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TCPerez

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Posts: 64
Reply with quote  #1 
Hi, I am looking to buy my first tabla set. I am looking for a decent quality beginer set that will last for a while. What makers/sellers would you recommend? Looking on this forum I've heard good things about Uprenda/Sohum tablas, but could not access the website site?

I also have some questions about the features of different sets and their effects like:
Twisted vs. braided gajara
Copper vs. brass, etc
Weight
Size (primarily effects the pitch, right?)
Any other major factors I should be aware of?

Thank you in advance

-Thomas
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tsusinno

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Posts: 14
Reply with quote  #2 
Hello I am very happy with a set I bought from Rain City Music. Right out of the packing the first "Na" was wonderful. Great service and reasonable prices.

T
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Tabla11

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Posts: 29
Reply with quote  #3 
Hi, Thomas:
As a beginner, here is what I did and I offer the following for your use.
1.         I used the same methods when I bought my first computer. I asked myself: Do I want all the bells and whistle and pay the top dollars now, or do I buy a computer with the minimum capacity, software and learn computing skills as I go along and then when I am really expert at it I can buy the top of the line computer? By doing this what money would I save and what benefits I would derive in achieving my long term goals?
My long term goal is to be able to play the tabla at the highest skilled level and I can be really proud of learning something that is very difficult to learn even with a teacher, who is really the benchmark for any student. I am learning it on my own and so it will a lot longer to excel at playing.

You may ask what buying a computer has to do with buying a tabla set. Well a great deal. You see, if you are a beginner, and if you learn on a professional set, which cost between $ 500 to $600, and if you damage it, the cost of repairs will run into $ 125 to $ 150 per drum as opposed to a student set which costs from $ 250 to $ 350, regardless of the brands etc. And the repairs will still run from $ 125 to $ 150 per drum. You have saved about $ 200 - $ 250 at the beginning by buying a student set.

Just as a fully loaded computer becomes obsolete in no time, you will find the same will be true about tabla set, whether it is of a professional or a student grade. By the time you become reasonably proficient with tabla bols, Kaidas etc., which will take you between 2 to 3 years of practice, your tabla will be worn out physically and you will still need to re-head or re-strap the tablas (both drums).

Even routine adjustment of straps etc. will cost the same. So you will spend about $ 250 -$ 300 and you will still have the student set, at the time you are really skilled (2/3 years later) and you are really ready and itching to play the tabla with a professional set! The original saving of buying a student set will help you offset the cost of buying a professional set. Also, you will be able to sell your student set between $ 125 to $150. The prices of tablas do not go up drastically and hopefully you will be able to buy that within $ 500 to $600 range (2/3 years from now). So, financially, you will do fine.

By the way, I started on a used set which I bought from a friend, who had this professional set, which still has a life of another 1-2 years before it will need re-heading. Only my Dayan will need re-heading. I got a quote for $100 from a repair shop in CA. I paid $ 150 for the set and it is made by Haribhau Vishwanath Musicals of Mumbai, India.

2.         Brand names are great but can be misleading from quality perspective. It is a crap shoot because the shop keeper adjusts and labels tabla as professional or as a student based on how well the batch he/ she bought sells and how much turn over he/she has. The quality comes from the wood used and the tones/pitch comes from thickness and the quality of the goat skins used in making the pudi and the also the black spots (sihai).

3.         Just as you would not buy a car without a test drive, you would not buy a tabla without checking it out. So, the best place to buy tabla is from either a local shop or from a well-known source on line in the US. I know of 3 or 4 places in the US, which have been recommended by my experienced musician friend. If you do not have a local shop then there two places in the US, who would guarantee you excellent quality and have a customer friendly return policies, in the event you change your mind. Most shops do not have return policies, especially those in India and the mail order outfits, who even take credit cards etc. So, do not use Indian on-line shops, or even Indian shops in NJ etc. They will cheat you and it is really sad.

4.         As a beginner, I would not worry about whether the gajra is twisted or the Bayan is copper etc. because your goal is to learn the basic vocabulary (bols) clearly. However, you should not buy a Dayan less than 5.25 or 5.5 inches in diameter because you want the Dayan to be tuned to at least C# or higher to cover most of the taals and leharas you will use to practice or you want to accompany a vocalist or a singer of bhajans etc. Bigger the diameter , higher is the pitch. Also, make sure that there are two types of dayan. One is a pakwaj type. Buy the one you want. Also, you can get straps or mechanical latches. I do not have experience with the latches.

I hope I have answered some of your questions. Good luck.
Tabla 11
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Tabla11

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Reply with quote  #4 
Where is Rain City Music? Would you please give some information. Thanks.
Tabla 11
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vinay

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Reply with quote  #5 
Thomas / Tabla11

My experience differs in this matter. I would recommend that you buy as good a set as you can afford right from the start. As a beginner its hard enough to create the correct sound even with a good set, and with a bad set its almost possible. Than you end up using extra force and twist and that remain with you for a long time. I had a really bad set in the beginning and to create "Na" I had to use extra force and now that I have a much better set even than my ring finger loses it touch or will slide to syahi because the index one is used to put extra force.
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tsusinno

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Posts: 14
Reply with quote  #6 
Hello again:

http://www.sitar-tabla.com/
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va4leo

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Posts: 114
Reply with quote  #7 
I agree, with vinay. Get a good set now, some really cheap sets produce rubbish sound, and something that is meant to be pleasing, starts to cause displeasure.

Also, I believe it is the Bigger Diameter, the Lower the Pitch that is produced. Get something around 5" - 5.5" to start with.

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pbercker

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Posts: 1,451
Reply with quote  #8 
I would try :

http://www.kalakendar.com/tabla-set-mumbai-regular/

This is one is about $225 .... quite a good price for a student set. The unique thing about Kala Kendar is that they they have a 3 day money back guarantee!

I've just gotten 3 tabla heads (dayan) from them and all 3 were absolutely superb.

You could get an inexpensive set but also get a very high quality dayan head for about $50 and rehead it your self! It's not that hard really ... especially with nylon straps instead. For less than $300 you could have your self a near professional quality tabla set! The Ali Akbar College of Music (AACM) has a nice set of videos on how to rehead a tabla.


Pascal Bercker

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My opinion given without any warranties, expressed or implied, that it's even relevant. It would be folly to rely on my opinion without seeking more professional tabla advice. If you are suffering from a tabla condition, seek immediate attention.
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pbercker

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Posts: 1,451
Reply with quote  #9 
Check out the tabla reheading videos at

http://www.aacm.org/shop/index.php?main_page=page&id=15&chapter=10&zenid=qo3pcpftqltm8e9oni9l6bjtv6

Pascal Bercker

__________________
My opinion given without any warranties, expressed or implied, that it's even relevant. It would be folly to rely on my opinion without seeking more professional tabla advice. If you are suffering from a tabla condition, seek immediate attention.
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pbercker

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Posts: 1,451
Reply with quote  #10 
Another plus in Kala Kendar's favor is that they deal with the famed tabla maker Mukta Das!!

http://www.kalakendar.com/tabla-set-mukta-das-concert-natural/

This one sells for about $550.


Pascal Bercker

__________________
My opinion given without any warranties, expressed or implied, that it's even relevant. It would be folly to rely on my opinion without seeking more professional tabla advice. If you are suffering from a tabla condition, seek immediate attention.
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subhajit_tabla

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Posts: 2
Reply with quote  #11 
hi
this is subhajit brahmachari,
i am a professional tabla player from kolkata, but i have a small set up for sending musical instruments abroad since last 10 years.
i mostly send tabla and other instruments to my students and friends, but recently i joined chandrakantha forum and came to know about your query. i saw many comments, and every one having different opinion. quite confusing, right?
from my more then 25 years of tabla playing and 15 years of teaching experience i can suggest you few things
1)if you are a beginner in tabla, don't go for highly professional tabla set
2)i don't think you need to get 3.5 kg bayan. 2.5 to 3 kg is enough. i use 2.6 kg bayan
3)dayan should be 5 and 3/4 inch to 6 inches, so that you can work on proper place of stroke. 5.5 inch is too small for a grown up man who is just learning tabla. wood should be most preferably "mehagany"
4)for your information- mukta das is not the best tabla maker in kolkata, shyamal das is. you will not find many stores having his tabla because he is not exporting so much. but you ask any big name among tabla players, every one will prefer shyamal, if given choice between these two tabla maker.
5)prefer kolkata tabla more than mumbai or benaras tabla as kolkata tabla is more open sound so, easy to reach required sound for beginners.
6) i will neither suggest to buy from online music shop, (irrespective of Indian or American store), nor the stores in US because first of all they import from india in large scale, so there is no quality check, the tabla spends long time in the transport in very humid condition and you never know how old the tabla is. these conditions are very important especially for tabla. secondly, i agree with comment from 'tabla11', that they can easily cheat with brands bu just changing the tag.

in last 10 years i have sent at least 70-80 sets of tabla to abroad. if you are interested write me in jeet2702@gmail.com or find me in face book with my name Subhajit Brahmachari (Rana). and i will tell you my process of sending tabla in details according to your budget. i can assure you about cheaper price then any other stores and best quality, as i monitor the whole making process of tabla lto be sent.
best regards
subhajit
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Lars

Senior Member
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Posts: 1,452
Reply with quote  #12 
Thanks for the referral TS, very nice of you. I wouldn't normally post but some incorrect statements by our Kolkata friend just can't be ignored. First of all we have sets made to order, we don't do mass import but rather goes right to your door. Tabla is not a big area for us, we keep it because of the connections we've had over 12 years now. I used to order them in large quantities but as mainly a sitar player I don't care for repulling straps so we switched to having them made to order and let whoever wants that service to participate in it.

Mukta Das tablas sound fine, they're just not as long lasting as others and have gotten expensive as it always goes with being 'famed'. Tabla players have a large amount of good choices to pick from, much more than sitar or instruments in general. To blatantly state that Shyamal is the best in Kolkata is pure Bengali storytelling, there are plenty of good makers there and all over India.

Thomas, if you can find one locally that's always the best option. I'd suggest maybe looking for a teacher first and seeing if you click then get some good advice. A nice used set from a known person could be good also. I'd also agree with the post that recommended getting a good set to start, you won't ruin it with the right training. If you can't pick a set up locally then you have to rely on dealers so do your homework. Getting a set direct from India requires more research as you can be disappointed but it's not impossible at all as you'll see from posts in this forum. Do be aware that returning your set to India should they send you something bad is expensive and can be complicated. Also using a credit card will protect you somewhat as you have recourse if you didn't get what you ordered.

Lars

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http://www.raincitymusic.com
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