Elforyn™, a modern synthetic ivory substitute, is very soft and can easily be engraved. The technique is identical to traditional decorative engravings on real ivory, bone, celluloid and plastics. You only need a “pencil” with a hard and sharp end, coloured wax and a scraper. The pencil can be made out of an old and worn triangular file. Shape and sharpen the tip thoroughly with a fine grade grinding stone. Check the sharpness and try to write your name on piece of wasted plastic first. Make sure to engrave the lines equally deep and wide.
Wax is used as a filler. Prepare it by melting it slowly. Be careful not to overheat. Also, …damps can be dangerous! Add some nice colour pigments to the melted wax and stir. Use a scraper to apply the wax on the engravings. Let it dry and scrape the excess off.
A scraper can be made out of an old and worn blade of a hacksaw. Make the edges surface nicely straight and perfectly even. Don’t be afraid to polish it up. Then learn to scrape by holding it almost perpendicular to the surface.
Here is another unique combination: a fusion between a guitar and a veena. The concept has been developed and build by Shintai who was born in Belgium and now lives in Denmark. He frequently plays meditative concerts on this remarkable instrument.
PlayShintai on his Veena Guitar
Basically the instrument consists of a bass guitar-neck fitted on an acoustic guitar body. It has 7 main strings, 12 taravs & 23 specially shaped pardas. The 5 highest notes, located on the soundboard, are fixed while the remaining 18 are moveable. The instrument’s impressive head accommodates 17 tuning keys. Amongst them are 4 banjo-type tuners pointing to the backside and 2 extra machine heads are mounted on the neck for tuning the cikari strings.
On Shintai’s request I’ve added a regular sitar jawari (Elforyn™) and an extra wide tarav jawari (bone) and also 6 moveable tarav moghara (Elforyn™)
Tony Karasek, an american performing artist and technician with 30 years experience in instrument repairs and maintenance has finally made his first sitar. He writes:
“Due to increased market demand, the quality level of Indian instruments currently being produced has suffered significantly. (I made a living for years repairing them in California). Recognising this fact, I moved to Pune, India with my wife and family in April, 2003 to re-establish the high quality standards for instrument production. My intention is to produce a line of Sitars and Tanpuras based on those of the mid-20th century.”
After this adventure, he resides in Charlotte, North Carolina and made his first own handmade sitar. It took about 18 months and 3 rewrites to produce the “Karasek Sound Domestic Custom Sitar Number 1”. Tony writes about it:
“The priority was first and foremost – sound with finest quality materials, components, joinery and consistant fit and feel. To that end, this sitar came into being. The body is made of mahogany with padouk wood trim. Indian rosewood pegs, Arizona grown gourds, delrin bridges and faux tortoise shell trim finish off the rest of the instrument. Internally, there have been many new innovations that have not only produced a far more solid instrument but greatly enhanced the tone and resonance.”
I would love to see and feel this unique and most promising instrument in real and play it. Meanwhile for me there are only a couple of impressive pictures to see, and a youtube demo. All the above pictures are from Tony. You can find more of them and also a lot of very detailed and unveiling info at his website Karasek Sound here.
Ever seen these low, rigid and robuste wooden tables with a vice ?
It’s a clever and easy idea… to provide your universal bench vice with a stable and ergonomic base. It makes this handy basic tool so much more versatile. It’s a very useful tool for lots of sitar (and other -) work. A no-miss for jiwari work (!!), parda making and mizrab making. Over-all convenient for general wood work – cutting / sawing / drilling / glue-clamp. Although in India hands as well as feet are trained to perform together in sitar making, this always available, never tired and always strong helping hand will become surely your daily friend.
This photo: Hari Chand on my workbench, Bierbeek 2000. Photo by Shivoham.
I’ve added a simple and illustrated “how to build” guideline to Maintenance / Tools – page. Or click here.
I’ve added a page to Sitar Making Links about this beautiful and unique sitar made by Alan Arthur Suits. He has sent me some pictures and info about the construction of this sitar. Click here.
Alan writes on his website:
“The sitar was built to concert level quality, using the highest grade materials and craftsmanship. The body is a natural gourd as is the top tumba (gourd resonator). The main body is Spanish cedar (virtually identical to Himalayan cedar or Tun wood). All the ornaments are real ivory recycled from 70 year old piano keys. The bridges are African blackwood, a species of rosewood, one of the hardest known woods and considerably harder than ebony, with rosewood feet. The pegs are turned of Bolivian rosewood.”
“The sitar plays with excellent action and has a truly superb tone with great overtones, sympathetic response, and a Nikhil Banerjee style jawari. It will fit in standard fiberglass sitar cases.”
During my learning school at Centrum voor MuziekinstrumentenBouw, CMB, at Puurs, Belgium, in 2000 I made a Gibson EB-3L replica. I’ve choosen this electric bass because of the unique and original “slotted head” construction which I applied later to my new style sitars SAS-01 etc…
This guitar has a Honduras mahogany body and neck with Indian rosewood fretboard and head top plate.
Because the original instruments sound wasn’t very inspiring I decided to replace the pickups with some modern and better performing types made by Di Marzio. Their DP145 Will Power™ neck model is very deep-sounding with great low-end definition. Its dimensions are the same as the original replacement Model One™, but it’s a little louder and fatter-sounding, and pole piece spacing is slightly wider for better string alignment with long-scale basses.
A very special and most beautiful series of sitars and surbahars made by Dieter Zarnitz.
The tumba is replaced by a wooden construction as used in traditional western lute making. Neck and body are made from flamed maple, with old air-dried pine soundboard. The head and curl are made of rosewood, the tuning pegs are made from ebony.
But, all I’ve ever heard about the man who builds these beauties is this flyer, taken by my friend Bert Cornelis at a concert in Aachen (Germany).
Hari Chand often talked to me about this “very fine young American person”. He showed me many pictures in his much used and thumb marked album. And during one of my last visits Hariji proudly presented me a beautiful copy from this unique article written by Jay. It’s a real extensive documentary (4,13Mb pdf), made with sincere care and love. Thank You So Much, Jay.
Today Tineke found a website about his present-day work.