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Sitarfixer

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Reply with quote  #1 
Greetings! To all you serious, semi serious and hard practicing players out there, I need to know how your thumb sits on the side of the neck. Do you guys (gender non specific) lock that thumb onto the side of the neck as though it were glued down ? Does the thumb cruise around the neck a bit ? Does it wander up onto the fret ties ? Is the thumb parallel to the strings or does it settle at a slight angle ? Is the thumb placed right on the bone thumb strip or does it find itself going for the back of the neck ? Does your teacher/s have a hard fast rule regarding this ? In my upcoming sitar designs, I'm fitting a feature to incorporate this aspect of playing. It would be very useful to know how you all work that thumb position.
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trippy monkey

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Reply with quote  #2 
Great post as this can have a massive impact on playing style, quality, speed etc.

I have to say mine moves around a little bit but generally sits parallel with the neck.
A right angle would be too much for me.

Nick
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AllenDS

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Reply with quote  #3 
Right or wrong, my thumb angle is almost parallel to the strings like Nick says. I can add that (on a good day) my thumb tip rotates in the same spot with a rotation range between 10-75 degrees from parallel. And just like when I play guitar, my string striking position will move away from the bridge if I want a mellower tone, so that is what makes the angle of rotation closer to that 75 degrees maximum.

For what it’s worth, I would compare my thumb length to be shorter than average, and my fingers are somewhat longer than average. Sometimes I feel the chikari strings are a little high for me to pluck comfortably so tonight 'll experiment with a temporary pad to raise up my thumb and I'll let you know if (IMHO) the height factor is worth messing with for players like me.

-Allen

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Agape

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Reply with quote  #4 
Yes much of the time the thumb angle will be parallel to the strings. But for Alaap, because most of the striking will be a DA stroke, I pivot and change the angle - it would become smaller (towards the top tuning pegs). If done correctly, this will give the player the longest amount of "time" (surface area sliding across the string) that the mizrab will have contact with the string. In other words, kind of sliding form the base of the mizrab to the tip - coaxing out a very lyrical sound if you will out of the sitar. For Jhala this is true also - although the angle will be bigger or smaller depending on the speed at which I am playing, whether my Jhala is going to have a run of note in between I shift again. Then there are VERY fast Tans and runs, this is where I differ in opinion with many players - I (not always, depending on the sound I am going for) will shift my fingers back towards the base a bit. One has to be careful when doing this as not to lose the tonal quality. For practice though, it is good to have it parallel most of the time. Then experiment or have someone show you some different angles and playing styles.
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Mulamoodan

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Reply with quote  #5 
As for me, the thumb stays at 45 degrees from the big toomba. When playing chicari, thumb turns to 90 degrees, to hit the chicari string at an angle. Thumb is pivoted at the same place on the neck at the area where there is no celluloid, between the celluloid and lower fret.
My teacher just showed me how she does it, and did not dictate any position.
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povster

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Reply with quote  #6 
My thumb is pretty flat and at about a 45 degree angle to the neck. The angle never varies be it alap, jor, jhalla etc. My hand will rotate towards/away from my body depending on the action, but the angle remains constant and the thumb position remains constant - just past where the the upper tivra ma fret would be. I have the bone where I rest my thumb covered in chamois for some friction. Works nicely.
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element-82

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Reply with quote  #7 
My thumb sticks to the highest fret edge. Isn't that the thumb rest fret I have a nice callous there. I don't think I could play any other way. I think it is a big hand thing.

Pb

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Agape

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Reply with quote  #8 
I agree. Mine too. Although for tone sometimes I change.
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barend

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Reply with quote  #9 
I played with my thumb resting on the side of the highest fret,
But since last year I moved it a little more to the right (about 1,5 cm away from the last fret) resulting in a bit better sound. I think most players place there thumb in that position.

I had to get used to this because now I can not use the fret as a thumb rest anymore
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AllenDS

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Reply with quote  #10 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "barend"
...I had to get used to this because now I can not use the fret as a thumb rest anymore
I had not thought of this before, but maybe a simple bump/stopper in the right place would suite some players. :?:

-Allen

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barend

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Reply with quote  #11 
I think that is what Tony is refering to.
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povster

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "barend"
I think that is what Tony is refering to.
I think Tony is going for some kind of well or depression, as he put it in another thread, something like the depression in a computer keyboard key.

But I really like the idea of a bumper or stop. hmmmmmmm

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Agape

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Reply with quote  #13 
Agreed. I actually have an extra fret for this very purpose. And for bowing the sitar. I know, get a Dilruba or Esraj. But it sounds great when using a Schertler and a #4 guage string (and bass rosin ; )
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