Sitar Stringing & Tuning

Sitar Care, Stringing, and Maintenance.
© Brian Godden 1981 – 2005, 

 

Sitar Stringing Chart
Ravi Shankar Style (7 main strings)

1st peg………ma………………#3steel -.012″
2nd peg……..SA…………………………….016″ ph. bronze
3rd peg………PA…………………………….022″ ph. bronze
4th peg……….sa…………………………….028″ ph. bronze
5th peg……….PA…………..# 1 steel -.010″
6th peg………SA chic…….#0 steel – .009″
7th peg…..high SA chic…#0 steel   .009″
Sympathetic strings………#0 steel   .009″

 Sitar Stringing Chart
Vilayat Khan Style (6 main strings)

1st peg………ma…………….. #4 steel   .013″
2nd peg………………………….not used
3rd peg………SA……………………………..016″ ph. bronze
4th peg………GA…………….#.4 steel – .013″
5th peg………PA……………..#3 steel – .012″
6th peg………SA chic………#0 steel  – .009
7th peg……..high SA chic..#0 steel  – .009″
Sympathetic strings………..#1 steel – .010″  


These string gauges differ with various traditions, as does the desired action height. 

 
 
 


The sympathetics are tuned, depending on the raga, from middle C to E above high C.
One Example:  (Ravi Shankar) C, B, C, D, E, F, F#, G, A, B, C, D, E

The Maintenance of the sitar

1: The sitar should be kept in a case or under a cloth cover
2: The sitar strings should be changed regularly depending on how often they are used.
A sitar that is played daily should have all the strings changed every 3 months, and the main playing string, “ma” every month.
3: The finish should be rubbed down with a soft dry cloth after every playing to maintain the shine. The strings should be wiped of after every use. Do not use furniture polish on a sitar.
4: With use, the bridges become grooved under the strings. It is then time to have the bridges resurfaced, This is called Sitar Jawari. It should only be done by a professional. You can tell when the Jawari needs to be done, as the instrument will have lost its tone, and sounds more and more distorted and buzzy.
4: The gourds are very fragile and must be protected from any kind of knock. Walking through doorways needs extra care.
5: The frets should be polished with #0000 steel wool every few months to keep them smooth and clean for meend (pulling the string to the side).
6: Sitar pegs can begin to slip after a year or so of use. When changing the strings it is a good idea to lightly chalk the pegs with carpenters or sidewalk chalk. Do not use blackboard chalk as it has wax in it to prevent squealing, and this wax will ruin the peg. If the pegs continue to slip, they will need to be filed to correct the taper and to remove any lip ridge. This should be done by a repair person. Peg service is part of the work done with a Full Sitar Jawari.

 

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