Newbie! Sitar, Surbahar, or Rudra Veena?

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sitarsurbabeen
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Newbie! Sitar, Surbahar, or Rudra Veena?

Postby sitarsurbabeen » Tue May 29, 2012 2:58 am

Hello all! I have been reading your forums for a while and I was wondering what people's opinions are on Rudra Veenas and if there were ways to acquire them in the united states (within a reasonable price [let's say...600]) and I was wondering if people prefer surbahar or rudra veena. If there are brands or dealers that are worth recommending in terms of those instruments I would be greatly interested to know. I am also curious about the "travel sitars" and the "electric travel sitars" that I have been seeing across the internet. I would like to gain as much insight and opinion as you are able and willing to share from your years of experience. Thank you all so much and I cannot wait to hear from you all!

I apologize for such a long post

-Tony

P.S. Raj Musicals? any good?
P.P.S. (I live in the United States and any locations near the United states are well appreciated)

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nicneufeld
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Re: Newbie! Sitar, Surbahar, or Rudra Veena?

Postby nicneufeld » Tue May 29, 2012 3:27 am

I would recommend, unless you have a particularly deep passion, determination, and pockets, that you start on your journey with sitar. I've not heard of a rudra veena being imported to the US in remotely that price range, and with surbahar, getting one of decent quality in a three figure budget is almost (but not quite) impossible here. But even more importantly, the existence of teachers for the instrument is a big issue...I don't know where you are located, but you'll be lucky if you can find a good sitar teacher close by. You'll be absolutely divinely blessed if you can find a proper surbahar teacher, and if you have a rudra veena teacher in your neck of the woods maybe you should pick out my lottery numbers.

Basically, the ubiquitous nature of the surbahar means the instrument is much more widely available and quality teaching information or teachers are likewise more available. If you are new to Hindustani music and weighing those three options without a severe devotion to one of them, I'd recommend starting with sitar with the option of continuing studies later on another instrument if you so desire. I started on sitar, and several months back got my surbahar. It is a physically demanding instrument (as indeed I understand the rudra veena to be) and I'm quite glad I took this route, because learning raag on a sitar is much simpler and easier. The music is hard enough on its own, better start out with an easier instrument until you've got a good grasp of it and under the tutelage of a good teacher.

Re "travel sitars" or "studio sitars", I have one. It's an RA Sitarmaker sitar, from Lars at Rain City Music. I think its lovely sounding, personally, and as far as a general rundown of the pros and cons....the machine tuners are a huge pro for me as they are much easier to handle than any of my other pegged indian instruments. However they look very non traditional. The electronics in mine were worthless...with sitar you want a good quality acoustic tone, the built in transducers are usually not very good. The tumba on mine was carved wood, not the plywood glued you see on many versions. It has a lovely tone and good acoustic volume but I am given to understand that is not commonly the case with this style of sitar....I would certainly be very hesitant in buying any such sitar from an untrusted source. Your two sources in the US from which you'll get major support on here is the aforementioned raincitymusic.com and aacm.org, the Ali Akbar College store. The latter had a beautiful Hiren Roy travel sitar with a sound demo demonstrating its amazing acoustic qualities, but anything Hiren Roy or Rikhi Ram is going to cost you well into the four figures.

I paid in the 700-800 range for mine as I recall. Worth every penny...be careful not to underinvest and get an instrument of such negligible quality that convinces you to abandon this music. Lastly, where are you? I was resistant at first to the idea of being taught in a semi-traditional manner, but since finding my teacher, I would recommend anyone studying this music to seek out a good teacher to guide them in their learning. Another thing that initially I saw as unnecessary, now I see as worth every penny.

Good luck!

Edit: Just looked up Raj Musicals, and I'll say their prices appear more than competitive!!! 550 for a rudra veena, about the same for a surbahar? I don't know what the shipping costs would be, but my guess is that it may be an enormous gamble...you may get a good instrument for a relative song, or you may get some rather terrifically expensive firewood...hopefully someone else can chime in on the quality of Raj Musicals exports.

sitarsurbabeen
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Re: Newbie! Sitar, Surbahar, or Rudra Veena?

Postby sitarsurbabeen » Tue May 29, 2012 4:02 am

Thank you very much for your insight and expertise. I am located in Pennsylvania and most likely unable to get a local teacher at all. I am aware that the teaching methods without a teacher (books/internet/etc) are rather ineffective, however I have heard of the "skype" lessons being offered by certain locations.

You said that your acoustic-electric had inferior quality electronics...did you replace them or just ignore them entirely?

One final question (I don't want to overload you), with the travel types, I have often noticed that these have less "playing" strings. Does this greatly affect the options for playing (for example a 5 string bass compared to a 4 string bass or a 7 string guitar to a 6 string)

Thank you again!

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povster
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Re: Newbie! Sitar, Surbahar, or Rudra Veena?

Postby povster » Tue May 29, 2012 6:16 am

Hello Tony,

I have gone through sitar, surbahar and rudra vin. As regards the rudra vin it is a more difficult instrument to play. Sitar and surbahar are relatively comparable in terms of difficulty, with the lightness of the sitar nudging it into first place. But rudra vin requires a totally different right hand and some very awkward body positioning.

One thing you should expand on is your interest in the music. Rudra vin, surbahar and sitar all have their own styles of playing. Are you familiar with them or done much listening?

Finding a properly made rudra vin is difficult today. and for the price point you are looking at I would say, unless you lucked out in a pawn shop, junk store, the remote craigslist ad etc. chances are near impossible of getting anything remotely playable for that amount. I would say similar about the surbahar. Finding a good sitar at your price range is a lot more feasible but don;t be taken in by the many cheap ebay sitars. If you see something that strikes your fancy, ask here first.

As regards travel sitars, they can be had either kharaj/pancham with 4 main playing strings, or ghandar/pancham with 2 main playing strings. The difference is in what style of music you will be studying. either will be able to produce a full performance. The 4 string ones will have bass notes the 2 string ones don't, but they comprise a small percentage of a performance.

So lettuce know a bit more about you, what is leading you to these instruments etc.

:D
...Michael
Dasani - the official bottled water of ICM
Panini - the official bread of ICM

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nicneufeld
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Re: Newbie! Sitar, Surbahar, or Rudra Veena?

Postby nicneufeld » Tue May 29, 2012 2:15 pm

sitarsurbabeen wrote:Thank you very much for your insight and expertise.


Careful slinging words like that around! :D I'm a student as well, no expert. But I can surely share my experiences, such as they are.

In Pennsylvania you at least have more local options than I do in Kansas City. You might look into Shafatullah Khan or Allyn Miner at UPenn. There may be other teachers there as well. I am taught via Skype usually (actually google video chat) which works well in general although it is good to start with a teacher in person at first so they can more easily adjust the basics...posture, hand positioning, technique, etc.

Regarding my travel sitar, I replaced my electronics with a stick-on transducer of better quality for a short period of time but then removed that as well. Perhaps I lack a good enough transducer and preamp rig, but compared to the sound quality of a mic'ed sitar even with a cheap mic, well, there's not a lot of comparison, so I've decided to stick with microphones if I need to be any louder. But then I'm not doing fusion, really.

Total string count is not an important figure....the sympathetic strings will be of various count and how many sympathetic strings (11, 12, 13) is not all that important. A much bigger implication is the stringing style...kharaj pancham or gandhar pancham. Povster mentioned these as 4 main playing strings and two main playing strings respectively...you also see them written as 7 string and 6 string respectively because they have 3 and 4 chikari (drone strings) in addition to the fretted strings. Deciding which way to go probably necessitates knowing more about your interest and what sitarists you fancy. Also what teacher you select may influence what stringing style you use.

sitarsurbabeen
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Re: Newbie! Sitar, Surbahar, or Rudra Veena?

Postby sitarsurbabeen » Tue May 29, 2012 7:21 pm

Thanks again everyone! In terms of my favorite musicians, I love Bahauddin Dagar and the other members of the Dagar family. I am also a huge fan of Dhruba Ghosh and Surinder Sandhu (for Sarangi anyway). In terms of sitar players, I like Anoushka Shankar and I suppose by extension Ravi Shankar, but I mostly listen to sitar music in an "indie" style, I like the way it mixes with other folk musics, and would love to play both Indian classical and my own original music on a sitar.

Thank you for your help on the string issue, I was worried about losing notes and not having access that I wanted. I have been looking at Rain City Music as well as originally looking at that one florida dealer that everyone seems to be iffy on. I had purchased a Sarangi from them some years prior and was quite upset that the skin broke while tuning within five minutes of removing it from the box (it was, however, very well packaged). I have read several post on this website about G. Rosul sitars and noticed that it has been similar to other "beginner" or "student" sitars in terms of quality. The "flat toomba, electric" on instrumental savings (dot com) has had my eye for some time. I was wondering if anyone has had some experience with this model as well?

Thank you again, I will have to start weaning myself off of dreams of a rudra veena :cry: but it's all for the best to get my money's worth within a pretty shallow price range :(.

Tony

(Settle a bet, has anyone else had negative experiences with their Sarangi purchases? Particularly from that same company?)

sitarsurbabeen
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Re: Newbie! Sitar, Surbahar, or Rudra Veena?

Postby sitarsurbabeen » Tue May 29, 2012 7:23 pm

Oh whoops! :oops: forgot one thing. What resources are available for the Taus? I realize that there isn't one in my price range (nor should there be) but I was wondering what musicians have done your favorite taus recordings?

trippy monkey
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Re: Newbie! Sitar, Surbahar, or Rudra Veena?

Postby trippy monkey » Wed May 30, 2012 10:34 am

The OP
A Rudra Veena for $600?????? Why7 do you feel this is reasonable, sir?

I've had 2 made in India & both have cost the equivalent of around $800-$900 & that's INDIAN price.
Pov's post is soooo right too.

Nick

sitarsurbabeen
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Re: Newbie! Sitar, Surbahar, or Rudra Veena?

Postby sitarsurbabeen » Wed May 30, 2012 5:13 pm

trippy monkey wrote:The OP
A Rudra Veena for $600?????? Why7 do you feel this is reasonable, sir?


Well I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, I haven't shopped for one of these instruments before and that's why I posted on this forum. My options within my price range are particularly limited and as I've seen on other posts, the handmade instruments are rarely cheap. That is why I asked for the opinion of people who are more experienced than I. My goal is to be happy with the instrument that I purchase and attempt to find the best possible deal. Unfortunately if the instrument cannot be found within my price range then that is all there is to it and I'll have to turn my hopes to a reasonably priced sitar which can (according to this forum and a few other locations) be found in my price range.

On a different note, I have been continuing the search for American dealers, and found Buckingham music and Andy's Music Chicago. As either person could be a participating member in the forum, I would love if I could hear opinions from both them and their customers.

Thank you,
Tony R

trippy monkey
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Re: Newbie! Sitar, Surbahar, or Rudra Veena?

Postby trippy monkey » Thu May 31, 2012 12:52 pm

No probs
Please keep looking & try your very best to get the highest quality sitar you can afford.
You WON'T regret it!!!

Nick


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