INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Harmonium Forum: Harmonium buying advise


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Harmonium buying advise Jul 09, 2003 10:34 a.m.


I am thinking of purchasing an harmonium...this I wanted to do for a long time but have now decided to take the plunge...

I am thinking of buying Paul & co harmonium as these are the best and money is no object...

Any guidance etc from anyone useing these etc would be helpful..

And also what things I should be looking for while making purchase...



Re:Harmonium buying advise Aug 20, 2003 10:17 p.m.

Try They are the best. I have ordered over 10 in the past 3 years and they are all purrrfect...
Re:Harmonium buying advise Aug 26, 2003 10:08 a.m.

You can also try one of the premium harmonium makeing company form Kolkata. The have used there products.

anil (Jul 09, 2003 10:34 a.m.):

I am thinking of purchasing an harmonium...this I wanted to do for a long time but have now decided to take the plunge...

I am thinking of buying Paul & co harmonium as these are the best and money is no object...

Any guidance etc from anyone useing these etc would be helpful..

And also what things I should be looking for while making purchase...



Re:Harmonium buying advise Aug 30, 2003 07:26 a.m.

[quote]Mano (Aug 26, 2003 10:08 a.m.):
I dont know about these Pakrashi.. I was at a store where they showed me a pakrashi Harmonium and it had keys sticking all over the keyboard. The scalechanging mechanism was jammed. The salesman that showed it to me said that they would never get these again. I dont want to bad mouth them, but only speak from experience.
Re:Harmonium buying advise Sep 03, 2003 06:06 p.m.

I actually had problems with Bina and DMS-bina harmoniums. Their portable scale changers are not very good.
As for Pakrashi, their harmoniums are much better quality wise and craftmanship wise.
Re:Harmonium buying advise Sep 03, 2003 11:03 p.m.

hi anil, undoubtedly the best is Paul & Co. Dont even think if you need a scale changer and go ahead and buy from P & Co. jug suggested . they dont make scale changers. my experience with them has been disastrous. their quality is nothing compared to P.Co. I have
been around in india shipping stuff for my store in holland. all the scale changers are made in calcutta. there are a few two set harmonium makers in delhi who make good harmoniums.
but those may not interest you coz you need a scale changer. you will not regret your decision to go for a Paul & Co. I saw this with anup jalota as well. it is a wonderful harmonium. make sure you buy an original one.
Re:Harmonium buying advise Sep 13, 2003 09:01 a.m.

Ross, you should do your homework before trying to discredit anyone. I have been buying from bina for years now and have even seen their factory, in which they make their own Harmoniums, INCLUDING scalechange. your experience may have been bad but its probably just an abberation. Paul & Co are good too, but there are just so many fake around (including bina) that its scary when you go spend over $400 for a Harmonium not knowing what it actually is. Anyway, this is too much fuss over trying to buy one Harmonium. Anil, if you havent already bought it, just go with your gut and stop wasting your time asking questions on a forum. I, like anyone else here, will just cloud your judgement. All the best...
Re:Harmonium buying advise Oct 07, 2003 04:38 p.m.

If you seriously want a harmonium of professional quality I really suggest you just email Inni Singh of Delhi Musical Stores personally. He is that man behind it all, and crafts the custom ones by himself, and he indeed does and outstanding job. Pakrashi & Co. is pure crap, I have played quite a few and the workmanship is very poor, and you can tell they used poor quality wood because almost every moving part stuck on several of the models I saw, and this was under dry conditions. Paul & Co. is good quality, but their customer service is probably the worst in the industry. So order from DMS Bina, not the other Bina, there is a huge differance in quality.
Beenkar Ted Ceplina
Re:Harmonium buying advise Oct 09, 2003 04:08 a.m.

There is no way you can compare DMS-bina with Pakrashi harmoniums. I have personally bought harmoniums, regular and scale changers from DMS, Bina and Pakrashi. DMS is by far the least quality as far as craftmanship and inferior quality than others. Pakrashi is by far the best then Bina then DMS. Pakrashi has in business more than 80 years and DMS for 30 years and Bina for 50 years. So the history can tell you something about these manufacturers.
See the latest Jagjeet Singh DVD, he is playing with Pakrashi harmonium not DMS
Harmonium buying advise Oct 09, 2003 07:42 a.m.

There is a lot of very obviously partisan info being posted here. I have been playing for 41 years and have vast experience with all the companies mentioned in this forum. Pakarashi has a big name - but they don't have the quality to match their fame, The person claiming to have seen BINA scale-changers being made at the BINA factory - is clearly not truthful. BINA doesn't make scale-changers! They buy them from faceless, no-name companies out of Calcutta. This is true for 90% of the shops in India. Only a very few select companies outside of Calcutta make their own scale-changer.
As regards Pakrashi - I would concur with the fellow who found their quality to be extremely low. I purchase four Pakrashis for customers last year and they all arrived entirely out of tune. The sound was groaning and muddy. The finish was very crude.
As for BINA - their overall quality has never been particularly good. They can be good after a great deal of tweaking. But the amount of work needed to get them up to par - is beyond the scope of the average player.
Inni Singh at DMS has taken over his father's business in Old Delhi and has made great strides to
improve the quality of the line - which at first glance
looks exactly like BINA. But he is producing harmoniums of a much higher quality. He is to date the only manufacturer who is regularly producing harmoniums tuned to A-440. It's terrifically difficult to produce high-quality instruments in large numbers in India. Somtimes Inni's stuff can miss the mark - but it's never because of lack of effort. And he's always happy to give good customer service in the event that a customer is not completely satisfied. This is not true for the other companies. When you get a bad harmonium from BINA or Pakrashi - they just throw their hands in the air and say "Kya karenge?" (What to do?)
As regards Paul & CO - they are legendary - but they are still living off a reputation they stopped deserving - a long time ago. I have a luthier friend here in town - and we've seen a number of Paul & Company harmoniums come in for repair. They are compently made - but on the whole - rather mediocre. A lot of Indian customers buy them for snob appeal - and in my humble opinion - that's the only thing that keeps Paul & Company alive. Fisher was at one time the most respected maker of stereo components in the USA and over the years they started making junk and everybody bought them because they were a respected name. It's the same scenario with Paul & Co. It's a bad joke foisted on status-seeking, snobby, middle-class dilletantes who don't really have a clue as to what constitutes a good harmonium.
Re:Harmonium buying advise Oct 10, 2003 02:30 p.m.

Finally someone agrees that Inni can make an outstanding harmonium. I have heard all the other companies are copying his idea of "building your own harmonium", where customers pick the exact componenets they want the instrument have.
Beenkar Ted Ceplina
Re:Harmonium buying advise Oct 12, 2003 08:36 p.m.

Are you sure you are not working for DMS? I have bought harmoniums from Pakrashi, Bina and DMS the past three years. There is no way you can tell me the quality of DMS harmoniums are better. I have received many harmoniums from DMS that had lot of problems just as Bina and Pakrashi. The quality of harmonium specially scale changer for DMS is really bad. I have had may problems with DMS harmoniums like keys not working and reeds making buzzing sounds.
Keshav Das
Harmonium buying advise Oct 12, 2003 09:02 p.m.

I have a shop in NY and we sell DMS harmoniums. We used to sell BINA and last winter, we switched the majority of our Delhi business over to DMS. I have had very good experience working with Inni Singh. He's really passionate about quality. Before doing business with him - I emailed him from a hotmail account without identifying myself as a potential retailer. The harmonium I received was pukka. It had a good finish, tight action and spot on tuning. The chances of getting the same from any other web-based dealer are nil. I get samples from Indian dealers all the time who want me to sell their stuff. You'd think they would send the best possible piece as a sample. But the stuff they send is invariably terrible. They have low standards and habitually underestimate customer's ability to discern good from bad. Very few dealers in India are run by people who are players. Inni Singh is an excellent sitar player and a terrific tabla player and he really loves what he does. He's making a custom teakwood folding harmonium for my shop with "European Style" reeds and I'm really excited. While the BINA 23B style harmonium has been a big seller for my shop - and the DMS Signature 23 has done even better, I have never been all that fond of pinewood harmoniums. As long as Jai Uttal and Krishnadas continue to be massively popular - these little pinewood harmonium will dominate harmonium sales here and in Europe.
Keshav Das
Harmonium buying advice Oct 12, 2003 11:07 p.m.

Had to go out. After reading my post - I want to clarify. I meant to say: the chances of gettting such a good quality instrument from any other web-based dealers IN INDIA, are nil.
Also - I saw the post to Prabhu. I don't know him but I can tell you that he doesn't work for DMS. Inni Singh is the head of his company and beyond him - nobody there speaks much English at all. I will vouch that the letter is not from Inni either. His English is better than my Hindi - but it's hardly as grammatical as the letter written by Prabhu. I'd wager any amount of money on that. BTW, Kjann what company do you purchase harmoniums for? Perhaps we can exchange info.
Re:Harmonium buying advise Oct 14, 2003 04:21 a.m.

Can't believe so much goes into one post of selecting a harmonium. All these guys tooting their horns must be people representing the manufacturers. And Prabhu and Keshav Das seem to be the same person waiting to get rid of some stock. I wanted a harmonium and thought I'd look in but now I've decided to go into Delhi (since I live close by) and all the shops and simply trust my ear and judgement. All this agrresive marketing has simply put me off ordering off the net.
Keshav Das
Harmonium buying advise Oct 14, 2003 07:27 p.m.

As you like. Someone requested info and folks responded. Nothing suspicious in that. You should know that Keshav Music Imports sells all sorts of brands of harmoniums and that one sale one way or another doesn't really make or break anyone. We never have to "unload" harmoniums. We sell them so fast we can't keep them on the shelf. Tho our store is tiny - we sell more harmoniums than anyone in the USA. Our sucess is predicated on our instruments being well tweaked and free of defects. I don't work for anyone but my my own company. I see people get ripped off every day and gave my opinion to someone (not you) who was looking to avoid getting ripped off. You will note - I never said "buy your harmonium from me". I suggested the best place to buy it online as it was clear that he was on a budget and looking to buy direct. If you are a good harmonium player and speak fluent Hindustani - just maybe - and I do mean maybe - you won't get ripped off in India. I hear on a regular basis from my Indian customers how much they regret the bad quality instruments they bought on vacation in India while trying to save a few rupees. In India the expression "You get what you pay for." is rarely applicable.
Re:Harmonium buying advise Oct 15, 2003 07:02 a.m.

I have been observing for sometime the exchange on this forum. I do not belong to, nor am I related to Paul & Co, Pakrashi or Bina, and wish to give my totally unbiased opinion. I have worked and have bought a lot from all of them for years now. This I believe is a forum to help people get information and sometimes a point in the right direction, not a diatribe against these companies, and certainly not meant for �who can give a sharper retort". How wronged are you ACTUALLY (if at all) to constantly feel compelled to come back here and vent?

These are good solid companies with a good name, which I am certain has been earned by hard work. Anyone who is familiar with India and the way it works here will know that things have a way of never going smoothly, and this is true for those who speak Hindustani as well. These are hand crafted instruments that we are talking about. This is part and parcel of working with India. Whenever I receive something that is actually unacceptable and cannot be resold, I just let them know. Never have they ever thrown their hands up in the air and said: �kya karenge�. I have been compensated whenever I have required compensation.

For the benefit of whoever reads this (and I am not soliciting or promoting sales for anyone): please know that you will be benefited to buy from known people, people who have been around for a while. I have done my bit of experimenting with new players that promised me the world by way of really low prices and extraordinary quality. I have now come back to where I started, and in hind sight would have been a great deal wiser not to have done it all.

One this is for certain though: Prabhu / Keshav Das (please don�t try to mislead people by denying that you are two different people) does seem to be on DMS� payroll (as pointed out by kjaan). It would be hard to imagine that you are being a mouthpiece and singing praises out of genuine affection, or is it to promote your own sales? If the latter, then please do it elsewhere and not on this forum. A critic column would be a more suitable place for your postings. I speak with authority on this subject and will not be questioned on fact: the companies that you malign have clearly done no wrong to you. Keep your opinions to yourself and try to impose them on those who actually care to listen.

...a sharp retort to this is forthcoming I'm sure.

Re:Harmonium buying advise Oct 15, 2003 08:03 a.m.

Toot Toot Toot

For Keshav:

Why don't you pay and advertise like all the genuine people you can see on the left of this page. I don't see any adverts for your shop there!!!!

Secondly - Are you white? Or is it American food which makes people think they are going to get cheated in India. Racist people like you should be denied Visas to enter India.

Harmonium buying advice Oct 15, 2003 09:45 a.m.

You can lead horse to water - but you can't make 'em drink. Especially if the horse is in the form of a lot of frustrated folks who spend all their time venting their childish rage at total strangers because they're incapable of expressing their pimply discontent to the actual sources of their anger (Mommy? Daddy?)
Obsiously the crowd here is primarily focused on conspiracy theory and other paranoid pastimes. If anyone here were actually interested in music they would pay attention to what's being said and then take it or leave it as it suits them. I am not hurt or outraged at the insults and accusations. Just dissapointed. I thought this was an open, mature forum for the exchange of information. But it's clear now that everybody here has already made up their minds (and everyone else's for them) and are closed to learning anything. I have been a professional musician longer, I'll wager, than most of the folks in this "forum" have been alive. So yes, by all means go ahead and buy the crappy harmoniums you deserve. Obviously Prithvi wouldn't recognize good advice if it hit her in the head. As for me, I'm too busy actually playing music to waste my experience on a bunch of infantile computer nerds.
Pir Milenge - NOT!
Harmonium buying advise Oct 15, 2003 11:11 a.m.

Hai Ram! Race baiting - is that what this bulletin is now about? There are other places where that sort of thing is the norm. They are filled up with furious posts by phoren-born middle-class Desis whose families drag them kicking and screaming, once every few years to Bombay where they spend two weeks cooped up with their families with Aunties stuffing them full of rasgullahs, never once walking in the street, returning two weeks later, proclaiming themselves to their fellow college students as experienced India-wallahs. They spend all their time on internet sites posting nasty diatribes about how stupid Sadarjis are or how sleazy Pakistanis are; all the time wasting a wonderful opportunity to use this miraculous technology to HELP people and create brotherhood and friendship and promote understanding. Wah! Congratuations Prithvi. Now you have joined the ranks of thousands of others who spend all their energy using this 20th Century technology to promote millenia old modes of seperatist hatred and distrust. This forum is about music. Lets keep it that way. A big BTW . . . if all Indian music shops were as honest and reliable as you seem to believe - AAMC, Buckingham Music, Srishti etc. would be out of business. Think about it.
BTW - have you actually ever BEEN to India?
Keshav Das
Harmonium buying advise Oct 15, 2003 12:42 p.m.

Dear Tony, Are you sure YOU'RE not Prabhu playing Good Cop bad Cop? Just kidding!
However - you have misjudged me. Doesn't really matter. I have no interest in winning an opinion poll. Opinions and politics are so fickle. When people get into the whole mud-slinging scene, no-body wins. If you were here in New York I'd invite you to my shop, offer you a seat on the musician's tucket and make you a cup of chai as I have done with Amjad Ali Khan, Subbalakshmi, Vilayat Khan, Hari Das Baul and a host of honored Ustads and Pandits. We would sit down and converse in a cordial and mature fashion and your apprehensions and suspicions would be alayed. This invitation is open to anyone who thinks they know me without having met me. I have nothing to defend or hide.
Chris Pereji
Re:Harmonium buying advise Dec 02, 2003 10:24 a.m.

I find Keshav's input and sharing of his knowledge and experience unbiased.

Despite a histpry that goes back to the times of Marco Polo, the harmonium still remains a low-tech instrument.

Individuals who are srtiving to improve upon this technology ARE making progress.

It is certainly an advantage when the maker of the harmonium is a musician who understands the acoustics of the instrument, the dependencies of the performers, and the needs of the accompanist.

A Non-Scale changer certainly has fewer problems. It also challenges you to learn to play in different scales.

The Scale-changer offers the comfort of bringing any pitch up/down to the scale that is comfortable to you, but you can expect the mechanical problems that are inherent in this technology. Plus, instead of challenging yourself to learn to play in different scales, you tend to take the shortcut and end up playing in only one or at the most, two different scales. nevertheless, it is a convenience.

I have used harmoniums made in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh - Pakrashi, Bina, RikiRam, Sardar, Dwarkin, Surokar, and a couple of brand names I do not remember.

My personal favorites are #1 Surokar and #2 Dwarkin.

Top harmonium playres like Rajan Parrikar and Kedar Naphade will be able to lead us to some good makers.

Good Luck.


Keshav Das
Harmonium buying advice Dec 03, 2003 04:14 p.m.

I agree about scale-changers making players a bit lazy. A player who can instantly transpose - has such a huge advantage over one who uses a scale-changer, in effect as a capo. Also - so many time when making mistakes while transposing, I have had had huge inspirations that ended up being some of my favorite compositions. I use a J. Mondal scale-changer because I happened across it completely by accident in Calcutta and fell in love with the sound. The other thing is the action is so light. Now on occaison when I play a typical upright harmonium with bronze wire return springs - it feels so sluggish. Also, because of the wind-chest design, scale-changers breathe more freely. I play and record with Krishnadas and when we get together I will try something out on his old BINA and it feels like pushing a truck uphill. He love the darn thing, and so does Jai Uttal. One other thing is that a quality scale-changer generally does not use a return spring in the bellows. Most classical players prefer it that way for reasons of having full control of the breath. I also like this a lot.
About the Surokar . . . someone once gave me one to use for a year, and I have to say it was the finest off-the-shelf harmonium I have ever played. Bar-none. The reason I ended up not keeping it was that it was the volume was so soft. But the sound was sooo refined. Like butter!
Re:Harmonium buying advise Jan 06, 2004 04:43 p.m.

Hi Chaps..

Sorry for not looking into this forum after asking the main question...I checked few times and there was no answer so I went off this page...UNTIL today and wow messages galore...Sorry if I have started something here...

The reason for the original question was because a friend of mine uses a Paul & Co harmonium here in London...apparently that was given to him by Sonali Rathod..wife of Rupkumar...when they visted him few years back...she left the harmonium as a gift...and just seeing the quality and the sound got me interested..we went to Bina and JAS musicals here in London and I am sorry to say but the quality and more importantly the sound left much to be desired....this was tested by my friend, who has more knowledge than me...

I think I will have to pay visit to India and I know few friends who are in music industry over there...I think I will go on a small trip with a view of buying the harmonium...

My friend also advised me aginst buying any keyboard because in his opinion typical keybiards do not have 'tonal quality' of indian music.....

And I want to buy harmonium and not a keyboard...I can afford any serious keyboard...but let's say I will be happy with the that my appetite has been wetted...

Many thanks all who contributed on this page...I have noted the comments and advise...I am very grateful to you all for taking time to write...



Re:Harmonium buying advise Mar 22, 2004 11:32 a.m.

i am a singer of india. i used pakrashi harmonium since 20 years. it is very good sound. please clarify about the pitch of harmonium. a 440 i.s.p but my harmonium match with roland keyboard shown 444 what is cause? please reply. sudiptasekhar misra agartala tripura india
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