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chrisnovice

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Reply with quote  #1 
I recently bought an old neglected sitar at a charity shop for the crazy price of
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cabaray

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Reply with quote  #2 
I'll take a crack at this, sort of get things going till the folks that are more knowledgeable in this area chime in. First the gourd if properly glued up should be fine and shouldn't affect the sound. Cracked gourds are not uncommon and if repaired well will not hurt the sound. In fact its rumored that some sitars sound even better after the gourds are fixed.

I'm guessing that its mostly to do with the bridge and the jawari . Yes the bridge should sit firmly on the tabli and there should be no gaps in the legs or feet. You want the vibrations to communicate with the body of the instrument the less contact the less sound will be transmitted. You can take sandpaper, put it grit side up on the bridge area and use that to shape the bridge legs.

Jawari is a pretty complicated thing and this is where the experts will have to give you their advise. I suspect that the duller sound is due the the string not having enough of a gap between it and the bone surface.

I salute you for rescuing an orphaned sitar.

Ray
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musicslug

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Reply with quote  #3 
if you can get good sounding notes from the rest of the range, the issue is quite likely jawari and quite likely easy to address. what you probably need to do is open the jawari towards the front edge of the bridge, meaning increase the downward slope of the plane of the bridge for the front 1/8"-1/4" of the bridge. one (very briefly) way to do this is to wrap a flat file with 180 grit sandpaper and do a few side to side strokes at the front of the bridge, all the way across, with the file tilted a little so it's taking off more at the front edge - the idea is to lower the front edge a bit without changing the height of the bridge further back. (one way you can see which area you want to sand is by pressing on the string while fretting on those high frets and see where the string makes contact with the bridge near the front.) anyway, after making a few strokes, maybe even 6(ish), wipe off the dust with a cloth, put the string back in place, and see if things have improved. if so, you're on the right path. from the sound of it, you're not looking for super critical jawari, so this might be enough for your taste. otherwise, you could google Marcotty's article on jawari and get more deeply into things... good luck. go slowly. have fun.
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trippy monkey

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Reply with quote  #4 
Hi
Firstly
Where in the UK are you?
Secondly
Do the harmonics of SA & PA, 7th fret & 13th fret match? You need to match these 2 at first, presuming the frets are still correct, to see if the bridge is correct as it stands.
You talk as if you have SOME knowledge at least. Do you know how to initially set a 'new' bridge?

Where are the gaps of the main bridge you speak of? Middle or edges? Pics please????

As one who loves to resue these kinds of orphans, I salute you.

Nick,In India at the mo but back in UK 29th april.
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rex@sitar.co.za

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Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "chrisnovice"
As a guitarist I have probably got myself into very bad habits for sitar playing, but I am eager to learn correct technique.
Hi Chris

The upper frets of a sitar are just really hard to play, period.

Even with the best, perfectly set up sitar, it takes years and years of practice to get good tone from those upper frets. It's because they're closer to the bridge and there's much higher string tension.

Measure the distance between the last fret (the fret closest to the bridge) and the string. The distance should be between 10 to 14 millimetres. If it's within that range, then apart from possible minor jawari work that the posters above have mentioned, your sitar should be fine.

The setup is important, but it unfortunately can't help if your technique is bad. Guitar technique is about as useful to playing sitar as it is to playing the tuba.. it's totally different.

Do you have teacher? It would be good ask a professional's opinion who can check out the instrument and your technique.

Good luck!!
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trippy monkey

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Reply with quote  #6 
This is precisely why I asked if the bridge was/is set up properly in the first place. 8)

Nick
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John

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Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "chrisnovice"
As a guitarist I have probably got myself into very bad habits for sitar playing, but I am eager to learn correct technique. I naturally find myself using vibrato for sustained notes - is this a no no? (It sounds nice to me).
Do you plan to learn to play classically?
Find a good teacher. There's really no substitute. Have a dig around on this forum and you'll find reams & reams on the subject on how important it is & what makes a good teacher.

I've come from a guitar background, as have several others on here. The vibrato thing has to stop or you will always sound like a guitarist playing sitar. This was the first thing my teacher had to drum out of me. Intonation is very important in ICM, as I'm sure you'll discover!

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chrisnovice

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Reply with quote  #8 
Thanks everybody for your swift and very useful replies.

To answer the questions you raised: the harmonics at the 7th and 13th frets sound ok to me. The distance between the string and the last fret is about 9-10mm, slightly less than Rex's recommendation. I tried to post a picture but couldn't get it to look right.

The more I look at the bridge the more I see that the contact area on the feet is very uneven, so first job is to smooth that out ( which will lower the string to fret gap even more - oh dear). And when I check the bridge/string contact area when playing the top frets it seems to be at the very edge of the bone. Whereas is vibrates lower against the bridge on the mid frets (as it should do).

So, jawari here we come. Let's get those strings off yet again! Hope I don't ruin what I've already got.

I'm in York in the North of England, a long way from any sitar teachers I expect!

Thanks again, and I'll let you know how I get on. Playing sitar is certainly not an undertaking to be taken lightly (which I hope I don't).

Chris.
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rex@sitar.co.za

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "chrisnovice"
The distance between the string and the last fret is about 9-10mm
Hi Chris... that should still be OK, but you wouldn't want to go much lower because of the risk of fret buzz.

This can get tricky so you may want to take it to a pro if you can... you'll be surprised, you'll probably find someone in York who can help.

Nick will be able to tell us ... ?
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trippy monkey

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Reply with quote  #10 
Chris
I live near Burnley so not that far for a visit sometime although not until 29th april as I'll be back from India then!!!

RIGHT!!!
First thing I suggest you do is NOT take the whole feet down as you don't have enough left to avoid screwing the whole thing up.
Take the bridge & make an ARCH BETWEEN the 2 ends of the feet so all you're doing is allowing the FOUR points of contact of the feet on the tabli. This is sufficient for the sound to come through.
This way the bridge will sit still & you won't have a bridge that'll be practically muffling the taraf or the shortness won't allow you to run down them accurately. If you need to, just tickle a tiny bit of 1 or 2 of the feet so it doesn't wobble at all.

Nick
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chrisnovice

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Reply with quote  #11 
I think the answer lies in jawari. I tidied up the rough edges on the feet of the bridge then did some tentative jawari which I think has improved things (unless I'm just kidding myself). I think I'll let it settle in for a bit then take off a little more later, easy does it.

It sounds pretty much ok up to the the high Sa, but above that it is still a bit dull.

I find that you can get a better sound up on the top notes with a Ra stroke rather than a Da, I guess that allows you to get a firmer contact against the string? Is that just my bad technique? I also guess that on the top notes there is less vibration so the taraf don't come to life so readily.

Well tomorrow I will have been playing sitar for exactly 4 weeks and I'm finding myself getting totally immersed, not much getting done around the house.

I'm trying to find my way around rag Yaman, would you say this is a sensible place to start?

Regards,
Chris.
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trippy monkey

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Reply with quote  #12 
Hi again Chris from a v warm Varanasi.
Yaman IS a very good place to start.

DA & RA should always be equal as a a beginner. Sound altering comes into play when you know exactly what you're doing later on.
As far as your posts go you don't have a teacher. There are several in Leeds & Bradford. John from Hebden Bridge is learning from Daramvir Singh, in Leeds I think.

Nick
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rex@sitar.co.za

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Reply with quote  #13 
Hi Chris... I would say that if you want to learn classical sitar it's pretty much impossible to teach yourself, at least as a beginner. It's really the only way you can learn proper technique or begin to understand the music.

Definitely see if you can find a good teacher, it will be great for you!
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povster

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Reply with quote  #14 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "chrisnovice"
I think the answer lies in jawari. I tidied up the rough edges on the feet of the bridge then did some tentative jawari which I think has improved things (unless I'm just kidding myself). I think I'll let it settle in for a bit then take off a little more later, easy does it.
Since you are inexperienced in jawari, I think you are taking a great approach! And you probably aren't kidding yourself as far as it sounding a little better. Your plan to do a little, play on it a while and see how it settles in, then do a little more is an excellent one.

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Dasani - the official bottled water of ICM
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redtape

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Reply with quote  #15 
Western Style shaky vibrato is not good to use ~ listen to Pandit Nikhil Bannerjee or Ustad Ali Akbar Khan ~ they NEVER use "shaky" vibrato. We use a "circular" vibrato in this music.
Though I will have to say if I had not been playing the guitar for years before I picked up the Sitar ~ I would be much farther behind. Yes the technique is different ~ but the muscles and synaptic electrical impulses are being "generated" for a "lute-like" metal stringed instrument. I am absolutely sure this would not have been the case had been learning the Tuba or Trombone etc...
That said I had to "unlearn" many bad habits for the first 4 years of playing the sitar ~ but it still gave me an immense "edge" over a complete "newbie"... I was tuning and playing, albeit poorly but I was learning and teaching myself because my guitar experience. I now use a Mizrab when I play Acoustic Guitar ~ I also use Da Ra when Strumming the guitar and angle my finger and hands as if I were playing a Sitar. In other words the techniques learned on Sitar CAN BE used on a guitar amazingly well...
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