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Brak

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Reply with quote  #1 
Hello all,

I need some help.

I have been playing the same sitar for almost 20 years. Due to a crack developing in the neck at one of the chikari peg holes I decided to get a new instrument, and a higher quality one as well.

I absolutely love the new sitar except for two things, the tarab pegs being a little too close, and the reason of this post...... the main tumba is smaller.

So due to playing the new sitar for about a year now, and with my hand position being different due to the size difference, I have slowly developed some serious wrist issues (tendinitis). Its so bad that even using a computer mouse is painful, and will be seeing a hand surgeon soon.

So my question is..... how does one correctly alter their playing position to accommodate different size tumbas? Since every sitar is hand made, one is to expect different size tumbas from sitar to sitar. I have even seen pictures of the same professional performer (like Shankar) with different size tumbas.

I have tried drastically changing my position (to putting resting the gourd on my right leg) and adding foam pads both under and on top of the gourd. Its weird after 25 years of playing to have to be obsessing over something so basic. With my old sitar the correct position just naturally fell into place - where I could play for hours with no wrist pain. Not just playing for 15 minutes causes much pain.

Any help and suggestions would be appreciated.


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Brak
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Ingo

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Reply with quote  #2 
Glue the neck of the old one and use it again. Or look for a new sitar that fits.

If you fight with the new sitar you have now - and it fights back and wins, then its 0:1 against you. Sounds like it is too small, if it doesn't fit and you tried and didn't find a natural way to sit with it easily, you are clearly not made for each other.

After 20 years plus your sitting position should be okay, so the sitar is not. Don't ask for advice how to cut your fingers so they can fit into gloves that are too small;-)


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Brak

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Reply with quote  #3 
I fully agree to not cut one's fingers to make them fit in a glove that is too small.

But I'm sure you agree that its unwise to throw away a high quality pair of pants when they are too big, when all you need to a belt to make them fit. That is the advice I am asking for..... what could be a belt to make them fit?

I am hesitant to get rid of the new sitar for the following reasons:
1. If I am able to ship it back and exchange it for another - there is no guarantee that it would be any bigger... or worse yet, not guarantee it would not be any smaller.
2. This is a much higher quality sitar. In terms of volume, smoothness of meends, triggering of the tarabs - the new one outranks it hands down. The construction (except for the tarab pegs being a little claustrophobic) and aesthetics (tarab pegs have inlays) are better - plus it has the low-string clips (my attempts to make these were quiet sad)! My old one is a "no-name" where the new on is a Sardar.

So I would really like to make this new one workable. I disagree that we are not "made for each other", but feel we just need to get to know each other better. lol

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Tomek Regulski

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Reply with quote  #4 
I would take some time to sit with the new instrument in your standard sitting position and see where the points of stress are, specifically regarding how close you are holding the instrument to your body, what are the angles of your arms at the elbows (acute vs. obtuse), how your forearm comes across the toomba and the resulting angle of your wrist, how your thumb position affects your wrist, are you leaning toward the toomba as a result of the size, etc.

I am sure you have done a lot of this already, but ultimately there is no simple answer, but has to do with your proportions and how they are affected by the size of the instrument. Somewhere in there is some issue of alignment or tension that is causing this tendonitis to flare up. You'll need to look at each thing one at a time to see where you might find greater ease.

Of course, seeing a specialist and bringing your instrument will likely help the process significantly.

I am going through this myself with a tanpura, so I feel your frustration! Hoping that you can find the solution.
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Brak

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Reply with quote  #5 
Ok, I made some discoveries today while practicing.

I decided to take both sitars out.... measure them and compare how my wrist feels while A/B-ing the two.


So first the measurements:
OLD NEW
13 5/8 13 1/8 From top (where the arm rests) to the bottom (where it rests on the foot)
40 7/8 40 3/8 Circumference going around the tabli(as measured above)and the back
35 1/2 34 Circumference around the tabli from neck-joint to neck-joint.

So as you can see, the measurements are not that different. And when you look at the pic, its really hard to tell the size difference.

So.... my discovery:
I A/B the two sitars. And I noticed that even playing the old one was causing discomfort!
I closely looked at my body position, and noticed that it was misaligned no matter which sitar I was using - the new one was worse - but both were bad!

Then I realized........not only did the size of my sitar change.... but so did the size of my legs!
I am a bodybuilder, and as such my thigh muscles have been getting much bigger. When you have skinny legs, its easy to put them together in a very close position. Now with the, thankfully, large muscle mass on my thighs, I can not. Now when I am in position, the main gourd (in order to rest on my foot) is much further to the right, which has also been causing me to have to twist to the right and hunch over (which has been making my back ache as well). As an experiment I tried both sitars with forcing my legs together (ignoring as much as I could the crushing pain being caused) and the wrist discomfort was much less for both.

So my conclusion is that it wasn't the smaller size of the gourd that is the problem.... but the fact that the traditional sitting position doesn't work anymore due to my leg size increase over the year.
So I think the smaller gourd just aspirated the issue - as I'm sure this problem started to slowly develop years ago and it just now reach this tipping point - as I have been bodybuilding for awhile now.




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Brak

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Reply with quote  #6 
So my question is slightly different - but still the same:
What can a person do to adjust their sitting when their physicality doesn't allow them to use the traditional position...... well at least without singing in soprano at the same time?

So far I have tried having my thighs in an butterfly position, with the gourd resting on my right inner thigh. Wrist alignment is spot on, as is my back with no twist and no hunch. The only issue is that the sitar is higher...... so ironically the newer sitar is better in this regards. But it doesn't look right from the audience perspective. In my opinion kind of makes me look like a hack..... I'm just missing the guitar pick to complete the scene. lol

So any advice/tips/guidance in finding an alternative position, or some amazing way to get the traditional to work without being in a vice-grip - I would greatly appreciate it.

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Brak
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Brak

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Reply with quote  #7 
Tomek,

Thanks for the informative response. I was in the middle of typing my comment before I saw yours (took a long time to type it out).

I like your idea of taking my sitar into my doc visit. I will call them up and see if that is cool.


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drutgat

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Reply with quote  #8 
Hi,
I would be interested in hearing how you are getting on.

Given my experience of tendonitis/repetitive strain injury over the course of the last 20 years, I wanted to let you know what has been useful FOR ME with similar injuries to the ones that you have been experiencing.

Disclaimer - obviously, consult the appropriate professionals before attempting any of the following.

1.  Pay attention to the gauge of Sitar strings being used
Many years ago, I had to switch to using lighter gauge ('thinner') guitar strings. The sacrifice in the roundedness of tone is easily offset/made manageable by the fact that thicker strings will definitely exacerbate the tendonitis that I suffer from 24 hours/day.

Also, lighter gauge strings are easier to bend.

2. Sitting on a cushion
You might already do this, but it was a revelation to me how sitting on a 3 inch cushion somewhat helped in easing the RSI.  I have no idea why this is, but my then pilates teacher suggested this, and she was right on.

3. Doing regular exercises
I do a series of exercises which are pivotal in keeping my RSI's down to manageable (moderately painful) levels.

These exercises include:
Circling arms in a \Backwards' motion (one at a time) - i.e., I stand with my arm by my side, hand pointed toward the floor, and then, without letting my arm bend too much at the elbow (but without rigidly locking it), I whirl/rotate my arm in circles going 'backwards'; in other words, the circular motion occurs by me raising my arm in front of me, up toward the ceiling, then around 'behind' me (I hope that I am being clear about this - basically, imagine someone standing sideways on to you and drawing a circle from just above your head, to the side of your knee, and then continuing that circle up just above your head again).

I do this in a continuous motion just until my shoulders begin to ache, which for me is about 30 times. Once I have finished 30 reps with one arm, I switch to the other arm and do 30 reps there.

Standing in a Doorway and 'Lunging' Forward - i.e., I stand in a doorway, with one of my shoulders facing the door frame. I  raise my arm as straight as possible, and place it against the door frame. Then I slowly step forward into a kind of lunge (one knee/leg bend, and the other extended behind me). I hold that position as I feel the stretch in my shoulder.  Next, I do this for the other arm.

Stretching Wrists - I actually do this in the shower, where the combination of the warmth of the water, and a nice, flat wall, seem to help me.

I stand facing the wall, an arm's length away, reach straight out toward the wall so that my arm is initially parallel to the floor, and then I put the palm of my hand against the wall, and then rotate it so that my fingers are pointing downwards. Bending my elbow slightly, and my knee, I then press my hand against the wall for about 10 seconds, which stretches my wrist. I then repeat this for the other arm/hand.

4. Try To Minimize Other Things that Might Exacerbate the Problem
Knowing that my RSI's are here to stay, many years ago I started to try to minimize everyday activities that might exacerbate them.

For example, with laptop cases and similar other cases/bags, I try to use a shoulder strap when possible, rather than carrying them by hand.

I voice-dictate when I can, rather than typing. I have to say, though, that I was wary of swapping one injury for another and sure enough, at times when I have been very busy, I have strained my vocal cords.

5.. Using a T.E.N.S. Machine
This is one of those mini-electronic massagers - this is the one I have
https://www.amazon.ca/DR-HOS%C2%AE-Pain-Therapy-System-Machine/dp/B01GP0JHLQ/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1511557935&sr=8-2&keywords=dr+hos

and I have been using this (and before it, its predecessor, which lasted for about 20 years), for a total of about 30 years.

I find this absolutely essential, and quite fun.

Please let us know how you are getting on.

All the best.
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StVitus

Senior Member
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Posts: 174
Reply with quote  #9 
Have you seen an orthopedist about your hand or just a GP? I saw a few GPs over the years when I was having carpal tunnel problems. Then it was tendenitis. A physical therapist working with an orthopedist couldn’t make it better and blamed my neck. I saw a neurologist who ran tests on my neck that turned up nothing, so she sent me for an MRI. That finally revealed spinal stenosis, which I eventually had surgery for. I’m much better since having the surgery. Moral of the story, you might need to see multiple specialists to find the problem.
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