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Repairing the Sitar

Repairing the Sitar

by Dave Schneider

Originally published in American Lutherie #11, 1987 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume One, 2000

The sitar is a member of the plucked lute family of Indian instruments known generally as vina. The name sitar is from a Persian word meaning “three strings.” The first sitars had three strings which gradually increased to seven. Sympathetic (taraf) strings were added later. The modern sitar has from eleven to thirteen sympathetic strings. An upper resonating gourd, usually attached underneath the nut, is common on most sitars today. The standard number of frets is 19, although Ravi Shankar has added a 20th fret at the top of the sitar for increased virtuosity.

Teak is the wood most often used to construct sitars. The bridges for the main strings and taraf strings, which produce the characteristic buzzing sound of the sitar known as jawari, are made from bone and teak.

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