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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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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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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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