Photo report of a Kanailal & Brother surbahar kuti repair.
The main kutis of this surbahar are very specific. The surface is smooth and only cut with a saw. Original Kanailal replacement kutis are hard to find. When it is broken, repair is the most obvious solution. In this case it affects a cikari kuti. Note the peculiar position on the neck: it is mounted between the first and second tarav kuti.
Kutis are made out of sheesham (sissam) wood. This is a variety of Indian rosewood (Dalbergia sisso) which grows in the Himalayan foothills to Central and South India. Surbahar kutis are rather long. I used a 18cms long piece for this work.
1. Start with looking for a suitable piece of wood. 2. Cut the ball with a saw, sand the surface smoothly and mark the center precisely. 3. Drill a hole exactly in the center. (8mm diameter)
4. Make this hole square with a chisel. 5. Make one end of the piece of wood square as well (8x8mm) and make it fit exactly into the ball. 6. Apply wood glue and lock it into a clamp. Give sufficient time to completely dry out. (24hrs min.)
7. Remove the clamp and start making the shaft round. 8. Finish the joint and make the kuti fit nicely into the instruments neck. 9. Apply some new lacquer (Shellac) over the joint and fix the original deco pin on top.
Another young and dedicated Ashok Pathak sishya came to me with this old Hiren Roy sitar. The question came up again: Can you add an extra cikari string to this precious vintage sitar in order to meet the Balaram Pathak Garana style specifications?Since I am not so much in favour of starting to drill holes in old and valuable instruments, I decided to introduce an alternative way. Just as I did before with an old and beautiful Kartar Chand surbahar, I proposed to use the first tarav kuti to mount the 4th cikari string (high SA). This sitar came with 13 tarav strings. So then now 12 are left, which finally should be a good compromise…?
Doing so, the workflow is highly reduced to the making and installing of a new cikari pin which can hold 2 cikari strings & re-organising the existing cikari string positions and adding an extra cikari string slide on the jiwari. Also the original last cikari string post (high SA) has to be replaced by a new pin.
On a special demand from a young and dedicated Ashok Pathak sishya I’ve been adding an extra cikari string to his Rikhi Ram sitar in order to meet the Pathak Garana style specifications.
Here is the workflow: 1) Selecting and preparing a new kuti. 2) Marking and drilling the holes. 3) Fine tuning and fitting the new kuti. 4) Re-organising the existing cikari string positions and adding an extra cikari string slide on the jiwari.
5) Making and installing a new cikari pin which can hold 2 cikari strings. 6) Installing the string.
The general 4 cikari tuning is Pa Sa Sa Sa, but this can alter according to the raga you’ll play.
This early 70’s original Kartar Chand sitar just left the restoration booth. Complete body check-up and new polish has been done by late Kartar’s brother Hari Chand in New Delhi in march 2009 while I was there on a visit. The celluloid mother of pearl imitation parda lanes have been renewed. My part of the job was to refurbish the original pardas and fit them again on the new lanes. I also made and fit new stagghorn jiwaris for main strings and taravs. The original tuning pegs were used again but some taravkuti-holes needed a new bushing.
Note the very fine finger grips on these taravkutis and also the remarkable cherry-round tumba-shape which is very typical on all Kartar Chand’s sitars.
This sitar sounds amazingly bright and has a vivid tarav response. The meends play very easy and the instrument is very light-weighted.