Buying a sitar soon. Need some advice.

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Rabbit
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Buying a sitar soon. Need some advice.

Post by Rabbit » Thu Apr 19, 2012 10:09 pm

Hello everyone,

I am trying to decide whether to spend the $600 on a student sitar from a site recommended by people here, or to take the ebay route and drop $350.

From what I understand the downside to the ebay sitar is that I really don't know what I am getting, it won't be set up properly, and it might sound lousy. I realize that I will probably be talked out of this option by your responses, but I was wondering if it might be worth it to get the ebay sitar because I am a luthier (nonprofessional) and would have an easier time setting it up than the average Joe. I really just need a sitar that is playable and operational.

Does anyone here have experience with the cheap ones?


Thanks!

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cwroyds
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Re: Buying a sitar soon. Need some advice.

Post by cwroyds » Thu Apr 19, 2012 10:49 pm

Cheap Ebay $350 sitars suck.
They truly bite the big one.
I have one and it is completely useless. (My first sitar).
I took it to my first lesson and realized that it was almost useless to learn on.
I went out that week and bought a better one and was so happy.
The difference was night and day.

In the USA you best bet is the Ali Akbar School Store or Rain City Music.
www.aacm.org
www.raincity.com

Both stores are trusted and known by a lot of us here.
We trust them.
Both will have good sitars in your price range that have been step up by a pro and are ready to play.

My advice is to get as good a sitar as you can afford, maybe even save up for a while to get a better one than you had planned on getting.
If you want to learn real Classical Indian Sitar, you definitely need to find a teacher.

junior
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Re: Buying a sitar soon. Need some advice.

Post by junior » Thu Apr 19, 2012 11:31 pm

I recently played a no-name $350.00 travel sitar that was purchased from eBay by a friend. The action is low and it is easy to play. The finish is smooth and shiney and it looks fancy enough...but it honestly doesn't feel like a sitar. It feels more like a toy. And, worst of all the sound and tone is terrible and not worth the trouble.

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cwroyds
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Re: Buying a sitar soon. Need some advice.

Post by cwroyds » Fri Apr 20, 2012 12:42 am

I would think that $600 is about as cheap as you will find an acceptable quality sitar in the USA.
I would personally save up a little bit and go for an $800-$1200 one.
It is not that a sitar has to be expensive to be good, but there is a reason one is $600 and one is $1,200.
A better sitar is better in many ways.
They sound better, play better, and will last you longer in the long run.
Eventually you would want to upgrade to a concert quality sitar, and a slightly better sitar now will mean that it will be a longer time before you need to upgrade, giving you time to save up for that pro masterpiece.

OM GUY
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Re: Buying a sitar soon. Need some advice.

Post by OM GUY » Fri Apr 20, 2012 2:04 am

Rabbit wrote:Hello everyone,

I am trying to decide whether to spend the $600 on a student sitar from a site recommended by people here, or to take the ebay route and drop $350.

From what I understand the downside to the ebay sitar is that I really don't know what I am getting, it won't be set up properly, and it might sound lousy. I realize that I will probably be talked out of this option by your responses, but I was wondering if it might be worth it to get the ebay sitar because I am a luthier (nonprofessional) and would have an easier time setting it up than the average Joe. I really just need a sitar that is playable and operational.

Does anyone here have experience with the cheap ones?

For the umpteeth time, I can say that many of us here have purchased our share of firewood. In fact, I have enshrined my hunk of $250.00 testament, to glare right in my face right on my coffee table. Everytime I sit down to watch TV, there it is, ready to remind me of the day I thought exactly like you, "what to do..... Do I open door No.1 for the cheap way out, or do I go for door No.2, based upon what everyone else says?"

God, I wish I knew the people here before I bought that hunk of junk!! :oops:

In any case, I probably sound like a shill for Lars over at Rain City. That's because I've purchased each of my 6 from him. I'm aware of other sellers, but I can not attest to them, as I have not purchased from them. The other folks have, and you are hearing from them as I write this.

I have a Srishti now, at the price you are looking at, it's pert-near 3 years old and is blooming like a lilac bush, very sweet. And, if I'm not mistaken, Lars still is giving free cases at the moment, with each order. You can't beat that with a stick.

As always, buy the best sitar that you can afford. We're here telling you this so you don't have to have a coffee tribute to ignorance .... :lol:



Thanks!
Let's hope 2016 is less violent and that people discover the soothing influence of ICM. Hari OM!

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cwroyds
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Re: Buying a sitar soon. Need some advice.

Post by cwroyds » Fri Apr 20, 2012 2:12 am

Also do not forget, you must buy a fiberglass case for your instrument.
All the other cases suck.
Rexin cases are not protective enough.
The cheap fabric covered hardshell cases are super heavy and are like an open box inside.
You have to stuff them with soft crap to get the sitar to stay still.

The fiberglass ones are more form fitting and really protect the sitar from getting smashed.
Sitars are one of the most fragile instruments in the world.
The gourd is like an eggshells. (Well, a thick eggshell, but you get the point)

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nicneufeld
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Re: Buying a sitar soon. Need some advice.

Post by nicneufeld » Fri Apr 20, 2012 4:33 am

Also bear in mind that general luthier skills may not "translate" as such into being able to adjust sitars. There's no truss rods, so if the neck warps.........well, there are those that can fix it, but it'd take some doing! Likewise, jawari, something that is one of the most crucial components of setting up a sitar's tone, is not a skillset that general Western luthiers have.

So I'd say save and spend a bit more. If you are serious about sitar enough to buy one, and you love the music enough to invest your time and money into it, then you'll probably want to upgrade it sooner rather than later if you get a cheapie. You might get lucky, but odds are the ebay specials will be unremarkable and ultimately frustrating.

Bear in mind for classical instruments, sitars are cheap, as another thread on here attested. Buying, say, a $350 classical Western instrument might be a false economy depending on the instrument. Unless you have no aspirations of even intermediate studies, you will want to upgrade at some point. I'd recommend starting out with at least a sort of lower-middle class instrument, not the bottom of the barrel. You don't need a Hiren Roy, but something in the $500-$1000 range should be appropriate for some time.

Rabbit
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Re: Buying a sitar soon. Need some advice.

Post by Rabbit » Fri Apr 20, 2012 5:54 am

Thanks for all of the advice. I Just needed that extra bit of social pressure to put me over the edge. Otherwise it would just be me, 2 seemingly identical pictures of instruments, and 2 radically different price tags. And then I would buy the cheap one and regret it.

I have made quite a few Jawari bridges for assorted projects, but I would probably have a hard time getting the correct tolerances down for the sympathetics. It seems like comparing a western lute to a sitar is like comparing a shovel to a tractor, so I should just suck it up and realize that $600 is a hell of a deal for what I am getting.

Thanks again

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povster
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Re: Buying a sitar soon. Need some advice.

Post by povster » Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:19 pm

Rabbit wrote:Hello everyone,

From what I understand the downside to the ebay sitar is that I really don't know what I am getting, it won't be set up properly, and it might sound lousy. I realize that I will probably be talked out of this option by your responses, but I was wondering if it might be worth it to get the ebay sitar because I am a luthier (nonprofessional) and would have an easier time setting it up than the average Joe.
A major issue with the cheapies is they might not be able to BE setup without extensive part swapping, and even then the results would probably not be worth it.

I once worked on an ebay special and could do nothing with it. The pegs were made of the worst sapwood and when trying to fit them, they would just push into the neck further and further. Impossible to do anything without replacing the pegs. Next came the positioning of the taraf pegs - several frets could not be put in tune as they ran into the pegs. And trying to move the bridge back or forth cleared up some but created new frets that could not be tuned.

Just a couple of common examples of what can happen with a cheap sitar, not to mention poorly fit frets and bad action. Even with luthier skills, do you really want to end up filling taraf peg holes, drilling new ones, fitting new pegs etc?

Glad to hear you are going for a better one. You won;t regret it.

As far as a fiberglass case, it is really essential if you are flying. But for taking the instrument in the car or locally, gig bags have worked fine for me for decades. Just remember when carrying a sitar, carry it vertically with the gourd side facing away form you and have the bridge/soundboard side facing you. Gourds are a lot easier and more dependable to fix than a cracked soundboard.
...Michael
Dasani - the official bottled water of ICM
Panini - the official bread of ICM

Rabbit
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Re: Buying a sitar soon. Need some advice.

Post by Rabbit » Sat Apr 21, 2012 12:08 am

The pegs were made of the worst sapwood and when trying to fit them, they would just push into the neck further and further.
That makes me cringe..

As for cases, and it being really fragile... I probably won't let it leave the house unless I am moving. I have seen too many berimbau cabaças meet their doom hitting the floor or under someones foot.

I won't be taking lessons right now. Maybe when my living and working situation is way more stable. I just want to play around on it for now, and I really need to own one if I plan on making instruments with properly working sympathetic stings (I most certainly do).

I am planning on buying the Calcutta Student Sitar from aacm.org. It looks like they don't even list the maker, but if it is a reputable vendor, It should be fine and I don't need anything extra fancy right now. And I really don't have a lot of money so it sounds like a good Idea to me. I live near Minneapolis/St. Paul. If anyone knows of a place where I could look at used ones, maybe that would be an option.

-Rabbit-

OM GUY
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Re: Buying a sitar soon. Need some advice.

Post by OM GUY » Sat Apr 21, 2012 9:53 am

Good luck with the new baby, Rabbit! Let us know all about it when you get it. :)
Let's hope 2016 is less violent and that people discover the soothing influence of ICM. Hari OM!

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