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desh

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Reply with quote  #1 
The recently posted pictures of Black Shahid Parvez sitars got me wondering - what type of paint would one use to paint a sitar black? I have an old sitar lying around I'm thinking of painting. Any idea what type of paint sitar builders use for USPK style sitars.
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fossesitar

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Reply with quote  #2 
Here is the story on paint, varnish, any kind of finish on a musical instrument:

in relation to sound quality, as far as paint or finish goes, LESS IS MORE.

If you paint your sitar with amy kind of paint on top of the present finish (and manage to avoid bubbling or similar mismatch) you can expect an instant and very noticable degradation in sound quality, like throwing a blanket over the speakers on your stereo. Anyone considering reffinishing a sitar or adding to the current finish is well advised to:

1. Reconsider ! Ask yourself if you can live with a noticably deader sound, and possibly much uglier ametuer finish with drips etc.

2. If you still want to proceed then remove ALL of the old finish down to the bare wood before refinishing and use as little as possible. Minwax Satin Wipe-on Poly is an excellent choice on bare wood as it is almost impossible to screw up. Wipe one coat on, let dry at least 3 hours, steel wool with FINE, and wipe on a final (2nd) coat. Leave as is or ultra fine steel wool after. Be syre all dust and steel wool is removed completely before finishing. If you must have a black sitar then staining with minwax black stain before the above procedure is the way to accomplish that.

3. Once you realize the time and skill required to remove all of the old finish without damaging the decor and carving I hope and believe you will decise to leave well enough alone. If you want a black sitar the easiest, quickest, and cheapest way to accomplish that is to but one. GF
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fossesitar

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Reply with quote  #3 
typo, that was "buy one"
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nicneufeld

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Reply with quote  #4 
I'd lean towards Das Fossmeister's opinion, with more concern particularly about purely acoustic instruments (I wouldn't be as concerned with solidbody electric instruments for example). Nothing inherently sound-damping about the color black of course, but if you aren't stripping the old finish and putting on a new stain and finish, then you are just putting another hardened layer of paint/finish on top of the old one which seems likely to affect the sound, probably not in a great way, although the extent of its effect may be subjective. I've learned that my ear for tone quality is not what some folks possess (ie., people who have a genuine ability to hear all the gaps and lossy flaws in high grade 320kbps MP3 files). Anyway, it sounds like quite a task to strip off the existing finish of a finished instrument. You're going to have to dismantle a large portion of it to get to just the wood (remove decorations, frets, fittings, etc) and then I'm not sure what would be best to remove the finish. Obviously don't take your belt sander to the gourd!! Anyway, Greg's point about maybe just buying one made that way...well, that might be how I'd go, but I am not a fan of instrument refinishing...nor very good at it as I have painfully discovered in times past.

Personally though I love the look of natural wood, the idea of obscuring that beautiful rich brown wood grain with glossy black paint would not be my preference, but that's the fun of the aesthetic side of musical instruments, to each their own! Good luck.
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Lars

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Reply with quote  #5 
Sitar makers traditionally use a pigment mixed with shellac. You can go that route but there's a learning curve, took me years to get it down actually. Use pure grain alcohol so you don't screw up your health with the denatured fumes. Base coat, not too heavy let dry a week. The 5 more coats, each with less pigment. The poly stuff will work too and be easier but if you screw up it's a mess and also because a gourd expands and contracts poly can crack over time as we see with a lot of the miraj instruments.

Lars
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fossesitar

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Reply with quote  #6 
Yeah, there is probably nothing more demanding than finishing, you could learn to build an entire sitar and then spend an equal or greater amount of time learning to do a beautiful and functional (ie great sound) finish. Even then you might come up short. Finishing is tough.

I do not agree about more fudge-factor for the paint on an electric instrument, my experiance: if an electric instrument does not sound good acoustically, it will not sound any good when plugged in !! When I am looking to buy an electric (guitar) I always play it acoustic and if it does not grab me I do not even plug it in. I have learned not to waste my time on electrics that sound dead acoustically.

Although many of us are under the mistaken impression that all of the sound on an electric comes from the pickups and amp, NOT SO !! It is an entiire system and the acoustic sound may be the most critical part. If you sound good acoustic you can use any PU and any amp and still sound great. If you do NOT sound good acoustic NO amp or PU can redeem you.

I just added wood to the carbon fiber Fosse sitar and the difference in sound is remarkable as Tony K and my customer in the Big Apple can attest. And carbon is a VERY resonant material. Extremely !! But there is something magical about wood and musical instruments and this is easily and clearly discernable even (maybe especially) on a carbon fiber ELECTRIC instrument. My 2c GF
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polishcomedy

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Reply with quote  #7 
I thought this thread was about the Rolling Stones song, which features sitar. :mrgreen:
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nicneufeld

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Reply with quote  #8 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "polishcomedy"
I thought this thread was about the Rolling Stones song, which features sitar. :mrgreen:
Me too, I imagine it wasn't an accidental reference...S R g m g R S, S 'N S R SRS'N...shades of Piloo perhaps?
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