a refund, as they'd credited, charged, credited about a bazillion times, had to sit down and go through each and every one, and write a VERY nasty letter..finally DID get it resolved, after a couple months!.....never did get that tom case either.........can't remember what brand it was, but supposed to be a really great hardshell........on a par with the SKB Roto......

Finally just went to Musician's Friend, got myself a 9" X 9" tom case (I'd measured that tumba like mad, knew this'd work alright), SKB Roto X, MOST excellent, it came in like 2 days, and was about $10 bucks cheaper, billing hassles whatsoever, either.......and I thought a way better case than the one I'd ordered from 123, as well...........lined, too, a bit of padding, thin though....but better than none, never counted on that to cushion, still nice, though

although perhaps that was a fluke, I'd bought a hardshell case for my Epiphone El Segundo Acoustic/Electric bass last year and didn't have any hassles from Music 123....but after that drum case thing, I don't think I'll be buying anything from them again, it was totally ridiculous.......BIG hassle

You'll have to check and see what's in stock, I know they (MF) have a SKB Roto Tom case 9" X 10" in stock at present......just go have a look/see.........

Yes this case is excellent! I took all the foam that my sitar from Lars came in, some extra bubble wrap, too and wrapped it around the tumba in it's scarf, it works really well, and I am very very pleased with it, having it in a cardboard box was making me VERY that'd kill me, something happening to it......

Hope maybe that helps a little......go check it out though......I think mine was $50 bucks or so, maybe $60 ( I think I got a few $'s off too, as I ordered some other stuff, promotion or something), somewhere in that neighborhood though, not too expensive, considering what could happen to an unprotected tumba like that, ya know?


Re:Taking instruments to India.... Sep 04, 2003 09:30 p.m.

I second AJ's advice - check out I bought a fiberboard tom case for $30 that works nicely. I ordered it on a Sunday and it was here on Tuesday. My sitar never leaves the house except for lessons and I don't take the top toomba with me, so the fiberboard works fine for storage, though I would probably invest the extra $$ in a better case if I was out and about. I added additional padding and use a scarf as AJ describes.

It would be cool if the online ICM stores would carry some sort of toomba/tom case (Lars - hint, hint).

Re:Taking instruments to India.... Sep 04, 2003 11:42 p.m.

Hey, good idea about the tom case. I never thought of a drum case for the groud!


Re:Taking instruments to India.... Sep 05, 2003 03:23 p.m.

Beenkarji (Sep 01, 2003 01:52 a.m.):
Okay so I know I am going to New Delhi to study rudra veena, and basically thats all I am taking with me.


I hope that when you do actually go, that you share with us your final solution on traveling with the Veena, and how everything works out when you get there (there's Internet cafe's everywhere!) I too am interested in traveling with my sitar, though probably not overseas anytime soon. I'm sure we can all benefit from your experiences.

Billy Enigmar Godfrey
Re:Taking instruments to India.... Sep 07, 2003 03:32 p.m.

my uncle just brought a sitar from india for my brother 2 weeks ago, it was perfectly fine with the airline
Re:Taking instruments to India.... Sep 07, 2003 01:08 a.m.

Well I talked with a few other rudra veena students and they all said buy an extra seat, so I am going to follow there advice, it is better to pay the additional $800 for the seat, verses loosing an irreplacable $7k instrument that belonged to Ustad himself (so to me it is my dream instrument). I would suggest the same for sitar, even if it wouldn't get bumped, I read that the finish can get really nasty, and the wood can still warp even via air, after all it is about 36 degrees where the cargo is kept and thats not too good for an instrument of such a warm climate.
Beenkar Ted Ceplina
Re:Taking instruments to India.... Sep 07, 2003 09:00 a.m.


Do you really think that they will let you bring the instrument inside the plane? Perhaps its possible, i have done so myself but that was before 11.09. So i really dont know how they are with instruments these days.

check with the airliner company and tell ut how they responded!


Re:Taking instruments to India.... Sep 07, 2003 04:48 p.m.

That takes a lot off my chest, I know I shouldn't fuss about my instrument, but when you find one you like you have to treat it like gold, after finding a rudra veena to my specs. is like finding a needle in a haystack. I will contact a few airlines just for your info and tell you guys later as many of us are probably going to deal with the same thing.
Beenkar Ted Ceplina
Re:Taking instruments to India.... Sep 07, 2003 05:24 p.m.

Ted, Jan may be right....I've heard that you can't take an instrument on a plane with you also, only as checked baggage... maybe they've relaxed it but I doubt it. If you have good flight cases, you'll be fine. The wood won't warp, trust me. I think that you should get a veena over there instead though as a 7k rudra veena could get 'lost' very easily!
Re:Taking instruments to India.... Sep 07, 2003 09:51 p.m.

The main issue is that rudra veena are not built to a standard size like sitar, in fact they are built to fit its owner, and I was just lucky to aquire one that fits my body exactly, and not to mention has the sound and feel that I want. If you have another instrument made, it wont even come close to my primary one, trust me on that, I own several, and none of them are alike even if they look identical.
Beenkar Ted Ceplina
Re:Taking instruments to India.... Sep 08, 2003 12:37 a.m.

There has been considerable discussion about travel with instruments on a well known guitar forum. Recently as a result of efforts by the AFM, musicians can now carry on their guitars, it might be stretching policy in the case of a Sitar, but it's worth being aware of the follwing policy. At least it might ensure extra care in handling by the airline.

The AFM (American Federation of Musicians, the Musician�s Union) has negotiated with the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) the right for musicians to carry on their instruments on airline flights. Download and print the document and be prepared to show this to security personnel should there be a problem. The letter, written by Thomas R. Blank, the Assistant Administrator for Security Regulation and Policy, basically states "...TSA instructed aircraft operators that effective immediately, they are to allow musical instruments as carry-on baggage in addition to the limit of one bag and personal item per person as carryon baggage on an aircraft". The letter further states that "should your membership experience problems at the security screening checkpoints, please advise them to request to speak to a Screening Supervisor for resolution".

Here's the site with the AFM letter:

Re:Taking instruments to India.... Sep 08, 2003 06:29 a.m.


That letter sounds like a good thing, but seriously i dont think the AMF or the TSA have any influence elsewhere. Still i made a call to an airliner and they told me i can bring the Sitar as long as i can put it under the seat or in the luggage compartment over my seat. Sinct that would only be possible with the RR travel Sitar ( here we go again...) that isnt an option really. But i was free to order as many seats as i wanted to fill op with larger instruments. I just had to ask why this all of a sudden was possible, and the guy i talked to told me of the tremendous effort of some thing he called the AMF and the direct orders of the TSA that has a global impact on any airliner... not really just kidding! He told me that after the security check there was really no reason for why a object that has passed two chekpoints and were not considered an object of massdestruction sould not be able to go on insile the airplane. whatever...


Re:Taking instruments to India.... Sep 08, 2003 11:58 a.m.

Jan (Sep 08, 2003 06:29 a.m.):
But i was free to order as many seats as i wanted to fill op with larger instruments. I just had to ask why this all of a sudden was possible....

As many of you may know, I am a software engineer supporting mostly American Airlines (and a few others); in fact, I originally was an employee of AA when I started 13 years ago.

I know people who have travelled with musical instruments; as far as I know, AA has always had a policy allowing purchase of a seat for an oversized instrument. In fact, they will sell seats for almost anything (I remember years ago a major florist chain would buy discounted seats for roses.) It has to fit in a window seat that's not an exit row, and can be seatbelted.

There are actually two "standards" they use, "cello-sized" and "bass fiddle size". A ticket for a cello sized instrument can be bought for any cabin window seat. An instrument the size of a bass fiddle must have a first-class window seat. In either case, the passenger must be seated next to the instrument (this would be important to know on a heavily-booked flight where it might be difficult to find two seats next to each other.)

A ticket for an instrument will be just a little cheaper, because some of the passenger taxes don't apply. But here's a bonus: the same baggage rules apply to the instrument! So you can check more baggage and carry-on an extra bag.

I checked this in AA's system, and the last time updated was 8/21/2003, so its current information. Of course AA does not fly directly to India, but I would guess most airlines might have similar policies.

Now, just to see how easy it would be to find such information, I went to Air India's website and looked at their FAQ's. Here is what I found in the FAQ on baggage:

What does AI have to offer if I need to carry any cabin baggage of fragile/ valuable nature?

You may carry baggage of a valuable or fragile nature on additional cabin seats provided advance arrangements for the same are made with us.

Are there any limitations/specifications to carriage on additional cabin seats?

The maximum weight of such baggage should not exceed 75 kg (165 lbs) per seat.

What will be the charges for each seat occupied by the baggage?

The charge for each seat occupied by baggage will be the applicable fare in effect at the time of booking the additional seat (s).

I couldn't find any information on when this was last updated, but I have no reason to doubt that the information is current.

Billy Enigmar Godfrey
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