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mahadev

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Reply with quote  #1 
After a long absence, greetings to all the esteemed forumites !

Some time ago I had my sitar fitted with synthetic bridges by Ajay
Sharma of Rikhi Ram in Delhi. This topic has probably been covered here but a few thoughts from me, if I may.

Are they different from the deer antlers ? Yes, they are. This is a
totally different material after all. It is definitely more elastic and
compresses more and the attack and the sound are different. At first I
did not quite know what to make of it after decades of deer bridges. Now
I am a believer
Seriously, I believe this is a step forward. Quite a big one because it
is a major change at the heart of the instrument .

Mechanically they are far superior. In Ajay's words, the string just sails across
the bridge.Indeed it does. No crackling noise problem,long life, these bridges are smooth operators. The tar saptak suddenly becomes safe territory.
Musically they are slightly different from antler but in a pleasing way. I find I have to hit the string slightly harder because the material does compress more, however my sitar has a strong tabli to cope with No.4 strings. On a sitar with a lighter tabli this may not be an issue at all. I think Ajay has found a very good solution here. Maybe this approach still needs a few tweaks, personally I would have these bridges slightly harder but that is just me. I can certainly recommend them without reservation, the balance is positive. It is synthetic material but who cares ? The world moves on. We put nylon strings on classical guitars because they are better than gut. We should keep an open mind when using new materials for sitars also.

Finally, one more aspect that has me really sold on these bridges. They are absolutely immune to changes in humidity. Have you ever wondered what makes for sudden changes in the sound ? It may well be the bridge. Deer antler will swell up with increasing humidity. Can anyone make the following experiment ?
Take a deer antler bridge without the wooden base, clamp a micrometer to it so it will just grip and and put it in a really damp place for a day. Then check how much more tension there is on the micrometer. Or just measure it before and after at a specific marked point. The difference may be measurable.
I have just spent weeks in very damp monsoon weather and my sitar has never sounded so good in monsoon. I always thought it was the damp wood of the body that made for the dull 'monsoon sound'. Now I am convinced it was the antler bridges.

Conclusion, Ajay Sharma is on the right track. This is the future, I think.

Those who use these bridges, please post something about your experience. Thanks.

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musicslug

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Reply with quote  #2 
I have gone from antler to plastic (delrin) on 4 instruments (2 rudra vinas, 2 surbahars). in each case I played with the antler bridge for about a year in order to really know how the instrument sounds with traditional materials. and in each case I never regretted going 'high tech'.

I don't know what Rikhi Ram is using as far as material goes, but with the plastics, I get more volume, not less, and the meends are super-smooth (delrin is 40% teflon...).

then there's the near-infinite life-span of the jawari (once you get it right, you may never have to re-do it); with rudra-vina, where jawari - esp. on the low string - is very tricky, this aspect of plastic bridges is invaluable.

it's a no-brainer for me.
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rex@sitar.co.za

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Quote:
Originally Posted by "musicslug"
I don't know what Rikhi Ram is using as far as material goes
... Does anyone out there know?
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Lars

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Last ones I saw from Sanjay were urethane I think, very hard. I don't like it, maybe they're using something different now but odds are what one of the shops is using, the other will be also. Maybe it's Delrin now but what I saw definitely wasn't Delrin or Corian. I liked Tony's idea of drilling holes in them.
Hiren Roy uses a type of fiberglass, I personally love the tone and feel, similar density as antler.

Lars
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trippy monkey

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Reply with quote  #5 
Hi M after a long while.
See you in Varanasi next year??? Sold that sitar you borrowed to a Scottish guy who's thrilled to bits with it.

Although I could very well extol the virtues of deer horn all day I have one sitar which I thought I'd try with a 'plastic' bridge on it, for a change. It was that old gorgeous Munda I picked up for practically nothing in Varanasi a few trips ago. A possible Kanai Lal I was told by an expert there. It has a slightly flattened tabli due to age & playing but the sound....!!!
Now it may well be because of its age but the plastic bridge sounds great on it. Very nice & rich resonance.
Recommended, at least in trying.


Lars
Urethane??? Isn't that gynacological??!?!?

Nick
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Sitarfixer

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Reply with quote  #6 
It took a while but I'm glad to hear a growing number of converts are realizing the advantages of synthetic bridges. The life span issue is obvious. Cosmetically, the plusses are unlimited size and shape options with no marrow on the sides or marrow bleed on the top surface. Some of these materials will produce a string cut line in time. Delrin will not. As far as sound quality, each persons ears will hear sound differently. As the music evolves and the instruments evolve to meet the need, this bridge development is all good ! I've got them here and can fit to your needs. Cheers !
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mahadev

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Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "trippy
Hi M after a long while.
See you in Varanasi next year??? Sold that sitar you borrowed to a Scottish guy who's thrilled to bits with it.

Although I could very well extol the virtues of deer horn all day
Nick
Hey Nick,

sure, glad it found a good home.

Extol, dear Nick, extol. Let's hear it for deer horn

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neela sangeeta

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Reply with quote  #8 
I want to be a believer. I ordered a synthetic bridge from Ali Akbar College earlier this year. I do not know specifically what material it was, but it was crap. The sound was decent in the beginning, but deep grooves were worn in within a couple of months of practice. I got the bridge exactly so I would not have to deal with that.

So Tony is saying Delrin is the way. What is Rikki Ram using?

Best,
Neel
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Sitarfixer

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Reply with quote  #9 
Most likely some kind of nylon, like remote control model airplane propellars. Weather proof of course but soft enough to get the groove on. Without doubt, DELRIN is the right stuff. Ask those who have such creatures installed - love the stuff ! ! !
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mahadev

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Reply with quote  #10 
Not sure, whatever it is, it works.

It is early days, a standard will emerge, maybe a few different materials in different grades to suit individual preferences. This will sort itself out eventually and we will buy bridges with fixed specs just like we buy strings.

Hi Tony, yup, this the future.

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povster

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Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "neela
I ordered a synthetic bridge from Ali Akbar College earlier this year. I do not know specifically what material it was, but it was crap. The sound was decent in the beginning, but deep grooves were worn in within a couple of months of practice. I got the bridge exactly so I would not have to deal with that.
Hey Neela! I have seen and handled synthetic bridges that seem more prone to wear than antler or bone. If someone knows how to do jawari they may opt for a sound they prefer that requires regular jawari.

The problem is that simply being "synthetic" carries absolutely no assurance of the bridge being more durable. Just different.

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mahadev

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Reply with quote  #12 
Interesting, mixed reviews here.

I don't know what the others are using but whatever the material is that Ajay Sharma uses it definitely has a longer jowari life, much longer.

You can take Tony's word for it (and mine, if you like) if the material is right this a huge improvement. As I said, a standard will emerge.

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musicslug

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Reply with quote  #13 
I've had a delrin bridge on my vina for about 4 years; 2.5+ hours/day practice.

other than fine-tuning the jawari during the first year or so, and minor jawari when changing string gauges, it's been issue-free. definitely no 'deep grooves' (or any grooves). it was a huge improvement, especially for meends.

my teacher has been fabricating and using synthetic bridges for at least 10 years and hasn't had any problems, but there are lots of synthetic materials out there and some are bound to work better than others.
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