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Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #1 
i'm thinking of buying a sitar, buy i'm getting confused by the different information websites are giving me. some are saying the Ravi Shankar style doesn't have chikari strings but has bass strings instead? some are saying the Ravi Shankar has 7 playable strings while the Vilayat Khan style has 6 i've had a look at pictures of both styles and they both have the same amount of tuning pegs? how can i tell them apart? and do they both have chikari strings? also could someone tell me what type of sitar this is:
trippy monkey

Posts: 4,281
Reply with quote  #2 
Hi Smeggy I hope that clears up!!!
Firstly, contrary to popular belief BOTH Pt Ravi & Ustad Vilayat play 6 string sitars. Ravi has 3 bass strings & U Vilayat has steel 'chordal' strings instead.
ALL sitars have a first playing string, a second copper 'Jor' string & the 2 far back chikaris that go over the 2 little posts down the neck. Any others depend on personal choice.

Ravi's style is thus
1-steel tuned around F#
2 copper Jor tuned around C#
3 Bronze tuned around G#
4 thicker Bronze tuned around C# one octave below 2nd string.
NO 5th string to facilitate playing of BASS SA.
6th & 7th both steel & an octave of C# apart.

Vilayat's is...
1-steel tuned around F#
2 Sometimes there's NO string on this or, as per choice, the next peg instead.
2 or 3 copper Jor tuned around C#
3 or 4 Steel tuned around E or F according to raga scale.
4 or 5 Steel tuned around G#
6th & 7th both steel & an octave of C# apart.
This tuning forms a kind of chord by western standards.

As I said before, any others are personal choice. Also the look of a sitar usually tells you its player's style. USUALLY! Ravi-ji's are usually very highly decorated & carved. Vilayat Sahb's are far more frequently quite plain with little to no decoration.
The link you give shows a more modern 'Travel Sitar' with a flat wooden back, that can be tuned either way. There are also 'Electric Sitars' very similar or, as I have, completely decorated with a flat guitar type back too.

What style of sound & visuals are YOU attracted to as it is possible to have anything you like!!! 8) ???


Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks nick that helped alot.
one last question though. i was wondering because the sitar in the link is a travel sitar will this affect the sound/size of it compared to other sitars?

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Posts: 2,487
Reply with quote  #4 
Trippy is correct. As regards Ravi Shankar's use of two chikari strings, he does as do many of his students. But if you are talking about simply a "Ravi Shankar style" sitar they are also known as "kharaj/pancham" (the name of those 2 bass strings). Many kharaj/pancham sitarists do use the third chikari and tune it to ma, pa or dha depending on the needs of the particular raga they are playing.

Travel sitars vary quite a bit in action, tone and volume. I have been able to try out a few of them. I own a Hiren made by Barun and it is fully comparable to a full size sitar. It isn't quite as compact and Barun uses a gourd sliced thinner rather than wood, but still quite small. Others I have tried tend to be quieter and a bit "thin" for my tastes. The smaller travel sitars can have shorter string lengths and sound better tuned at a sa higher than C#.

Dasani - the official bottled water of ICM
Panini - the official bread of ICM

Posts: 9
Reply with quote  #5 
Hi Smeggy,

If you are starting off, my recommendation is to purchase a "vilayatkhnani" (gandhar pancham) styled instrument for the following reasons:

1) They are easier to manufacture and have a more consistent quality/feel. The "Ravi Shankar" styled (Kharaj pancham and its two variations) are EXTREMELY inconsistent in their quality.
2) Good GP instruments are less (much) expensive than good KP instruments
3) GP instruments are easier to play for a beginner (and advanced players). If your interest and dedication to the instrument/art survives the test of time, you can (should) switch to KP if that is the direction for you. It could take some time, but will be more worthwhile from the additional sounds you will be able to create. But do this at the earliest after your foundation training is solid.
4) There is some difference in foundation techniques of the two instruments, but most of it is similar. GP instruments will be teachable by both GP and KP teachers. I highly recommend finding a good teacher - immaterial of what type of music you will play on the instrument. A bad foundation will hinder your sound production abilities.
5) GP maintenance (jawari) is less trouble than KP

I play KP, but have been practicing on the GP. while I still prefer the KP in terms of the wide range of sound/techniques, I am convinced that beginners should start with GP and move on to KP if/when appropriate.

Also, unless you absolutely trust the seller, take someone who knows the sitar when you go shopping, if it is practical. My 2cs.

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