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Maan

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Hi folks,

For the past months I spent quite a lot of time making searches on Web-based Indian musical instrument stores as I was looking to invest in a quality harmonium from a reputable supplier. After much careful consideration, my choice finally went towards DMS Musical Instruments in Delhi, as I had visited their store on a couple of occasions three years ago and some of my musician friends here in Barcelona own DMS instruments that have proved of excellent quality. Besides, over the years, Inni Singh of DMS has built himself a reputation as a friendly, reliable and professional salesman, which he once again proved by helping me in my choice of a harmonium.
My question is the following. Has anyone out there ever experienced problems communicating with DMS? As long as I was making queries regarding different harmoniums I got immediate replies to my mails but ever since I placed my order and proceeded with bank payment, no more news! I did get a couple of mails assuring me that the instrument had been packed and was due to be shipped but then nothing more. It's been over two weeks now and I have litterally been begging DMS to update me or send me a FEDEX tracking reference for the shipment, but to no avail. I sent countless emails, faxes and even tried to call the store but nothing, TOTAL SILENCE!! Has anyone of you ever experienced similar difficulties in communicating with DMS? I am desperately hoping they might eventually confirm that my instrument has been shipped, and by confirmation I mean a valid tracking reference. I would like to hope that this is nothing more than a case of post-New Year rush and that my worries will soon be proved unfounded. Oh how I long to play a melodious Raag Bhairavi on that harmonium.... Oh Harmonium, where art thou?
Heeelp anyone, I need reassurance!!!

MaanJones
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Sitarfixer

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" Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was. Look where my hand was ". Now that you've joined the burgeoning ranks of overseas buyers switched off post bank draft, all I can offer is a lighted candle in my window and sincere hopes your harmonium will arrive safely. It just might but forget about any further communication from there. It's a classic pattern that will continue for eternity. I wish you well.
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Maan

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Hi Folks,

I'm pleased to say that things are finally looking up. Following an email exchange with Daniel Tucker in SF I found out that DMS stores were in the middle of changing shops from their original location in Old Delhi to South Delhi, not far from Nizammudin Station. I persisted in writing emails to Inni Singh and he finally sent me a friendly and apologetic reply explaining the circumstances he was currently faced with, having to move all the stock, workshops etc to the new location, and that as a result, many of the orders processed recently have suffered delays. He undertook to follow-up my order immediately and sent me the tracking info the following morning. So at least I know that my harmonium has been dispatched. Whether it gets here safe and sound remains to be seen but let's be positive. Thanks Daniel for your words of encouragement.
As they say in French: "suite au prochain
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Sitarfixer

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Most encouraging news ! ! ! Very happy to hear you got a response. Things are indeed looking up. Keep us posted.
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Maan

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HaHa! Not everything is hunky dory my friends!

The harmonium got here, nicely packed in a beautiful wine colour carrying case.
But when I proceeded to play my much longed for Bhairavi ohhhh my god... The whole lower octave lower C to lower B# was almost have a tone off the mark in the bass reeds!!!! Unbelievable!!!! I checked all the notes thoroughly and thank heavens the rest of the notes were OK. But what to do with the entire lower octave!!!! I wrote to Inni Singh immediately to enquire ... no reply so far. I can hear you SitarFixer... "same as it ever was" So I gathered all the various resources I'd been collecting over the years, including some vague recollections of the harmonium handbook, the harmonium repair and maintenance page by Brian Godden and some other bina youtube postings, went to the nearest Chinese hardware shop and got meself a handy set of engraving tools for €3,25. Rushed back home, said a prayer and rolled up my sleeves. After nearly 4 hours of back breaking, neck rolled inside the box exercise, scraping away tiny tiny lines of brass off each bass reed I am pleased and relieved to say that the harmonium has finally come to life . I played for two hours straight and made it mine in the process. We're blood brothers now as I managed to cut myself in the process. It will still need quite a lot more doing to it as the inside is surprisingly totally untreated, unvarnished.
So to DMS's credit, thanks guys, thanks for charging me more than twice the normal amount (the packaging included a receipt indicating that the price of the harmonium was 6000 rupees = 116 USD!!! I paid 410 dollars, which even if you include UPS is quite a sizeable mark up for what is essentially a build-your-own harmonium kit, not to mention the extended "waiting in limbo" period. But isn't that part of the adventure, the journey rather than the destination!!! hahaha
But what can I do anyway, going to India for me is impossible. I've been applying for a visa for the last two years. Two years ago I left my passport at the embassy for 3 months and they didn't give it. Now my passport has been there for two months, and there's no sign they'll grant me a visa. Why? Because my grandparents and my dad were Pakistani!!!! So there you go. If I want a harmonium, like it or not I have to pay the big price... perhaps I'll try making one myself next time! Got a good crash course thanks to DMS.

That said, two weeks later, I find the instrument is still not in tune!!!!! Alas

Best wishes to all!


Maan
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Sitarfixer

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Reply with quote  #6 
Admirable - your diving into the reeds. Glad you had some degree of success. Don't know where you are located but there should be some local source for harmoniums in your area. Even a "Craig's List" or similar market might give you some possibilities. Harmonium is a relativelly high maintenance instrument as you will soon discover. Air leaks, cabinet flaws, creaks, wheezes, moans and groans as well as asthma infected reeds will all present themselves in due course. Press on, good fellow and hope you eventually find a good quality instrument. " Pakrashi" brand comes to mind.
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Maan

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"Diving in" sounds quite emphatic actually. It's more like an intimidating voyage through the nether regions of the harmonium. Once the nicely finished outer covers were removed, on my journey to the reedboard, I started coming across one surprise after the other, not least of which were the unfinished, unvarnished surfaces of splintered wood under the keys (I remember checking out a Bina Sangeet (equivalent model) in London a while back and it was all well varnished inside). I then proceeded to removing the keys one by one and cleaning the splinters. That's when I noticed two lovely cracks going all the way from the key pins across the two sound holes. Hurrah! That explains the lack of sustain, I thought. At least we're making progress. But then I also noticed two other soundholes that had been so roughly cut out that their sides had been broken off, leaving a gap between the sound hole and the leather pads. Now I look at those gaps for hours on end and wonder how in the world I can have them fixed. If I don't fix them somehow this harmonium will have the breathing capacity of a long term filterless cigarette smoker. Perhaps with wood paste. Anyhow. The first priority was not even the sustain but the terribly off sounding bass reeds in the lower octave. I finally reached the board and slowly slowly, gently gently started scraping as evenly as I could until the note started sounding at least "not unpleasant". I followed the same procedure for each reed but didn't go all the way down to 440. I actually found that the C# note in the higher octave is also slightly out of tune but I wil leave that one out for the moment. The harmonium is "nearly" in tune with itself but obviously does not feel 100%, especially given the other trouble points mentioned above. I'm in for the long haul it seems!
Now to be fair to DMS, I mentioned all this to Inni this morning and in his immediate reply he's offered to help me out by sending a replacement. He's promised to ship it within a week as he will personally check it, play it, double check it and recheck it in a week's time. That was what he'd promised to do in the first place but the only explanation possible, according to DMS, would be that the person in charge of packing and shipping must have packed & shipped the wrong piece.

There you go. Sorry for taking so much of your time and for being so expansive in my explanations but I think this is all useful and constructive stuff for future prospective harmonium buyers, cos the last thing you want is to spend a lot of time and money without even being able to enjoy the melodious sound of music! I guess you guys in the US have some good options available to you, like Keshav Ali Akbar Khan and RainCity etc but here in Spain, the closest available option is the UK, which if you take the Euro VS GBP exchange rate into account makes it an impossible option.
Best wishes to you all
Maan
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SarangiLal

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Reply with quote  #8 
Quote:
there's no sign they'll grant me a visa. Why? Because my grandparents and my dad were Pakistani!!!!
Lols! I have the same issue. India wont grant me a visa, because I was born in and continue to visit pakistan. I'm an American Citizen, but the Indian consulate wants me to renouce my Pakistani Citzenship. WTF?
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Maan

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Reply with quote  #9 
SuperLOL
Man, it's good to hear I'm not the only one, I tell you! It's so frustrating. I travelled to India on two occasions, the last time in 2008. I love the place, I have many friends there, and I love the music. I can't believe this mess. I guess you can't blame them with all the "garhbarh" nextdoor, but I just wish they would investigate each applicant appropriately rather than just put us in a big unwanted pak pile somewhere in the cellar! It's all being part of the historical process I guess :roll:
Best musical wishes to you
PS At least Inni Jee is showing a lot of goodwill and is offering a replacement harmonium, so at least I can be at one with the ghazal cos so far, even though I thought I could tune this thing, there's not a chance on my own and frustration is constant! So here's to us all ...
Always look on the bright side of life!! tutum tutumtutumtutum
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Djinn Fizz

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Reply with quote  #10 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Sitarfixer"
Admirable - your diving into the reeds. Glad you had some degree of success. Don't know where you are located but there should be some local source for harmoniums in your area. Even a "Craig's List" or similar market might give you some possibilities. Harmonium is a relativelly high maintenance instrument as you will soon discover. Air leaks, cabinet flaws, creaks, wheezes, moans and groans as well as asthma infected reeds will all present themselves in due course. Press on, good fellow and hope you eventually find a good quality instrument. " Pakrashi" brand comes to mind.
Nooooooooo ! Seriously, fo-get about Pakrashi. I ordered from them years ago and the instrument I got was so far out of tune it was useless. Luckily - I'd learned how to tune and was able to take care of it myself. Recently a friend of mine insisted on buying one from them because someone told him they'd got their act together. In fact, nothing had changed. It was just as poorly tuned as ever. Also, they sound (to my ear) kind of flabby.
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Sitarfixer

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Reply with quote  #11 
Sorry to hear that Pakrashi has gone the old well worn trail. Thanks for the input. Always good to keep up.
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Lars

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Reply with quote  #12 
Disagree just a little on Pakrashi, I have one here in perfect tune but had to be picked out of their stock as the rest weren't in tune. They have a nice nasal tone, very sweet but had I not been able to select it I would never order directly as they don't pack well and I still had finish issues that had to be fixed. Peter Cutchey once got a batch of a dozen or so packed in wet sawdust, was awful. It's too bad but its always been this way with most everyone there.

Lars

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Djinn Fizz

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Reply with quote  #13 
Respectfully, my friend, you prove my point. You were only able to locate one properly tuned harmonium out of the all those you inspected. I'm sure sure if you walked into the showroom at at either of the main shops selling them in the USA - that all the harmoniums on display for purchase by the customers would be in working order and properly tuned. It's been repeatedly demonstrated by you, as well as Tony and other of your venerable colleagues that few Indian shops can be counted on to pick out the best (or the only) most competent instrument to send - when the customer is haplessly situated on the other side of the planet - with little redress when defective merchandise arrives. And pretty much any that do show concern for customer aftercare - do so only under duress.
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