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drutgat

Junior Member
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Posts: 10
Reply with quote  #1 

Hi,

I have a Radha Krishna Sharma Kharaj Pancham sitar which is in need of some repairs, and which also is not working properly in some ways, and I would like some advice about how to address the problems with the sitar.

 
The sitar seems to be identical to the Radha Krishna Sharma #2 sitar pictured on the musiciansmallusa.com website, here

https://www.musiciansmallusa.com/radha-krishna-sharma-sitar-rks-2/ 

 
I bought the sitar used from a friend who had bought it from the original owner, so it is possible that some work was done on the sitar which changed it from the state that it was in when it was originally purchased.

It seems to me that the following have to be fixed or adapted in order to make the sitar playable:

1. To be fixed – the Pa and Sa of the lower Saptak are too loose (flabby, really) when tuned in the key of ‘C’. In fact, the low Pa string is so loose that it cannot make any sound at all.

Is it possible to fix this in some way so that both strings have enough tension to sound properly when tuned to ‘C’, or will I have to tune it to a higher pitch?

2.  To be fixed – both chikari strings touch each other. This might be due to the position of the bridge (I have moved it over the years), OR this might be because the posts are not fixed firmly in place – i.e., they both wobble; that is , they can be moved a few millimetres back and forth, and I do not know how to fix this (wedge something in between the base of the post and the sitar? Use some epoxy?)

3.  Currently, the sitar has a fairly closed sound, and I am studying resources about re-doing the Jawari to make it ¾ open in order to make it fully playable in a Ravi Shankar baaj. I wonder if it might make more sense to actually buy a replacement bridge which is already shaped to be open. What does anyone think?

Many thanks in advance for any thoughts, suggestions or advice about this.

drutgat

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chrisnovice

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Posts: 91
Reply with quote  #2 
Hopefully the experienced guys will respond to this.

But in the meantime, touching chikaris should be a simple fix, just move the bridge laterally across the tabli, in the opposite direction from the tuning pegs to separate the two strings. The string tension should be enough to keep the pegs in place without having to resort to gluing them.

If you tune to C you will be very lucky if you can ever get a good sound out of the lower strings. I'd suggest tuning up to C sharp and see if that improves the sound. Other possible option would be to go for slightly heavier strings. 

Just buying a new bridge is no guarantee that the surface shape will work with your instrument, it probably won't. The subtlest of changes to the bridge surface make all the difference on sitar. Jawari is a whole art in itself.


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Sitar Fixer

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Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #3 
Greetings !  Do NOT glue the chikari posts. If they are wobbling, you're losing sound right up front. Take them both out. Now, fit the #7 post into the #6 string position on the neck. It might be a better fit. If so, half of that problem is solved. You'll need to cut that transposed post to the correct height. That is, looking at the string height from the side, you'll want this post ( and the upcoming #7 post ) to be just a bit higher that the rest of the top strings. An X-Acto saw is needed to cut a slot on the top of that post for the string. Good idea is to cut the slot at a downward angle ( higher side facing the bridge ). That gives the string a solid seating = better sound.

If you need to replace both posts - do so of course. I use scrap metal frets. Once filed to a good taper they can be bent to suit so there is no string collision. They must be snug fit without glue. Hand filing does it. Your skills will be tested. 

Bridge jawari. If there are cut trench lines where the strings lay across the bridge surface, serious jawari work is needed. As a stop gap measure, file / sand the bridge surface as close to the original as possible until the trenches have been leveled. You should at least some kind of passable sound. Also check the slots for the strings. Chances are you'll have to cut them lower to accomodate what material you've removed. A mini hack saw is best here. Check the bridge legs as well where they contact the instrument sound board "Tabli". There should be no daylight at all unless you file an instep on the leg bottoms like the bottom of your feet. 

'C' is kinda low for standard sitars. I have a B-C sitar but the neck on it is about 2" longer than standard. Crank it up to C# ( D if you're feeling lucky ) and see what that does to the sound quality.  There is a jawari "tutorial" that shows the bridge squared of into 16 segments. Premium toro boska this is ! ! ! Ignore it, please. Just follow the current shape of the bridge and go from there. Same for the taraf bridge although if you flatten that bridge a bit, you'll get more zing and sizzle out of it. Some find that sound too overpowering compared to the top strings. You're call there.

If you're in the Chicago area, I can look at it. Fix it fer shoor ! Good luck ! ! !
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drutgat

Junior Member
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Posts: 10
Reply with quote  #4 
Hi ChrisNovice and Sitar Fixer,
Many thanks for your prompt and detailed and conscientious replies.

Unfortunately, I am not really a 'handy' person at in terms of rough repairs to things at the best of times, so I will probably not attempt the fixes that you suggest - well, maybe I will try what Chris suggests.

I was reading the Thomas Marcotty's 'Djovari: Giving Life to the Sitar' chapter, in Manfred M. Junius's book 'The Sitar: The Instrument and its technique' today, and felt a bit overwhelmed by that, as well as some online resources that I have found regarding doing Jawari.

I have also been talking to Lars (Jacobsen) at Raincitymusic.com, and have been contemplating taking a sitar maintenance course here in Toronto, where I live. My reservations about the latter are that I am unaware how skilled / willing people here are to do Senia Maihar sitar Jawari, given that most of the Hindustani Classical Music presence here is Etawah ImdadKhani Gharana (although Shambhu Das, who taught George H. sitar under the guidance of Pt. Ravi Shankar, used to live here, but I am having difficulty getting in touch with him).

I think that I will get in touch with the people who repair sitars and who conduct these courses, and will assess whether I feel comfortable getting them to work on my sitar.

Once again, many thanks for your suggestions and help.

drutgat.

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