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coyootie

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Posts: 490
Reply with quote  #1 
greets y'all. I need some details re:
string gauges and types ( anybody using wound strings for lower notes? where to obtain these?)
range of string lengths on main Ma from some different instruments- length from nut to upper edge of bridge( closest to neck)
mizrab styles/types- thicher wire, how many used, prefer to wear like sitar or turned sideways like rudra veena?
any advice mucho gratefully received.
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Surbaharplayer

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Reply with quote  #2 
Even more than sitar, there are no "standard" strings. For the first 2 years I played with a wound Kharaj-string (1,20 mm); the cool thing was it stayed in tune and you could play up to the 7th fret...drawback: you could only meend about 2 whole notes...

In march I got lessons from Bahauddin Dagar and he advised me to switch to a plain 1.00 bronze: felt VERY floppy, impossible to play any note higher than Re because you'd bend the string out of tune before your fingers touch the fret, but wow...you could meend from Re to Ni.
A couple of weeks back I bought a (backup) surbahar and it had a weird copper/brass (??) string on it...I haven't been able to measure it but it's thinner than my 1.00 mm bronze, but feels stiffer (a nice compromise) I can still meend up a lot of notes and doesn't feel too floppy. If you're into dhrupad (listen to Z.M. Dagar meend on the kharajstring) you'll need these sort of strings. For the other strings: I went through a lot of experimentation to figure out the right gauges: I use 0,37 mm for the main string. Bahauddin advised me to even go heavier (I used to play 0,35), but i'm afraid of my hands... (I had RSI for several years). The things is: when you play dhrupad you'll need a full, long sustaining sound and thicker strings will give you that. (I'm sure there are players who'll diagree, but that's my Ustad's preference). I tune in G#, though Bahauddin advised me to tune to A; His father had a student called Pushparaj Khosti and he experimented a lot with strings and tunings and feels it's best to tune to A. I keep it at G# so I can play along with Rudra Veena CD's.

Mizrabs: personal...I use the bigger ones (one has metal windings around the lower bit, around the finger)...another has the double clamp... I play with only one mizrab, although there are players that play with multiple mizrabs (stemming from Rudra Veena-tradition). When I asked Bahauddin asked about this he shrugged his shoulders and told me: " one or twenty...who cares?..." I have seen him play my surbahar with and without mizrabs.... Both ways he sounds like Bahauddin...

There is also the difference per instrument. The modern surbahars (Hiren Roys and Rikhi Rams ) I feel are more geared towards khyal (at leasty I was told this several times); I prefer Kanai Lals because of their sound and handling. KL's have the flat, knifelike frets, are made of teak etc etc.

Don't really get the "wearing" part of your question. I sit in sitarposture, not the traditional Rudra Veena posture.

It's really up to the style you play...and the guru or ustad who's teaching you.

Remco
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Stephen

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Posts: 39
Reply with quote  #3 
I agree with Remco on just about all of his statements.
This is what I use on my instrument though, to add to that:
1. - .035mm
2. - .050mm
3. - .060mm
4. - .070mm - 075mm
5. - .035mm
6. - .028mm
7. - .028mm
8. - .028mm
9.>19. - .030mm (first two taraf can be slightly thicker gauge though)

measurement from jawari to meru:
about 38 inches - 96.5mm

Personally, I am not a fan of using a wound string for the 4th. Like Remco says...harder to meend and just feels out of place.
I only use one mizrab, although I've run across several that use two. I've found that one is sufficiant for playing at the "very calm" speed of Dhrupad. I do not, however, go for the larger size, but instead, choose a mizrab that fits (painfully) tight and extends from the tip of my index about 1/4"/6.5mm to the tip of the mizrab. I feel that a larger mizrab doesn't allow me to get in there and attack the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th strings as well, and you really need to get in there and isolate these strings to fully encompass the Dhrupad range. Although I don't play as high up the fretboard on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th strings as Remco perhaps does. I play a lot in Todi thaat, so rarely need to go up beyond the 3rd fret on any of these strings.
Did you just get your hands on a surbahar?
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element-82

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Posts: 317
Reply with quote  #4 
Hey remco & stephen,
that must have been a difficult move from the thin sitar Ma string to that thick one on the surbahar.

Pb
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Surbaharplayer"
Even more than sitar, there are no "standard" strings. For the first 2 years I played with a wound Kharaj-string (1,20 mm); the cool thing was it stayed in tune and you could play up to the 7th fret...drawback: you could only meend about 2 whole notes...

In march I got lessons from Bahauddin Dagar and he advised me to switch to a plain 1.00 bronze: felt VERY floppy, impossible to play any note higher than Re because you'd bend the string out of tune before your fingers touch the fret, but wow...you could meend from Re to Ni.
A couple of weeks back I bought a (backup) surbahar and it had a weird copper/brass (??) string on it...I haven't been able to measure it but it's thinner than my 1.00 mm bronze, but feels stiffer (a nice compromise) I can still meend up a lot of notes and doesn't feel too floppy. If you're into dhrupad (listen to Z.M. Dagar meend on the kharajstring) you'll need these sort of strings. For the other strings: I went through a lot of experimentation to figure out the right gauges: I use 0,37 mm for the main string. Bahauddin advised me to even go heavier (I used to play 0,35), but i'm afraid of my hands... (I had RSI for several years). The things is: when you play dhrupad you'll need a full, long sustaining sound and thicker strings will give you that. (I'm sure there are players who'll diagree, but that's my Ustad's preference). I tune in G#, though Bahauddin advised me to tune to A; His father had a student called Pushparaj Khosti and he experimented a lot with strings and tunings and feels it's best to tune to A. I keep it at G# so I can play along with Rudra Veena CD's.

Mizrabs: personal...I use the bigger ones (one has metal windings around the lower bit, around the finger)...another has the double clamp... I play with only one mizrab, although there are players that play with multiple mizrabs (stemming from Rudra Veena-tradition). When I asked Bahauddin asked about this he shrugged his shoulders and told me: " one or twenty...who cares?..." I have seen him play my surbahar with and without mizrabs.... Both ways he sounds like Bahauddin...

There is also the difference per instrument. The modern surbahars (Hiren Roys and Rikhi Rams ) I feel are more geared towards khyal (at leasty I was told this several times); I prefer Kanai Lals because of their sound and handling. KL's have the flat, knifelike frets, are made of teak etc etc.

Don't really get the "wearing" part of your question. I sit in sitarposture, not the traditional Rudra Veena posture.

It's really up to the style you play...and the guru or ustad who's teaching you.

Remco

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Surbahar Dude (formerly Sitar Dude)
http://sitarplayer.net
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AbdulLatif

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Posts: 449
Reply with quote  #5 
Hey a very wizened old Baba of my aquaintence suggests using wound strings at 3 and 4 on the rudra veena. From the comments here regarding the Surbahar anyone care to comment on the same pros and cons on a veen? Surbaharman what does Ustad Bahauddin use? On the rudra vina site the recommendation is to use a 1.5mm+ low Sa. Thats not a string thats a transatlantic cable!!!
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coyootie

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Posts: 490
Reply with quote  #6 
for kind sharing of no doubt hard won data! this should get it started. the wonderfully sorta 'buckety' tone of the surbahar is quite a surprise after the more chirpy qualities up high in the sitar.surprisingly even tho I am a shorter, but meaner, sort of person, I find the holding asana fairly approachable after playing sitar for 30+ years.
this will definitely get me going on the never ending quest for just-the-right-string gauges. Indian instruments being as extremely idiosyncratic as they are, it is well nigh impossible to declare"this is THE stringing"but a general range of thickness can be deduced-then it's just trial and error until you get the tone and feel you like.
Peering under the main bridge into the soundhole for the tarafs, the tabli looks very substantial, like 3/8" thick., under the main bridge. The surbahar I have has the thinned down tabli scalloped area for the tarafs. interesting.
getting down with the wire coils, pliers, and wire caliper tomorrow.will report back after fresh strings, polished,repositioned and retied frets.
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Surbaharplayer

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Posts: 425
Reply with quote  #7 
The transition from sitar to surbahar was very easy for me: I'm 6 foot 6 and the sitar was just too small for: after playing it for half an hour I would get cramp everywhere.
With the new stringsetup I also don't go high up the neck anymore. My previous teacher Pt. Ashok Pathak would let me practise all the notes of the neck of the first 2 strings and the notes up to the 7th fret on the other strings.
I can't really comment on the stringgauges Bablu uses. He told me that his father experimented a lot; he told me there were coils of unused string everywhere, but from watching the instrument Bablu had with him he used very thick (all solid,not wound) strings indeed, heavier than on surbahar. The Rudraveena-site Ab mentions is run by an student of Z.M. Dagar so I'm sure he's right.....I was surprised btw about the sound of the instrument, one that has not really been captured on CD. I felt there was almost an extra layer of bottom-end, very nice sounding.
Also what I forgot to mention is that there is a big difference between surbahars in string lenght individually: 2 of my Kanai Lal's don't fit in a "standard" surbahar case you can buy India. I had Paul from Green Union sitars extend the flightcase.
The strings Stephen recommends are a good startingpoint. I personally would go a tad heavier on the Kharaj, so when ordering strings be sure to order some different big ones....the others are similair to my gauges...

Remco
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trippy monkey

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Posts: 4,281
Reply with quote  #8 
When I was in Chennai earlier this year I thought I'd check out the round wound 4TH VEENA string to try on my newbie surbahar when I went back to Varanasi. I bought a pair & also the same gauge for the veena's 3rd string too.

PERFECT!!!!! but a little too short for my super long monster back in the UK.
Great sound & lovely to meend, keeping its pitch too.
Tunes about sitar PA
When I go again, I'll buy a box full.

Nick
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