Rudraveena Build Advice

All matters relating to the Dhrupad, except those covered by the other boards. This also includes Seni Rabab, Sursringar or any other instrument when played in a dhrupad style.

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Rudraveena Build Advice

Postby RobertMaya » Mon Jan 18, 2016 9:04 am

What's the simplest way a rudraveena can be built? I'm thinking of a large bamboo main bar with thin beaten copper tumbas and 3D printed frets (completely non-conventional and yes, I lift; weight is not a problem). I'm just trying to put together the cheapest, halfway decent rudraveena together; what do you all think?

Robert Maya

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Re: Rudraveena Build Advice

Postby Hamletsghost » Mon Jan 18, 2016 9:58 am


You have set yourself quite a task.
Rudra Veena's are a beautiful, mystical, & fabulous instrument.
Their construction is an undertaking not for the faint of heart.

Here is a linc for an older thread here on the forum.
It will give you an idea for the journey you are about to embark upon.


best pics & build photos

The builder Ray is a dear friend who is a master carver - cabinet maker - and woodworker extraordinaire. It took this master of all things tree 3 years to complete his project.
he carved every square inch of wood even the pegs - to doing the inlays - the german silver bracelets on the end of the dand - the tuning beads - he even made the screw fine tuner.
The only thing he didn't do himself was grow the gourds.

I would read everything in detail - check out all the pics - & then if you're still thinking you're up to this challenge I would try PM contacting him thru his handle cabaray here on the forum. he is a wonderful chap who I am sure will answer your questions with all the information he can.

keep in mind Ray even had full access to 2 museum worthy Kanai Lal's - Adhikari's best - at the peak of his powers - worth if I remember correctly about 15 thousand dollars on the price tag at the now retired Andy's Music in Chicago - Ray did extensive measuring & analyzing during his build.

Hope this helps & if you do decide to take this journey please keep all here updated with your progress.

Larry Darrell LIVES!

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Re: Rudraveena Build Advice

Postby RobertMaya » Mon Jan 18, 2016 10:26 pm

My goodness - so much text! Thank you for taking the time to write such a comprehensive reply; your advice helped me profusely. I'm just a tabla player who's been smitten by the veena, so by no means am I a student of anybody, nor do I need some sort of magical sculpture piece (thank goodness, or I would be in a shed carving for 15 years). I'm also completely fine with breaking convention - using paper miche and fiberglass for the tumbas or unpolished bamboo and carbon fiber for the danda or the ancient non-tuning peg way of tying strings. I'm just trying to make do with my sub-par designing skills and lack of equipment and funds. I think the tumbas are going to be my greatest problem - there must be some math that deals with ideal tumba shape for resonance and its placement and stuff (if there isn't then I guess I have to work it out). If I could get my hands on a mold or something life would be so much easier!

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Re: Rudraveena Build Advice

Postby musicslug » Mon Jan 18, 2016 10:51 pm

there's a DVD that documents Murari of Kanailal and bro. making a rudra vina. ... /662735435

probably overkill, given what you describe as your aims, but probably pretty useful nonetheless.


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Re: Rudraveena Build Advice

Postby westsea » Fri Jan 29, 2016 4:01 pm

you might find this interesting...

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Re: Rudraveena Build Advice

Postby RobertMaya » Sun Feb 21, 2016 12:16 pm


That's the post that actually inspired me to try to build one. My only question would be: how can one play it without frets? Aren't they necessary for meend? It's a shame nobody plays with gut strings and bare hands. That would be a terrifically warm, complex sound. I'm a violin player and I know the magic of gut strings when I hear them (just ask Heifetz).

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Re: Rudraveena Build Advice

Postby trippymonkey » Sat Jun 25, 2016 10:31 pm

I feel gut strings are more for bowed instruments than plucked & bare hands would make the sound quite soft ALTHOUGH I HAVE seen at least ONE player with no mizrabs on once !!!

I've had 2 made for me in Varanasi, India & both have been really good - one in a lovely teak wood & one in the usual toon wood.
How do we post pics on here ?

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Re: Rudraveena Build Advice

Postby Sitarfixer » Mon Jun 27, 2016 5:22 pm

I've posted some rough dimensions of Rudra Veenas for you on my Facebook page. Hope they are useful. Cheers !

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Re: Rudraveena Build Advice

Postby RobertMaya » Mon Jun 27, 2016 9:10 pm

Thanks again all for your responses. Tony, I can't seem to find your dimensions, but I have some to go off of already. Thank you though. Trippymonkey, not sure - feel free to PM them to me if you would, please :D

Mkay I suppose it's time to give all y'all an update. So I've been talking to the legendary Carsten Wicke and Ray Zielinski and they've been extremely helpful both in terms of helping me figure out how to go about things (especially Ray - he's a genius).

So here are my build plans thus far. If anyone wants to build a veena for < $300ish with minimal skills, hopefully this post gives you some ideas. Again, this wouldn't be possible without the sage guidance of Ray, who took the time to help me with planning. The doing is up to me, so hopefully I can pull it off.


Just buy the damned things (Wuertz farm makes good ones). However, it's difficult to find 17+/- 4 inch gourds that you will need with the acoustic properties desired. Plus shipping regularly cracks large gourds due to temp and humidity change. So I am currently resorting to a makeshift paper miche method inspired by the fact that an 18th (around there) century Been had a paper miche gourd. A better but much more expensive method would be to use carbon fiber laminates. Two to three layers of some nice 2X2 twill (to conform to the oblong sphere) vacuum bagged should do the trick, and will probably lead to a cooler, stronger, and more resonant chamber. As a disclaimer, the paper miche method is difficult.

A mold can be achieved by using a beach ball deformed by weights and some clay to even out the dips and alter the curvature. The substrate can be anything from cotton cloth to carbon fiber. I plan on using brown paper bag strips as a substrate and some hard, clear, and brittle ortho resin as the binding agent. Hopefully, this will yield a light, strong, brittle, and resonant structure to mimic a gourd. Another upside is cost, with the two toombas coming under 25 dollars. However, I cannot comment on the acoustic properties of this yet. Hopefully it works. ALSO, if anyone wants to gift me carbon fiber toombas, let me know :lol:

Dimensions: Around 18 +/- 2 inches, depending on your Been. Dagar will be bigger.


I should be able to get my hands on a large piece of black timber bamboo (dense stuff). This will need to be cured, as bamboos shrink as they dry (don't want them shrinking after you've built your Veena), and you don't want any bugs eating your Been (Black Bean, Fava Been, Pinto Bean, Lima Bean, Rudra Been :D ). One way to do this is to aburanuki them (oil sweat in japanese, an old shakuhachi blank curing technique). Take a blow torch and slightly heat the bamboo and wipe the oils. Look at some videos to get a better idea of when and how to delicately toast the bamboo. Otherwise, some borax and water should be used to fill the bamboo and it should be left for 90 days. Curing bamboo is not quick stuff.

Dimensions: around 140 cm length with a diameter of around 2.5. All measurements are for a traditional Been and should be tailored to your body and hands, so don't take everything as is.

Gulli and other toomba fixing contraptions:

Use some bolts and some lamp shade fixing hardware. Nothing much to be said here, I suppose; PM me if you want. Just find a way and carve the gulli. Make sure to reinforce the toomba at the top part so that you have a strong structure with which to attach it. Remember that it will experience torsional stress as it sits on you.


Again, nothing much to be said here. Grab a block of some decent wood (e.g. walnut, mahogany) and carve out a semicircle specific to your dand. You want a snug fit. There's a bunch of sawing and chiseling involved which I don't want to type out because I'm lazy and tired and on my lunch break, but if you'd like details, feel free to PM me.

And then that's your basic structure. Then you can go ahead and carve the swan-y and lotus-y type stuff and associated pegs and bone chikari (and laraj?) posts, buy some strings and some deldrin or something to that effect [obligatory brackets to save the elephants because who doesn't love those cute pachyderm babies] and carve your jawari. There's a process to that that I don't want to type out because it's long and subjective, and I haven't really done too much of the carving stuff either. I talked to a maker in Miraj who's a friend of mine, and he agreed to help me out with the details when the time came.

So that's about it. For all practical purposes, I'm still twiddling my thumbs. Hopefully I can get stuff rolling soon.

That's all for now on my end. I welcome any questions, comments, or advice about the blueprint.


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Re: Rudraveena Build Advice

Postby RobertMaya » Sun Jul 24, 2016 12:40 am

So...any thoughts? Anybody?


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