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Harry D Collier IV

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I looked up Jeff Lewis and sent him an email.  I also found him on youtube playing a Rudra Veena and HOLY WOW what a sound.  I have a feeling that it is even rarer and thus more expensive than a surbahar but the sound of that thing (the way Jeff plays it at any rate) is AMAZING!

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Harry D Collier IV

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So I have looked at a lot of information on the web and it seems that unlike the surbahar even with a cheap (bad) rudraveena you can replace the bridge and the tumbas and it will be good. Maybe even the frets if really needed.
Anyone have thoughts on this?
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Tomek Regulski

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These kinds of questions may warrant the creation of a new thread, with a subject line about the veena, to help grab the attention of the specialists in this forum. 

However, from my experience playing sitar for 12 years, and reading about the veena on this forum, I can say the following with a degree of confidence:

  • Bridges on these instruments are not a light matter. You can not simply buy a "better" bridge, but it will have to be created to the specific dimensions of your instrument, and then the actual surface will need to be carefully filed, again, so that the curvature is optimal for that instrument's particular setup. While the first step may be able to be communicated via email to a supplier, the second step takes the work of an experienced craftsperson working directly on the instrument.
  • If you're replacing the toombas and possibly even frets, then at this point you are replacing a large portion of the original instrument. If these pieces are bad, then I can't imagine the main tube is much good either. It's a bit beyond my expertise, but intuition says this is likely the case. 
  • Of course, as mentioned somewhere above - if the pegs are not fitted well, the instrument will never deliver. Rudra veena has far fewer strings/pegs than the sitar and surbahar, but you still want those to be very well made. I have worked on many "budget" sitars and have seen my share of choppy pegs. After a few months, the student is always thinking about when they can get a new instrument.
  • If you go forward with all these processes of replacement, you are most likely in contact with builders, at least through a middle man, paying for new parts and shipping that is not cheap, and most likely getting close to the cost of an entry-level veena built by a reputable builder, which I would guess is in the $1500-2000 USD range. Even if you're still saving some money, you should ask yourself what it's all worth. 
  • From a pure point of aesthetics, an instrument like this, that is hand-made... replaced parts never match perfectly, which is sad. Also there is always a risk that something won't fit right the first time around, etc. I just feel that I've seen enough of these kinds of stories where it is just not likely to produce what you hope for.
  • This art form is a highly personal and deep practice. You should have an instrument that feels whole, has been built with care, and has no question marks around it.
I hope this is useful. You sound genuinely moved by your listening experiences with, as well as initial attempts to imitate, this music. I think it would be a shame if you went through the trouble of seeking an instrument, only to find that it will not deliver what you want to achieve. These days, it is more accessible than ever to receive quality guidance in this music, and I think it is only going to get better with technology, so rather than finding a quick fix, I think research and saving for the right buy will provide you something that brings immense value to your life. If rudra veena is a true point of interest, there should be a few individuals on this forum who can help guide your decision. 

Regarding the specific instrument you posted - while I know Bina makes harmoniums that are of a certain level of quality, I have never heard this to be the case with sitars and other stringed instruments. I would not recommend considering a veena from them. 

Again, I hope this is helpful.

Best,
Tomek

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Harry D Collier IV

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Reply with quote  #4 
Yes, I have gotten off topic.  Sorry about that.  And you are right that quality is the main thing.  Buying something solely because it is cheap does not make sense.
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Harry D Collier IV

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Reply with quote  #5 

I have seen at least one article here about the cost of the parts for a Rudra Veena.  In the same place one of the people responded that retailers mark them up to astronomical levels.
This post was from 2011 and I understand that costs change with time so here in 2018 what should a Rudra Veena cost?
I am not looking for antique instruments but a new or used Rudra Veena.  This may be a vague question but - How much is too much?
I want something good for a beginner that could be replaced later when I am sure the investment will be worth it.

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Tomek Regulski

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Reply with quote  #6 
No worries! The stage you're in is a great time to listen to many recordings (different artists and instruments), ask questions, and do a bunch of reading to see what it is that truly calls you about this music. Then you can make the right decision for you and your budget (we all have one). There is a huge payoff for it all, so enjoy the process [smile] 
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