In 2009, Hari Chand presented me an old sitar which has been originally made by him and his brother, late Kartar Chand, in the 1970’s. The sitar suffered severely from a loose joint due to “an unfortunate fall from a kitchen table”…, dixit the former owner. How peculiar that no other parts of the instrument were broken. Since the owner wasn’t interested in this sitar anymore I was the lucky one to receive it.
During the second half of this year I finally found the time to repair and fully restore this instrument. Here are some pictures about the more spectacular part of the process. For this occasion I installed my home-made steam injector again. It has been serving me well in the past (click here), although its use is not always completely without risk. The steam can be very tricky and cause severe burns quickly. But everything went well. As for the joint itself: the wood was split at 2 positions due to an earlier joint adjustment. That’s why I decided to insert a completely new piece of wood.
Now this sitar is completely repaired and carefully renovated, ready to start a new life. It is a very light weight instrument, decorated in a very refined and exquisite way. There are 20 pardas, 12 taravs and a high quality staghorn jawari. The sound is superb, bright and clear, with an incredible tarav response. Well-known qualities for all sitars built by these two excellent craftsmen-brothers!
Old Naskar so called “teak sitar…??” turns out to be a regular tun sitar. This sitar has been repaired from a loose joint and twisted neck. Also the tabli has been lowered and the neck has been finished in an open pore look with 6 layers of Danish oil. Almost full restoration… see pics after:
This unknown sitar suffers from a loose joint. The playing string came to almost 18 mm above the last parda. In normal conditions this distance should count only 8 – 11 mm.
The reason why the joint became loose is not determined, but most probably “a small accident” during transport has occured the owner said. Anyway, there is a noticeable crack in the joint…
Since this sitar suffers from more than this (cheap wood quality, a bended neck, and also a deformed tabli is there) and the budget is very limited, I agreed to give it a rather easy and cheap repair: cyano-acrylate glue, penetrated into the loose joint parts, reinforced with a metal locker plate. I saw this before on other “fast & easy repaired sitars” in India. Although it doesn’t look good, it worked out to be very efficient.
In other conditions, the better way of repairing this is described in the Repair section.
Finaly, at the end of july we were lucky to have had at least a couple of days good weather with nice sunshine. One of these days I succeeded to finish the polishing of this sitar. I’ ve been making some fresh new polish ready during a previous (short) visit of our much beloved sun at the end of june…
A couple of days later the polish has been drying sufficiently. Time to complete the sitar again by mounting the pardas, jiwaris and strings.
This old Rikhi Ram is having a problem: the joint got loose.
I handled the same problem before on another (left – handed) RR sitar. On that occasion I made a new joint which took a lot of work to make it fit perfectly. Now I turned an old pressure cooker into a steam generator which is used for removing and loosening the animal glue.
First step is to open the sitar :
Then I drilled a fine hole in the corner area of the joint in which the needles will blast their steam.
I add water to the pressure cooker and have the power switched on …
The joint between the gulu and dandi of this old left-handed Rikhi Ram sitar became loose. A tiny little gap was seen between the two pieces when the sitar was tuned properly.
So, the whole sitar has to be opened to reach the joint surfaces and to be glued again.
Here the original joint is seen properly.
Because I was unable to loosen this joint, I decided to make a new one out of a piece of mahogany.
I also made it fit accurately, as it is done in the construction of acoustic guitars.
So, no need of driving screws into the gulu.
After this, the body is to be closed again. First the top plate is glued to the dandi.
Secondly, the tabli is glued to the tumba and gulu. Hot glue is used.
Finally the body is ready for finishing touch…
But, I think I also should try to find a better way for loosening the original joint…
Some years later there is another opportunity, and (quelle coincidence), it is also a RR, the Rolls Royce of Sitars… by means of steam ?