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TCPerez

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Reply with quote  #1 
I keep hearing about problems with neck warp and string tension on sitar/surbahar... Sooooo, why don't they have truss rods? Is it a weight/balance thing, a sound thing, or is it just following the traditional building method? A metal truss might make the sitar heavy/unweildy, but I've heard of some western instrument companies who use a non-adjustable carbon fiber/fiberglass truss on their acoustic instruments... Could this possibly be applied to sitars? Thanks
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AllenDS

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Reply with quote  #2 
Thank you for mentioning this useful topic. I can't comment intelligently about the traditional mindset of builders, but I can say that my sitar might possibly have room for a truss rod under the tuning pegs but I don't believe that it would function well in that less-than-ideal orientation. I might be wrong but I always thought that an old-style truss rod works best by stiffening the solid mass of wood in which it is buried by compressing it in a controlled way. This type of truss rod would not be able to serve that function on the hollow neck of a sitar, but I imagine that it would be able to provide some amount counteracting back pressure on the neck that could be somewhat useful as long as the neck's construction was stable and symmetrical. All things considered, I suspect that most sitars would likely develop a twisted neck with this type of truss rod.

Your idea of using carbon fiber seems to be more promising to me. Since carbon fiber rods don't apply pressure I would think that they can be placed in a better position such as along both sides of the parda above the tuning pegs. Of course, I creative builder can integrate carbon fiber into the construction so that mere inserts aren't necessary.

It is fun to speculate about such things. Thanks again for bringing it up!

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David Russell Watson

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Reply with quote  #3 
I think rather than inserting a separate truss rod into the neck, it might be better to make a truss mechanism of the neck itself.

The neck already consists of two horizontal layers that could be varied in length in relation to one another to provide the same effect as a truss rod, and actually that's what is in effect done when a bent neck is corrected at the shop: the fingerboard is unglued from the sides-and-back of the neck, which is then straightened, and then the fingerboard is glued back on.

If the fingerboard were left unattached to the sides of the neck by anything other than the tied on frets, and so left free to slide longitudinally slightly, and some sort of screw mechanism were added at one end or the other of the fingerboard to lengthen or shorten it, say either somewhere just below the nut, or else where the fingerboard joins the soundtable, it could be used to adjust neck relief without having to disassemble the sitar, I would think.

The screw mechanism I mentioned may seem like just another form of truss rod, but what I have in mind is something very short, just enough to adjust the length of the fingerboard a centimeter or two, not any sort of rod running the length of the neck. It wouldn't even have to be made of metal, I don't think, though metal would likely be the most practical material for something like that.

David
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fossesitar

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Reply with quote  #4 
Tony Karasek uses carbon fiber reinforcing strips in his most recent and fabulous wooden (acoustic) sitars, and of course the Fosse Electric Sitars and Sur-Bahars have necks that are 100% carbon fiber. Warpage, twisting, movement caused by changes in temperature or humidity are all non-events with carbon fiber.
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nicneufeld

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Reply with quote  #5 
I like the idea of reinforcement rather than a truss rod. The guitar neck is so very different than a sitar neck anyway, in a guitar neck its a solid piece of wood, so the sitar truss rod would have to be designed rather differently. But I have to be honest here...I hate monkeying around with truss rods anyway! If you can acheive stability with reinforcing carbon fiber rods, then I'm cool with no truss rod, personally. One more thing that I would set incorrectly and cause problems...

How prevalent is this problem anyway? I've not heard it talked about THAT much, is it more of an epidemic than I thought? My sitar is shorter in scale and I don't tune up to D anymore, so maybe I have less to fear...
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theprosperone

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Reply with quote  #6 
It doesn't seem to be a huge issue with sitars anyway, at least as huge as it is with guitars. Guitars require more precise and exacting stability with the neck because of intonation and action needed to be playable and to play in tune. These things can be adjusted on a sitar because you can easily move the bridge, change its height, move your frets and so on. If a sitars neck warps very little, you'll probably hardly notice. When a guitar neck warps a little, you'll notice very quickly. Seems to be one of the few things where the sitar is actually a little forgiving, especially when you put the instrument in the hands of someone like Tony who could probably setup a broomstick to sound like a Hiren Roy! My .02.
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TCPerez

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Reply with quote  #7 
Thanks for all the replies! It makes since now that a guitar-style truss rod would be completely counterproductive, but carbon fiber support bars do sound like a nice idea... I guess its scary to me hearing some people say that a sitar's lifespan is shorter than most Western instrument; my violin had its 208th birthday last month and still sings like a songbird!
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OM GUY

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Reply with quote  #8 
Seems to be one of the few things where the sitar is actually a little forgiving, especially when you put the instrument in the hands of someone like Tony who could probably setup a broomstick to sound like a Hiren Roy! My .02.

Now you've gone and done it! He'll probably start flooding the market with broomsticks now!

I'm just looking at my hunk of sitar-cross section, as we speak.

In my opinion...I can't see where you'd be able to fasten a meaningful truss rod to begin with. If you put it underneath the dand top-piece, it would interefere with the symps/tarafs. If it sits on the bottom part of the dand, it would interefere with the taraf pegs.

It would appear to me that even if it could be done, it would be rather substantial and...heavy....you'd need a crane to hold it up while playing and in the end, it would dull the sound anyway.

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nicneufeld

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "TCPerez"
I guess its scary to me hearing some people say that a sitar's lifespan is shorter than most Western instrument; my violin had its 208th birthday last month and still sings like a songbird!
Although it is worth bearing in mind, that your nicest sitars generally tend to peak out in the "few thousand dollars" range. So its a give and take situation. The finest instruments in Western classical music are often obscenely more expensive!!!

But yes, I'm 30 years old, and I'm not sure what I'd rather wish for...that I outlive my sitar, or that my sitar outlives me! Think I'd better wish for the former to be on the safe side!
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chefothefuture

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Reply with quote  #10 
A big issue with a truss rod is that it needs to bear on the top and bottom of the channel which it is laid in.
Since both Pta, and Dhandi are hollowed out and fairly thin, I do not see a way to have an adjustable rod work.

And, here we go again, discussing re-inventing the wheel....
Geared pegs, truss rods, etc.....

I love mine just the way they are; they do not need modern frippery!
Wouldn't make me a better player any way......

Just part of the ALoW in the sitar ... (Acceptable Level of Wrong)
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AllenDS

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Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "chefothefuture"
Just part of the ALoW in the sitar ... (Acceptable Level of Wrong)
For what it's worth, the main reason why I agree with you is that my sitar - cheap as it is - is very well built. It is light as a feather and the little dips in pitch during meends are not a big deal. I suppose if the neck had a problem, I'd be wishing for an improvement. Someone cared enough to do some things right, but I don't know who: no name tag and it was bought by a traveling friend from a modest builder in a small shop away from it all.

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nicneufeld

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "chefothefuture"
And, here we go again, discussing re-inventing the wheel....
Geared pegs, truss rods, etc.....

I love mine just the way they are; they do not need modern frippery!
Wouldn't make me a better player any way......

Just part of the ALoW in the sitar ... (Acceptable Level of Wrong)
I'm all for the "ALoW" myself, and my future instruments will be traditional construction, I'm reasonably certain, but I have two indian instruments...a Rikhi Ram tanpura (thanks Jon!) and a RA studio model sitar. The traditional pegs and fine tuner rig...well, I understand a little more why the serious players can spend up to an hour tuning their instruments. I love the geared tuners on my studio sitar. I suppose if all I'd ever been used to were traditional sitars that'd be one thing, but I really love machine tuners, they are so much easier and quicker to tune for me than the pegs and tuning beads, and terribly easy to finely adjust...they just don't look quite as nice as the kuntis!
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