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Arfan1987

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Reply with quote  #1 
Hi everyone,

This is my first post so go easy on me! I'm just starting out on the path of building my own rudra veena, as anyone else here who as done the same probably knows, there's a dearth of straightforward, easily locatable knowledge on the subject (at least on the net). Therefore I was wondering if the people here who have their own beens could get out their measuring tapes and help me with some dimensions as well as some more technical issues.

First off I just wanted to check how tall and thick the frets are on a rudra veena? I understand that they are generally 3.25 inches long but I can't find any info on height or thickness. Also I take it the bridge would have to be built to this exact same height in order not to negatively effect sound/intonation?

This sort of leads me onto the next question. I've been really struggling with the question of how one would set the intonation on an instrument like the rudra veena which has a non-adjustable bridge? That is because the bridge is built into the soundchamber which cannot be moved once set, how does one sort out any intonation problems. For example I recently found the intonation on my sitar was off (by plucking a harmonic which matched the open string, then fretting at the same point as the harmonic and checking to see if the notes were the same). Therefore I loosened my strings and moved my bridge back a bit and this sorted it, but it doesn't seem possible to do this on a been so what do you do? Moreover when building the instrument is there an established ratio or length between the last fret and the bridge which would sort this problem?

Lastly (for now at least!) I wanted to ask about the placement of the bridge with regards to the soundchamber. Does the bridge simply nestle into a whole at the top of the soundchamber or does it sit on legs like a sitar onto a platform in the soundchamber?

Anyway just so you know I'm building the been out of bamboo and I'm taking photos at every stage (just been prepping the bamboo so far). So I intend to upload it to this site as a TEK when I'm done so it will hopefully help other budding been players/buildersget started with their own projects. However if anyone else who is more experienced and has gone through the process would like to do the same then be my guest, it would really help!

Thanks,

Arfan.
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povster

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Reply with quote  #2 
Hello Arfan,

Wishing you success on your project. I can address a few points.

1) As regards fret height - this can vary a lot between instruments. Mine are about 5/8" from the neck. The thickness of the metal insert is about 1/8". Again, this can vary.

2) The bridge should "nestle" in the sound chamber. Not sit on legs like on a sitar. The sound chamber itself should be hollow.

3) As far as intonation, in your example, you said you moved the bridge back a bit to correct the intonation. Since a rudra vin does not have sympathetic strings, there are no sympathetic pegs to get in the way. So the frets can be moved a bit forward/backward to correct intonation (you are going to have to do that anyway.)

4) The bridge should NOT be made to sit at the exact height of the frets. If you did that the string would be touching some of the frets.Like on a sitar, the string must be above the frets and that height gradually increases as you go further up the neck towards the bridge. I setup my vin to be about 1/16" above the lowest fret (closest to the headstock) and about 7/16" above the highest fret (closest to the bridge.) These are main string measurements.

5) Achieving intonation will depend a great deal on the nut, the bone piece with slots for the string on the headstock side. I replaced my nut with one made for a sitar, as it gave lot of depth to insure the strings were well secured at the top. You will want to do this (copied from an old post of mine):

a) Start with the main string. Begin with a higher cut and gradually deepen it. To avoid fret buzz make sure you don't start with too deep a cut. Once you get a proper depth start tuning the frets. (see the next step)

b) Use the "harmonic pluck" just above the Sa fret to get the right Sa tuning of the main string. Then start adjusting each fret to get them in tune. As you go keep using the "harmonic pluck" to insure the main string is still in tune.

c) Once you have the main string set proceed to cut the slot for the Sa (2nd) string. Make sure the Sa string is in tune (compare it to the main harmonic pluck). Gradually deepen the slot and test the tuning against the usable frets on the Sa string. Remember the frets will now be in their correct position so only the depth of the slot will dictate how well in tune the Sa string is.

d) Then on to pancham and kharaj strings, using the same technique you did with the Sa (2nd) string.

I hope this helps somewhat. Keep asking and hopefully, too, others will chime in. Unlike the sitar, which has become pretty standardized, no universal standard exists for the vin.

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Arfan1987

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Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks a lot pov, the info you gave will certainly come in handy, especially the bit about intonation, it was really starting to bug me that I couldn't work out a solution.

I was just looking at the nut on my sitar and I noted that it has 2 bone plates. One with grooves that the strings sit it (like you mentioned), however theres one further up a bit that has holes which the strings run through. Does this second nut make a difference to the sound?

Also in terms of material for the bridge, I'm having great difficulty finding decent enough sized bone for the job. As such I was thinking of going for delrin as I've seen others mention is as a good substitute.Would this also be suitable for the nut then I take it? Also are the little peg type things at the bottom of the instrument which the strings tie on to (past the bridge) made of bone/delrin also?

Thanks again for the response so far,

Arfan
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povster

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Reply with quote  #4 
Arfan,

An upper nut (maybe an inch or so above the main one) is a string "guide" but it is not usually seen or needed on a rudra vin. Usually the headstock is long enough and the width of the neck narrow enough on the vin that you don't need the second nut for reinforcing the string angle.

A regular sitar nut would work quite well and they are readily available. Delrin should work fine too. If you go with delrin for the bridges then a delrin nut would compliment the color.

Pov

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Arfan1987

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Reply with quote  #5 
Thanks again, I'm sure that will keep me going for now but I'll undoubtedly be back with more questions soon!

Arfan
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westsea

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Reply with quote  #6 
Arfan,
This won't help you on knowing details, but if you haven't seen it, you should get a copy.

http://smbkatalogshop.besucherdienst.org/Merchandise/getProductDetails/productId/5631
or
http://www.india-instruments.de/pag/media/video/lehr-dvd_e.html

rudra vina - Manufacturing of an Indian String Instrument in the Tradition of Kanailal & Brother.
DVD from the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.
A documentary of Murari Adhikari making a Rudra Veena
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Arfan1987

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Reply with quote  #7 
Thanks westsea, I'll check it out.
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Surbaharplayer

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Reply with quote  #8 
Please bear in mind that you are building a veena with a bamboo dandi. Dagar veena's (the one portrayed in the DVD) use thicker thicker strings and have a higher string tension. Even before the Dagar veena was invented there were teak dandi's since players were unhappy about the strenght of bamboo.

I've played a 100 year old bamboo-veena that was very light. Very "reedy" resonant sound, but a totally different instrument from a Dagar-veena. When building these traditional veena's it's important to take your own bodysizes into account; there are various formula's (f.i. two hands-stretches; thumbs touching, to measure the distance between tumba's) to come up with the "ideal" measurements for the individual player. Interesting stuff!!

Still; if you're building a veena that dvd is a must! Just stunning to watch an instrument come to life.

Also, as a side note) Glynn Snelgrove actually built both a traditional veena and a Dagar veena. Please PM me if you want to contact him.
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trippy monkey

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Reply with quote  #9 


Which is precisely why I took lots of pics & videos when my second one was being made in Varanasi this year. From a 'shipwreck', as someone here called it referring to all the various pieces being checked when they arrived, to the fully finished instrument & sounding a little better than the one I have in the UK. Pics here...

https://picasaweb.google.com/trippymonkey/NewRudraVeena2012#

Nick
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Arfan1987

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Reply with quote  #10 
Thanks for the info! That been looks lovely Trippy, have you got any videos or soundclips of it being played?
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cabaray

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Reply with quote  #11 
Afran since you are using bamboo I assume you are making a traditional over the shoulder veena? If that's the case then I would stick to a 38 to 40 inch nut to back of the bridge length. Any longer and the highest fret (closest to the bridge) would interfere with your plucking hand that is unless you have long arms.

As Povster said fret hight varies so 5/8 to 3/4 off the top of the dand is a good range depending on hand size. Be sure to taper down the frets so the highest fret is at least 1/8 to1/4 inch lower than the one by the nut. The rail is a small but crucial part of the equation. It has to be dead straight and sit flat on a curved dand. which means you have to either flatten the the top dand or hollow the bottom of the rail. Its also helpful to notch the frets tight to the rail to get a good fit. That way you can set the frets without tying them to get your initial intonation. Just in case you going to place your chicari pegs and posts on the side of the dand traditional style.

There are so many variables when it comes to a ruder veena. Most instruments you pick up and play with a veena its almost like you have to put it on and wear it so getting a good fit is important. Anyway have fun making your veena, enjoy the process as much as the goal and hopefully you will have a nice instrument
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trippy monkey

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Reply with quote  #12 
Arfan Bhai
I'm afraid there's only those 2 pics of me playing it at the end but I'll see what I can do when I go back to Varanasi in jan 2013.
I could always record a bit of the first one I got sent over, last year & see how well it sounds.

Nick
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povster

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Reply with quote  #13 
Cabaray maks some good points. Very important is, as he said, to get the fret placement correct BEFORE you drill the holes for the chikari posts and any pegs that will be in the side of the neck where the frets are laying.

Since the main playing string pegs will be above the fret area you can drill and fit those pegs. hen string the instrument with the main strings and get the frets in tune. Only after that do you drill the holes for the chikari posts and pegs. This way you will be sure the peg/post placement will be in between the frets. This will prevent the most frustrating situation of discovering you placed a peg in a position that causes a fret to hit it before it can get in tune.

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