Why should I buy at Sitarsencat?
Because we do not only sell but we act as consultant for every purchase through our website, and we only provide professional instruments of guaranteed quality.
We also like our web being a meeting point for all those interested in classical Indian music, and not only a virtual shop. A place where anyone interested in classical Indian music can share knowledge, find answers to questions and get difficulties solved.
Which is the main difference between the Kolkatta series sitars and those from Varanasi series?
If we have to classify the sitars from Kolkatta and Varanassi series, we would do it according to the following: Kolkatta sitars are medium-high grade instruments while Vartanasi´s ones are professional quality instruments.
We buy Kolkatta instruments already made to our most realiable suppliers and then send them under our name (and responsibility), though under the name “Varanasi series” we offer professional quality sitars made by order, including our own and exclusive designs with Sitarsencat copyright.
So our purpose creating this two branches is to answer to the requests of everyone, from those who want to start introducing themselves into the classical Indian music, the beginners… and of course the professional.
Why do I have to wait 2-3 months to have my "Varanasi Series" sitar when it is not on stock?
Because that’s the time wanted to build your sitar, from the very beginning until it is completely finished.
Our Varanasi series’ sitars are costly, that’s why we cannot have many of them on stock and so we make our suppliers build them when we have a confirmed order.
You can think 2-3 months waiting for your sitar is a lot, but please understand that building a sitar involves many steps to follow and that drying, painting and carving processes require a time that has to be respected.
I would like very much to have a sitars design I haven’t seen in your website, can you build it?
Of course! In Sitarsencat we have our own designs, but we also accept new proposals, and we will gladly work for you in a new design or personalizing any of our own.
To build your personalized sitar we just need you to send us your proposal. We can work on it having pictures, detailed drawings or a photoshop design. Send it to us and we will inform you about the possibility of building it, the time needed and its cost.
Can I buy a Varanasi series sitar in India?
It depends. You can buy some of them like Ghandar Pancham or Kharaj Pancham. Other designs are exclusively built for us.
As mentioned before these sitars are made on order. When we have a confirmed order we start the building process, that’s why they cannot be found at any shop, store or workshop in India. If you can find any similar instrument, we assure you it is not a Sitarsencat original.
I have found cheaper sitars in ebay and similar shops in the net, why are your sitars so costly?
It’s simply a matter of quality. The sitars’ construction is a complex process that requires the work of many people, a working chain where everybody has to be payed (the bodymaker, the one specialized on carvings, the painter…)
Of course it is possible to reduce costs of materials, final details… but this would require quality sacrifice.
Nor in labor nor in material we do cut out expenses, but we are provided with the best materials available in the market and we only deal with the best craftsmen, who have won our reliability through the years.
The final stage of an instrument’s making process consist of supervising the instrument with native Indian musicians, checking every detail with the luthier. Together, musician and luthier define the last details of the instrument sound doing the final small adjustments needed. It is then very important the work of this two professionals together, as it requires the hearing of one and the ability of the other one’s hands, perfect complements to achieve a well defined and perfect professional sound.
Many times you can find the adjective “professional” in instrument ads… but can serial produced instruments guarantee such professional quality?
Our sitars are made only on order, and we can only make a limited number per year, as our experience assures us that it is not possible to build a sitar faster than it is required keeping the promise of guaranteed top quality.
Teak Wood or Tun Wood?
This is a personal decision. Our advice is that teakwood is a long term investment due to its main characteristics: teakwood is a beautiful, heavy and very resistant wood.
The main reason why teakwood instruments get better as they get older is because of the oil that resides in it. As, through the years, the oil gets dry, it lids off the wood’s pores and the instrument’s sound becomes finer. The streaks in the wood become more defined, also, as time passes.
The best answer might be to ask yourself which your needs and expectations are, and make a decision according to the answer.
Is it difficult to tune the sitar?
Some masters say it is almost as difficult as to play it. It is very important to tune it well.
Most of the stringed Indian instruments have a second group of strings situated below the main ones. This secondary strings are named sympathetic or “taraf” in hindi.
The purpose of this secondary group of strings is as simple as ingenious: as its name says, they vibrate in sympathy with the finger scaled notes. This means that when you are playing a note as, for example, a do (SA), those sympathetic strings tuned in do (SA) will vibrate . This happens because the secondary strings receive a wave (the wave is in their same frequency) so they response to it and they do it vibrating. This particular reaction of the taraf strings, vibrating and thus sounding in sympathy when a note is played is what gives to the instrument its particular sound with a very prolonged “sustain”.
To enjoy this characteristic sound of the main and taraf strings question-answer, the tune has to be perfect between them.
I play guitar… I guess it´ll be easy for me to play sitar?
Relatively. For the practice of some techniques of the left hand it can be helpful though the right hand’s work includes some other techniques that have nothing to do with guitar playing. Anyway, we insist that there’s a big difference between playing the sitar and playing Indian classical music with it. The difference is huge, as the musical structure and the rhythm basis are completely different for western people and it requires rigorous study through many years to be able to play, understand and, above all, feel the ragas.
Which are the best strings for my sitar?
The wide variety of strings you will find in our web are perfect for all kinds of sitar, and we ourselves use them.
For the main string (#012) we recommend Pyramid german strings. The quality of Pyramid strings is very good, being resistant and very elastic. You will easily be able to do pullings not being necessary painful practice.
You can directly contact Pyramid through their official website.
Which specific cares do I have to take on my sitar?
The first and one of the most important things is not to expose the sitar to temperature changes, as it is extremely sensible to them and that can affect its sound if you don’t pay special attention to it. Thus, we recommend keeping the sitar always in its case after use.
Not to mention that it is an extremely fragile instrument which sound box is a dry gourd. ATTENTION! A little knock can be enough to crack the sitar.
Take it always inside the fiber glass case, the best insurance for your sitar’s long life.
What can I do if my tumba breaks?
If, unfortunately, this happens, the solution will depend on how serious the damage is.
Sometimes is possible to fix it, but when the crack is too deep or big or complex, there’s no solution.
Occasionally in Sitarsencat we do repair broken sitars getting back the sound almost as it was originally.
The reparation costs will be determined by the damage caused to the instrument and so, the time required to fix it. In really complicated cases we will recommend to buy a new sitar.
If your sitar is broken send us a picture so we can do its diagnosis and find the best solution to your problem.
Would a book to play sitar and learn Indian music be useful?
Sincerely, we think NO is the answer if your aim is to learn Indian classical music truly. There are no “methods” to learn Indian classical music. Although they usually include technical exercises that can help it is impossible, without previous knowledge, to just learn from a book. It is very important to learn from a guru, a master that knows the art deeply , who will guide you and from whom the meaning of each raga will be revealed, being this last point of high importance in Indian music.
Indian classical music has been passed on orally all through the ages. The teacher plays and the student repeats, learning the family’s style or “gharana”, without books.
We are probably facing a music which could be too complex or plenty of emotions, too many, for sure, to be captured in a paper.
The sound of my sitar has changed, what’s happening?
The main reason for which a sitar can lose its sound is the erosion of the main bridge.
The main bridge is usually made out of camel bone, ebony or horn, and it wears away due to the erosion of the strings with the bridge, this makes the sound to open excessively, losing the original sound.
When the sound is too opened means there’s no balance between the strings and so its vibration is too strong, causing the mentioned lost of definition, there’s no sound harmony.
So the solution to this problem would just be sanding again the base of the bridge.
Let us warn you: sanding the bridge is not easy, but every western sitar player should get used to it in order to enjoy his instrument 100%.
You can find help in the internet as well as in specialized books. We usually recommend to get an extra bridge for your sitar, to practice with it how to sand and successfully get the original sound back to your sitar.
It is basically a matter of patience, but we assure you it is worth it to learn the technique.
What a nice sitar I have seen in that web site… what a wonderful sound would it have.
The sound and the beauty of the instrument are not related, it is important to know it. Beautiful things can be done with low quality materials.
Before buying any instrument in the net we recommend you to do research and check well. Our aim is not to criticize other web sites, we do know you can get good quality instruments, but we also know that the 95% of Indian instruments traders do not share our principles.
Is it better a sitar which upper and main tumba are both big?
NO, furthermore it could be uncomfortable for playing and even affect the sound. The tumbas of our sitars are built according to its size, all medium-big, and in perfect balance with the instrument.
How many different sitar sizes are there?
Just one, the sitar has a one and only standard size.
For how long will I have to play until my finger’s pain will disappear?
It depends on how much and how often you do practice. With daily practice, it is normally needed six to eight weeks until you get a callus strong enough to play without pain. On the other hand, just one month without playing is time enough to make it disappear and thus, have to start the process again.
Is it safe to buy a sitar in the net?
Well, if we would say no and you believed it… we would have to close, so why not??
If you ask about the security of buying a sitar in the net, our answer is yes, but not anywhere.
Be always sure of the liability of the site you are checking. Any site where you can find from incense and saris to instruments or any other product “Made in India” is probably not a good reference, and we do not either recommend to buy at Ebay or similar sites.
Do always contact with the seller in order to confirm his knowledge about the product offered. Look for sites specialized exclusively in Indian musical instruments.
That luthier has built sitars for renowned musicians, is that a good reference?
No according to our experience.
Nowadays the exportation and demand of classical Indian music instruments has increased notably as a result of the increasing interest in the west for Indian music in general, and this fact has had the effect of giving priority to the benefit above the quality, and reduce expenses.
As westerns, we usually know of a few names and have limited references from which we build our ideas and conclusions. For example, it can be thought: if Ravi Shankar’s luthier builds wonderful sitars for him… the sitar I can buy from him would be for sure as wonderful as his.
Well, first of all we have to admit that we are not Ravi Shankar, we might consider also that no luthier will offer us his best sitar at first sight, and finally we should admit that we do not have many references and that, according to our culture, we usually thing : the most expensive the best while this can be quite a wrong thought.
There are virtuous but unknown luthiers in India that can build excellent sitars, and there are those who are renowned and make profit from their name, selling low quality sitars to unwary tourists for a small fortune, that’s a fact.
It is completely unsustainable for a luthier to pretend sell an unlimited number of instruments per year handmade by himself, if the average of the time needed to build a quality sitar is 2 months.
To buy a good instrument in India implies factors such as: time, reliability, contacts, knowledge and, above all, experience.
We ourselves are first of all musicians, and we were victims of the fraud of renowned luthiers, paying high prices for sitars that were cracked two months after being bought due to the bad quality of the wood and the careless work done with it. Sitarsencat is, above all, the fruit of the experience after several defeates.