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eppi

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Reply with quote  #1 
Will the callus I've developed playing the ruan be useful to me in approaching the sitar? I know the action is a great deal higher on the sitar, but I'd like to think that the callus I already have should make a difference.
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nicneufeld

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Reply with quote  #2 
Years of guitar/bass callouses I think made it somewhat easier for me, but it didn't exactly translate over. With guitar or bass it was my whole fingertip slightly toughened, with sitar, because of the technique, its a horizontal groove on the index finger and a small pad on the middle finger (more towards the ring finger side, in my case) that developed. Sitar uses only two fingers (with a few exceptions depending on the gharana) of the left hand and the index finger largely remains locked in contact with the string, so its not quite like guitar-type instruments in how the callous develops.

That said, I think having stringed instrument callouses made it so, as my sitar callous developed, I didn't feel as much pain as others seem to have endured. So there's some benefit there, definitely, but if you play sitar enough, your callouses will change and migrate a bit, I'd wager.

First time I played a sitar at an ICM workshop I walked away swearing to myself that I would never bother with the instrument...the high action and cheese slicer style of the instrument are daunting when you first play it, but you adjust remarkably fast and it is worth every wince.
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fossesitar

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Reply with quote  #3 
Just take it easy and work into it, if you get tender rest a bit - even for a day or two but keep at it, it will slowly come to where you have a permanent groove in your fingers and as it hardens playing becomes easier and easier. Olive oil on string helps. if you play enough the callous will slowly migrate towrds the tip of your finer, eventually you will start a new one behind it.
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eppi

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Reply with quote  #4 
Well, that gives me some hope, and I wondered how the fingers made contact on the string. After watching many a master of the instrument on You Tube, and the speed with which they played, I winced a few times remembering some of the trials of newcomers here on the forum. Playing the ruan took getting used to because of the raised frets and I noticed shortly how my callouses evolved in adaptation.
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fossesitar

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Reply with quote  #5 
I grew up playing the violin, was concertmaster of my orchestra and studied violen performance at U of Colorado Boulder, played guitar - both 8 and 12 string - since I was 16 and in a band for many years, took up the Oud in Arabia, i can state without any reservation that thhe sitar is the most difficult instrument to play well of any I have experience with. By orders of magnitude.
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povster

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Reply with quote  #6 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "eppi"
Will the callus I've developed playing the ruan be useful to me in approaching the sitar? I know the action is a great deal higher on the sitar, but I'd like to think that the callus I already have should make a difference.
Basically, Eppi, it will depend on the position of the callouses. If they jive with the proper position on your fingers for sitar, then they will help. If they do not, you may have to cut new ones.

But be aware. There is no "fretboard" on a sitar like on a guitar or a ruan. The fingers go just behind the fret. Downward pressure is applied. But there is no fretboard to stop the downward pressure. Just air beneath. This can cause rather deep grooves.

if you start regular practice on sitar, I am not sure how the extra depth of the grooves will affect your ruan playing.

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eppi

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Reply with quote  #7 
Actually, there's no fretboard on a ruan either. You literally fret the fret, your fingers never touch the finger/fretboard. Still the fret design on a sitar is much more pronounced than on the ruan. And you've given me food for thought, considering what you said about how my playing the sitar may have a bearing on how i could continue to play the ruan. Hmmm, now there's a challenge. From what I can see the level of difficulty in playing the sitar is formidable indeed.

There was a bit of pain in playing the ruan at first, and if I miss three straight days of playing it (an extreme rarity) I have to work at getting my facility back. At this point, I'm very much in the research stage of the sitar - learning as much as I can. I want to make sure I want to make this venture.
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povster

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Reply with quote  #8 
Eppi, interesting information. I just did more research and saw on wiki "Note that the frets on all Chinese lutes are high so that the fingers never touch the actual body—distinctively different from western fretted instruments." (I was going by images of the ruan - have heard it but never saw one "in the flesh" so to speak.)

So that may actually work to your advantage. Again, it will depend on the groove placement. But the higher frets are certainly encouraging.

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nicneufeld

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Reply with quote  #9 
Bending also will be a significant departure...you can bend a long way on a sitar, and that really increases string pressure on the finger. Just take it a bit at a time.
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eppi

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Reply with quote  #10 
Are the strings of a sitar flatwounds or circular? The ruan takes 'flats' and I must use Chinese issue as American 'flats' sound horrible on it. Now, I can do some serious bending and string pulling on the ruan, but it isn't even in the ballpark compared to what the sitar is capable of. Though the strings of a ruan are elevated they pale compared to the height of sitar frets. I may not suffer as much but I think, even given my experience with the ruan, it will initially be painful.
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coughcapkittykat

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Reply with quote  #11 
For me, the only difference playing another string instrument made was my acquired love for the pain 8)
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povster

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "eppi"
Are the strings of a sitar flatwounds or circular?
The sitar strings are unwound, circular wire.

The dimensions are typically

0.012" (0.305mm) steel main string
0.016" (0.41mm) bronze second string

If you have two bass strings ("Ravi Shankar style" or "kharaj pancham") they are:

third string 0.22" (0.56mm) bronze
4th string 0.028" (0.725mm) bronze

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eppi

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Reply with quote  #13 
Mother of God, a 0.012 for the main string!! No wonder newbies have referred to getting started as getting comfy with a cheese slicer! Yi! That sure ups the ante for initial pain and challenge.
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fossesitar

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Reply with quote  #14 
Not as bad as all that Eppi, remember that the string is quite slack and 34 to 36" long.
Ustad Vilayat Khan used #4 piano wire for main string which I believe is .013........
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