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coyootie

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Reply with quote  #1 
added some pics to chapter 11 here as i can't figure out how to get farther than that on Myphotoalbum........
the nickel 1/2 round wire didn't work so i ordered a set of indian made frets that were too flat for most applications but ideal for me as i wanted them barely arched/almost flat. a real pain to match/shape them so that the profile is very close all up and down the fret rails.most sitars if measured have calibrated frets that rise/ arch more towards the bridge, but this wasn't neccessary with my layout here.very crucial however was flattening the undersides of the frets dead flat where they contact the rails.i buffed the frets with a rouge wheel and just touched the underside flat part to make sure there is no sharp edge to dig into the ivory.the slots for the fret strings were also smoothed out well so the tie strings won't pop....another no-brainer championed by the excellent T. Karasekpandit!
i tied on all the frets afterwards to lay out the positions for pegs( ever notice how many sitars are not right here,with frets that are tied too close to pegs??) and put on some strings. basically one sets the Sa and Pa frets with overtones and then you eyeball and eardrum the setting for the rest. the frets are solid as rock with no lateral wiggle but still slide nicely for tuning/adjusting.this is one of my objectives for making sure this instrument will do what i'd like it to., and i assume that very solid fret seating will deliver a better tone.the bridge sounded reedy so i tried some other bridges from old sitars and the volume opened up big time. after fooling around with my bridge i trimmed the wood under the bone very thin and voila, the sound opened up fine. happiness! i may still pull off the cedar part and try it again with rosewood to see what happens, I can remake a cedar foot readily if that doesn't fly.of course jewari has to be done minutely for final setup but it's interesting how much passable jewari you can get with a roughly shaped convex bridge surface.....
next, more froufrou,carving leaves for the tumba and a short cascade of floral carving on the edge of the tabli.
http://www.wobblier.myphotoalbum.com
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Sitarfixer

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Reply with quote  #2 
Hey, Coyootie. Pretty! Pretty!
I'm looking at the shallow bend to the frets. Great action for left hand fingers but - - - it opens up all kinds of potential problems. If the tabli has been angled down a bit, you're almost out of the woods. Low frets forces a low setting for the taraf strings otherwise they crash into the underside of the highest fret. On a standard angled tabli, you would be forced to cut off the legs of the taraf bridge to get the right clearance. Those strings leaving the back side of the taraf bridge to the tail are now in an almost straight line as seen from the side. This results in limp contact of those strings over the bridge surface = limp sound. If you have good string clearance underneath the frets plus a decent angle of string bend at the bridge slots, you be fine. Another drawback of shallow frets is in meend range. Being able to pull the ma string sideways as well down the bend of a high arch fret (jawari permitting) can add a few extra notes that meend hungry sitar rippers just gotta have. Anyway, baby is looking good. What color finish are you going for ??? Hey! Those pegs??? Num! Num!

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element-82

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Reply with quote  #3 
Hey coyootie,
looking good. What made you decide to go with the sound hole?

Pb

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Andius

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Reply with quote  #4 
Coyootie

Same as element82 here: Why the soundhole? Myself, I've got what Tony K would call a "Toon screamer", plenty of volume but with good sustain as well. (Vibrations trapped within body.) I'm thinking a soundhole would kick the sound out fine, (in a short high-volume BOOM) but would leave an empty space where the sustain should be? Fine for an acoustic guitar/lute/other western instruments, but for ICM?

Tony K and others, your thoughts on this PLEASE.

Anyway, you are doing what I dream of, handbuilding a sitar, no less!!!. More power 2 u.

we are all following your progress with admiration/envy. Would really love to hear a soundbyte of your baby, when finished.


Andius.
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haldamos

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Reply with quote  #5 
My Great aunt has a Kanai Lal from the late forties or early fifties. Built by the man himself at the request of Ud Mushtaq Ali Khan. I last saw it 10 years ago, but I remember that it is black, dual toomba, and has an oval soundhole in the tabli, under the strings where Coyootie has it. One of few sitars that ive seen with one. I'd be curious to know why some would have it, why some don't, pros cons...
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coyootie

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Reply with quote  #6 
just from putting on the Ma and 2 Pa chikaris, the soundhole seems to enhance the sound a bit- I've also seen a KanaiLal with an oval soundhole, probably about 30-40 years old or so. Southern Veenas frequently have soundholes which definitely enhances the sound. There's pics of a very beautiful Karnatic veena on my website
http://www.coyotespaw.com
click on "musical instruments"
and it has a turned wooden plug-presumably to keep out tropical vermin!-so it's easy to hear what happens when it's plugged or open.
Veenas almost always have very small holes surrounding the 'eyes' on the tabli. sitars often have just 2 tiny holes in the birds on tabli too, but it's difficult to see how that could have any substantial effect on the sound. The 1915 Kanai Lal I'd posted pics of has about 6 very small holes along the leafwork on the edge of the tabli. Persian setars have a group of tiny soundholes burned thru the soundboard at acute angles which the makers must feel has something to do with the tone. all very intriguing and quite mysterious also.Setars being associated with various styles of sufi music ,there may be all kinds of mystic reasons for the soundholes-!
ho Pandit Tony, whatcha think about them 2 tiny soundholes common on sitar???
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SitarMac

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Reply with quote  #7 
Man, I just can't wait to hear what this baby sounds like and what the final finish looks like. I would actually encourage you to maybe not put any frou frou on the tabli and leave it sleek and simple. I've been cleaning up a Rikhi Ram that was made for my teacher 12 years back that has absolutely no decorative carving what so ever....sleek and mean, and the sound just pours out of this baby. Mahadev also has his Rikhi Ram made without any tabli stuff and his baby sounds magical also....I'm starting to think that there maybe something to leaving the tabli bare. It also just looks damn nice with all the wood grain visable....But its up to you.
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coyootie

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Reply with quote  #8 
i appreciate and understand your recommendations! as a luthier it is very hard to resist doing some floral baroquery..........i'm planning to do it garland style and just to the top of the inlay at the side of the tabli, also very low relief so the weight/mass is as little as possible. it's going to be fairly narrow. i've always thought less is more for this feature of a sitar and i'd like to try not doing any atall but it's not resistable. an unseen hand that is guiding me on this whole project is pushing for this carving. I have a gorgeous older sarat sardar sitar with more tabli carving than i have ever seen, basically across the whole tabli, but it is an exceptionally well made sitar in all details and has a great sound.
i want to do a medium dark red/gold/amber color on the french polish.the basic palette of garnet, amber, pale gold shellacs will give me a fairly good range.
i fit the new bridge with a rosewood bottom and it is honking! i have a whole mess of rosewood specie scraps and I think this is kingwood, quite dense and close grained with very defined dark brown stripes. altho one wants to avoid breathing rosewood sawdust, sometimes the smell can help identify what specie it is.
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Sitarfixer

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Reply with quote  #9 
Can't wait to see this beastie with the polish on! The soundhole issue - seems to me the hole fitted produces a sur-bahar flavoured growl. Immediate slap back like bats leaving a cave. If those bats crash into the strings, seems there would be more sound generated thus more sustain. I suspect the sustain would be pretty much the same duration, with or without the sound hole. Trapped sound going painted pony inside the gourd with no sound hole. Released sound whap on strings keeping them going. Which works better or sounds better - your call. In traditional design terms, the sound hole is a departure of sorts. I imagine the old guard sitar makers played around with it as I'm doing now. Unless it's carved or outlined to match the design pleasingly, it can look out of place like an afterthought or worse. Size of soundhole must be another factor like those port vents on speaker cabinets and bass drum front heads. There's a formula for how big to make those holes in relation to the sound box/drum shell/gourd. What it is, I have no idea! Sound techs input would be most helpful here.
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Anonymous

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Reply with quote  #10 
What I'm wondering is, how long after you upload a picture of it, will it take for Yusuf Mirajkar to come out with a replica of it?
Cheers,
Keshav
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coyootie

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Reply with quote  #11 
i guess i'd consider that vindication. the design is my interpretation of earlier kachua sitars which aren't the standard army issue RS/VK variations. what i'm going for design -wise is sorta 1920's Indo- Art -Deco- Moghul!
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rex@sitar.co.za

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Reply with quote  #12 
... does anyone happen to know what the purpose of those two little holes are on the tabli through the heads of the birds on many sitars (Indian cuckoos, aren't they?)... ?
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Anonymous

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Reply with quote  #13 
Another thought occurs . . . When you're finished - will you have some approximate accounting of the number of hours involved in this undertaking? It would be interesting to figure the number of man hours X a reasonable hourly luthier's (USA) wage. I'd like to know so as to be able to provide a quote next time someone winces at a price quote on a good sitar.
Cheers,
Keshav
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coyootie

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Reply with quote  #14 
good question and I never keep a tab of hours on instrument making, dumbly enough.generally a luthier will get ca $75 hr, so no matter what you tell anyone in NY about sitar prices, they're downright cheap even tho it's apples and mangoes.
ask any violin player what it costs to have a bow rehaired for instance.
i know this sitar will have well over 150 hrs in it.
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