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Sitarfixer

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This is the fourth and most severe surgery of this nature I've performed. I received an early 70's Hemen sitar with a overly high and rounded tabli. This came from the shop this way and I considered the instrument unplayable. So did the owner. The top of the tabli just about matched the fret line. I had to cut off the neck, reset it about 3 degrees lower so that the taraf strings would lay down clear from the underside of the frets and allow a more standard height main bridge. A maple spline block was cut and fitted to join the neck and gulu at a more favorable angle. A pair of my delrin bridges was fitted. I also had to replace the original deer horn tail piece with a brass model. I upgraded it with a 1/4" brass taraf tail post. Most of the tabs on the original had been sheared off by the string loop tension. I also filed and fitted a brass high chikari post. A line of new taraf eyelets was installed along with a complete fret polish and retie. New strings - of course. Very pleased with the fit, feel and sound of the now restored sitar. Here's a picture documentary of the operation. The owner told me he consulted shops in India and they said it couldn't be done. Uh-huh ! ! !

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B8LkW8LLraRcflQ0TmVRbVhfbXRHZzBFUENoaDk4aWFwQ181SzlqX1lfYTdGaWtyVzM2QkE

This link now works ! Thanks, John.

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Hamletsghost

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Reply with quote  #2 
Oh hail the mighty Sitarfixer
Master of all things string.
I was able to have the privilege of watching the complete operation from start to finish on this beauty.
And what a wonder it was.
To see the neck sawed off of this instrument really sent shivers up my spine.
The owner should be very happy with this instrument now. I heard it played upon completion and it REALLY sings.
A Masterful refit to be sure - making an unusable closet queen into the masterpiece it was meant to be.
Oh wise Sitarfixer you de man. :wink:

Hamletsghost 8)

Ps: check the dropbox settings Tony can't open the pictures.

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Lars

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Reply with quote  #3 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Hamletsghost"
Oh hail the mighty Sitarfixer
Master of all things string.
I was able to have the privilege of watching the complete operation from start to finish on this beauty.
And what a wonder it was.
To see the neck sawed off of this instrument really sent shivers up my spine.
The owner should be very happy with this instrument now. I heard it played upon completion and it REALLY sings.
A Masterful refit to be sure - making an unusable closet queen into the masterpiece it was meant to be.
Oh wise Sitarfixer you de man. :wink:

Hamletsghost 8)

Ps: check the dropbox settings Tony can't open the pictures.
Heh heh, Hementoma....that's pretty funny really.

Lars

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desh

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Reply with quote  #4 
I can't view the pictures either. Do I need a dropbox account?

Thanks
Desh
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ragarecords

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Reply with quote  #5 
I'm the lucky person whose instrument has been overhauled by Tony. It should get here today or tomorrow, so I am excited! A bit of history of the instrument. When I arrived at the Ali Akbar school in 1972, a complete beginner, Marvin Wolf picked it out for me as the best of that year's batch in the college store. It was tuned by Khansahib many times before each of the beginning instrumental classes. It even made a trip to LA for jawari by Nodu Mullick. My practice lapsed in the mid-eighties after Vasant Rai, my teacher in New York, died. At some point in the mid-nineties, the action had become unpleasantly high. This last winter I decided to get back into practice, and discovered that the problem had greatly worsened. There was cracking in the gulu, and a major bend in the neck, leading to unplayably high action. At that time my colleague Ira Landgarten was contemplating a trip to Calcutta, and we considered taking it to Sen Gupta. However, his son wrote back:

"......now i had a talk to my father and he said without having the Hemen sitar in his hands unfortunately he wont be able to assure you whether he would be able to fix the bend or not as there can be some severe technical and manufacturing problems with the sitar as he had some very bad cases with some Hemen made sitars were having similar neck bend issues and most of them could not be fixed ,.. so it might not be fixed ,.. but like he said he wont say any thing before having the sitar in his hands so as you see the sitar may or may not be fixed ,.. satyaki.. "

This did not seem very promising. At this point, I did not know what miracles Tony was capable of. Ira drastically shortened the bridge legs, which brought the action into the playability zone. The instrument was sounding pretty good; at least good enough for someone at my level. However the situation was far from perfect--very little space between the taraf and the playing strings; and the knowledge that the instrument was structurally unsound, and slowly getting worse. So when I saw an Ajay Rikhi Ram on craigslist Atlanta, I bought it. When it arrived in New York, a magnificent instrument, it had one major problem. It had no jawari. The previous owner did his own jawari, which consisted of a flat bridge top surface with a trapezoidal cross-section. There was no jawari, it was dead. So I sent it to Tony, who totally overhauled it, improved it in countless small ways, and most importantly fitted it with his delrin bridges. It is now truly magnificent.

This left the question of what to do with the Hemen. Tony said that he could fix it, and it seemed that that would be the right thing to do. If it could be fixed, it deserved it. So off it went to Indiana.

I've uploaded Tony's pictures of the operation to Google Drive: let's see if we have any better luck there. (I think you need to have a google account (i.e. gmail address) to reach Google Drive--if this doesn't work, post and I will figure something else out):

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B8LkW8LLraRcflQ0TmVRbVhfbXRHZzBFUENoaDk4aWFwQ181SzlqX1lfYTdGaWtyVzM2QkE

Here are the emails Tony sent, a blow by blow account of the surgery:

Hementoma 01-05:

Hi, John.

Here are the beginning pics. These side views show the relationship between the string line and the front of the body. There is way too much air between the two. The taraf strings are getting too close to the underside of the frets. Those taraf strings over the bridge form an almost straight line preventing solid string pressure and tabli contact. The bridge legs are so short to get the strings anywhere in the playable ballpark - pure left field.

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David Russell Watson

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Reply with quote  #6 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "ragarecords"
I've uploaded Tony's pictures of the operation to Google Drive: let's see if we have any better luck there. (I think you need to have a google account (i.e. gmail address) to reach Google Drive--if this doesn't work, post and I will figure something else out):

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B8LkW8LLraRcflQ0TmVRbVhfbXRHZzBFUENoaDk4aWFwQ181SzlqX1lfYTdGaWtyVzM2QkE
I have a Google account, but when I log on and click your link I'm told "The folder that you were viewing no longer exists or you no longer have permission to access it."

David
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ragarecords

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Reply with quote  #7 
I've fixed the settings, the Google Drive link works now (a friend checked for me and can see the pics).
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coyootie

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Reply with quote  #8 
well done! shabash!
exactly what was needed here on this sitar. looks like from the pix when it was sawn open that the original neck/gulu joint was pretty awful.is that a big gap on the side where it should be fitted flush????? all of us instrument makers SHOULD know that someday, someone may have to open up our work, and just coz they can't see it when it seems to be all done and nice......
but I know where Hemenda was coming from. It is always nerve wracking opening up someone else's instrument, you just don't know what you may run up against. and sometimes, it is not fixable, especially if an amateur has mucked things up with epoxy etc... you don't want to know how often luthiers see that kind of mess.
anyhow, a lovely happy ending, or rather, a lovely new beginning for your sitar.
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coyootie

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Reply with quote  #9 
oh woops- I meant, I know where Sengupta was coming from, maybe reluctant to get into someone else's work that needed fixup.
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Sitarfixer

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Reply with quote  #10 
Yez, coyootie, that gap in the original neck joint - gulu side is indeed a 1/16" gap that went all the way in and from that one side to the centerline. I packed it with strips of maple and glue ( no epoxy ) ! ! ! The most nerve wracking moment was when the neck came off from sawing and the pick guard was found to be undamaged. Your kind words are much appreciated. Hey, ghost - you too ! ! ! Thank you John for getting the picture link fixed. The eMail texts are quite interesting on a re-read and jeeeez, all those typos ! ! ! I gotta up the coffee dosage. Your kind words and praise make it all worth while. Thank you for the opportunity to show off my stuff and bring your baby back to life. Love it ! ! !
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ragarecords

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Reply with quote  #11 
It’s AL-I-I-I-VE ! ! !

Tony, just a few short months ago I thought the Hemen was probably a write-off. Now, it’s an astonishing, alive, resonant, singing creature almost beyond imagination, just straining at the leash. It seems to anticipate the notes one wants to pull to and slides into them with a happy ringing magnetic attraction. You have made an amazing miracle, thank you thank you thank you. If this doesn’t bring my practice to a new level, it won’t be the fault of the instrument or the luthier.

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John Wilton
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Sitarfixer

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Reply with quote  #12 
- and this is why I love my job ! Thank you too, John. Very happy your baby is up and running for you. All the best ! ! !
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