Review: Mohammad Waseem teak NB sitar

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katyrow
Posts: 163
Joined: Sun Feb 21, 2010 4:46 am

Review: Mohammad Waseem teak NB sitar

Postby katyrow » Sun Sep 04, 2016 11:37 pm

The design of this sitar is unusual. It has a very wide dandi (3.75" at the meru), allowing for extended meend. This is a large, heavy instrument. The standard peg layout combined with a carved headstock is, I believe, unique to Waseem. Vital statistics, impressions, and photos below.

Maker: Mohammad Waseem (Wasim Salim Maner)
Location: Miraj
Era/year: 2014
Structure wood: Teak
Style: Nikhil Banerjee
Kunti style: New style floral
Kunti wood: Ebony
Tarab kunti style: Standard with inlay
Tarab kunti wood: Ebony
Tarab number: 13
Tarab responsiveness: Average -- Instrument not broken in
Scale length (jawari notch to meru notch): 36.5”
Meru carving: Peacock
Width at meru: 3.75”
Jawari material: Deer horn -- Inlay on legs
Jawari sound/shape: Gol on baaj and jor transitioning to open on kharaj (tweaked after receipt)
Carving: Full -- floral on tabli -- Peacock carving on gulu
Headstock: Full -- scroll Inspired by Kanailal & Brother
Decoration/penwork: Full -- Peacock inlays on tabli, inlay on dandi near meru
Strike plate: Penwork/Vintage Miraj -- Identical to Tony’s 1950s Haji Abdul Karim
Overall length: 52.5”
Tabli width: 15”
Tabli arch (visual): High
Tabli thickness (subjective): Thick
Tumba number: Double
Main tumba size: Large
Upper tumba type/size: Flat/31”
Weight: 9 pounds Very heavy, but balanced
Sustain: Long
Intonation: Acceptable
Setup required after delivery: Moderate -- Bridge placement & anchoring, jawari, peg slippage/chalking, replace threaded cylinder in upper tumba because it did not match the nut in the yoke and yoke is affixed permanently
Repair required as received: Broken kunti -- Temporary repair, later replaced
Cost: Very reasonable given level of craftsmanship
Buying experience: Significant delay in receipt, upper tumba shipped later, fitting in case requires removal of two kunti due to unique design, but good communication and honest seller
Sound (subjective): Dark, focused sound with good sustain, will likely sing with break-in but not there yet
Attachments
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IMG_2937.JPG (147.21 KiB) Viewed 408 times
Last edited by katyrow on Sun Oct 23, 2016 2:52 am, edited 3 times in total.

StVitus
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Joined: Tue Aug 16, 2016 3:43 am

Re: Review: Mohammad Waseem teak NB sitar

Postby StVitus » Mon Sep 05, 2016 12:21 am

How many steps is the extended meend?

katyrow
Posts: 163
Joined: Sun Feb 21, 2010 4:46 am

Re: Review: Mohammad Waseem teak NB sitar

Postby katyrow » Mon Sep 05, 2016 1:11 am

I depends, of course, on wire gauge, Sa pitch, and the location on the neck of the pull. I use heavy baaj wire (.013) and have this tuned about half-way between C# and D. At the 14th fret, I can pull from A# to F on baaj without coming close to the end of the fret/edge of the neck. It would be more with standard gauge wire with Sa tuned to C#, but I don't know how much more. I'm guessing more than a half step but less than an full.

barend
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Re: Review: Mohammad Waseem teak NB sitar

Postby barend » Mon Sep 05, 2016 8:48 am

Looks very nice especially the design of the scratchplate! I am not so fond of that headstock though but that's a matter of personal taste.
I don't think decreasing the string gauge to 012 will raise the meend range by a half step, it will be less than a half step.

The wider neck will make it heavier I guess? instead of widening the neck I think the way to increase meend range would be to shorten the scale of the neck a bit. By doing this it will be better suited for D tuning also because there is a little bit less tension on the string when doing meends and having the shorter scale. I am a bit surprised that sitarmakers don't make this slightly shorter neck in general because many people play in D nowadays. Most sitars are very well suited for playing in C# when it comes to tension. But when you play in D with the same gauge string I feel that the tension is just a little bit too much on all sitars that I have played. Also the meend range is a little bit less when tuned to D. A shorter neck would also compensate for that.

That's why on my sitar in D I use an 011 gauge for the main string. This way you have about the same tension as when using a 012 in C#.

katyrow
Posts: 163
Joined: Sun Feb 21, 2010 4:46 am

Re: Review: Mohammad Waseem teak NB sitar

Postby katyrow » Mon Sep 05, 2016 4:38 pm

barend wrote:I don't think decreasing the string gauge to 012 will raise the meend range by a half step, it will be less than a half step.


Wasn't saying that. Just predicting how much meend would increase at fret 14 due to the wider neck in the presence of a different set-up (.012 baaj and tuning closer to C#) compared to standard width neck with that same setup. Also predicting that my use of higher gauge and higher pitch/tension is reducing the increase in meend allowed by the wider neck compared to the expected increase in the presence of lower gauge and lower pitch/tension. I think that this is consistent with your explanation of the relationship between meend, wire gauge, Sa pitch, and scale length, all of which sounds exactly right to me.

I like the carved headstock, but am not that crazy about combining it with the traditional peg configuration. I'd like it better if the pegs were configured like a typical surbahar, other scroll-type sitars, or a dagarbani-type headstock. I do like unusual designs, though, and this is combination is definitely unusual, if not unique.

The instrument is very heavy. Part of the reason is that it is made from newer teak, but it's also because it's so large and is made from so much lumber, including the wider neck and the chunky headstock. Weight balance, though, is surprisingly good all things considered. I'm enjoying it so far, mostly because it is so different from my other sitars.

barend
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Location: the netherlands

Re: Review: Mohammad Waseem teak NB sitar

Postby barend » Mon Sep 05, 2016 5:18 pm

katyrow wrote:Width at meru: 5.75”
Width at highest fret: 6”


5.75" and 6" that is really wide!
My Barun Roy sitar is about 3.54" (9cm) both at the meru and last fret. Your sitar is more than 2.20" wider. :shock:
That must be almost as wide as a surbahar I guess?

Also 36.5" scale length is long. I think most sitars are around 35".
Just curious but why did you choose these measurements?
Would make more sense to me if you want more meend range to decrease the scale length to 34" or 33.5" and have the same width neck (3.54")....

katyrow
Posts: 163
Joined: Sun Feb 21, 2010 4:46 am

Re: Review: Mohammad Waseem teak NB sitar

Postby katyrow » Mon Sep 05, 2016 10:22 pm

barend wrote: 5.75" and 6" that is really wide!


Yes, impossibly so. A typo I'm afraid that I didn't notice before posting. It's 3.75". Corrected above. Thanks.

barend
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Re: Review: Mohammad Waseem teak NB sitar

Postby barend » Tue Sep 06, 2016 9:40 am

ok that explains a lot! that is only 0.21" wider, which is not so much.
Still I am interested to know why you choose these measurements? also for the longer neck.

katyrow
Posts: 163
Joined: Sun Feb 21, 2010 4:46 am

Re: Review: Mohammad Waseem teak NB sitar

Postby katyrow » Tue Sep 06, 2016 5:11 pm

barend wrote:ok that explains a lot! that is only 0.21" wider, which is not so much.
Still I am interested to know why you choose these measurements? also for the longer neck.


Sorry for the embarrassing typo. All other things being equal (which, of course, they never are), I do prefer both longer scale length and thicker wire gauge. As to scale length, think about the difference in sound between a Wurlitzer spinet piano and a 9' Bosenedorfer grand, both tuned to concert C. They are different in almost every other way as well (materials, size of the sounding board, etc.), but one main difference in the sound in string length. As another example, you can play the same note at multiple locations on the same guitar, but, to my ear, the best sound usually is from the location on the neck where the string is longest at the fret. A smallish surbahar (like a Barun) sounds very different from a larger one (like a Radhey) tuned to the same Sa, with the latter sounding (to me anyway) more like a rudra veena. These are very different instruments in many other ways, but I do think a main reason for the difference in sound is scale length. My Waseem surbahar is the largest instrument I own and the Kharaj is nothing short of thunderous, again down mostly to scale length. As to wire gauge, I think that thicker wire yields a rounder, fuller sound and can, by itself, close up a jawari in a very pleasing way without modification to the bridge. I also think that a thicker gauge baaj changes the curvature of the envelope of pitch change on meend in a way that I find pleasing. I'm speculating that this is one of the reasons (among many others) that a meend played by UVH sounds so different from that same a meend played by PRS (although I confess that I don't know for certain that they used different gauge wire on baaj). Even on an electric bass, heavier strings sound different (and, to my ear, better) than lighter strings (e.g., Jaco's bass v. most other players'). I don't think that SRV's blues guitar sound (or his playing) would have been the same with lighter strings on his strat (he used .014s!). I've restrung instruments with .009 tarabs, only to replace them with .010 a few weeks later because they seem more responsive and have more sustain. The increased response may be due to the higher tension, but the heavier strings also just sound better to my ear. As to increasing dandi width, this seems like a reasonable way to increase meend without changing other parameters of the instrument or aspects of set-up that already are satisfactory (like Sa pitch and wire gauge). I have a 1950s RR necklace that has a narrow neck by design and somewhat limited meend. I'm very happy to have it, but it would be a little bit better instrument with a wider neck. Of course, what improves one instrument may ruin another one, which is one of the things that makes this so fun. Thanks for you responses. I enjoy these exchanges and have learned a lot from them.

barend
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Location: the netherlands

Re: Review: Mohammad Waseem teak NB sitar

Postby barend » Tue Sep 06, 2016 11:48 pm

Good points! and I agree. That's the age old discussion of playability versus sound which goes for almost any string instrument. I just feel that a sitar tuned in D with 012 gauge main string has too much tension on both the neck and your hands. 012 feels perfect when tuned in C#. I don't want to compromise in playability and I don't want unnecessary stress on my hands.

I think thinner strings don't necessarily give you a worse sound. It totally depends on your playing style. Also thinner strings makes you do things that are much harder or sometimes impossible with thicker strings. Bass players like Stanley Clarke or Mark King use very thin strings on their bass and still sound good. Or Alan Holdsworth uses 008 string on his guitar. Billy Gibbons 007. It suits their playing style and they all sound good.

As for sitar I think most players use 012. I think VK, NB and RS both used the same gauge. But I am not sure.


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