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brkonthrough

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Reply with quote  #1 
Hey guys, I just got my new sitar after my first was broken in transit from India (a heartbreaking discovery after 15 minutes of removing bubble wrap and packing tape). It sounds and looks great but the first string doesn't resonate as fully as some of the others (the 2nd string rings beautifully). I believe the sitar's bridge needs adjusting. Am I right in this prognosis? Can any of you offer some suggestions on getting the best sound out of my sitar? Thanks for helping,

Sean

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trippy monkey

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Reply with quote  #2 
Hello Sean

Sorry about the damaged sitar. I sent my gorgeous black gayaki 10 days ago from Varanasi & have yet to re-meet it.

First thing to do is check your first string's harmonic with its mid MA fret. If it's incorrect then adjust the bridge forwards or backwards accordingly.

What do you mean by 'not resonating' properly? What do you understand by this term?

Is the jawari or 'twang' relatively even from top to bottom fret? Is it a sharp or 'open' jawari (Ravi Shankar style)or a duller but punchier 'closed' sound (Vilayat Khan style)?

What kind of sound do you actually want from your sitar?
Is it tuned with Kharaj or Bass strings or the lighter VK type?
Is your bridge at a 90 degree angle to your strings & not twisted at all?

Jawari making is a much sought after job in India. It's quite possible this is your 'only' problem then.

Just a few questions to see what yours is like first.

Nick
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Joshua Feinberg

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Reply with quote  #3 
hi there,

congrats on the new instrument! i'd like to offer my opinion if i could:

careful with moving the bridge based on harmonics! its much easier to move a fret then a bridge. . . it is entirely possible that your baj string isnt resonating because the jawari needs adjusting. but there are many other reasons. if its straight from India, then it may have Indian wire, which is not good at all. get a 1/4lb of stainless steal wire of the gage you prefer (most people, me included play #3) from a company called Rosslau, they have the best wire.

another reason for the lack of resonance is that it is a synthetic jawari. i know this is a hotly debated subject, but in my experience they deaden the sound and the effect is most extream on the baj string.

yet another possible reason could be that the instrument just needs to be broken in. all sitars need about 5-7 years of daily playing to sound their best. you may just need to get to know eachother.

or, god forbid, you may have just gotten a lemon. but, there is no way to know this until you've played it for 7years and it still hasn't opend up. when i first got the sitar i play now, it sounded terrible! now it sounds halfway to wonderful (few more years i think). i was impressed how much the sound opened up even in the first few weeks. give it a try!

have fun!

jf

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trippy monkey

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Reply with quote  #4 
I did have have a rethink about the harmonics suggestion too.
I haven't yet had an instrument that hasn't needed some adjusting in some way.

I would change the top strings certainly if I were you. 8)

My black Ustadji has just arrived in the UK & I should have it by the end of this week. Will get stung for VAT (our 'extra' tax in the UK) & also customs duty. What a set of .......
There'd better not be any damage AT ALL :evil:

Nick
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Sitarfixer

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Reply with quote  #5 
Without having your baby in my paws, it will be volumes of typing to get the problem sorted out. First thing I would do is loosen the ma string and have a look at the track it is leaving on the bridge surface. If there is a solid consistant glazed line all the way from the crease just forward of the slots to a point about 1/16" - 1/8" from the leading edge, then the problem is elsewhere. If there some unshiney skipped spots, then these are low spots. Air is undermeath the string at this/these areas and needs to be corrected. This will involve gently applying a single cut flat metal file and gently stroking perpendicular to the string line with an ever so slight rotating sweep towards the leading edge. Imagine you are Dr. Christian Barnhard and your sitar is Joe Washkanski. After just one or two strokes, refit the string , tune it up and determine if your surgery is successful or if you have to go back in. A new string certainly won't hurt after the jawari job is done. Another area to look at is where the bridge legs contact the sound board. Same deal. Solid contact is good but leave just a little daylight. Think "jawari" here as well. Nodu Mullick set up the daylight zone under the leading edge. I set mine up along the inner sides. Seems to me the bridge seats itself better this way. As recommended above, play the pants off your new baby. This alone will bring out all kinds of good sound. It's magic! Cheers!
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brkonthrough

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Reply with quote  #6 
Hey guys, thanks for all of the suggestions.

Much to my delight, the past couple days of playing has opened the sound up some, yet it is still lacking a bit.

The tone that I am referring to is the droning sound, kind of like a phase or phlange effect on a guitar, such as is easily heard on the tanpura. My 2nd string yields this tone beautifully so I know the instrument is capable of it.

Another factor that might be of importance is that when I play the high octave sa it sounds dulled and gradually gets better tone as I play the descending scale; maybe this is an issue with the action?

FYI my sitar is single toomba, has a bass 4th string and I believe synthetic jawari. The bridge is perpendicular to the neck but seems to be sitting farther towards the chakri end of the sitar than others I have seen.

I just got a new set of Batish strings that I will try out, maybe this will affect the tone some. I have also notice that different mizrabs evoke different sounds much like different thickness and material guitar picks will....

I will probably keep playing for a couple weeks and see how the tone develops before considering performing jawari.

Just two more questions...
What kind of tweaking do you guys usually undertake when getting a new sitar to optimize its sound?
Are there any good sitar shops/gurus/teachers in the chicago area (downtown) that anyone knows of?

Thanks a lot

Sean

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sitarman

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Reply with quote  #7 
Now that you describe it clearly I would say it is definitely a jawari issue- you don't like the harder, less buzzy sound of the 1st string, compared to the more open sound of the Sa string, which is often the case on sitars. Don't worry- with time the Ma string will open up and be "buzzier". The only reason for moving a bridge, and I have often had to do it even on new sitars, is if the intonation is off.
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