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goatee

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Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #1 
Hi all,

I want to share my 2nd homemade attempt at a ravanasta and ask for help. My main problem is that it doesn't sound twangy. On videos, I hear the twang when a note is changed. It is similar to the twang of a banjo.

When in tune, my sympathetic strings work, which I'm happy for. I have found many videos on youtube with ravanhastas. I learned to make it sound like a flute like in this video by playing closer to the bridge (this is my favorite video, this guy is bad ass):


But mine doesn't sound like a bowed banjo or a "cheap old radio inside a coconut shell" that is heard in this video (I'm after this sound in this video):


Is it possible the twangy sound is created from a method of playing?
I use violin strings for the playing string and drone. My goat skin is tight, but not as tight as a drum. I use a hard wood bridge. And a short piece of large plastic pipe for a resonator. My bow is horse hair loosely strung on a stick.

http://i209.photobucket.com/albums/bb111/helliegr/1ravenandbow.jpg

http://i209.photobucket.com/albums/bb111/helliegr/1raventopclose.jpg

From my research online I guess a professional ravanhasta is made from the following materials:

thick bamboo stock
coconut resonator
thin steel strings
wooden tuning pegs
tight skin over resonator
hard bridge
horse hair bow
horse hair or gut string? It looks dark in the pictures

I think my problem lies in the combination of playing string, resonator shape, and tight skin over the resonator. What do you all think?

Thanks,
Goatee


keywords:
ravanatha, ravanahastra, rawanastum, Ravanhattaor ravanastron, ravan hatta
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david

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Posts: 528
Reply with quote  #2 
I believe your major problem is that the skin is too thick. It appears that you are using a relatively thick hide somewhat similar to found on the tablas. You need a much thinner skin. In the west getting such thin skins is generally a problem, but your best bet is to look into calf skins that are sold for drum makers.

Gut strings in India are black while in the West they are white. The colour should not make a difference.

You might also wish to reduce the mass of your bridge to bring out more "bite" in the sound.

Peace

David Courtney
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goatee

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Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks for the info, it gives me hope that this thing might work some day.

So you recommend a lighter bridge and a thinner skin. It sounds like its a matter of less mass so the skin, bridge, and strings can vibrate more? I can find thinner sympathetic string, would that help too?

I don't know the thickness of a tabla skin. I've seen tall bongos that have thick skin on them. This is way thinner than the bongos. I ordered this skin through Amazon and it came from Pakistan. Here's a better picture of the skin thickness. For size reference, check out the brass things from the guitar strings I use as sympathetics. Is this skin still too thick?

http://i209.photobucket.com/albums/bb111/helliegr/1ravenbottomclosebase.jpg
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david

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Posts: 528
Reply with quote  #4 
You might also try closing the back so that the resonator is closed like a sarangi, not open like a banjo.

Also from this picture, I can definitely tell you that your skin is to thick.


Peace

David Courtney
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ragamala

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Posts: 1,740
Reply with quote  #5 
I know zilch about ravanhasta, but can I suggest an alternative theory, that the problem is not one of the thickness of the skin but the fact it is not taut enough?

In which case the answer would be perhaps - taking a leaf from sarangi etc .... and assuming the skin won't be actually glued to the instrument .....

Take the skin off, soak it well for a while until it uis supple, put it back on and tighten the strings holding it (which look far too loose to me) - hopefully this won't rip the skin because of the extra pressure IF it is thick -- when the skin dries hopefully this will tighten enough to provide a far more taut and resonant base to the bridge.

My other concern would be that the strings securing the skin are of a type that is far too flexible. I'd recommending finding something better - eg tabla strapping. Also possibly the strapping points are too far apart to get sufficient tautness on the skin.
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DrKashyap

Senior Member
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Posts: 274
Reply with quote  #6 
Compliments for such venture.

Some points that will work
- Bamboo shaft
- Hard closed sound chamber
-plunge bamboo well in the chamber rather than just attaching it. Shaft cavity should make an extension of closed sound chamber
-tight (not necessarily thin skin, though it changes the quality of tone) skin, glued permenantly
- Hard material for bridges on both the ends
- steel metal strings
- try gut only once you are accustomed to steel ones. Even the ravanhasta from good player can not be played at first attempt without good practice
- same with the bow, have tight bow first then go for loose one after good practice.
- let me know your feedback.
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goatee

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Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #7 
Thanks much for the replies. I like this forum and I'll update when I do a modification to let you know how it goes. However, it won't be for a while.

I tested the sound from an open and closed resonator. They are definitely different. I like the open one more which doesn't make sense with the authentic ravanhasta being closed. Its hard to tell from the picture but the skin ropes are tighter than they look. There are a lot of loose ends that get in the way. I did soak this skin and tighten it. I got it tight and some holes were on the verge of tearing. Then they dried and became tighter. When I make a tighter skin I'll make it similar to a drum head. Like I'll use a hoop and sturdy rope. That way I cant get it nice and tight.

I have an idea to create another version. That I could just get a small bongo drum and attach a guitar neck to it. And somehow put all the tuners inside the bongo or something so their weight doesn't hang out there. Right now mine is uncomfortably unbalanced and it likes to topple away from me. Or I could stick a piece of bamboo in it.

DrKashyap thank you for the explanation of the bamboo into the resonator. I was puzzled over this area for a long time before deciding not to go with the bamboo. I wondered if the hollow bamboo effected the sound. I didn't chose bamboo for the shaft because the only close views that I could find use a metal rod through the resonator and into the bamboo. Then the tension of the strings holds the resonator to the bamboo. Do you have any pictures or resources that illustrate how to make the method you describe?

Thanks :wink:
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