I Could use Some Help With My First Sitar

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StVitus
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Re: I Could use Some Help With My First Sitar

Postby StVitus » Fri Feb 24, 2017 10:40 pm

LD67 wrote:I figured for $350, i could try and get a feel for it and see if it's for me or not. I tuned it to a reasonable level and actually played it a bit. However, the sympathetic strings don't seem to make any noise at all! Plus, the upper toomba connection seems odd. It's just a wobbly piece of wood screwed into the top of the neck with a hole in it. I'm guessing the toomba gets screwed into the neck itself, but it looks like a recipe for disaster with the way it wobbles.

I think this is going back and i'll be getting this one instead, but without the upper toomba as i didn't hear any difference with it on.


Cheap upper toombas are just what you described. They don’t really do anything unless you spend the money to get a nice one made from a real gourd. But it’s 2017, we have microphones and PA systems now :D

mizrable
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Re: I Could use Some Help With My First Sitar

Postby mizrable » Fri Feb 24, 2017 11:41 pm

actually most upper tumbas are made of wood. pumpkin is too fragile unless you put putty around it.
tumbas (wooden or not) work with varying degrees of sucess to add richness to the tone of an instrument at the very least by adding mass some help with resonance in the low end bass strings (kharaj pancham).
the only major maker i know of that is producing pumpkin upper tumba instruments is P and Brother.
They sell them at musicians mall in Berkely CA, they are the gold standard of sitar retailers in the us
I would recommend the Kanai lal and sons #2 for $825
or a mangla prasad sharma #1 for $875
getting these beauties set up right is half the battle and you can trust the good folks at musicians mall and rain city dont sell lemons!

some times you can find a craigslist gem too
my student just got a vk rikki ramm for $400 on Craigslist!

barend
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Re: I Could use Some Help With My First Sitar

Postby barend » Sat Feb 25, 2017 11:04 am

StVitus wrote:Cheap upper toombas are just what you described. They don’t really do anything unless you spend the money to get a nice one made from a real gourd. But it’s 2017, we have microphones and PA systems now :D


Exactly! It has been discussed many times before but...I have had several quality sitars with upper tumbas (RR, HR) but to me the upper tumba doesn't do it. It only makes the sitar more neck heavy. It creates a little stereo image for the player, but it is a bit marginal and only works at home. When played on a stage this tiny bit of extra sound will not project and is useless because of mics and everything. So for me that tiny bit of extra sound doesn't weigh up against the downsides of the sitar imbalance/neck heavyness. So my upper tumba has been in it's case for a long time and only sees the light of day once every two years or so....

I also really doubt if the upper tumba adds much when recording? I guess you can place a mic before the upper tumba but I am not sure if this works or if many sitar players record that way with two mics? Never tried it myself and I am curious about that.

StVitus
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Re: I Could use Some Help With My First Sitar

Postby StVitus » Sat Feb 25, 2017 5:39 pm

barend wrote:
StVitus wrote:Cheap upper toombas are just what you described. They don’t really do anything unless you spend the money to get a nice one made from a real gourd. But it’s 2017, we have microphones and PA systems now :D
I also really doubt if the upper tumba adds much when recording? I guess you can place a mic before the upper tumba but I am not sure if this works or if many sitar players record that way with two mics? Never tried it myself and I am curious about that.


I’ve never read anything about an engineer miking the upper tumba. It doesn’t seem like a good idea as that end of the instrument moves around when a musician is playing, so the volume and sound would be inconsistent.

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Jojolefthishome
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Re: I Could use Some Help With My First Sitar

Postby Jojolefthishome » Mon Feb 27, 2017 6:31 am

I will second what everyone else has said to buy from Lars at Raincity. I had mine shipped to Toronto and it was perfectly packed and only slightly out of tune when it arrived. He may have cheaper ones for sale so send him an email. Where are you located? If you find a teacher sometimes he may have sitars available for sale from other students. You could also take a lesson and use one of his instruments to get the feel for it. This is invaluable when looking for an instrument especially when you don't know what to look for. Better to spend money once on something good than twice and be disappointed.
Jay
"One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain" -Bob Marley

Lars
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Re: I Could use Some Help With My First Sitar

Postby Lars » Mon Feb 27, 2017 6:52 am

Top gourds do make a difference, I thought someone had posted about it already but don't see it. They add mass to the headstock which increases the sustain and the tone especially in the bass and midrange as well. Nothing to do with the player hearing it or, etc., that wasn't its purpose. Tape a large weight to the headstock if you like, it will have a similar effect. Still it's not as dramatic an effect to warrant carting it around for a touring musician so many don't use them, their instruments are amplified always anyway. But any top gourd will work, it should be a solid mount though tight to the neck which isn't always happening on cheaper instruments. Natural gourd is preferred for bigger size because they're lighter, the wooden ones are usually average to small size but work the same.

Lars
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barend
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Re: I Could use Some Help With My First Sitar

Postby barend » Mon Feb 27, 2017 11:02 am

Hi Lars, I agree about the mass. Still the impracticality of carrying that extra gourd around and the imbalance of the sitar doesn't weigh out the little bit of extra sound for me. Do you know what top gourd material is used on a Barun Roy #1 sitar?

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Sitarfixer
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Re: I Could use Some Help With My First Sitar

Postby Sitarfixer » Mon Feb 27, 2017 1:49 pm

A little extra note: I had an upper gourd here that when tapped with my knuckle produced a 'D' note. With that screwed into the neck of the sitar and tuned to 'D', the sound boost in resonance, volume and sustain was spectacular. My ears still remember it like its first kiss ! ! ! The general audience will without fail ask about its purpose. Entertainment / educational value if nothing else.

Sillofthedoor
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Re: I Could use Some Help With My First Sitar

Postby Sillofthedoor » Mon Feb 27, 2017 3:21 pm

some important points coming up here: Sitarfixers reference to what the tombi is tuned to and indeed the instrument itself, is often overlooked in today's standardised tuning world.

and lars point about the gourd being important for mass rather than actual resonance. while I get this and its difficult to understand or overlook how mass plays a part in the sound of an instrument (there are interesting experiments done I think on the sitarfactory site with adding and subtracting weights to the jawari bridge to alter tone) from the perspective of the player a real gourd is far more resonant than a wooden one. On the other hand it also amplifies "handling noise", the sounds of fingers thudding against frets, sliding over frets and of strings moving along a fret when meend is pulled, which one hopes doesn't transfer for ward to the audience so much, but I find disconcerting sometimes...or is my hand strength and dexterity just not as good as it need to be yet? With a wooden gourd to the player there seems to be little difference at all.

On a note closer to the needs of the post instigator, looking to buy a sitar: probably a gourd is not necessary for what seems to be mainly a recording purpose.

I would be very tempted for a purely studio environment to go for a Vilayat Khani style model but setup for the lower Kharaj strings if those are wanted. (smaller shorter, so easier to tune to D) But given the money limitations certainly see if Lars at Raincity Sitars has the second market sitar mentioned on the link someone posted earlier as it could be a better buy than the number 3 you posted for the same money.

barend
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Re: I Could use Some Help With My First Sitar

Postby barend » Mon Feb 27, 2017 4:07 pm

Sillofthedoor wrote:I would be very tempted for a purely studio environment to go for a Vilayat Khani style model but setup for the lower Kharaj strings if those are wanted. (smaller shorter, so easier to tune to D)


Is that so? do VK sitars have a shorter scale neck than a RS sitar? Can someone confirm this for sure?

Lars
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Re: I Could use Some Help With My First Sitar

Postby Lars » Mon Feb 27, 2017 4:09 pm

Sitarfixer wrote:A little extra note: I had an upper gourd here that when tapped with my knuckle produced a 'D' note. With that screwed into the neck of the sitar and tuned to 'D', the sound boost in resonance, volume and sustain was spectacular. My ears still remember it like its first kiss ! ! ! The general audience will without fail ask about its purpose. Entertainment / educational value if nothing else.


This is a 'lost' art, my old HR does this too. You can hum into it and it'll ring in the key its in. Very cool but hard to do perhaps, working on it this summer!

Lars
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Re: I Could use Some Help With My First Sitar

Postby Lars » Mon Feb 27, 2017 4:10 pm

barend wrote:Hi Lars, I agree about the mass. Still the impracticality of carrying that extra gourd around and the imbalance of the sitar doesn't weigh out the little bit of extra sound for me. Do you know what top gourd material is used on a Barun Roy #1 sitar?


It's gourd that has been sliced into pieces and reattached with glue and linen and a bunch of plaster inside and outside.

Lars
http://www.raincitymusic.com

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cwroyds
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Re: I Could use Some Help With My First Sitar

Postby cwroyds » Mon Feb 27, 2017 5:33 pm

I have large natural gourd upper toombas for my Hiren Roy and two Naskars.
They are fairly light and absolutely change the tone of the instrument for the better.
More bass and mid, and it is a bit of a stereo effect for the player.
I don't know if it makes a difference for the listener, but for the player it is a very nice effect.

If the upper toomba on a sitar doesn't make any difference, it says something about that particular upper toomba or the sitar it is on.
You don't need one, but a good one on a good sitar is a really beautiful thing.
Personally, I don't use them while practicing, as I don't really like the extra weight on the neck side of things.
BUT sometimes I just want to hear that extra goodness, so I will put on the upper toomba.

It certainly helps if it is a rather large natural gourd.
I would think a wood one would be far less effective.

barend
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Re: I Could use Some Help With My First Sitar

Postby barend » Mon Feb 27, 2017 6:02 pm

Lars wrote:
barend wrote:Hi Lars, I agree about the mass. Still the impracticality of carrying that extra gourd around and the imbalance of the sitar doesn't weigh out the little bit of extra sound for me. Do you know what top gourd material is used on a Barun Roy #1 sitar?


It's gourd that has been sliced into pieces and reattached with glue and linen and a bunch of plaster inside and outside.

Lars


Are those Barun Roy upper tumba's good compared to others? I have no idea....

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nicneufeld
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Re: I Could use Some Help With My First Sitar

Postby nicneufeld » Mon Feb 27, 2017 7:18 pm

cwroyds wrote:It certainly helps if it is a rather large natural gourd. I would think a wood one would be far less effective.


Here's what confuses me a bit...the "mass" argument Lars mentioned (ie., adding mass at top of instrument, and getting much the same effect by clipping a weight onto the headstock) would generally seem to argue for the heavier wood ones vs the (assumedly?) lighter & thinner gourd varieties. But there also seems to be a consensus that the gourds are often more resonant and effective in terms of sound improvement than a spun wood tumba?

It's all very interesting to me, I've never had the chance to play one with top tumba affixed...


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