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Anonymous

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Posts: 987
Reply with quote  #1 
Hello kind folks,
I am looking to delve into the shimmery, droning world of the sitar. I've always been a fan of Indian classical music and the instrument itself has been a source of amazement/interest for a long time. I think I'm finally ready to jump in and buy one. I've played bass guitar for almost 7 years, so I know that when it comes to buying instruments, there is a lot to look for. But with Guitars, one can usually depend on certain brands to deliver quality. With sitar, it seems the "brands" that are reliable only really deal in high-end models. Thus, I have, for the pros of this site, a few questions:

1) What should I look for when buying a sitar? What qualities make a sitar "good"?

2) Obviously, the mass-produced pieces of junk all over e-bay are the wrong way to go. But I don't have very much money to spend (maybe $600). Is it possible to get a quality sitar for a price as low as this?

3) There is a used sitar in a music store (one which deals mostly in ethnic and percussion instruments) in Takoma Park, MD, USA, which is right near me. It is selling for $500. What qualities should I make sure to inspect? How can i distinguish whether this is truly a good deal or just a ripoff by a store that doesn't know what it's selling?

Thanks very much to anyone who can help me. I'm really excited about finally buying a sitar, but I need to get some info before my money burns a hole right through my pocket. By the way, pleased to meet you!
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coyootie

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Posts: 490
Reply with quote  #2 
if it's House of Musical Traditions in Takoma Park, they should know what they're doing and can tell you the pros and cons of the instrument you're considering. That said, unless they're offering a honkin' bargain,you need to get into some more serious $ to get a good instrument.
It is as reliable as the sun coming up in the morning that if you get a really nice instrument you will get a serious headstart on learning and playing it. If you get a piece of crap you will be fighting with it.
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Sitarfixer

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Posts: 1,937
Reply with quote  #3 
"Moebius" - a name with a twist, as in strip. Greetings! Sitars with a Calcutta brand are usually but not always a fairly safe bet. As a beginner, there will be a lot of features found on high end stuff you just won't need. If you just want to explore the sitar, $600 will get you something respectable from the "western front" guys on the left of your screen. They also have a service system set up which will be of great help - strings, parts, etc. should you need. The sitar in the shop where you are - how does it "feel"? Seem solid? Seem well built? Do you get a 'tingle" from it? If so, you may want to get it. My very first sitar , a student model from Miraj picked up in 1969, is still the best sounding and feeling instrument I've had my paws on, and that includes Ravi Shankars axes, Shujaat Khans axes and various other concert level artists I've had the pleasure to do maintenance work for. You decide! Do lots of homework. If holding a $3,000 Hiren Roy Blue label Burma teak full carve double tumba 8 string machine does it for you, go get it. If a simple carved diminutive sweetheart sitar with a $300 pricetag also works, get it. Either way, you'll have your hands full as that instruments keeper. Have fun and enjoy the experience!
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http://www.karaseksound.com/
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coyootie

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Posts: 490
Reply with quote  #4 
Mr Sitarfixer's advice is dead accurate as usual, and a very important point was made. If you're not familiar with sitars you may not know what you're after which makes it a little more challenging; but a good instrument is a good instrument, no matter whose name is on it, and you could be lucky and happen on a perfectly good instrument for a bargain. Does happen, just don't count on such lightning-strike fortune all the time!
Sitars are much less consistent than guitars and the individual idiosyncracies of different makers vary hugely. And the individual playing of each musician is unique: we have all heard how different players on the same instrument can sound like they're ALL playing totally different instruments, no?
Action, width of neck, string gauges, fret curvatures, etc can all be very different and one player's cup o' tea will be completely different from the next. Just go at it with patience and you'll figure out what you want/ need..... but also be extra patient getting down with tuning alla those many strings, all on friction pegs, which is an art in itself to manipulate.........
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Sharsitar

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Posts: 36
Reply with quote  #5 
Moebius,
I also am new to the forum & have only been researching on the internet for a few months. I looked for every sitar site I could find & compared all sitars' quality vs. price & read everything I could find.
I came to the conclusion that I should spend as much as I possibly could squeeze so that I wouldn't suffer needless frustration in learning at the hands of this seemingly complicated monster of an instrument. Apparently, there are alot of inexpensive instruments you can purchase, but you'll have problems with tuning, pegs, general build, etc.... The last thing I want is to be frustrated on this new learning journey any more than is normal.
I settled on taking to heart all I'd heard about Tony Karasek (sitarfixer) & ordered one from him. http://www.KarasekSound.com. If you can be patient & wait, save more $. Have him build one. The quality is far above!! Tony will answer any questions with a smile as well. You want someone passionate about building this instrument who will infuse life into it as if it were his own!!
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