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Posts: 746
Reply with quote  #1 
Greeting Forumites
When I recieved my gorgeous new sitar The Rose (with singing birds) from TonyK about a year ago, I was just thrilled. It is a magnificent instrument with a beautiful lyrical sound that gets better every day, and is a great piece of custom eye candy to boot. (see old string in archives for complete story or Tony' custom page:
During Tony's stay with us here in Indiana (might as well call us a Chicago burb )while working in my workshop on my teachers & his students myriad sitars & final touches on The Rose, Tony & I had many discussions on everything sitar. As well as food - trains - pop culture - politics east & west - The Forum on & on & on late into the night. During one of these sessions I made the off hand comment that now that I had The Rose, as well as the old badgeless beauty my guru brought me from Ahmedebad, I ventured that I wanted to find a really nice vintage axe to add to my collection - not a closet queen but a real player. This went over big with my wife ops: (yeah right).
Well after much discussion (especially with my wife - she's a saint) I have procurred one of Tony's museum goodies. He told me last December after selling many of the items to Andy's Music in Chicago (great place for vintage goods from many sources BTW) That he still had the mid 60's Rikhi Ram he pictured at the museum.
Tony was able to get Grandpa sent to me on his recent quickie trip to the US - Thanks again Tony - and it arrived last Monday - OH what a treat it is.
It had been detuned for shipping & long term storage when Tony sent his home & collection to the US, & was still in the trans Pacific packing. Upon unpacking I gave it a quick tune of the tops & started stroking away - WHAT A SOUND IT HAS - VERRRRY mature & rich - Eternal sustain - sent a real thrill up my spine.
Tony had already done a marvelous job restoring this auction find to a wonderful playable instrument. I thought lets look at the finish.
The first order of business was to give it a good cleaning - Grandpa has a pretty checkered finish that will be dealt with someday - it is very stable now so who cares.
I will perform a reamalgamation of the origional finish followed by a light application of a compatible french polish top coat - I have performed this process on shellac, laquer, & blended finishes of antique furniture pieces in the past with great results - I do not like refinishing old wood only preserving. May be years down the road but I'll update when I do attack this baby - for now I just wanna play the strings off it.
After a thorough scrubbing of all nooks & crannies a little color match touchup & getting most of the old glue from years of sandpaper application :evil: I let Grandpa sit & rest.
After checking for product compatability I then gave him a going over with Bri Wax Reviver for French polish (BriWax makes great waxing & preservation products in UK for antique furniture - Liberon is also good) - Followed by LIGHTLY applying wax to the tabli & tumba with 0000 steal wool & then buffing off with a microfiber towel - GREAT RESULTS - I applied to the carved areas with a china bristle brush & buffed out with qtips & more microfiber. Back of neck only needed light clean & polish application.
While the finish is still checkered it laid it right down - filled in a LOT - & stabilized for future restoration. When I can borrow daughters digital camera (us ol' folks still in the 35 mm stone age ) I will post a few pics of the recent results.
My Guru Patric Marks & I then strung it up Gandhar-Pancham & it really sang - He enthusiastically approved of ol' Grandpa - not only because it's a great axe BUT he has it's twin brother in his arsenal. His sitar could have been made side by side with this one right down to the "beer bottle" etching & 2nd gen gold & white label. I know Patrics sitar intimately because it has been one of his main concert sitars, and I have mic'd that one up hundereds of times. That was another reason I jumped at the opportunity to aquire this from Tony' stash. (when I asked Patric last year if I should do this he smiled & politely told me I would be an Idiot to pass this up :roll: )
As Tony says with it's slightly under 3 1/2 inch neck & low profile frets it has a very fast action. It's neck is very stiff & apparently there is no de-tuning when pulling meend. It will need Tony' loving strokes next trip on jawari to give it a dryer sound & proper string spacing - but for now I'm havin a ball with it.
We are also making plans for a new tail piece - (origional has lost 1 tooth to ravages of time & use). Will replace with something appropriate when needed.
Well dat be it for now Forumites. I must Thank Sitarfixer AGAIN for another marvelous gift - Tony you ARE de man - Thanks ol' Sock!
Ol' Grandpa Rikhi Ram (for dis ol' Hippie Gandpa) is a treasure that will sit (& be played) with pride in my modest collection for many years to come.

Your Pal
Hamletsghost 8)



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Posts: 1,937
Reply with quote  #2 
Oh! Yaahhhhhh ! I just knew that RR would be a hit. Glad to hear it's now finally gonna get some hours into its log book. That neck is just too narrow for my oversized paws, and yet I love the neck on Ric 4001-V63. ? ? ? Sounds like your refinshing work is coming along nicely. Get going on those pics. Wanna see !

Do you honestly think her eminence hasn't figured out there are more sitars coming down the pike ! ? ! Ride the clock for now. I'll get you set up as soon as I can. Date uncertain.

Morab, waiting for a Westerly wind blowing to the Carolinas !


Posts: 31
Reply with quote  #3 
Absolutely gorgeous sitars. It's work like that that makes me just want to give up everything and beg TK for an apprenticeship.

(I'm kinda serious, too).

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Posts: 1,937
Reply with quote  #4 
Oh, My ! ! ! If I had spent my entire life under an apprentice program myself, I would take up that most generous assessment. Sorry there. I'm just not that qualified. I spent a long long time sitting in most of the sitar shops in India on far too many trips watching and learning. It's amazing just how much can be learned that way. The followup is to try out what you've seen yourself. Adapt the techniques to suit your hands and body mechanics. Try out diffrerent tools and materials. Hell, stick your neck out and try something really stupid. You never know. Anyway, that's how I learned. Still gots loads more to learn but life is too short.

What I CAN Do is this - if you ever get to the N. Carolina area next year, come on over. I'll be glad to show you some of the stuff I do. That floral carving is reeeeely simple to do once the pattern is set up. Once you see and do a bit yourself, you'll be airborn.

Those sitars are lovely, aren't they. Brian is happy in the tent !


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