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.
This natural plain brown surbahar was made by Hari Chand and presented to my wife Tine in 1999. This exclusive instrument is a reduced, female sized, copy from the original surbahar which Hari Chand’s brother, late Kartar Chand, has made for Pt. Balaram Pathak in the 70’s. The pictures were recently made by Luc De Gezelle.
This surbahar is completely made out of selected and well-seasoned tun wood. The very simple decoration and clear polish accentuates the natural wood structure and gives this sober instrument a unique touch. There are 11 taravs and 19 hand made cast bronze pardas. Scale length is 928mm and the neck is 103mm wide. The tabli’s diameter is 378mm. So, it is an overall 6% reduced in scale copy of a regular male size surbahar.
Adding an extra cikari string to this old Kartar Chand surbahar to meet the Balaram Pathak Garana style requirements.
No new cikari kuti will be installed because of the surbahar neck construction. The imposant surbahar’s head is jointed to the neck. Therefore it is not obvious to drill an extra hole through this construction. But the solution is very simple: The first tarav kuti becomes the last cikari kuti. Since this kuti can hold every kind of string, there is no need for creating another new cikari kuti. I simply removed the first tarav string, drilled a hole in the outer kuti’s region and mounted the last cikari string to it. Optionally, later, i can always install an extra tarav kuti on the utter last position to regain the original tarav strings number.
On this instrument we have been re-directing the first (SA) cikari string under the patri. This results in an increased playing comfort concerning the Laraj Kharaj strings: no more incidental touching of the first cikari string while playing meend on the Laraj Kharaj strings.
This mod is then completed by adding an extra cikari slide on the jiwari, re-organising the cikari slide positions on the jiwari, adding an extra cikari pin and finally installing the strings itself.
The cikaris tuning is according to the raga specifications, but combinations like f.ex. Sa Dha Pa Pa do sound very nice.
Also on this surbahar, i mounted a new Kharaj string from German’s famous string maker Pyramid Strings. It is a nickel flatwound on steel .046w (1.22mm diameter). Superb string. Unheard long and deep sustain while playing meend, unrivalled tuning-stable, very soft and warm, deep bass sound. A real joy for player and listener…
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).
Shivoham finally came to collect his surbahar.
The instrument has been ordered some years ago and has been finished while I was in New Delhi, in november 2005.
At that time I arranged a shipment that arrived at my house in june 2006. The surbahar was packed in one of these crates.