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FDP Forum / FDP Unplugged - Acoustic Instruments / Anybody got a Sitar?

3waytie4last
Contributing Member
*****

( ^_^)/U

12/4/93
Sep 4th, 2011 07:48 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Or know anything about them?

I'm completely ignorant, but I've always been interested in playing and possibly buying one.

NickGreg

Limassol Cyprus

Sep 4th, 2011 11:41 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I used to own one back in the early 70s.It was a great instrument, had a lot strings I remember and I had problems with tuning, but It had a sound of its own and very inspiring...

barry.b
Contributing Member
*

australia

Sep 5th, 2011 01:20 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

what do you want to know?

I have one. I'm a bass player, interested in anything with strings (almost - banjo's excepted).

There's two layers of "drone" strings:
- the 11 or so under the frets that resonate sympathetically.
- the 5 or so that you hit to make ring.

It only has one melody string (the one in the middle of the fretboard or furthest away from you). You can play the deeper string next to it but generally only the last couple of frets so you can go down from the melody string.

Tuning is interesting: rough tuning with the large friction tuning pegs then fine tuning moving a little bead at the end of each string.

I don't normally use the special finger pick, but I should to get the authentic effect.

Quality is usually measured in the number of (pumpkin) gourds used. Mine is a student model so only has the big bowl body but my friend (who I bought this off) has an additional gourd up near the headstock. It increases the volume and changes the tone.

anything else you need to know?

Florida Mike
Contributing Member
********

United States

I can only Sing my Heart
Sep 5th, 2011 09:59 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

barry - be great to see some octures of your sitar in your profile...kind of rare around here!

3waytie4last
Contributing Member
*****

( ^_^)/U

12/4/93
Sep 5th, 2011 12:35 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"what do you want to know?"

Everything!

As I said, I'm completely ignorant of the instrument, never even seen one in person. Like you, I'm interested in anything with strings, but...I would love to be able to play banjo. I can't finger pick worth a darn -- never put enough time into trying. I just bought a ukulele, so that will help.

Does it stay in tune or are you always fiddling with it, and can you tell if a single string is out of tune or not?

What is the fretboard layout like relative to a guitar? Does being a guitar player help or is it like learning a totally unique instrument?

Have you played many to find a difference between a "good" or "bad" quality sitar?

Thanks, cheers.

barry.b
Contributing Member
*

australia

Sep 5th, 2011 08:27 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"I would love to be able to play banjo. I can't finger pick worth a darn"

Steve Howe (Yes, Asia) cheats and uses a Bacon and Day 6-string banjo (he also used a Fender Bass VI for bass lines).

"Does it stay in tune or are you always fiddling with it, and can you tell if a single string is out of tune or not?"

I also own an Oud and a Lute so I know all about spending more time tuning than playing - they play like medieval instruments!

The drone strings on top are mostly tuned D and G and are easy to hear they are out and need adjusting (just move the little bead for micro-tuning). The 11 sympathetic strings under the frets I tune in semitones but are a real pain. They are close together and don't have micro-tuning, but unless you reach under the frets/drone strings and flick them with your fingernail (to get that zither-like "Zingnnnnn" sound effect) they don't get played so once they bed in they usually stay.

"What is the fretboard layout like relative to a guitar?"

all over the place, on first glance. Indians don't follow the same musical scale as us: they drop notes, add micro-notes (in-betweens). These are very organic instruments: machine heads, locking nuts and whammy bars are out of place here.

"Does being a guitar player help or is it like learning a totally unique instrument?"

The only thing that (playing guitar) will help is having an ear for relative pitch, noodling out a melody and experiance playing with strings. Remember, there is only one melody string (with the second for slightly lower notes). Bending - a huge feature with Indian music - is done by pulling the string away/down: that's why the melody string is in the middle of the neck. You can also vary the pressure because there's nothing under the frets so you can get some nice vibrato.

"Have you played many to find a difference between a "good" or "bad" quality sitar?"

no. My friend who I bought this off can tell the difference but for me the only thing I notice between his new one and old one (now mine) is quality of manufacturing with inlays and woodworking joins.

Final thing: they are very quiet instruments. Easily drowned out by an acoustic guitar.

of course, you can always travel down this road...

3waytie4last
Contributing Member
*****

( ^_^)/U

12/4/93
Sep 5th, 2011 08:42 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

lol on the hoser guitar. ;^)

Thanks for the info, that is truly insightful and helpful.

I really need to find me one to try out in person. I am fascinated by instruments like this.

garp
Contributing Member
********

Connecticut USA

Stompin' on the avenue by Radio City
Apr 20th, 2012 07:04 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Within the last 24 hours, I heard B.J. Thomas’s “Hooked on a Feeling” and The Box Tops’ “Cry Like a Baby” on the radio. It is indeed a fascinating instrument, but I can also see why its occurrences in pop music are few and far between.

shunka

Willoughby, OH , USA

I'm arrogant and a moron
Apr 20th, 2012 11:00 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Prety sure that on most recordings, other than the Beatles and Stones, what you're hearing is the Dano electric Sitar.

FDP Forum / FDP Unplugged - Acoustic Instruments / Anybody got a Sitar?




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