Both Rikhi Ram brothers Ajay & Sanjay, and after them many others, make and sell this handy and compact sitar. Some call it “Ovation” sitar, some call it “Studio” sitar and also “Travel” sitar is commonly used for this successful innovative musical instrument. Commercially it is a succes. No doubt about that.
But here is a list of remarks and complaints with which players came to me after they have been buying a new travel sitar in New Delhi. In my opinion there are a number of improvements that could be achieved rather easily:
The pickup doesn’t sound good, and comes loose in no time. So you can install a better one. (see Travel Sitar Mods (1) )
The tuning machines are cheap and crappy, and can get stuck after a few string changes. Also here it’s a good investment to install better ones. (see Travel Sitar Mods (1) )
Not much care has been taken to fit the jora tar properly. Only one travel sitar from Sanjay’s Rikhi Ram was ok. Too often there is need for intonation adjustment. (see Travel Sitar Mods (2) )
There are also some complaints about the finishing touch:
Parda’s which were made too short are installed anyways. A friend of mine has lost a parda while performing on stage with his “brand new” instrument. Floops, suddenly there it goes…
The new style decoration strips look like a cheap copy of simple western repetitive patterns. And when they are fit on the body they are not always correctly matching.
And finally there is my personal opinion concerning the “amputated” head. Of course this square leftover stump is one of the main basic improvements made to recent sitar making and playing in general since many years. But to me, it doesn’t look beautiful. I regret the lack of creativity. Isn’t it a missed chance to make this sitar look nicer on stage?
So, inspired by my own developed series of new style sitars I want to introduce my ultimate travel sitar modification. For this experiment I use a travel sitar body which I’ve been buying from Raj Musicals in New Delhi.
I started with opening the sitar neck and removing the square stump piece. Then I created a new head piece derived from the SAS and SBS sitar heads draft. In order to maintain strenght in the new construction the original neck’s top plate also had to be renewed. The celluloid decoration will be re-used on top of the new plate.