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barend

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It's Happy New Sitar Day! Just bought a late 50's/early 60's Rikhi Ram sitar two hours drive from my home. Looks almost similar to the one on Tony Karasek's website. Although that one has the necklace decoration. It hasn't been played for a long time and it is in surprisingly good shape for a 55 year old sitar. No cracks or repairs. It still needs some minor work though.

Sound is really open and buzzing now but it sounds really nice. I will have to do some jawari work to make it more closed. When playing a Pa or Re on the main string the low Pa starts buzzing along. Almost tampura like. It's nice but a bit too much. Think 60's Bollywood sitar sound and early Ravi Shankar. It is a GP pancham sitar but I will use it as a KP sitar since that is the tuning I prefer.

It plays really easy and light. Tension of strings is also very light. It almost feels like the strings are too thin. I have tuned it in C# now to let the neck get accustomed to the tension for a while but I think I will tune it to D eventually. Playing this sitar feels like going back in time and reviving some sitar history. Very strange experience...

Noticed a few things:
-very nice round main tuning pegs, very nice wood used for these.
-small round sound hole (?) under the main bridge. Do all vintage Rikhi Rams from this era have that?
-no scratch plate (no taraf bashing for this one!)
-jawari bone is very thin. Also not sure if all vintage Rikhi Rams had this or that is filed down so much?
-frets are very thin

Anyone know which wood this sitar is? it looks really nice on the back of the neck with that grain.

Glad I saved this baby from becoming a museum piece (or worse an attic classic!)
This sitar needs some lovin' and spanking!

Thanks Tony for advice!!!

Here are some pictures:
http://s42.photobucket.com/user/barendtromp/library/Vintage%20Rikhi%20Ram
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Lars

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Nice older piece there. It's mahogany/tun, the hole was probably put there to help it season. If it was a good thickness then at this age should be nice and naturally thinner by now. If the tone was a little subtle then they would have added the hole much like they do now, if you're going to refinish it then it's safe to assume you could close it up by now. Fun to see something so vintage before they farmed out to Kolkata, enjoy it!

Lars

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Sitarfixer

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Reply with quote  #3 
Hi, Barend. I eMailed you regarding the new baby - and what a baby ! ! ! You're suggesting an eventual tuning up to D. That is probably not a good idea. Your baby is very delicate and might not appreciate the strong arm tuning. If you shift the taraf string tuning down a step or two in sequence, that will compensate for the top string tuning a bit. If it were mine, I'd leave it at C#. There might be some fret calibration also to consider. Noting the fishline fret ties. moving those frets will create trenches that would rival the Western Front. That under the bridge hole was quite common back when baby was made. I still see them on occasion with the repair instruments that come in. The Calcutta variant is the two holes in the boids on the tabli. A lot of tanpuras also have the hole under the bridge. Bridge thickness looks like standard issue. Camel bone is always this general thickness. Deerhorn will hit the 1/2" height mark to allow for the center marrow section. Hope you get those frets sorted out. Congrats on your new baby !! !
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barend

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Quote:
Originally Posted by "Sitarfixer"
You're suggesting an eventual tuning up to D. That is probably not a good idea. Your baby is very delicate and might not appreciate the strong arm tuning. If you shift the taraf string tuning down a step or two in sequence, that will compensate for the top string tuning a bit. If it were mine, I'd leave it at C#.
Yes that's what I thought too. I will keep it in C#. Reason I thought it would work well in D is because the string tension is fairly light compared to my other two sitars. The scale length is not shorter than my other sitars. I thought these really old sitars would be hard to play but actually they are easier play than modern sitars. At least this one, not sure how that goes for your 50's RR? Good to know from a historic perspective and how sitar players in that era must have felt on their sitars. With guitars they brought down the action and tension of the strings over time to match new technical and playing standards. Not sure how this goes for sitars?
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Sitarfixer"
There might be some fret calibration also to consider. Noting the fishline fret ties. moving those frets will create trenches that would rival the Western Front.
Yes probably will retie all the frets with 'normal' fret ties. I think is a total PITA to retie frets on a sitar but it will be a good exercise for me. You can clearly see the marks of the nylon on the back of my Hari Chand sitar that also has nylon fret ties. If I were in the States I would surely have brought the Rikhi Ram to you for a total setup!!!!

@Lars: thanks for the info on the wood. I won't refinish it. I like it how it is now. What I noticed is that they used very little lacquer/polish on those old sitars. Not sure if this goes for all vintage sitars?
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Lars

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Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "barend"
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Sitarfixer"
You're suggesting an eventual tuning up to D. That is probably not a good idea. Your baby is very delicate and might not appreciate the strong arm tuning. If you shift the taraf string tuning down a step or two in sequence, that will compensate for the top string tuning a bit. If it were mine, I'd leave it at C#.
Yes that's what I thought too. I will keep it in C#. Reason I thought it would work well in D is because the string tension is fairly light compared to my other two sitars. The scale length is not shorter than my other sitars. I thought these really old sitars would be hard to play but actually they are easier play than modern sitars. At least this one, not sure how that goes for your 50's RR? Good to know from a historic perspective and how sitar players in that era must have felt on their sitars. With guitars they brought down the action and tension of the strings over time to match new technical and playing standards. Not sure how this goes for sitars?
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Sitarfixer"
There might be some fret calibration also to consider. Noting the fishline fret ties. moving those frets will create trenches that would rival the Western Front.
Yes probably will retie all the frets with 'normal' fret ties. I think is a total PITA to retie frets on a sitar but it will be a good exercise for me. You can clearly see the marks of the nylon on the back of my Hari Chand sitar that also has nylon fret ties. If I were in the States I would surely have brought the Rikhi Ram to you for a total setup!!!!

@Lars: thanks for the info on the wood. I won't refinish it. I like it how it is now. What I noticed is that they used very little lacquer/polish on those old sitars. Not sure if this goes for all vintage sitars?
A lot of it is the climate, those were made in a much drier environment and it sets in better, the rohlam dries out nicely and the spirits don't get waterlogged like in Kolkata...so they age nicely without flaking or staying sticky.

Lars

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barend

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Reply with quote  #6 
Just swapped the old bridge for an ebony one I already had. I want to keep the old bridge intact and not spoil it. With the new bridge it has a very nice closed sound right now. Sitar has a very nice resonance of the wood and the tarafs respond very well.
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OM GUY

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Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "barend"
Just swapped the old bridge for an ebony one I already had. I want to keep the old bridge intact and not spoil it. With the new bridge it has a very nice closed sound right now. Sitar has a very nice resonance of the wood and the tarafs responds very well.
May it bring you boundless joy!

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Let's hope 2016 is less violent and that people discover the soothing influence of ICM. Hari OM!
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