Why the use of non-traditional woods?
And why not? Traditionally, sitars are sometimes made from teak wood; its properties are generally considered incompatible with the construction of musical instruments in most of the countries.
When one considers this, one realizes that the sitar's body which is in fact hollow and resonant is versatile enough to be constructed using 'new to the tradition' woods. In fact there are a increasing number of enthusiasts from the west who are experimenting with new materials and new construction methods to try to improve and/or modify it. Tony Karasek, Gregg Fosse, Klaas Jansens, Harry Scott Shaffer or Hacklemann are clear examples of such innovators in this field. There works are known to reach new horizons.
What are the innovations of these instruments?
Basically the materials used, the background designs and some of the accessories.
It is in my opinion that the greatest and innovative improvements that can be done to a contemporary classical sitar is to use the best materials that will secure excellent sound and enable superior tuning stability.
Two types of wood in the same instrument ???
Similarly to the vast majority of classical or acoustic stringed instruments in the west, the idea of our "Deluxe" sitars is the combination of different woods. We have done much experimentation and research in this; the combination would be used in such a way as to bring out the best of the instrument.
Generally semi-hard or hard woods are used to consolidate the structure of the instrument (in this case the neck and gulu). The instrument will be more resistant to deformation and needless to say, more solid. Soft or semi-hard woods are suitable to use for the front part of the instrument as they are more resonant woods and largely define the instrument’s sound by their warm attribute.
Does the sound of the instrument mainly rely on the wood that is used?
Actually the sound of the instrument relies on 2 sources; the wood and equally important the construction process.
As a friend once told me, "as a maker with the best materials can make a poor instrument, it is equally possible for one with the worst materials to make a decent instrument." !!
How is the moisture in the wood treated in these instruments?
Firstly, all the wood used in our "Deluxe" series have a humidity level between, 6 and 8%. Before we can even start to work with the wood, we expose it to the intense humidity in India for a minimum period of six months. This will ensure that the wood will not expand due to humid weather conditions. The wood is treated to its optimum level of moisture thereby creating the best starting point for the construction of any instrument.
What woods are used in the deluxe range sitars?
We are using a number of different types of woods. These include: mahogany, maple, walnut, koa, ancient kauri, African limba and myrtlewood.
How are your deluxe range sitars built?
The deluxe range sitars series are solidly built with a standard average weight. The internal walls of the instrument are moderately thick thereby making it more solid. As one might expect, this ensures a long life to the instrument. Additionally it will be less exposed to future problems such as the twisting of the neck due to the pressure exerted by the strings. At first the sitar's volume will be louder and its resonance lower but over the years the sound will tend to stabilize.
Are these better instruments than traditional ones?
To say that our sitars are better would be a little reckless on our part. What we can say is that unlike most sitars built in India we use carefully selected quality woods, dried to a level of optimum moisture. We are working with the best materials, we are working with the finest makers and we are very confident in our knowledge and the makers ability to produce top quality sitars. Similarly our pegs are of great quality and maintain a more accurate tuning. Finally the "look" of these instruments are unique, not only in the use of exotic woods but also in the unique designs of every single instruments and its accompanying accessories. Each and every single Deluxe sitar is unique.
Can I order a sitar made to my specifications?
I will be happy to hear your proposal and discuss with you all the points of your project. Our aim is to create the sitar that you would personally like. We will work with your ideas as closely and realistically as possible.
How much time will it take to receive a sitar in this range?
The average time for the construction of a Sitar "Deluxe" is between 8 and 12 months.
How much does a "Deluxe" sitar cost?
The price of a hand-made Deluxe sitar which is made to order starts from 3000 euros. The price largely depends on the materials (pegs, bridges, wood) and carvings. As you might expect a sitar made with mahogany and maple will be significantly cheaper than one made with less abundant woods such as Hawaian koa or Ancient Kauri Wood.