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mountainhick

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Reply with quote  #1 
I am wondering about the quality of a number of brand names of Sitars, and what the differences are between grades:

Can anyone comment on these brands:

Rosul
Monoj Kumar Sardar
Radha Krishna Sharma

And, what do these terms mean when comparing different models within a brand:

Standard
Student
Professional
Fancy Professional
Ultra Professional


Thanks
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cwroyds

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Reply with quote  #2 
Standard, Student, Professional, Fancy Professional, Ultra Professional
All of these definitions are used to grade sitars that are all most likely not worth grading.
Most sitars listed as "Professional" are not professional in any way. These labels tell you the sitar is crap.

G. Rosul - Crap. Export crap sitars for the mass market who are never really going to play. Maybe OK for a beginner, but I would suggest a beginner should get a better sitar.

Radha Krishna Sharma - Mostly crap. Used to be good until the 1970s, then turned to mass produced crap.

Manoj Kumar Sardar - Dont know.

Get a better sitar than those.
You will never regret having a good instrument. Plus you will be able to sell it when you upgrade to a true concert sitar. There are ten million G. Rosul and Radha Krishna sitars on Ebay. There are more of these cheap sitars and any other kind. You will have a hard time selling it later.

Go to a reputable dealer.
http://www.aacm.org
http://www.raincitymusic.com
http://www.keshav-music.com

If you buy from one of these guys you can get a sitar in your price range that is playable and set up correctly. If you go for a G. Rosul or Radha from Ebay or wherever you will probably get an instrument that is great for firewood but little else.
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mountainhick

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Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks for the reply, but it leaves me a bit confused. You call "most" RKS crap, but recommend aacm who sells RKS?

I guess a follow up question then is what would make the RKS that aacm sells OK or perhaps even good?
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cwroyds

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Reply with quote  #4 
The thing is that if you buy a Radha Krishna Sharma from AACM at least you know that it is set up correctly and that it is as playable and correct as it can be. The guys at AACM set up the sitars as they come in to be sure that they are OK, and make sure the Jawari (the carved bridge that makes sitars buzz) is correctly tuned up.
Personally I would not buy a Radha Krishna Sharma.

I am sure that some of the others in the forum will speak up at some point to illuminate the issue.
Give the post a chance to ruminate and I am sure you will get some other opinions.
Lars, the owner of RainCityMusic.com is always on here and could give some advice.

I found out the hard way that buying a cheaper sitar is not necessarily the way to go.
You use it for the first year or so until you find that you cant really go farther on it and then you have to sell it at a loss.
I would go for a nice midrange one at least for starters.
Plus it makes learning so much easier and faster if you have a nice sitar.

Anyone want to chime in? Tony....Lars....Anyone?
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Lars

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Reply with quote  #5 
RKS is a mass produced instrument for export. I don't care for them, too much work to get them working right. AACM carries them but they have a vested interest in reputation and so will make sure it's playable most certainly whereas if you get them anywhere else you'll be taking a big chance.

MKS sitars are also mass-produced although on a smaller scale. Some can be fine but they aren't that great at fitting & jawari but the odds are better at getting a playable instrument from them. I was there last November and remember getting handed a rather nice looking gandhar-pancham sitar with completely open jawari! Big no no.....

The categories of classification, such as standard, pro, etc. mean nothing. That's correct. The standard which I carry (not in stock at the moment) was named to represent a bottom line cost sitar made to specifications that a serious player would be happy with.

Sometimes sitars will be labeled according to level of decoration which can be misleading also as a sitar simply carved can sound better than a fully carved model.

Welcome to the zoo......

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mountainhick

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Reply with quote  #6 
Thanks for the replies. I have been in the zoo for a few years and actually purchased a sitar (a Su Gita)from your previous company Sitarsetc. Lars. I am just wondering if i can do better for less money. And for the record, I am not afraid to work on cheaper instruments myself, but with what I paid for this one, I don't want to experiment.
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povster

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Reply with quote  #7 
Of the three I would rank them as MKS first, RKS second and G Rosul 3rd. Ocassionally an RKS will come in that is a cut above, even now. Those can be good but you have to have it in hand to make a determination. I sometimes visit the AACM store and checkout the instruments there. I liked the MKS enough to get a #3 (lowest grade) for myself (kharaj/pancham). It just felt good although the jawaris (main and taraf) were almostr electric in their openess. I spent maybe 3 minutes doing the main jawari and it closed up beautifully and became a different instruemnt. Kalyan closed up the taraf jawari. It DID have a couple of cosmetic fit issues: one strip of the plastic deco at the headstock came loose. Easy enough to glue down. And the upper tumba was at a weird angle and I saw the gola was actually lifting from the neck. Turned out all I needed to do was slightly enlarge the hole in the gola and everything seated fine. Overall I was greatly impressed. It basically "felt" like a sitar. I use this instrument as a practice one for using different tunings. I like to keep my two Hirens at the same pitch (C#) but I don't feel bad about changing the MKS tuning based on whatever recording I may be practicing with.

And DO keep in mind the future. Trying to sell especially an RKS or G Rosul in a market flooded with them will be difficult unless you take a big loss. If you can save longer and put more into your next instrument you may end up with something that will last you for years and, when it is time to sell, will get a better return.

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mountainhick

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Reply with quote  #8 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "povster"
Of the three I would rank them as MKS first, RKS second and G Rosul 3rd. Ocassionally an RKS will come in that is a cut above, even now. Those can be good but you have to have it in hand to make a determination. I sometimes visit the AACM store and checkout the instruments there. I liked the MKS enough to get a #3 (lowest grade) for myself (kharaj/pancham). It just felt good although the jawaris (main and taraf) were almostr electric in their openess. I spent maybe 3 minutes doing the main jawari and it closed up beautifully and became a different instruemnt. Kalyan closed up the taraf jawari. It DID have a couple of cosmetic fit issues: one strip of the plastic deco at the headstock came loose. Easy enough to glue down. And the upper tumba was at a weird angle and I saw the gola was actually lifting from the neck. Turned out all I needed to do was slightly enlarge the hole in the gola and everything seated fine. Overall I was greatly impressed. It basically "felt" like a sitar. I use this instrument as a practice one for using different tunings. I like to keep my two Hirens at the same pitch (C#) but I don't feel bad about changing the MKS tuning based on whatever recording I may be practicing with.

And DO keep in mind the future. Trying to sell especially an RKS or G Rosul in a market flooded with them will be difficult unless you take a big loss. If you can save longer and put more into your next instrument you may end up with something that will last you for years and, when it is time to sell, will get a better return.
Thanks for this info povster.
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Lars

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "mountainhick"
Thanks for the replies. I have been in the zoo for a few years and actually purchased a sitar (a Su Gita)from your previous company Sitarsetc. Lars. I am just wondering if i can do better for less money. And for the record, I am not afraid to work on cheaper instruments myself, but with what I paid for this one, I don't want to experiment.
Well, in my humble opinion better for less money won't work with the brands you mention. Also what kind of work will you do? You can taper and file frets, jawari, etc. but I wouldn't pull the tabli apart. If it's simply a matter of getting something cheap then give it a shot but odds are you'll be disappointed, try getting an MKS directly from them and see. They'll send you one but be warned in that 1 out of 3 will arrive cracked and you have no return nor ability to choose what you will actually be getting.

The SuGitas came after my time there but I've had a few RA sitars. I suppose you could make it more streamlined by shaving the back of the neck to make it low profile, tabli work probably not possible because they're rather thin already as will be the MKS sitars. So better for cheap = no I'd say unless the stars are all in line. What exactly is it that's wrong with your RA/Sugita that you'd fix?

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cwroyds

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Reply with quote  #10 
You ain't gonna get better for cheaper with sitars unless you hunt on the web for personal sales of older instruments.
I found a 1960s Naskar sitar for $350 about a year ago, and an old Hiren Roy for $500.
Hunt around on craigs list or Ebay and you just might get lucky.
BUT it is a crap shoot as unless you live nearby you cant try it out to see if it is in good shape.
Plus they almost always need tweeking and work to get them up and running.

You are not going to find a NEW sitar that is very cheap and great. (unless there is a sitar miracle).

If I were you I would save up until you can afford to spend a little more and get a nicer sitar.
If you go for the makers you mentioned chances are you are going to end up with a sitar that is mediocre at best
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mountainhick

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Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Lars"

Well, in my humble opinion better for less money won't work with the brands you mention. Also what kind of work will you do? You can taper and file frets, jawari, etc. but I wouldn't pull the tabli apart. If it's simply a matter of getting something cheap then give it a shot but odds are you'll be disappointed, try getting an MKS directly from them and see. They'll send you one but be warned in that 1 out of 3 will arrive cracked and you have no return nor ability to choose what you will actually be getting.

The SuGitas came after my time there but I've had a few RA sitars. I suppose you could make it more streamlined by shaving the back of the neck to make it low profile, tabli work probably not possible because they're rather thin already as will be the MKS sitars. So better for cheap = no I'd say unless the stars are all in line. What exactly is it that's wrong with your RA/Sugita that you'd fix?
Thanks Lars. I don't feel the need to do any major work on the Su Gita, it is a nice sitar. I bought this one compared to a few others I played visiting Bharat at the time because the sound was bigger. Well, the instrument is bigger too. I thought when I bought it, I would adjust OK, but it is a bit large and top heavy for me. I may do a few things with the Su Gita that I consider maintenence and set up now that it is played in a bit, but I have no plans for any major work on it. What I meant was if I got one of the other brands for less money, I would not be afraid to work on it with less invested. I just feel like I'd like to get out of part of the investment in the Su Gita for something that may fit me better for less money.
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mountainhick

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "cwroyds"
You ain't gonna get better for cheaper with sitars unless you hunt on the web for personal sales of older instruments.
I found a 1960s Naskar sitar for $350 about a year ago, and an old Hiren Roy for $500.
Hunt around on craigs list or Ebay and you just might get lucky.
BUT it is a crap shoot as unless you live nearby you cant try it out to see if it is in good shape.
Plus they almost always need tweeking and work to get them up and running.

You are not going to find a NEW sitar that is very cheap and great. (unless there is a sitar miracle).

If I were you I would save up until you can afford to spend a little more and get a nicer sitar.
If you go for the makers you mentioned chances are you are going to end up with a sitar that is mediocre at best
Thanks.

Interestingly, i went to check out an old Hiren Roy locally prior to buying the Su Gita. It was in good physical and cosmetic condition, but it sucked worse than my first no name tourist sitar. I kid you not. It was terrible sounding. At the time I had little knowledge of some of the tweaks that can help a sitars sound, but this one seemed to need a lot more than tweaking. If the lady that was selling it had let it go for 1/3 the asking price, I probably would have bought it, but for $1200, I was not going to buy a sitar that needed a major overhaul at least, which is why I ended up going to sitarsetc.
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cwroyds

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Reply with quote  #13 
That is what I mean about a crap shoot with the older sitars.
I have been pretty lucky so far with buying sight unseen, but most of mine were not a big outlay of money.
I have seen and heard Hiren Roys that I did not like and would not buy.
Some are like logs. They can have a thick very dark hidden sound.
Funny enough in a lot of those cases the sitar may just not have been played enough to have opened up.
My Hiren Roy was bought buy the previous owner from Himangshu Roy in the early 1980s and then it basically went into the closet.
When I got it it had obviously not been played very often, if at all.
The more I practice on it the better it sounds.
It has already gotten louder and more full in sound.

Any instrument has the capacity to be a great one or a mediocre one regardless of the maker.
Sometimes the instrument is just a lemon.
I have played Martin guitars that are the best sounding guitars I have ever played, and I have also played Martin guitars that sound worse than a low end Takamine.

I would just take your time and find the perfect sitar for you.
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