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Shaun

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I saw this somewhat mistreated sitar in a local shop recently and loved the decoration so I'm now in the process of attempting to restore it. It has been given a terrible revarnishing job at some point in its life which looks like it was poured over it straight out of the tin, a large crack in the head running through the 3rd and 4th main tuning peg sockets and the upper tumbi is missing, presumed dead.

Any help in identifying its age, possible maker, or advice in restoring it much appreciated. It must be at least 20-25 years old (bought 20 years ago and clearly second hand then).

It has a warm sound with a sort of reverberation my other sitar lacks.

Langot is bone, bridges i suspect may be horn (look and feel different to camel bone), taraf pegs definately not the originals (main ones probably not either). Carving is looking quite deep and detailed now the varnish is being removed. Reddish wood I would guess must be tun. Detail on celluloid looks very good compared to most I've seen.

Some pictures at various stages of work so far:

Original condition (in shop):

http://picasaweb.google.com/110162431579890099115/SitarRestoration0#

Cleaned up and some bits of flaking varnish peeled off:

http://picasaweb.google.com/110162431579890099115/SitarRestoration1#

Varnish removed from tabli:

http://picasaweb.google.com/110162431579890099115/SitarRestoration2#

I'm beginning to understand the animosity towards poly varnish, its a sod to get off the carvings....

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Sitarfixer

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" Num Num Num " ! ! ! I was again due for another fix of sitar porn. Many thanks ! Gorgeous creature you found ! I've been to the Mondal shop. It's in Rabindra Sarani, an intersection just off B B D Bhaag, where rat park is situated and where all the buses and trams collide. A lot of music instrument shops are located here. Sarat Sardar is one of the biggies. The standout feature of Mondal is that they do excellent copies ( fakes ) of the original Kanai Lal designs. Your baby is one such case. You've got a beauty there. It's uplifting to see all the work you're putting in to get it back to full glory. I would guess it was born in the sixties. The strip along the taraf eyelets seemed to fall out of fashion once Ravi Shankar did Monteray back in 1967. What are you using to clean out the carving ? ? ? I've had limited success using a brass wire rotary brush on a dremel tool. Be extra extra careful. Good to get started with but final clean out will have to be done with riffle files and assorted X-acto knifes. Follow all that with folded sand paper. March on ! I, and many others here salute your efforts and cheer you on!
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chris thill

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Among the accessories for Dremel tool or similar are small nylon wire rotary brushes. Couldn't they be better than the metal wire ones ? Less likely to bite into the wood ?
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OM GUY

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WOW SHAWN!! Nice find and certainly a nice rescue attempt by you...please do keep us posted as to the progress you are making as well as the pix, fore and aft....

Nice work....

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Sitarfixer

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Reply with quote  #5 
Haven't seen the nylon type brushes. Steel is risky. Brass has been ok. Will look for the nylon version. Hobby shops come to mind. I need to get out anyway.
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Lars

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Reply with quote  #6 
Nice old sitar there, it's what they call a 'market sitar' in Kolkata. Whether 30 years old or 6 months it's how they do it in that range but definitely 30 years at least judging by the type of carvings which have a nice depth. Looks like you're doing good with it you could try an alternate finish on the gourd maybe which is what I usually do rather than powder/shellac if color is needed.
May want to take the tabli off and have a look as there's that repaired crack that probably happened when it was made, bracing couldn't hurt and maybe a bass board. You could judge its integrity by pressing, rapping on it with your thumb, etc. make sure no dull sounds. Look forward to seeing how it progresses....

Lars
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trippy monkey

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Reply with quote  #7 
Shaun
This is really a lovely sitar & we'll all look forward to it being finished & maybe getting a sound byte or 2?????
When I completely stripped a sun-faded leftie a few years ago, I got a great feeling of satisfaction after French polishing it. I recall it had a very good tone too.

Nick
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Shaun

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Reply with quote  #8 
Thanks for the encouragement and suggestions people,

A couple of other features I forgot to mention are that it has 19 frets (no sign it ever had 20) and the neck is a little wider than my other sitar at 92mm (3 5/8 inches)

Have uncovered 2 hairline cracks in gourd - what's the best glue to use on this? I've used superglue to repair similar cracks in bansuris in the past with great success but is there something better for sitars?

I've uncovered 3 successive layers of finishes: originally it was french polished, subsequently had a thin layer of well-applied varnish, followed sometime later by a thick coat of orange goo seemingly applied with a spoon (well over 1mm thick in places, no exaggeration!).


Om Guy - Currently trying to get the rest of the varnish off the gourd, will post more pics as soon as thats done.

Sitarfixer - To get the varnish out of the carvings I'm using : a large needle, a scalpel blade, a sharpened matchstich, a stiff nylon brush, folded fine grade finishing paper, a set of needle files.

Any idea how much would one of these copies would be worth? Just curious, no intention of ever selling this one

Chris ~ Is this the dremel brush you mentioned?
http://www.dremeleurope.com/dremelocs-uk/Product.jsp;jsessionid=C6FDD82A306E366F78667D024F8A1C53.s032?&ccat_id=496&prod_id=171

Lars - What sort of alternate finish could I use on the gourd? (I think it may need some colouring, it has a few patches and the cracks will need to be disguised. Tabli sounds ok as far as I can tell.

Nick - Soundbite hopefully forthcoming over the weekend, otherwise it'll have to wait till I've stripped the neck and reassembled it. and thanks for all your invaluable help and advice with this.....

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chris thill

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Reply with quote  #9 
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Is this the dremel brush you mentioned?
Might be. But I'm not sure about the material. Real bristle? That is, pig hairs? A bit soft perhaps. Fine for removing encrusted dust, but for varnish... I don't know. On eBay you can find small nylon brushes, not manufactured by the Dremel brand, but compatible with its tools.
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trippy monkey

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Reply with quote  #10 
DEAR!! Shaun
If you're selling I'LL give you a couple of bob for it!!!

I was just thinking about how to get rid of that crap IN the decoration. Somebody may scream about this but I've used paint stripper & carefully, using a not too sharp blade, removed it being careful not to get any of this bloody skin removing acid on my fingers. You must then let it completely dry out otherwise the tiniest of residue will prevent revarnish.
Just a thought!

Nick
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Sitarfixer

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Hey there, Mr. Monkey ! Paint stripper ! ? ? ! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA ! ! ! Actually, coming out of the closet on this one is fascinating. I did a paint stripper application on a similar job many years ago. It sort of worked but I ended up spending the same amount of time cleaning out the stripper mess as if I'd just hit the original old crap in the first place. However the crap comes off, I'd say to grid the area like an archaeological dig and just do one bit at a time. Looking at the entire field can be overwhelming.

On clearing out the carving I've settled on a round shape X-acto blade on a pencil thick handle and using it as a scraper rather than a slicer. Works well. Takes some time but does the job nicely. Just be careful.

Hey there, Chris ! Tell us about your fur face avatar. Looks adorable.

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trippy monkey

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Reply with quote  #12 
sitarfixer.
I know how you feel. It's a bit specialist. Good advice about a little at a time as the gooey stuff goes hard after a while & so it's better to clean off as soon as poss.
WAX ON!!! WAX OFF!!!!!

Nick
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Greg

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Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Sitarfixer"
On clearing out the carving I've settled on a round shape X-acto blade on a pencil thick handle and using it as a scraper rather than a slicer. Works well. Takes some time but does the job nicely. Just be careful
...I'd try a stiff toothbrush,might be gentler.

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chris thill

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Reply with quote  #14 
Tony :
Important questions, however off-topic, must be answered. The little furry guy here is my very good friend Bibou (that's "beeboo" for you English speakers), 3 1/2 years, very funny, likes to hide in the most unlikely places and take funny poses. He actually likes music, at least vocal; sitar doesn't disturb him, but he hates the guitars and runs away with a disapproving meow whenever I merely touch one...
OK, now time for the crazy cat people to leave the air to our regular program...
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