Sound Difference between sitar #1, #2, #3?

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foxinsox60
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Joined: Tue Sep 17, 2013 12:06 pm

Sound Difference between sitar #1, #2, #3?

Postby foxinsox60 » Tue Sep 17, 2013 12:31 pm

Hi, Has anyone noticed a difference in sound between a #1, #2, and a #3?

I recognize that the number at least also correspondence to a different amount of surface decoration. Does this also correspond to the quality of the materials used and the sound?

I am new to the sitar and am deciding what to buy. I don't like the idea of having to spend the same money twice, and as I'm sure that the sitar is going to be a big musical outlet in my life in the years to come, I'd rather buy something now that has a good sound.

I see some makers price their #1 at the same price more respected makers have a #3. If all I am paying for are the decorations and all else is the same, while I'm sure they're nice, any audience would probably appreciate the elaborate penwork, and I might practice in front of a mirror more often, I'll go for the #3.

Any thoughts?

OM GUY
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Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2010 4:10 am
Location: Bothell, Washington State USA

Re: Sound Difference between sitar #1, #2, #3?

Postby OM GUY » Tue Sep 17, 2013 9:18 pm

foxinsox60 wrote:Hi, Has anyone noticed a difference in sound between a #1, #2, and a #3?

I recognize that the number at least also correspondence to a different amount of surface decoration. Does this also correspond to the quality of the materials used and the sound?

I am new to the sitar and am deciding what to buy. I don't like the idea of having to spend the same money twice, and as I'm sure that the sitar is going to be a big musical outlet in my life in the years to come, I'd rather buy something now that has a good sound.

I see some makers price their #1 at the same price more respected makers have a #3. If all I am paying for are the decorations and all else is the same, while I'm sure they're nice, any audience would probably appreciate the elaborate penwork, and I might practice in front of a mirror more often, I'll go for the #3.

Any thoughts?


We've all been in your position at one time and another. Admittedly or not, all "Nervous Nillies". :lol: And why not, sitars are an expensive item. Akin to landing a spacecraft on Mars, from the earth .... so many unknowns.

Since I am in double figures now, when it comes to having them, the best I can say is that each and every one of them have their own unique quality about them.

Truthfully speaking, once I get to playing any one of them, price no longer enters my mind. Some may say that the decorations have their own input on the sound, some not. It has been offen told to me that many folks buy sitars on their looks. While it's hard to divorce looks from sound, the best buying mission ( if you can do it), is being there and playing one. This way you get the feel as well as the sound. Have you seen Willie Nelson's guitar, or Stevie Ray Vaughn's? Probably wouldn't even look at them, let alone buy one without having heard them! :lol:

But please understand that all sitars are different. Saying sitar #1, #2, #3, etc., means absolutely nothing to me, other than style. Therefore, I can safely say that even among three #1's, there will be variations. Generic pricing is a strange animal, mostly made-up numbers that has little to do with quality these days, IMHO.

Rule of thumb: Buy the best sitar that you can afford. I suggest that you contact our friend Lars, over at RainCityMusic and have a honest chat with him about your post here. He's almost home from India in a few days, so drop him an email first. Visit his website.
Let's hope 2016 is less violent and that people discover the soothing influence of ICM. Hari OM!

Bruce
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Joined: Wed Mar 28, 2007 8:39 pm
Location: San Rafael, CA

Re: Sound Difference between sitar #1, #2, #3?

Postby Bruce » Wed Sep 18, 2013 1:13 am

The #1, #2, #3 classification is something we (the Ali Akbar College Store) have been using since the 70's. All makers have different models and this is attempt to simplify and clarify the distinctions. Most makers have a "student" model - simple decoration, simple swirl pegs and sometimes 11 tarafs as opposed to 13. This is the #3. Then there is a "half decorated" model - with carving covering half of the main tumba. In Kolakta these are called "golapatta" (rose petal) design. This is the #2. The #1 has full carving on the tumba. In Kolkata these are often called "angurpatta" (grape leaf design) Barun makes his #1 Kalka with a slightly thicker tabli so it has to be played hard for several years to really break in.

Obviously the decoration of a sitar has nothing to do with the sound. In general most makers will use the best, and thus most expensive, materials (wood, gourds) for the more costly instruments. Thus, most often the #1 will sound the best. But not always.
Bruce
Ali Akbar College Store

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musicslug
Posts: 244
Joined: Wed Jul 12, 2006 6:43 am

Re: Sound Difference between sitar #1, #2, #3?

Postby musicslug » Wed Sep 18, 2013 3:41 am

a lot of people have written similar posts in the past. what usually ends up being said is that you might be able to find a good-sounding instrument for cheap on Craigslist, but that takes time and luck and the ability to know a good one even if it's an ugly duckling, or to know a potentially good one that only needs a small amount of work. if you're starting out and not limited to a minimal budget - and serious, the easiest route is to go with one of the more trustworthy retailers out there. people will mention Rain City and the Ali Akbar College store for starters. the main thing you want to avoid is spending a lot of time trying to produce good sounds from an instrument that simply doesn't have it in to do so - the so called 'firewood' or 'wall decoration' sitars, of which there are zillions (esp. on ebay). another important factor is the variability in sound/timbre you can get from the same instrument, usually by altering the curvature of the bridge (jawari or javari), but also by actually changing the material the bridge is made of. a good place to start is to listen to different sitarists and figure out whose sound you like - this is often a function of the jawari (open vs. closed = buzzy vs. smooth). hope this helps! good luck.

Daniel


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