As every year when I am in Delhi, our dear Swedish friend Hans (Hasse) came to visit me -and this time also my new sitar- in Hari Chands sitar shop. Hans is living half of the year in India and the other half in his house on Gotland. He plays sitar and guitar in many Indian and western bands. Amongst them is Parikrama, a famous rock band from New Delhi.
PlayListen to Hans playing raga Bairagi
at the entrance door of the shop.
It became a nice and realistic soundscape with live Paharganj streetnoise. For Hans it was the first time in months he touched a sitar. Considering this I think he is doing very well on a brandnew 24 parda sitar. The rich and warm sound and easy playability inspired him at once to improvise on Bairagi in the middle of the hectic New Delhi ambiance. Shame on us and sorry for you that we didn’t notice the laraj was a bit out of tune…
I arrived safe and well at Indira Gandhi Airport Terminal in New Delhi. Also my new SAS-02 in its solid stormcase came out unharmed. It was past midnight when we finally entered my dearest Hari Chand’s house in Dashrathpuri, so everybody went straight to bed…
The next morning I was very eager to show my instrument to my beloved friend and teacher. We started this project together in august 2003, while he was on a visit in my house in Bierbeek. At that time Hariji was an essential help to me in making the first solid body sitar SBS-01. This prototype has been tested by many of my sitar playing friends in Belgium, but Hari Chand never saw even this instrument completed. Immediately after this original and very promising experiment I started making plans for a series of new style sitars as can be seen on this blog (see tags SAS or SBS). In december 2008 this instruments trio was completed (see new style sitars).
Hari Chand was very impressed and uttermost pleased to finally see the result of my work. But, all this would never have been possible without his mastership and ever patient and precise teachings about this unique craftmanship to me. I will forever be grateful to him and his late brother Kartar Chand.
Soon Hariji’s young apprentice Rahul Gupta arrived in the shop and he played some nice tunes on the electric sitar during the noontime siësta. The Roland microCUBE -a very light and portable amp- is a fine companion to the Kent Armstrong Slimbucker™ Jazz guitar pickup. Rahul only had some minor problems getting used to the 24 pardas edition (“chromatic” as they say in India).
Later I visited S.Raj & Sanjeev Sharma at Raj Musicals, Rikhi Ram Sanjay Sharma and my good friend and N°1 jiwarimaster Kartar Chand Dhiman. They all examinated the SAS-02, thoroughly checking every parda on its position and meend playability but they could not detect any anomaly. Also the jiwari passed the serious tests. Most intriguing were the rather unusual selection of wood (walnut and mahogany), their finishing touch (danish oil) and the most accurate joints between the different parts. Minus points were noted to be the slight difference in weight and pure acoustic sound in comparison with a traditional sitar. But, it has never been my purpose to compete with a pure acoustic musical instrument. I only wanted to inspire the advanced and professional sitar players to a new world of sound.
From monday 2/03/2009 till 12/03/2009 I will be in New Delhi, India with one of my new sitars. I will be visiting my best friend and sitarmaker Hari Chand to whom I want to show my new style sitars. But since I cannot take them all with me, I ‘ve choosen the SAS-02 “Jazz Sitar light” to go on this journey. I ‘ve also bought a tiny red but overall good sounding portable guitar amp MicroCUBE from Roland. Here is my sitar travel set:
If you are interested in exploring this sitar in India, you are always welcome to visit Hari Chand and me in his sitar shop in New Delhi. Adress: 9050, Gali N°1, Multani Dhanda, Paharganj, New Delhi 110055.
TaalPulse is a handy and free software Lehra, Theka and Tanpura machine for the student of Hindustani (northern Indian) music. It is designed to run on portable devices (such as Compaq iPaq) but it also runs on desktop computers and laptops (Windows, Linux and MacOS).
This sitar which belongs to my friend Chico has a problem: the neck has bended too much. The playing string is tilted 14mm above the last pardas’ surface. The neck came up 5mm at the tar daan position. See the photo (left) with the red line. (click on the photo to enlarge)
To fix this problem, the sitars neck has to be opened and glued again. The result is yet to be seen on the photo (right) with the green line. (click on the photo to enlarge)
You can see more photos about this surgery on a new page added to the repairs chapter.
After a long time looking around I found a very suitable case for the SAS & SBS sitars. The “StormCase™ “, model iM3300. This is a professional safe and secure, lightweight (8,6 kg) but very tough and rugged fiber case. It is dent-resistant, shatter-resistant, virtually unbreakable and also watertight and airtight… and it has rubber handles and wheels!! It is originally made for transport of arms and riffles, but I am a little proud to be able to give at least three of them a more peaceful and non-violent destination.
Where will it end ??? “We need a sitar … a double neck actually … with humbucking pickups … and a Floyd Rose bridge … and it all has to function properly. We need some mock-up renderings by tomorrow and the finished product completed in the next couple of weeks” This is the phone call that David Hill received some months ago from the production company of Mike Myers’ new movie “Love Guru”.
Read the rest of the story and see some unique photos about the making of this extravagant sitar by David Hill & Brady Milloy at the “12 fret” website …
Many sitars suffer from an improper intonation. Mostly affected are jora and laraj kharaj strings. If you are lucky you should be able to play comfortable on the first couple of frets only. After this, immediately pulling meend to correct the tone becomes a must. It is almost a part of the advanced sitar learning process…!!?
On my electric sitars only steel strings are used. Bronze flatwounded strings for laraj & kharaj and plain steel strings for jora. And this thick steel jora again causes some weird troubles. The intonation is far from correct and has this strange behaviour that the tone is too high rather than too low. This means that pulling meend to correct the difference is extra complex. One can only play a higher note on the particular parda…!!
The solution is to shorten the jora string. This is done by adding an intonation block to the tar daan under the jora. This block needs to be made at a particular lenght. My good friend and fine sitarplayer Bert Cornelis helped me to tune the sitars very accurately. Then we temporarily fixed a small piece of bone under the string to immitate the intonation block and as such we were able to measure its desired lenght. SAS-01 needs 10mm of intonation block lenght, SAS-02 only 6mm and SBS-02 12mm.
Day 68 & 69: The intonation block on the SBS-02 and SAS-02 is made out of a piece of extra hard and strong indian rosewood. The block is inserted into the tar daan and is armed with a short pin into the head to make sure it will not become loose when playing meend on the jora.
On the SAS-01 a small piece of stagg horn is used. It is also armed with a steel pin into the head’s wood. Now these sitars are very comfortable playing on the jora without hardly any correction up to reaching the middle SA parda.