If you google “electric sitar” then you ‘ll find over 200.000 hits referring to the Coral “electric sitar” which actually is an early solid body guitar that sounds like a sitar. Vincent Bell invented a number of electric guitar models for Danelectro and Coral. He designed perhaps the first electric 12-string guitar, and invented the electric sitar in 1967, using it on such hits as “Green Tambourine” by the Lemon Pipers, “Band of Gold” by Freda Payne, and “Heartbreaker” by Gene Pitney. See this funny early ad:
Also wikipedia writes this, but it is and remains a guitar, made for guitarists. It is not a sitar, isn’t it…?
Read also an interesting article “West meets East” by Frederick W. Harrison about how the sitar came to be heard in the western pop music.
Day 60: Same story as with the semi-acoustic guitar avatar. Many archtop guitars are equipped with a decent pickup. So, I choose to try on this sitar a very slim but warm sounding pickup model Slimbucker™ Jazz made by famous american pickup maker Kent Armstrong.
This sitar sounds very natural, with extra warmth due to enhanced low frequency response. The pickup is tilted to meet the cikaris and adjusted between the taravs and playing strings to balance the taravs response. (Hit the picture)
Specifications of the Slimbucker™ Jazz guitar pickup:
Very soon after finishing the first 2 sitars (SBS-02 & SAS-01) I encountered a strange problem. The jora tar, which is now a steel string showed a strange behaviour. After tuning the strings properly and playing a meend on the baj tar (playing string) the jora sensitively raises in pitch while all other strings nicely regained their original pitch. Very rarely I ‘ve been noticeing this behaviour on traditional sitars before, but always it was much less pronounced and many times it disappeared after some time playing. Yet this time the jora raised almost a quarter tone on the SBS-02, and even after some days playing this inconvenience remained.
After a couple of sleepless nights I found out that it was the main jiwari which caused this malfunctioning. While pulling the playing string down (playing meend) the whole body bends (like a bow) and the main jiwari comes forward. All the other strings loosen their pitch (going low). Releasing the playing string from its meend position makes the instrument go back to its original shape, thus the jiwari is being pushed backwards to its original position. At this moment, the jiwari is also pulling all the strings backwards. But because the steel surfaced jora string is more rough and doesn’t have the same lubricating behaviour as a bronze string (original jora and laraj kharaj) the result is a considerable raised pitch.
The solution to this is very simple: carbon. With an ordinary pencil, I applied some carbon to the surface of the jiwari, straight under the jora tar’s position, and the problem was solved. But.., not for 100%. Still I noticed a very slight mismatch. Here and now the cause was quickly found: also the upper tar daan is having some difficulty to restore the steel jora tar to its original tension. Applying some wax to the contact surface between the jora string and the tar dan made an end to this jora tar tuning phenomenon.
Day 55: I mounted 2 single coil Seymour Duncan – Lipstick model pickups and tried out various combinations. One pickup is reverse winded and reverse polarised, creating thus a humbucking combination which gives less distortion and less noise. The potmeters in front offer volume and tone control while a switch on the backside makes series / parallel combination possible.
Day 56: Mounting of the electronics. Drilled holes for the potmeters, wiring and plug. Definitive mounting of the pickups and soldering the wires. Mounting of the backside switch, potmeters and plug.
The Rajah Zeetar is an instrument made in the 1960’s in the likeness of a sitar. Supplied with an electronic amplifier. Made in Japan. It comes with 2 eye-catching big magnetic pickups and the body is made of papier-mache with a wooden soundboard, lenght is 112 cm.