INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Sitar Forum: my adventure with synthetic bridge(s)


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my adventure with synthetic bridge(s) Dec 23, 2003 04:13 p.m.

my current bridge had a bad groove in it and desperately needed to be worked/changed. So, I decided to bite the bullet and try my hand a jawari work. To be safe I ordered a good quality synthetic main and tarab bridge, with jawari pre done for plan B

Instead of taking the main bridge out and reworking it from scratch I thought I would just fix the Ma string area. So, I messed it up and fixed it a number of times and then finally got it working ok. There was a nice pit in the area around the ma string, but it sounded ok, meend is not so hot when I try more than 3 notes, but what the heck, it is playable again, and I can fix it later.

Then my syn bridges showed up. Out of curiousity I put on the tarab bridge. Man the sound difference was incredible! The old (bone) one was wider (ie more space between tarabs), but not nearly as deep or high. My sitar came alive. So, I thought I would put on the main bridge, since that went so well, should be easy right?

The main bridge is 1/3 deeper than the old one and made of plastic. The only problem was that the legs were long and had to be trimmed down. The wood is excellent quality and very hard, but easily workable with a chisel. I tried a file, but that kept screwing up the corners.

Getting the legs to the right height is only part of the story, the tilt is everything so I found out. I took Lars' advice to go a little at a time. I was a bit put off at first, since it sounded worse than what I had. But after several days of taking it off, trimming a little bit to get the tilt right, putting it on and tuning up, i.e. about 30 hours of hacking, the sound is pretty good, but the chickaris suck badly. So, off and on 3 or 4 more times and now the sound is excellent. The jawari is fully opened, I think. The volume increased at least 50%, all the tarabs sing, I finally have that real sitar twangy sound!

The one draw back is that the bridge slips a fair bit, so for now I put some first aid tape(!) down around the perimeter of the bridge footprint so that I can play, but I hate looking at the tape and I was told to try a few drops of shellac under each foot, once I am happy with the position.

This was a great learning experience, and once I got over the worry of hosing up my sitar perminantly, I really enjoyed the project. (thanks Lars for the help!). I'll post some pics as soon as I get my cam battery charged. I am really impressed with the quality of the bridges and the sound that they produce (thanks Lars and the maker Sanjay?). I hope they last at least another year, but I guess I will be better at it next time!


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