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Jeevie

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Reply with quote  #1 
I have only been learning sitar for past 6 months. When I first started I went out and bought a sitar. Where I live, 40% of the population is Indian so there are several stores that sell sitars. Problem is that they aren't name brand, and bought in bulk so there are like 200 sitars sitting in their back room packed in boxes. I wound up with a terrible, junkie sitar that was single toomba because I didn't know how to buy a sitar at the time.

Well, yesterday the store owner was nice enough to let me trade it in and just pay the different to upgrade it. I wound up getting a double toomba as the single toomba models were junkie. It is bigger than my other sitar but much much nicer (i.e. it can actually be tuned properly and no buzzing sound and great vibrations through the strings. I wasn't sure at first if I wanted the double toomba sitar because the 2nd toomba doesn't make much difference.

So, practicing today I find that I like the double toomba better because the frets are farther apart and its easier for me to play but I kind of have to retrain my brain where the notes are. Plus its heavier.

I know that the 2nd toomba doesn't make a different but what do people prefer? Single toomba or double toomba sitars and why?

Also, do you feel that a no name versus a name brand sitar make a difference?

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yussef ali k

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Reply with quote  #2 
Hi. Allow me 3 points:
1) Branding = B.S.: How the thing's made (=nature) and how's set up (= nurture) is what matters. How you treat it is also important.
2) I didn't get your paragraph #3.
3) There are already some posts related to tumba#2: read carefully.
Have fun.
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nicneufeld

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Reply with quote  #3 
I would venture that what you are seeing is more correlation than causation. The place where you purchased your sitar may have just had lower quality single toomba sitars. And there are plenty of low quality sitars out there with one or two tumbas. The styles of sitar break down usually along the lines of 1 vs 2 toomba between kharaj pancham (Ravi Shankar style, with upper tumba) and gandhar pancham (Vilayat Khan style, without upper tumba). Kharaj pancham sitars have the full 7 main strings (3 drone, 4 playing) and are generally more ornately decorated. Gandhar pancham sitars have 2 playing strings and 4 drone strings, and generally have a slightly simpler decoration. (These are generalities, it can definitely vary) There is no innate quality difference between the two styles, I've heard some very, very sweet sounding GP sitars!

I think the more important question in selecting a sitar is not the existence of the extra tumba (the effect of which is arguable on here, but generally felt to be not terribly dramatic) but which style and stringing of sitar you want to pursue...the Vilayat Khan, etawah gharana style which generally uses the tuning of the gandhar pancham sitars, or the older Ravi Shankar style tuning that is used by, well, the aforementioned, and Nikhil Banerjee, and others.

You did mention scale length, which of course can be a factor, but to my knowledge scale is fairly even between KP and GP sitars. It could be if your first sitar was significantly shorter scale, it was a cheap tourist model.

Apologies if I'm repeating stuff you already know! Rereading your message, I may just be restating the obvious.
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povster

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Reply with quote  #4 
Hello Jeevie. Welcome.

You made mention that your 2nd sitar was larger and that the fret placement was wider. Sitars, whether kharaj pancham or ghandar pancham, should have similar size. String length, neck width etc. is pretty much a standard. It is possible you initially got something along the lines of a 3/4 sitar, which is certainly smaller and may account for the apparent fret position.

Since you have only been 6 or so months into it, you will quickly adapt to the new fret positions.

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trippy monkey

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Reply with quote  #5 
Firstly, welcome to the forum!
A wooden toombi is practically useless. Is yours wood?
Sounds as if your first sitar was a smaller student type re the comments about fret distance etc.

Most sitars, not all, are made near Kolkatta, India & 'Big Names' put their tags on them after they work on them a bit to get them to their 'standard' so you may well pay a hell of a lot more for, say, a Rikhi Ram, which may be no better than a good No-name in Varanasi.

Your sitar doesn't need to have a second toomba on it & many don't that are made in this style.

Nick
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nicneufeld

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Reply with quote  #6 
On a related note, if one of you lads gets a chance, could somebody with a normal sitar take a measurement, say, from the inside (neck end) of the bridge to the nut for a scale length? I've one of these lovely "studio" models and I'm wondering how much shorter scale it actually is.
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Sitarfixer

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Reply with quote  #7 
Hi, 'Nic'. My 'Golden Boy" sitar string length - inboard nut to leading edge bridge - = 33 1/2". These vary by 1/2" or so.
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nicneufeld

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Reply with quote  #8 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Sitarfixer"
Hi, 'Nic'. My 'Golden Boy" sitar string length - inboard nut to leading edge bridge - = 33 1/2". These vary by 1/2" or so.
Thanks Dr. K. Will check mine tonight. And to allay fears, yes indeed my name is Nic, so the quotation fingers are no longer required!

33 1/2? Isn't that about what Ricky basses are? No wonder I felt so comfortable on the sitar!
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povster

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Reply with quote  #9 
Hey "'"nic"'"! My Hiren travel sitar was 1/2" shorter string length than full size Hiren.
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yussef ali k

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Reply with quote  #10 
Hi.
Actual baj-string lengths from inside targahan to inside jawari 'ridge' on 3 Miraj-sitars:

a) 903 mm;
b) 912 mm;
c) 895 mm.

Thanks for asking - It'd be nice to compile a data list if enough people care to reply.
Have fun.
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nicneufeld

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Reply with quote  #11 
32.5 inches for my studio sitar, from inside of nut face to the edge of the bridge. Explains why it tunes to D so easily!
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fossesitar

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Reply with quote  #12 
I have always measured string length from the horizontal slot at the BACK of the main bridge (immediately in front of the "comb", ir slotted ridge that position the strings at the very back of the main bridge), to the leading edge of the nut, or "targahan".

Measured in this way, GP (VK) style sitars are right in the range around 34-1/4" scale length. Any less would be "short(er) scale.

Kharaj (ravi/NB style) sitars are centered around 35-1/2" when measured the same way. Longer scale more easily accomodates kharaj strings thereby reducing slapping or other unnwanted effects.

There is a concept known as "ideal string mength" based on the breaking point of a string under maximum tension. Interestingly, any gauge of string (if they are all of the same length) will break at approximately the same pitch if tensioned until breakage is reached.

Ideal string length is deemed (and this was first worked out in the WEST by the harpsichord builders) as the length giving somewhere between 65% ti 85% of braking tension, when the string is tuned to the pitch intended. For middle C, this turns out to be somewhere around two feet (24 inches). If you measure from the back of the bridge to your SA fret, bingo. The harpsichord builders found that "ideal string length" gave the best combination of brilliance and tone, with durability. Apparently so did the Indians.

Obviously, deep bass strings are impractical or impossible to be of ideal string length, The addition of windings (or the use of brass strings, which have about 1/3rd lower pitch before breaking) is just a means to add mass to the "shorter than optimal" string, improving tone.
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