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povster

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Reply with quote  #1 
So I am going to get a Surbahar. I took to it like a duck takes to Exxon. Actually I took to it pretty well. It made a profound impact on me. BUT I am going back to look at the two I am interested in tomorrow so if I can get somer guidance twixt tonight and tomorrow late AM (California time) would be wonderful. Shgould have posted this a week ago.

I am looking at a new Hemen that was built last year. A hint on the small side, which fits my frame perfectly. However, there are two issues:

1) Upon pulling a mir on the main string, you can hear the 2nd (sa) string going flat. A jawari was done on it that seemed to correct it a bit. I asked to have the bridge checked to be sure it was locked down and also to check the tailpiece to insure it was tight. Both were.

2) In the middle register there is a loudness or "boominess". So it is unbalanced because of that. Again, a jawari seemed to reduce it slightly.

On the positive side, the tarafs are wonderfully responsive, the pancham and kharaj growl like a Bengal Tiger, and the overall tone is very sweet. One fear is that as the instrument breaks in even more the middle register will increase further.

The other I am looking at is a Hiren. Also about a year old and never played. It is considerably quieter than the Hemen and the tarafs are not very responsive. Also, at least the way it is strung, the kharaj is quite flabby (that may just be needing a different gauge string) and the Panhcam lacks depth. It is a titch larger and feels heavier than the Hemen. So am in a quandary deciding here. I have to wonder if the Hiren will eventually open up with playing, or if, as the Hemen opens up the upper and lower registers will start catching up to the middle registers for more balance.

Any thoughts, experiences or guidance would be most helpful.

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trippy monkey

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Reply with quote  #2 
Excellent decision Povvy me old pal.

You must know I bought one in Varanasi last last year & have never looked back.
There shouldn't be a dip in pitch, hardly noticeably anyway, but hopefully it IS only the bridge etc & not a weak instrument. Surprised me as to how a jawari would alter this anyway. :?
Mine has a little 'boom' around its middle register too but one could 'play' around it. Luckily it sounds good even for a new surbee.
I have a sound byte on my email that I could send you if I get your email too. 8)
There are a few pics of me in my living room with it on

http://www.trippymonkey.myphotoalbum.com

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David Fahrner

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Reply with quote  #3 
A more general purchase question: I would expect that most any surbahar by Hiren Roy or Hemen would be a pretty good instrument, but are there any more affordable surbahars made? Those you see offered on the web are mostly from Bhargava and Radha Krishna Sharma, and their sitars don't have a very good reputation, although maybe with proper setup these instruments can be usable. Manoj Kumar Sardar or Mangla Prasad Sharma surbahars? The overall world market for surbahars must be tiny...

df

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AbdulLatif

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Reply with quote  #4 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "David
A more general purchase question: I would expect that most any surbahar by Hiren Roy or Hemen would be a pretty good instrument, but are there any more affordable surbahars made? Those you see offered on the web are mostly from Bhargava and Radha Krishna Sharma, and their sitars don't have a very good reputation, although maybe with proper setup these instruments can be usable. Manoj Kumar Sardar or Mangla Prasad Sharma surbahars? The overall world market for surbahars must be tiny...

df
Unfortunatly brand is not a seal of quality nowdays. Some of the MKS,MPS stuff is IMO comparable to the offerings of the big boiz current output. I have a KL clone Surb, that is an absolutly beautiful looking and sounding copy of vintage KL surbahars. I bought it @ 15? years ago and it is better than far more expensive instruments on the market today, I'm hoping to post pics on trippy monkeys webpages soon..
The good thing for ICM is that the interest in surbahar veena and dhrupad forms seems to be in a mini revival. Hopefully with the increase in interest the quality and availability of these instruments will increase. I have seen some very nice looking instruments offered by Bharat at Sitars etc over the last year. TonyK also can produce a superior instrument of original design or based on his extensive data base of museum quality instruments.
PS: I would stay far away from a drop shipped Surbahar especially RKS or Bharghava, although the hideous carving and disporportionate design does make them "rare".

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Stephen

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Reply with quote  #5 
Do NOT buy either of the instruments that you are suggesting. All you do when you accept a lessor quality instrument is give the makers of the instrument a reason to put them on the market. This is a big problem that has arisen since the advent of the internet. Many westerners have accepted less than grand quality when they begin their quest (I am amoung these folks as my first "concert grade" sitar - A Mangla Prasade Sharma - has a twist in the neck...is playable, but not by me). Many of the folks that build "big name" sitars now are hawking stuff that doesn't live up to the tradition. There attidude is often "if it isn't that great of an instrument, send it to the westerners". It is no wonder that some Indians feel we will never be able to play as well as they do, as many of us are gooing and gaaing over pretty instruments that sound crappy. It is us westerners that are responsible for the dip in quality of these instruments. As always (even though I think the guys in the west that are in the business of bringing us the best instruments they can get there hands on), I still maintain that the best way to buy one of these instruments is to go there and hand pick your instrument. Some on this forum suggest that it is difficult to travel and bring one of these instruments back with you...it is not difficult. The money you will save will cover airfare and a month in India to search around. I'd leave the international terminal in Delhi and grab a domestic flight to Mumbai, jump a train to Pune and go see Tony. There are a handful of lessor know builders that are on par with Rikhi Ram, Hemen, Hiren and the rest of the well known makers. There are also known decorators of firewood. I can suggest a few to visit, but write a personal email to me for those suggestions, as I would get blasted on here by the folks that continue to pay for a Ferrari, when a Volvo would be a safer, more durable purchase.
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AbdulLatif

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Reply with quote  #6 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Stephen"
Do NOT buy either of the instruments that you are suggesting. All you do when you accept a lessor quality instrument is give the makers of the instrument a reason to put them on the market. This is a big problem that has arisen since the advent of the internet. Many westerners have accepted less than grand quality when they begin their quest (I am amoung these folks as my first "concert grade" sitar - A Mangla Prasade Sharma - has a twist in the neck...is playable, but not by me). Many of the folks that build "big name" sitars now are hawking stuff that doesn't live up to the tradition. There attidude is often "if it isn't that great of an instrument, send it to the westerners". It is no wonder that some Indians feel we will never be able to play as well as they do, as many of us are gooing and gaaing over pretty instruments that sound crappy. It is us westerners that are responsible for the dip in quality of these instruments. As always (even though I think the guys in the west that are in the business of bringing us the best instruments they can get there hands on), I still maintain that the best way to buy one of these instruments is to go there and hand pick your instrument. Some on this forum suggest that it is difficult to travel and bring one of these instruments back with you...it is not difficult. The money you will save will cover airfare and a month in India to search around. I'd leave the international terminal in Delhi and grab a domestic flight to Mumbai, jump a train to Pune and go see Tony. There are a handful of lessor know builders that are on par with Rikhi Ram, Hemen, Hiren and the rest of the well known makers. There are also known decorators of firewood. I can suggest a few to visit, but write a personal email to me for those suggestions, as I would get blasted on here by the folks that continue to pay for a Ferrari, when a Volvo would be a safer, more durable purchase.
What he said**
*see#2

"There attidude is often "if it isn't that great of an instrument, send it to the westerners". It is no wonder that some Indians feel we will never be able to play as well as they do, as many of us are gooing and gaaing over pretty instruments that sound crappy. It is us westerners that are responsible for the dip in quality of these instruments."

OUCH Tell us how ya really feel I have to agree although I will add that the fondness for sitarosaurs has been sold to the Western buyer along with a lot of other crapola about gurus and the supposed spirtual superiority of the Ustads and the culture, thats another rant all together but its part of the same package and as Stephen said we bear responsability.
The most salient point is DO NOT settle, I hesitated to post this in case a retailor from the forum would lose a sale but hey, don't sell garbage and it won't get rated for what it is. Its a big expense unless your a Trustafarian and you will be looking for another instrument almost immedietly if you are less than in love with what you get. Take your time and let it be known what you want with a clear return policy or the ability to play the instrument.
S has a good point about going to India although not all folks have the leisure to take an extended vacation(?? :roll: ) to select and wait for an instrument. I bought my second sitar by the search and destroy method and had wanted to visit India anyway so its not a bad idea.
I would suggest without reservation having Tony, build a surbahar for you. I say this aside from my partisanship, because I aquired 2 instruments this way in the last year and had an absolutely clean and satisfying experience having T handle my sitar purchase, I prefer not to speak of the other one, so T is the man as far as I'm concerned. SitarMac also had the Geet sitar built through RR and its a beautiful instrument but he would have to speak to his experience.
**Any thing I said that is not in line with what he said should be disregarded.
*#2 I wear kevlar 8)

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povster

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Reply with quote  #7 
Well thanks to you both (Stephen and What's His Name? )

I got the Hemen. Some work was done on the jawari that made noticeable differences to the problems described. I played the Hiren and the Hemen, but the Hemen was really calling me. After bringing it home I got some food at a restaraunt (and a couple of glasses of wine) to think things over. I pictured what would have happened had I bought the Hiren. Well, I'll tell you. The Hemen would still be calling to me. But with the Hemen the Hiren is just a passing memory.

I arranged to bring it back, after playing it for a while, for some more jawori work and fine tuning. But, as I say, it is definitely sounding better after the jawori. Thing is, it is well over a year old and never really been played.

Stephen, I appreciate what you are saying but we can't assume every instrument sent to the USA is substandard. I traded my Hiren sitar in on it and that Hiren, after I did some jawori and played on it, was very very sweet with the smoothest action I have ever experienced. Actually, though, the money saved going to India is not going to save anywhere near as much as you think. Absolutely no way is it even going to cover just airfare.

Bottom line? I like it a lot. It feels good. It has a very dynamic personality (I think of it as Rasputin vs the Hiren being a Royal Chamber Attendant). And as time goes by I feel, with just the changes I noticed, it is really going to develop.

Abdul - this instrument is by no means "garbage". Jeeze describe a couple of problems and the freaking music world is bordering on the apocalypse!

What I was looking for was some technical information regarding the two issues I noted. Not politics. Still haven't got anything technical except what dear Tripster offered (most apprcaited, TM!!!).No matter: it is my beast now. I just feel bad it had to be used for politics instead of sharing some real information about fixes etc. I must go now and poish the tears off its frets.

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AbdulLatif

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Reply with quote  #8 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "povster"
Well thanks to you both (Stephen and What's His Name? )

Abdul - this instrument is by no means "garbage". Jeeze describe a couple of problems and the freaking music world is bordering on the apocalypse!

No matter: it is my beast now. I just feel bad it had to be used for politics instead of sharing some real information about fixes etc. I must go now and poish the tears off its frets.
Ah Mon Frer! I did not mean to imply every shipped instrument is garbage. And most of all did not mean to sound high handed or critical of your descision. My point lost in my immoderate diatribe was that a brand name is not an assurance of quality. I have pics from a website of a $2,500. Hiran Roy with so many visable quality flaws that to offer it as a concert model sitar by a respected maker was an insult to consumers. My surbahar was a great disappointment until it had settled in and had the jawari adjusted to my taste.
So in retrospect and a rereading of your post you did limit your query to the flaws in the 2 instruments and I am very sorry to have been less than attentive (although I hear fresh tears are a deeply guarded secret to making meends intone perfectly). My apologies Povster. Although the bodering on apocalypse thing is probably truer than we think :wink:
I retire back to my bridge, tomorrow another long day of demanding billy goats

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Surbaharplayer

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Reply with quote  #9 
A year and a half ago I decided to buy an extra surbahar for travelling. I was able to buy a new Murari Mohan Adhikari surbahar (the builder from the Kanai Lal-shop). He built the instrument at his house and was picked up by the brother of my sitarteacher. It's certainly NOT as good as my other instruments: the neck was about half an inch thicker, had a crack and the instrument sounded like crap and the balance was horrible. Big dissapointment. My sitar teacher also ordered one: no crack, but all the same shitty features. My dad, who knows woodwork, fixed the instrument (took off about 7 mm wood off the neck), fixed the crack and refinished the instrument. It's still not my favorite. Bahauddin Dagar played it and told me it could "grow" in about 3 or 4 years, but still had many comments (the frets are "rail-type frets, but very thin and sharp; when doing ghaseet you can almost cut your fingers). Since then I bought another K.L. surb; an old one, sounds suberb and plays amazingly well. I think every builder builds clunckers, but I got the idea the nice instruments are sold in India straight away to people who can check them out; the lesser instruments....well.....they're shipped to the west....Could be wrong. I also feel the prices of surbahars in comparison with sitars are way too high. Sure ... it's a novalty instrument, but there too much of a price gap. I think it's also treated by builders as a novalty thing....just a bigger sitar. And that's NOT the case: it's a different thing.

Povster: I've never played anything exept K.L. surbahars (which have these rail-frets), but Tony told me these frets make a massive difference soundwise, particular in the bass-register. Don't know if you can order a set of these through Tony..... I've also been experimenting a lot with different string-gauges, also makes a lot of difference (see other topic on surbahars...)

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povster

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Reply with quote  #10 
Ah Mon Frer! I did not mean to imply every shipped instrument is garbage. And most of all did not mean to sound high handed or critical of your descision.

Mon Dieu, crazed one. Hmmm...I see some cracking amoung the crazing as well. We should not take not the heaviness of the internet message board to our Hartz. Folks kibble over things like this all the time. I certainly have no bone to pick with you, nor do I think of you as a heel. Indeed, your posts are often quite fetching.

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AbdulLatif

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Reply with quote  #11 
nor do I think of you as a heel. Indeed, your posts are often quite fetching.

Damn, I was hoping to work up to heel at least :wink: Fetching?!! does my butt look big in these?

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SitarMac

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Reply with quote  #12 
i just wanted to pipe in here for a short comment. I have a Hemen Surbahar that was made by Hemen-Da that was given to me by my teacher. It is actually a Kanai Lal copy.....railed frets and all. I'm actually happy that Mike has picked this baby up, for I think it is one of the best Subes out there!! I played Mike's new toy a while back and was just amazed at it. The reason that i am writing is because i actually wanted to point out that in the last year, i have witnessed 4 Hemen non-sarod instruments that were of up-most sound quality and workmanship. I dare say that my Hemen even beat out the Kanai-Lal monster that I had sometime back (Which is now for sale at the AACM I might add).......Hemen seems to be the last of the great makers.....Is it possible that he is actually on of the best Sitar makers of all time and is overlooked because of his Sarod making prowess? Any opinion and response on my observation welcome....
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