A random photoreport on the making of my latest and last plexiglass See-Tar.
K&K Sound make natural-sounding acoustic amplification products and affordable pickups.
Their Pure Pickup for acoustic guitars, installed on the guitar’s bridge plate, is a very good choice for achieving a rich, natural guitar sound — even without a preamp. It’s one of the best passive pickup on the market, for the musician who wants a warm, full-range signal without worrying about cluttering up their instrument, adjusting onboard electronics, or having to remember to change the battery.
I chose the Pure 12-String: 3-head transducer for 12-string acoustic guitar. The larger pickup heads produce an extra strong bass response and pronounced midrange that sounds great in 12-string guitars. I installed it befor inside a surbahar, which sounds perfect!
The work begins by removing the tabli.
First, the celluloid decorations are removed and then the tumba is separated from the tabli.
A wooden reinforcement with a hole in it is then glued to the inside of the tumba. The jack connector is later mounted there.
Then the transducers are glued to the tabli just below where the legs of the bridge are. That is the most efficient place (according to K&K’s instructions) and it is quite convenient that there are 3 separate transducers.
Finally the jack connector is mounted and the tabli is glued back onto the tumba.
Because the original fragile decorations were damaged too much during removal, I place a new binding of celluloid plastic mother-of-pearl imitation. It fits best with the rest of the sitar’s copious decorations.
Sound samples played by Visjal Auwerx:
K&K transducer only
K&K transducer + EQ
K&K transducer + external mic mix
K&K transducer + external mic + tanpura mix
K&K transducer = Pure Pickup™ 12-String
external mic = AKG C2000B
Another very good looking but cheap and inferior sitar has been transformed into a tanpura, giving it a new life. It is an old and beautiful body with a nice and big tumba. This time I converted it into a regular 4-string female tanpura, tuned to F. The mounted string set can also reach G, but different strings are needed for higher tuning.
Sound sample: PA-sa-sa-SA Sitanpura in F
The scale measures 86cm & string set is
1: 0,41mm bronze string tuned to C3
2: 0,30mm steel string tuned to F3
3: 0,30mm steel string tuned to F3
4: 0,56mm bronze string tuned to F2
My friend Christine has made a beautiful cotton protective cover for this instrument. It is completely handmade and custom-made for this tanpura. Perfectly fitting and skilfully finished!
Read also Sitanpura, the Sitar Tanpura mod
I’ve made a set of mankas and one tarav ghoraj for Zach Ferrara.
They are made out of golden dragon snake Juma® blocs. Juma® – the name stands for independently developed and very modern processing material made from a mixture of various mineral base materials, bound in a resin component. Just like Elforyn® is Juma® excellently suited for the production of components and artistic objects such as knife handles, jewelry, eyeglass frames, or music instrument parts. “Produce your own custom items and delight in genuine one-of-a-kind pieces that no one else will be able to imitate.” the website says.
The material is indeed easy to work with and the result feels very natural and pleasant. The optical effect is stunning and has a nice impression of depth. It is definitely very suitable for decorations, mankas and possibly a tarav ghoraj. But I think it has too little resistance to wear to be suitable for a main ghoraj. Elforyn®, on the other hand, does well. Follow this link for Elforyn® examples.
Good news for the thousands of “tourist”-grade cheap and crappy sitars, bought in India by trusting tourists eager for buying a “real” sitar as a souvenir. For many of them there is life after years of exile to the attic: the sitanpura is born!
I turned this old innocent banished beauty into a real full-fledged 5-string tanpura. And, it is also very flexible because it can be quickly converted into a regular 4-string tanpura. You only have to remove 1 string and put the remaining ones into another slot. You’re done…
Only one skill remains: jawari. Making the ghodi, installing it on the tabli, adjusting the angle and “doing jawari”. But also this can be learned by doing… with patience and persistance…
Sound sample: PA-ni-sa-sa-SA Sitanpura
The string set is
1: 0,56mm bronze string tuned to G#2
2: 0,41mm bronze string tuned to C3
3: 0,41mm bronze string tuned to C#3
4: 0,41mm bronze string tuned to C#3
5: 0,76mm brass wound string tuned to C#2
This year I’ve completed 2 plexiglass sitars. They are 100% See-Tar cloned replicas according to the original Purbayan Chatterjee copy as seen here on this site.
Plexitar on AER Compact 60 amp
I have improved the sound of my solid body sitar SBS-O2. I added one Lipstick ‘bridge’- pickup to the combination. The earlier 2 ‘neck’-pickups can be switched in parallel or in series and now smoothly be mixed with the additional ‘bridge’ pickup by means of one of the pot-meters. All the pickups are Seymour Duncan types and the sound possibilities are divers and very inspiring.
SBS-02 & SH101
You hear SBS-02 thru an Orange CRUSH20 distorted amp accompanied by a Roland SH101 synth in a random modulation (complex tanpura) mode …
Note: May not be entirely suitable for pure ICM… 😉
Dear friends, please hereby find some info about different styles of tabli. Clicking on the pictures will show up a drawing presenting the thickness (in mm) on different locations of the tabli and a zoom showing details of the surface finishing on the backside. Notice the increased thickness at the jawaris section to prevent indent on the surface.
1. Kartar Chand RS style 1980 Tun wood
2. Naskar RS style Teak wood
3. Hari Chand RS style 2005 Tun wood
4. Rikhi Ram VK style 1970 Tun wood
5. Unknown 1980 RS style Tun wood
6. SAS-02 New style 2008 Walnut wood
A new set of ghorajs made by Dieter Zarnitz. The wood comes from leftover pieces of a construction.
“Cumaru” is a very fine, hard and durable construction-wood. “Angelim Amargoso” is very heavy and rougher than Cumaru. Both grow in South America. The colour you see is the natural one. The setting (“jawari“) can be done at the Sitar Factory (Belgium) or at Dieter’s house (Germany).
Elforyn™ is a modern synthetic ivory substitute 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 cool down 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.
More info on Elforyn™ here: www.elforyn.info