reskinning a sarangi instructions

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martin spaink
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reskinning a sarangi instructions

Post by martin spaink » Sun Mar 24, 2013 12:33 pm

Hi all, this to serve those audacious forumites who need to reskin a sarangi: written instructions, but no photo's nor video ths time!
I've done a few reskinning jobs and every time it worked out very well, neat jobs, never gave any problem. The first thing is getting a good skin, not too thick. Depending on its state you wash it, scrub it, scrape it while it's tensed up on a flat board with a wide cabinetscraper. About how to tension it all up: If I would have to do it again, I would do it as follows. Get stiff iron wire of 1,5 mm thickness or a bit more. These you are going to glue in a fold of the skin. With the instrument stripped, lay it face down on the skin, mark the circumference of the instrument on the skin, then the glue line of half an inch, then add three more inches.This will be the outline of the skin including a seam with at least an inch overlap. keeping a margin at the top of the belly where it will join up with the fingerboard, where you will later cut it straight with a ruler. The bottom part comes over the tailpiece/targahan for clamping so leave a large margin. Maybe cut a piece of cardboard of 3 1/2 inch long and pass it around the circumference of the instrument so as to scribe your lines.
The general idea is to first glue to top part, making a flush and tight joint with the fingerboard, let that dry, wet the skin again, apply glue evenly on the side rim and the top rim, stretch it down over the targahan and clamp up, then lace it up, making as many cuts with a wire-cutter through the ironwire where you need to stretch it over a corner, or need to pull it in a different direction, so to have the skin tensioned up in all directions. Before you get this far, check if you might have any negative angles at the side rims. It may so happen that by pulling alone you may not be able to press the skin on to the wood of the side rim and you will actually have to push it into contact. If this is the case you migt either wrap an elastic strap around the instrument after you have laced it up, inserting little blocks or wedges to apply pressure. Other possibility is that on a piece of multiplex 18mm thick you mark the circumference of the instrument with a bit of margin for a strip of malleable material to divide the pressure evenly, cut this outside mould in two vertical halves, apply the padding on the inside cut line to divide pressure, make sure you have a full-on pressing contact in a dry test run.

Cut the skin, apply glue evenly on one side of the seam/fold, lay in the straightend length or iron wire, fold over, rub gently into full contact with a block, don't press all the glue out immediately, let it soak in, clamp up between a plank and a batten with as much clamps as you deem necessary, clean off excess glue straight away.
Then prepare the instrument, check out all the relevant geometry, heights, placement of the bridge, maybe make an outside pattern which will sit on the sides on which you can inidicate the relative placement of the strings, mark bridge outlines. Then remove old skin and clean all the old gunk. Check if the bottom lies in the same plane as the fingerboard, now is the time for some corrections viz. downbearing of strings to the targahan. Mark off the circumference of the belly half an inch from the top of the rim, apply good quality masking tape below this line, and clean up thoroughly above it, so that both the vertical plane of the top rim of the belly and the top side rim bit 1/2 an inch around its circumference are clean wood, ready to soak up glue. Use a strong contrasting color if possible, which helps later when you want to cut off the excess bit of skin after glueing. Also mask off the side rims at the top of the instrument, in the first phase you don't want any glue on the side rim. Pay special attention to the end of the fingerboard: usually the end of the fingerboard is raised by a millimeter or so, check it with the new skin so that it ends up al flush, and flat, no holes, use a glue-absorbing filler if necessary. For cosmetics, realise you might have a see-through effect in the skin, so create an even looking surface. This is also where you start, at the joint with the fingerboard, Make a clampingboard with padding (cotton/linen cloth, felt, paper as long as it doesn't stain with water) to fit over the top just under the fingerboard at the front and a support at the backside so you can put at least two clamps on it, sandwiching the instrument. You soak the skin so it becomes supple and stretchable, then wipe off with a dishcloth. Apply white PVAC woodglue with a carton spatula evenly only on the flat horizontal plane under the fingerboard. You lace up the top part of the skin very loosely, shove it over the sarangi from below and while stretching it lay it in the gluebed, tightening laces to tension it up. Make sure jointline is closed, Apply good sticking tape square over the joint to pull it closed, apply clampingboard just over the joint, clamp up, check the lacing for a good fit where it counts.
Now you leave it all be until the glue has set. In the meantime prepare a block to go over the targahan at the bottom, the idea is to clamp up the skin sandwiching it between the targahan and the block with two clamps. When the first glue-up has set, remove the clampingsboards, clean up where necessary. Check if you have enough openings cut in the skin in the glued seam, so you have enough places where you can insert your lacing-up around the iron wire, make a sufficient number of cuts with the wire cutter where you'll have to bend in the skin in the waistline and around corners.

Lay a bit of plastic sheet, a plastic bag or whatever over the instrument, then sandwich the skin between two wet dishcloths untill it is again supple and stretchable. Apply white glue over top and side rims, pull down the skin over the targahan, position the clampingblocks and clamp it down. Get another pair of hands in here. If the vertical stretch is clamped up securely, tighten up the skin begining at the top checking everytime you pass a lacing that you exert pull in the proper direction, see where it wants to go. Work your way down. Check particularly in the waistline if you get a full-on contact, if not, apply the outside pressure mould or elasting wrapping. Whatever you do, do not forget that when you have laced it all up, you'll be wanting to keep the skin area on the top freely accessible in order to lay on a wet cloth. You'll want to glue on the top and side rims to set before the skin itself, by drying, starts to pull on the glued surfaces. Only when sufficient time has passed and the glued parts are dry and strong do you remove the wet cloth and let the skin dry completely. During this last drying process, the skin should give more of a tone when you tap it, things getting tighter as it dries. Then roughly cut surplus skin around the instrument, take a sharp knife and carefully cut the skin right at the edge of the maskingtape you applied earlier. Basically, that's it. If you want to cut any holes in the skin, now's the time for it. In choosing a leather belt, make sure that it is strong but not too thick, for that will only dampen the tone.

Basically, what I described is one possible method for applying the skin. What is obviously missing, from this or any description, is the fingerspitzengefühl, the fine touch embedded in experience. Given the job at hand, there are a lot of unknowns: how much is the skin going to sag in with the total bridgepressure, if I want to reuse the bridge that was on it, where are the relative stringheights going to end up at? If you want the same bridge and it's a big one, I would not want to pull the skin too tight in the lower regions. This comes with checking the geometry beforehand and making an estimated guess. With older sarangis what you see is usually that the skin has had more time to give in and stuffs have been stacked under elephants feet, as of course everyone procrastinates a reskinning. And bridge heigths vary as well, I've seen from 4,5 cm up to 6 cm. It would also depend on how wide the instrument is at its waist, and where in respect to the curvature you place the leather strap and bridge, by which the length of the belt to bear the load and sag under it, will be determined. It is my recollection that generally the jointline of fingerboard and skin coincides with the octave harmonic, so that gives the placement of the bridge, unless one would choose to alter it. You see written instructions don't quite equal hands-on long apprenticeships, there's a lot that evades description.Judgement based on experience can't be beaten.
Last edited by martin spaink on Mon Apr 08, 2013 10:54 am, edited 4 times in total.

peeceebee
Posts: 107
Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2011 7:34 am

Re: reskinning a sarangi instructions

Post by peeceebee » Sun Mar 24, 2013 4:39 pm

Thank you so much Martin for sharing your skill and experience publicly- it is wonderful to have these esoteric techniques of sarangi maintenance passed down without having to apprentice for twenty years in a small shop in India... :lol:

martin spaink
Posts: 329
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2007 5:13 pm
Location: Amsterdam
Contact:

Re: reskinning a sarangi instructions

Post by martin spaink » Mon Apr 08, 2013 10:58 am

Just gone over the instructions again to clear out some ambiguities or other.. don't want to lead anyone astray!
If you're new to this, read it through carefully and try to picture it all in your mind. Try to foresee what and where anything might go wrong. Do a dry test run, once you got the glue on there's no time to stop and think. Good luck!

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