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michael_lifshitz

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Posts: 11
Reply with quote  #1 
Hello all. I apologize in advance for how redundant this type of thread must be for you all.

I am a guitar player, though not a very good one. I have been playing for about 5 years on and off, more on in the past 6 months or so, and have started to record a little bit of music just for fun for myself. I plan on getting a nice mic to record and such in the near future.

Either way, I have been listening to a lot of Shankar lately, who I discovered through the Beatles (how typical haha), and really enjoy it. I was thinking that I would love to play the sitar, especially considering my friend has a set of tabla drums and it would be much fun to play together. I also would want to experiment with the sitar in my recordings, though I am aware it can be a challenge to make it fit with western music.

I know nothing about indian music composition and ragas and such, and am wondering if there is anywhere I can learn? Would becoming an active member of this community teach me slowly? Where would I begin? I wouldn't know at all how to start.

Next, and most importantly, is where to get a sitar, and which to buy. Firstly, I really don't need this to sound amazing, as I doubt I will even be able to tell the difference. I would much rather spend less money. I only have about 350 to spend, so I might have to end up going with something from ebay. I listened to the sound recordings and they didn't sound bad at all to me. I am sure I can just barely tell the difference. Is it really that important to get a really high quality instrument? And are those on ebay that bad? This the one I was looking at:

http://cgi.ebay.com/NEW-LIGHT-WOOD-SITAR-W-FREE-SHIPPING-INDIA-BEATLES_W0QQitemZ7394730946QQcategoryZ623QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

Now, if I were to buy from that vendor, I have the choice between single or double toomba. I am not sure how much of a tonal difference this makes? But I was thinking it might be nice to have a single toomba for transportation reasons and such, and just the double toomba looks fragile, and I might be bringing this sitar around with me a lot. Does it affect the sound siginificantly?

Let me know all these answers and I will be ever so grateful. Hopefully I will be playing the sitar soon.

Thanks in advance.
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Anonymous

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Posts: 987
Reply with quote  #2 
Dear Michael,

The type of sitar you are wanting to buy is sold by a company called Mid-East and they sell to other re-sellers. Mid-East imports them in mass quantity and buys at auction in India. They then ship by container load by sea and then have these available for many re-sellers (ebay and not ebay). For the amount of money you are willing to spend that is probably the only type of sitar you can get. Every once in a while on ebay someone who doesn't know what they have on their hands, sell a very high quality instrument for next to nothing.

I wish you luck

Bharat
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sitarman

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Posts: 599
Reply with quote  #3 
Michael, you ask legitimate questions, and most of them have been answered in recent posts. search the recent pages here. As far as buying a $350 sitar, that equates to about a $100 retail guitar. You should know how mediocre that is! It is a difficult instrument for a westerner to learn anyway, and a poor one will be really difficult. Ebay might be the route to getting a better one at that low price but again if you are not knowledgeable about sitars you still are taking a big chance. Better to learn as much as can about ICM through books, videos, listening, until you can buy one that will play well, stay in tune, and sound good enough to make it fun. The dealers here will steer you right but for $350 you are asking for a miracle.
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michael_lifshitz

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Posts: 11
Reply with quote  #4 
Thank you both.

I would like to better understand what would be so mediocore about, for example, the sitar I posted in my original post.

The sound, to me, sounds just fine. Is that the only issue? Are there issues of it staying in tune? Simply feeling bad? What is the real issue for me?

Also, how cheap or expensive would something at all decent be?
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sitarman

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Posts: 599
Reply with quote  #5 
Michael, I will let the dealers answer pricing questions. I really suggest you follow one of their links. The soundbite in the link doesn't sound, to me anyway, like the cheap sitar they show. It is probably a generic recordibng of a good player playing a good sitar. So ignore that! A $350 new sitar, in my experience. I have taught a few beginners with something like that and they were almost untunable, needed major tweaking, bridge movement, etc. plus they were so "buzzy" that it sounded more like a bee than a sitar. Just my opinion.
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michael_lifshitz

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Posts: 11
Reply with quote  #6 
Allright, thank you once again. I guess I need to hold up and save some money first before buying anything. I would like to find out how much a decent sitar would cost though, to know what kind of money I have to work towards. I guess it would also be really good to find a teacher in town. I'm not sure how to look. I can try the phone book. I live in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Thanks again for everything. Who can I ask about pricing?
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michael_lifshitz

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Posts: 11
Reply with quote  #7 
How about this student sitar on sitarsetc.com? I hear they are reliable.

http://www.sitarsetc.com/sitarpages/student_sitars.htm

The one about half way down: Varanasi Market Student Sitar

"These sitars are bought at market to provide an affordable student sitar. $325.00
Black Munda Sitar available - Traditional tuning - Seven main strings, 13 sympathetic strings, open jawari, Simple Gayaki style decoration.- Pictures up soon.

Sitar only, no case. Accessories include 1 extra set of strings and 1 set of Varanasi Mizrafi (Picks)"

That seems like a good deal to me if it is a good quality instrument. I suppose it isn't? Can anyone help me out.

Also, is it possible to learn without a teacher? I suppose it would be best to find one in my area, I will look.
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AbdulLatif

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Posts: 449
Reply with quote  #8 
Hi Michael,
I think you would do well to consider one of Sitarsetc's entry level sitars even better to up the ante a little to get a basic shristi half decor type. I believe AACM carries some lower priced models also. The main and most important advantage to using one of these vendors is that the sitar you recieve will have been road tested and will offer some type of warranty or trade policy. A Rosul or RKS Ebay sitar will most likely never have been set up, may be defective and will ruin what would otherwise be an educational and rewarding experience. I've seen many would be sitarist show up with swapmeet or discount house instruments that were unsuited to learn on and turned an eager student away from the art altogether. Sitars are deceptively complex instruments and require a craftsmans touch to bring out the best possible sound. A cheap (quality) sitar will disappoint you sooner than later and while it may initially have the twang and buzz we hear so often on pop records it will never be able to achieve the complex harmonic overtones and richness a good quality sitar will produce. So I'm chiming in with what everyone else is saying, buy cheap and buy twice.
ps: A disclaimer, some RKS sitars usually vintage ones can be very respectable instruments my comments regard the current loads of firewood being shipped around the world. I also tend toward our friend Mahadevs aphorism "Tune it and love it" he believes that any sitar barring a total disaster can be set up and play well, thats true in most cases but spending 400 bucks to tweak a 300 dollar sitar is a long way around better to spend a little more upfront with a reputable seller with a street address. Good luck and enjoy....."On a good day I'm lying half the time"

__________________
"Words are said to have a delusive nature (Mahamaya Matrika) because the word itself, although it may contain a reference to an object is often surrounded by clusters or Kulas of lesser Shaktis...."
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Anonymous

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Posts: 987
Reply with quote  #9 
Don't buy firewood unless you actually have a fireplace to burn it in.
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