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Dspeck

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Reply with quote  #1 
I recently got a no name sitar, which is good enough for a start, it can do everything that is needed, has a reasonable sound, resonance, stays in tune for a while, etc. Well, I am not an expert yet, but my teacher said that it is good enough and the price (320 Euros) reasonable.

Generally speaking, I can't afford a better instrument for at least one year and I want to get the best out of this one in the meantime. I am relatively good in fixing stuff, so my hands won't be in the way.

I do know how to change strings, I even had to tie a fret, so this isn't of any concern. But there are two things I need to take care of:

- A couple of the taraf tuning pegs are almost stuck in the neck, it requires a lot of force to turn them, and even more care not to turn them too far and break the string, when they finally move. I learned that chalk gives pegs a better grip, so this is not an option here. How about carefully sanding them where they touch the wood of the neck?

The main gourd has a long crack along the leaves on the top (where the arm rests). Is it enough to fill it up with shellack? I am asking because this is what several people recommend on the internet. The crack doesn't open, very thin and perhaps not even reaching into the inside. The gourd sounds good when knocked, even near the crack, there is no "crackish" sound when playing (I know that sound from other instruments). Of course, eventually, I will give the sitar to a professional repairman, especially, if the crack starts to grow or get wider.

And one thing I want to take care of:

The wood and celluloid is a bit dull, I would like to refresh it soon (before replacing the stone-age tarafs with new ones). Can I safely assume that wood and gourds are varnished with shellack? What Is a good agent to clean and shine it then? And how about the celluloid decoration?
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cwroyds

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Reply with quote  #2 
Chalk may actually make the taraf pegs a little easier to turn.
The chalk does make it hold better, but also can provide a smoother surface for turning the peg than bare wood.
If you do have to sand the pegs be sure to do it very lightly and evenly so the peg does not get flat sides.

As for cleaning the sitar, first use a damp cloth to wipe off the dust and dirt.
Then get some Carnauba wax.
Use the tip of your finger to melt the surface of the wax.
It leaves a little wax on your fingers.
Apply the wax in a very thin coat over the tabli and other wood. (Avoid the celluloid).
You only need a little bit. Do not put on the wax in a very thick coat.
Then wait a few minutes while the wax gets a more milky appearance.
Then wipe wax off with a clean soft rag.
Then use a VERY soft rag or a leather Chamois to polish to a nice shine.

Also remember that nice old sitars with a good patina and a little wear are usually more attractive than a super shiny sitar with a mirror finish.
But that is just a personal preference.
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Dspeck

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Reply with quote  #3 
Today the taraf wire arrived and I realised that a thourough maintenance would take ages. I have polished the tabli for a while, then the neck a little between the frets. Now I am replacing the tarafs. I found some sort of rims around each peg, I wonder if that is from polishing the neck with something, but without removing the pegs first. I sanded these rims and the pegs too, now it seems to be much better. I think that eventually I have to get some new pegs, the ones on my sitar are all a tiny little bit bent, looks like the wood hasn't settled long enough before it was cut into pegs.

Frankly speaking, I wouldn't mind finding a sitar with tuning devices similar to sitars. Probably something, stylists will cough at, but I want to play my sitar, not look at it Well, I am getting along, but I don't see a musical reason for the tuning pegs as they are.

PS: I have the impression, that the tarafs are responding much better now, that I moved from very thin to 0.22 (about 0.09). "very thin" was probably even below 0.2.
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Dspeck

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Reply with quote  #4 
I found out that there are a few more things to do. Some of the small rings that lead the tarafs out of the neck, I think, they are called taraf mogara, are in a bad shape but I think this can be fixed by rotating them a little. However, two are lose and deep inside the wood, the taraf is almlost touching the neck. Is there an easy way to fix that or should I rather ask a lutemaker? It seems that there is nobody in Hamburg/Germany who can fix sitars, but I think a lutemaker should be able to do this.

I probably want new bridges sometimes soon. What should I pay attention to when buying them? Another thread here deals with a lot of details and different types, but what I really need to know are the very basics, especially, what measurements I need to take. And I can probably not expect to get one by mail-order that fits in just like that, right? Jawari needs to be done on the instrument? Living pretty much in a Sitar-desert, what could I do? Travelling to India or even UK is not an option at the moment.
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Sitarfixer

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Reply with quote  #5 
Greetings, Dspeck.

There are almost all the parts you need on eBay. Just punch up "sitar" under "musical instruments". Unless you have a very expensive concert grade sitar, these should do ok for your needs.

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Dspeck

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Posts: 115
Reply with quote  #6 
I decided to bring my sitar to a lutemaker who will fix the crack in the gourd and stabilise the two taraf mogaras a bit higher, so the tarafs can vibrate more freely.

Now a totally different question: I have seen that many sitars have tiny holes in the tabli, usually in the ornament plates around the bridges. Are they for a bit of air exchange, sound reasons or even another purpose? My sitar doesn't have these holes and I wonder if it should.

I will try to clarify my question(s) about jawari and bridges:

Are there different sizes of bridges?

I found http://www.buckinghammusic.com/sitar/sittut/jaw.html which is a nice introduction into doing jawari. It ends with wise words: "A Western Sitarist must not forget that performing the Djovari procedure is a relatively well-paid profession in India. If he is not successful at once he would be advised to develop some Eastern virtues, namely patience, a spirit of surrender and the feeling that time is not a limited quantity but an infinite quality: The perfect Djovari is virtually a never-ending business." Now the question is, could I expect anything good from a pre-jawaried bridge since I have no expert around who could do it on my sitar? Or will I have to go through all the trouble by myself right away and hope that my old bridge will last a little bit longer - until I am happy with my work on the new one?
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