sitar newb

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ric
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sitar newb

Postby ric » Sun Mar 25, 2012 2:53 am

Hi,

I'm a British Hindu also known as Krisnadas. I've had a student sitar for some years. I keep putting it down then picking it up again, learning (or rather noticing) a little more each time.

1). I broke a sympathetic string 'N' probably by over stretching it. Is it going to be a trauma to replace please?

2). Worried that the sitar has been incorrectly set up. Where the (European notes) bass G & C strings should be, there are light-to-medium strings which just doesn't look right to me?

Thank you,

Ric

ric
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Re: sitar newb

Postby ric » Sun Mar 25, 2012 4:23 pm

Hi,

Here are the strings. You will notice the relative thickness and thinness. I wonder if anyone can work out which stringing method has been followed here please?

http://i124.photobucket.com/albums/p32/r_i_c_2007/sitarbridge-stringgauges.jpg

Thanks,

Ric

trippy monkey
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Re: sitar newb

Postby trippy monkey » Sun Mar 25, 2012 4:57 pm

It looks as if your strings are for the Gandhar Pancham lighter style of sitar playing string & not the Bass or Kharaj strings that, say, Pt Ravi Shankar has on his.
Any string can be changed relatively easily on the sitar.

Nick

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Re: sitar newb

Postby trippy monkey » Sun Mar 25, 2012 4:59 pm

Actually having looked at your pic it looks as if someone has put 2 second strings on & then the next one PA where there should be a BASS SA.

Nick

ric
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Re: sitar newb

Postby ric » Sun Mar 25, 2012 6:19 pm

trippy monkey wrote:Actually having looked at your pic it looks as if someone has put 2 second strings on & then the next one PA where there should be a BASS SA.


Thanks Nick,

From left to right there seem to be 2 Sa strings, a medium and a high Sa

then a heavier string - the Pa [?]

then a heavier (bronze) string Sa?

then a super heavy bronze = Bass Sa (?)

the next must be Sa and the last always Ma

____________________________________

Is the Bass Sa the lowest (string) note on the sitar please followed by the Pa string?

Thanks again,

Ric

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nicneufeld
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Re: sitar newb

Postby nicneufeld » Sun Mar 25, 2012 7:35 pm

That is a confusing pic definitely!

From the description of what you see as lighter/heavier bronze, my guess is that the two strings after the chikari (labelled as lighter bronze and heaviest bronze) are reversed. Your main playing upper strings (Sa and Ma) and chikari look fine, but it looks like what you have is the two lower kharaj strings (Low Pa and Low Sa) reversed on a fairly normal 7 string Ravi Shankar style.

left to right it should be:
S'' S' P ____ 'S 'P S M
chikari ___ main strings

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Re: sitar newb

Postby povster » Sun Mar 25, 2012 8:40 pm

nicneufeld says it very succinctly. And yes, the photo is very confusing. I would not use it as a reference. Here is the typical breakdown for the Kharaj/Pancham (aka Ravi Shankar style) stringing. It reads from left to right:

0.23mm (0.009") first chikari (high Sa) - steel
0.23mm (0.009") second chikari (middle Sa) - steel
0.254mm (0.01") third chikari (Pa below middle Sa) - steel
Kharaj - two octaves below middle Sa - 0.725mm (0.028") brass or phosphor bronze (not wound)
Pancham - two octaves below middle Pa - 0.56mm (0.022") phosphor bronze (not wound)
Joditar - one octave below middle Sa - 0.41mm (0.016") phosphor bronze
Bajtar - Ma below middle Sa - 0.305mm (0.012") - steel

A couple of caveats:
The Pancham tuning of the third chikari and the phosphor bronze Pancham strings is changed for certain ragas. For example, in Malkauns, which has no Pa, they both would be tuned to Ma. In Gujari Todi, which also has no Pa and also no shuddha Ma, it would be tuned to Komal Dha. Etc.

There is a little difference of opinion on material for the Kharaj (deepest bass) string. Most use phosphor bronze but some prefer brass. (The brass is easily recognizable as it is a much yellower color than the reddish/gold phosphor bronze). There is no real technical reason for using one over the other: just a matter of what sound you prefer and ease of availability.
...Michael
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ric
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Re: sitar newb

Postby ric » Sun Mar 25, 2012 10:25 pm

povster wrote: [paraphrased] left to right:

0.009" first chikari (high Sa) - steel
0.009" second chikari (middle Sa) - steel
0.01" third chikari (Pa below middle Sa) - steel
Kharaj - two octaves below middle Sa - 0.028" brass or phosphor bronze (not wound)
Pancham - two octaves below middle Pa - 0.022" phosphor bronze (not wound)
Joditar - one octave below middle Sa - 0.016" phosphor bronze
Bajtar - Ma below middle Sa - 0.012" - steel ...


Many thanks. I sometimes play a steel string acoustic guitar so I have focussed on the gauges I feel comfortable with. I presume ' ' 0.01" third chikari (Pa below middle Sa) - steel ' ' would be familar to me as a number 10 string?

Are the sympathetic strings are all 8s or 9s please? I broke one the other evening trying to tune it.

I do have a sitar book but I find it slightly confusing

'Learn To Play On Sitar' by Ram Avtar 'Vir', Pankaj Publications (1980?)

For example the author gives the gauges of the sympathetic strings as ranging from "21 to 34" on page 30. That seems excessively heavy for sympathetic strings? Unless the gauge used is something I do not understand which is probable. Might these be 'mm' gauges instead of inches? In which case the sympathetic strings would be 11s which sounds a little more practicable.

Here are the author's main strings - what tuning system is this please?

1. Ma, steel, gauge 30
2. Sa, bronze, gauge 27 or 28
3. Sa, bronze, gauge 27 or 28
4. Pa, steel, gauge 30 or 32 [this is the 'G' sitar string]
5. Low Sa, bronze, gauge 21 or 26 [2 octaves below string 2?]
6. Sa, Chikari i, steel, gauge 33 or 34 [one octave below string 2?]
7. Sa, Chikari ii, steel, gauge 33 or 34 [one octave above string 2?]

the mm strings in approx guesstimate to inch gauge strings:

1. 30 = 11 metric 'mm' gauge
2. 27/28 = 10
3. ditto
4. 30/32 = 11 to 12
5. 21=8, 26=10
6. 33/34 = 12
7. ditto

?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strings_%28music%29#Gauge

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nicneufeld
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Re: sitar newb

Postby nicneufeld » Sun Mar 25, 2012 10:45 pm

Sympathetic strings are usually "9s" as we guitarists would say. That tuning style listed there is probably not too useful for a Westerner trying to learn...its much easier to conform to the two almost ubiquitous two types of stringing style, either Ravi Shankar style or Vilayat Khan style...your sitar looks like its already set up for the former, so I'd stick with that. Honestly, you could take the lower strings off at this point, and just have your 3 chikaris, the Sa string, and the Ma string. Most of the playing regardless of style is done on the Ma string, so for starting out, most of your practicing should be on it, anyway.

I might be just a slight bit skeptical of that book anyway...it may end up being more a source of confusion than elucidation. But thankfully there are many sources of learning online. If you want a good video series, the Indrajit Banerjee DVDs sold at raincitymusic.com are excellent....cheaper than having a one-on-one teacher, at least, although if you can find a good teacher that is invaluable (but takes a good amount of commitment).

ric
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Re: sitar newb

Postby ric » Mon Mar 26, 2012 12:16 am

nicneufeld wrote:Sympathetic strings are usually "9s" as we guitarists would say ... Ravi Shankar style or Vilayat Khan style...your sitar looks like its already set up for the former, so I'd stick with that...


Thanks nicneufeld,

Ravi Shankar style: well I already started tuning to F# and C# which made the strings sound better; the book suggests C and F natural. And at least I have something definite in mind now.

The main strings seem to hook underneath the body of the sitar (gourd) on separate teeth but the sympathetic strings are all looped around a peg which looks daunting.

Hm, if I try to swap these old strings around they will probably snap on re-tightening. I have a new set on the way, maybe I should re-string the sitar from scratch but leave the majority of sympathetics alone (only one has broken).

I have a new unused set somewhere (grr) which came with the sitar but I cannot find them, they've probably slipped behind books on a bookshelf somewhere or something :-o

Ric

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povster
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Re: sitar newb

Postby povster » Mon Mar 26, 2012 12:20 am

The tarafs are the same (in general) as the high chikaris: 0.23mm (0.009").

There are two common gauge measures: SWG (Standard wire Gauge) and MWG (Metric wire gauge). Unfortunately they cause probelms as they run opposite each other.

In MWG, the lower the number the thicker the gauge. In SWG, the lower the number the thinner the gauge. It can cause confusion if only gauges are referred to, especially in an international forum like this one.

For example, in SWG the bajtar (main playing string on sitar) is 3 gauge in SWG but 31 gauge in MWG. Both equate to 0.305mm (0.012").

Some musicians use slightly thicker or thinner gauges based on their style, preference and instrument response. But the ones I listed are the baseline gauges for a sitar and are the ones most generally used.
...Michael
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Re: sitar newb

Postby Sitarfixer » Mon Mar 26, 2012 11:08 am

Gotta jump in here. That picture is total crap! Delete it. It says "Ravi Shankar Gauges". Incorrect. It has the third and fourth strings crossed. Incorrect. Raviji also leaves the 5th. string off, just as an aside. Here's the run of string gauges I'm using on kharaj (bass sting) setups.


All taraf (bottom) strings - - - .010 steel

Both chikari - - .010 steel

5th. string - - - - .011 steel

4th. string (bass SA) - - - .028 bronze

3rd. string (low PA or MA) - - - .022 bronze

2nd. string - - .016 bronze

1st. string - - .012 steel

After diddling around with assorted string gauges over the years, this is the combination I feel works and sounds the best. There are many other setups with different gauges, tunings and types of wire so what I have suggested is not law. Your ears, playing style and instruments limits all have a hand in it. Play on !

ric
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Re: sitar newb

Postby ric » Mon Mar 26, 2012 6:02 pm

Thanks,

Gosh :-o

What picture?

According to this web page the Ravi style uses 2x Pa strings - a number 11 & a number 22 string - what do you think please ... are these strings the same pitch or octaves apart though?

http://www.sitarsetc.com/sitartuning.htm

Ric

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povster
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Re: sitar newb

Postby povster » Mon Mar 26, 2012 6:24 pm

ric - see my post above. I included the pitches along with each string. To answer your immediate question:

From left to right

The 3rd string 0.010" or 0.011" (depending on preference) is Pa below middle Pa.

The 5th string (0.022") bronze is 2 octaves below middle Pa.
...Michael
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Re: sitar newb

Postby povster » Mon Mar 26, 2012 6:54 pm

Sitarfixer wrote:Raviji also leaves the 5th. string off, just as an aside. Here's the run of string gauges I'm using on kharaj (bass sting) setups.


Just to clarify TK's post, his reference to the 5th string is actually the 3rd string if you go from left to right of that photo. I only bring this up because all of the previous replies have used the left to right orientation and ric may misinterpret the 5th string as the 22 bronze pancham string.

As regards TK's (sitarfixer) choice of one gauge thicker chikari and sympathetics - I say he is a hippie!

Seriously, either will work. My own experiences both East and West coast of USA have been with the lighter gauges for those strings. In Ravi Shankar's MY MUSIC MY LIFE he lists the gauges for sympathetics as 0.009" and for the three chikaris as (from high to low) 0.009, 0.010, 0.011. As he does not use that third chikari I am sure he added it for completion's sake.

So there you have it. Three opinions from three of ICM's finest! 8)
...Michael
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Panini - the official bread of ICM


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