Electric sitar guitar?

Discussion in 'Luthiery, Modifications & Customizations' started by bostjan, Nov 24, 2020.

Tags:
  1. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

    Messages:
    16,525
    Likes Received:
    5,408
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    St. Johnsbury, VT USA
    Well, last couple days were full of fails.

    The two attempts I made at a delrin javari bridge failed to produce a useable tone and the material melted a little when I tried tapping threads into it, so adjustment is out until I figure out another plan, but I've circumvented that by going with plan B anyway, which is to go ahead and drill the banjo tuners into the neck.

    What a pain in the butt! Even with the handy little auger StewMac sells for the specific purpose, I've never had so much difficulty. On top of that, someone called me into work while I was in the middle of my second hole, and I managed to moderately botch it in the process. The first hole turned out great, I think, but the amount of time and effort that took was well beyond my expectation.

    So my second banjo peg hole ended up too big (as in too wide), and I'm not sure how, since I used a pilot hole and I thought I had been careful. So, I slathered wood filler paste all over the tuner rasp and hammered it into the hole as tight as it would go, then put a few drops of wood glue around it. Hopefully it never needs to come out. It was probably a stupid idea to plan to have the second hole 2-3 mm more shallow so that the strings would have a little space between them.

    I'm still waiting for my EYB bridge. If that doesn't come, for whatever reason. I'm going to be pretty much back to the drawing board. The guy at EYB seems to be one of those guys who is all business and doesn't answer more than one question per email.

    Current plan is one baaj/melody string (tuned F3), one jod/root string (C3), two karaj/bass strings (C2 and G2), and two chikari/treble-drone strings (C5 and C6 maybe).

    I still need my bridge posts and inserts (I want the inserts in case I need to convert it back into a regular guitar - I'll leave all four inserts in and just remove the posts), and to do all of that installation, and I will install the chikari strings this evening, once the glue is set, just in case that banjo tuner tries to slip out of the neck.

    After that, I'll need to figure out something to get a pickup in the right spot (rerouting, but I'd still like to be able to have it be quasi-reconfigurable back into a sevenstring guitar), and figure out how to yank out the frets and reslot them in the correct hindustani positions and then referret the entire thing without causing more disasters. At least I'm a little more comfortable making a mess reslotting, since I know it'll ultimately be okay, even though I expect there to be some tear-out when I remove the original frets.
     
    Zhysick, coffeeflush and c7spheres like this.
  2. odibrom

    odibrom .

    Messages:
    4,940
    Likes Received:
    2,844
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2014
    Location:
    ... perto de onde a terra acaba e o mar começa...
    @bostjan you could start doing some photo register for us to follow your line of thought...
     
    bostjan likes this.
  3. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

    Messages:
    16,525
    Likes Received:
    5,408
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    St. Johnsbury, VT USA
    Ok, let me see what I can do.

    I'm in a heap of a mess at the moment. The tuner I installed at the 17th fret didn't hold and ripped out.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2021
  4. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

    Messages:
    16,525
    Likes Received:
    5,408
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    St. Johnsbury, VT USA
    Sorry about the horrible photo quality. A photographer I am not...

    That's where I am at now. Waiting for my posts and bridge.

    I also am in the middle of repairing the high chikari tuner, which I accidentally wiggled out about an hour ago.

    So I'm using a string with a little tension to hold the tuner into the hole for the moment.

    The 12th fret tuner seemed to work great. I'm thinking that trying to go into the 17th position was a big mistake... I should have went with more length. It seems those banjo tuners are not meant to go into a flat surface. I'm not sure exactly why, to be frank.

    The guitar itself was kind of cheap, so I'm not going to be terribly hearbroken if this goes even more sideways.

    The new bridge coming is this:
    [​IMG]

    It's six strings, and 4mm posts, so, I'm going to have to install inserts about an inch over from the current ones.


    I'm not sure those visuals help. Hopefully, a couple weeks from now, I'll have something a little more explanatory to show.
     
    Zhysick and odibrom like this.
  5. odibrom

    odibrom .

    Messages:
    4,940
    Likes Received:
    2,844
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2014
    Location:
    ... perto de onde a terra acaba e o mar começa...
    Those images are perfectly descriptive of your line of thought and action. Thank you!. I'll be following this adventure for sure.
     
  6. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

    Messages:
    16,525
    Likes Received:
    5,408
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    St. Johnsbury, VT USA
    After reflecting on my troubles with the very simple woodworking task of installing a tuner, I'm leaning away from rerouting the pickup cavity (I don't even own a proper router).

    If I can either upgrade my bridge order to piezo or install piezo elements myself under the chikari saddles, maybe that'd be a better option. It might be fun to experiment with different options. I'd prefer to have some sort of volume control over the baaj string (1st string, where 99% of the melody is played) anyway, and this might also accomplish that goal, if I can wire the 1st saddle to a cheap preamp or even just wire it to a separate pot than the other strings. It might be nifty to group the outputs by function.

    One other thing I purposely left out is the traditional mogara (little single string nut) for the single chikari strings. I might find out the good reason why those are necessary (maybe to prevent strings from breaking at the tuner?), but might as well experiment.

    Aside: Traditional Sitar playing focuses on string groups: 1. The melody (baaj - literally "playing") string, which is where all of the wild string bending happens and almost all of the melody is played, tuned to the fourth scale degree ("ma" or "fa"). 2. The jod or jure string, tuned to the root below the first string ("sa" or "do"), sometimes fretted for melody (or in very rare cases harmonizing with the first string) or, more often used as a sort of midrange drone. 3. The fifth bass (pancham karaj) string, usually just used as a bass drone, but, with this instrument, it could be used for riffing, tuned to the fifth scale degree ("pa" or "sol"). 4. The root bass (karaj) string, same idea as the 3rd string, but tuned to the tonic ("sa" or "do") one octave below the second string. 5+. Chikari strings for high accents/drones. On a traditional instrument, these aren't even over the frets, but off to the side of the fretboard, just floating in the air, and their tuning pegs would be at different points partially up the fretboard (thus my idea to use banjo tuners). When I played sitar more often, I broke these all of the time, so it seemed to me like the length, at least on my instrument, was a little too much. Most players would tune them ("sa - ga - sa" or "do sol do") one octave above the second string, a fifth above that, and then up to the next tonic (two octave above the second string), but there are varying schools of thought. On my re-imagination, you'll notice that I have only two, not three, and that I've made them very short. Part of this was because I was nervous about the tension, and part of it was because I was nervous about too much string hanging out unprotected. As much as I'd like a third chikari, I have painted myself into a corner and have no room for a third tuner now. Maybe going for the 9th and 14th frets would have been a better plan, and then put a third tuner in the cutaway pocket, but maybe there will be a "next time?"

    I should do a better job documenting this as I go, in case someone comes across this information years from now, and wants to avoid the slew of mistakes I'm about to make.
     
    c7spheres likes this.
  7. ixlramp

    ixlramp SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    2,801
    Likes Received:
    1,569
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2007
    Location:
    UK
    Mounting those banjo tuners on the side of a slim guitar neck makes me uncomfortable, i could never do that =)

    Personally, i would run the chikari to the headstock, running over a nut that projects beyond the side of the neck, then routed to the lowest 2 existing tuners. The 4 'on fretboard' strings i would reroute to higher existing tuners.
    The chikari would have to be lower pitch, but i have always disliked how high pitched traditional chikari are, a lower pitch seems more mellow for drones.

    If you ever refret to JI, tuning the baaj to the fifth instead of the fourth will greatly simplify the fret layout, increase fret spacing and reduce partial frets.
     
    bostjan likes this.
  8. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

    Messages:
    16,525
    Likes Received:
    5,408
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    St. Johnsbury, VT USA
    The guitar cost me less than 80 US dollars and it's already been through hell, so why not see what happens? ... Well, now I know what happens... banjo tuners were probably a terrible idea. Getting them in was extremely difficult and now I don't think they will even hold a tune, like at all. I tuned up to G4 and struck the string maybe twice before it was F#4 and ten seconds later, it was like a loose rubber band without even making a tone. I still don't have my bridge parts yet, so I'm holding out a last hope that the reason it's so bad is because there is no saddle yet, or maybe a bad string, but I've got a bad feeling.

    Tuning the baaj tar up a whole tone is a great idea to try. I think I do need my chikari strings to be high, though, to keep the tone of the instrument from turning to mush. I had tried once before taking the main strings all up one octave and then taking the chikaris down really low to avoid having to do this rework, but the melodies were too thin and the drones too muddy. When I took the four main strings back down, everything ended up in the same register and it sounded even worse to me, at least. It'd probably work with a different mindset, but I'm really hoping to figure out something that plays more like a sitar but maintains like a guitar, even if by trial and error.
     
    c7spheres likes this.
  9. ixlramp

    ixlramp SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    2,801
    Likes Received:
    1,569
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2007
    Location:
    UK
    More random thoughts:
    Run the chikari to the headstock tuners, but place additional chikari 'nuts' at the necessary places along the length of the neck to get the high pitches you want.
    The chikari strings could possibly run over a 'sideways orientated nut' at the headstock, deflect through a sharp break angle to run to the 3 unused tuners on the opposite side of the headstock. This way you preserve the straight string run for the 4 playing strings (you will need this for pitch stability while string bending). You could also have 3 chikaris (or 4 with an added tuner).
     
    bostjan likes this.
  10. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

    Messages:
    16,525
    Likes Received:
    5,408
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    St. Johnsbury, VT USA
    Great ideas.

    Unfortunately, If I need room for 3 additional tuners and extra fretbaord space for those three strings, I'd have to build a new neck, at which point, I'd probably just leave tabs along the edge of the neck for proper tuning machines.

    I do think that I will have to figure out some sort of string stopping mechanism.

    I did do a fun little related project this weekend, but that'll be for another thread. I'll start one, hopefully tonight, once I can get a few photos.
     
  11. ixlramp

    ixlramp SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    2,801
    Likes Received:
    1,569
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2007
    Location:
    UK
    Not sure if there is a misunderstanding ...

    I mean the chikaris would be off the fretboard as currently, run to an added 'nut' that projects off the bass side of the neck (near the existing nut), deflect sideways, cross the headstock to the existing unused 3 tuners on the treble side of the headstock.
    3 additional tuners and extra fretboard space are not needed.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2021
    bostjan likes this.
  12. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

    Messages:
    16,525
    Likes Received:
    5,408
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    St. Johnsbury, VT USA
    Ok, yes, I misunderstood.

    I'm probably stuck with the banjo tuners now, as I've already drilled into the neck and secured one of them with copious amounts of glue. Trying to get the strings to angle into the treble-side tuners would be a little bit of a feat on its own, I think.

    Either way, the question of how to install a nut off of the fretboard remains open for me. I wonder if I can glue a tiny nut onto the tuner itself, or if that'd just cause too many problems. The only other alternative is to affix something to the fretboard, but then that's another set of challenges, especially if I want to keep things out of the way of the lowest string. I wonder if I can use something very small, like the size of the head of a screw.

    Meanwhile, I don't know if EYB is sick of me bugging them or if they are just on vacation, but last I was told, my bridge was going to ship sometime around the 15th, and I can't really finalize much else without that piece of the puzzle.

    For my other project (oversimplified re-imagining of a tampura), I made my own not-adjustable-intonation jawari bridge out of delrin, and by making it adjustable up/down independently on four corners, I can get a really good buzzing effect. I also made a nut out of delrin with a gradually sloping profile. The overtones kind of dance around as the string vibrates. It worked out better than I had imagined. But, on the other hand, my woodworking skills are exceptionally poor.
     
  13. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

    Messages:
    16,525
    Likes Received:
    5,408
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    St. Johnsbury, VT USA

    Rough demo recording with some bad photos...
    Still waiting on my bridge from Eyb, but I installed the posts and a plain ol' tone-o-matic.
     
    neun Arme, Zhysick and c7spheres like this.
  14. c7spheres

    c7spheres GuitArtist

    Messages:
    3,433
    Likes Received:
    3,112
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2017
    Location:
    Arizona
    That sounds awesome!
     
    bostjan likes this.
  15. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

    Messages:
    16,525
    Likes Received:
    5,408
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    St. Johnsbury, VT USA
    Thanks so much!

    Hopefully it will sound much better with a proper bridge. I haven't heard from Eyb for about a week and thought he was shipping mid January, but now I'm not sure, since Ernie Ball had moved January back to spring (joke re: JP 8). Either way, I hope he's doing well.

    I also feel like I need some sort of ultra-low budget tablas, as I mentioned, but that's going to be way more tricky. One of my idols in science, CV Raman, wrote a paper about what makes tablas sound like they do, and it's simple enough in theory, but practicality is a totally different story...
     
    Zhysick and c7spheres like this.
  16. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

    Messages:
    16,525
    Likes Received:
    5,408
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    St. Johnsbury, VT USA
    Welp.

    Months have passed since they were supposed to restock, and the only updates I've received on my bridge are perpetually "next week." I'm not in a super rush, but it's mildly frustrating. Oh well, plenty of time to practice a couple raags without the twang, so, they should sound good if I can finish this project before I dry up into a mummy.
     
  17. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

    Messages:
    16,525
    Likes Received:
    5,408
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    St. Johnsbury, VT USA
    I got my bridge. I hope to get some samples up soon, but my wife *hates* the sound of the new bridge, so I might have to wait until she's busy.

    I spent some time this weekend setting it up. It was super easy to get the effect on the wound strings. Pluck note- bing, adjust angle screw- bzzz all set. On the plain strings, the sweet spot is tiny, though. I got it set up, tuned the string (less than a half step) and the buzzing went from perfect to completely gone. Honestly, if I changed the angle I was holding the instrument, it would go from buzzing to clear to sounding like it was muted (on the baj string). A little bit less touchy on the chikaris, but still the same problem if I set the guitar down for a minute and picked it back up, the effect was typically gone, but sometimes just muted the strings as if my hand was resting heavily on the bridge.

    Eyb said this should settle in a day or so.

    I sort of expected the inserts that cause the buzzing to be slightly rounded, but, they appear to be flat. There's also nothing guiding the string over the saddle (notch etc.), so getting the desired effect on a note doesn't mean that you get the desired effect when bending the string, since I've already had the string pop off of the insert once or twice. I was doing crazy bends, but, unfortunately, that's sort of the point of this kind of instrument.
     
    Zhysick and c7spheres like this.
  18. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

    Messages:
    16,525
    Likes Received:
    5,408
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    St. Johnsbury, VT USA

    As you can probably tell, I set it up for noticeable but minimal buzzing effect. The melody string barely buzzes, but if I have any more buzz, it throws off the intonation pretty badly (the insert angle is too rough). I've had the action up higher than 6mm, and this phenomenon doesn't subside entirely, it just starts higher up the fretboard.
     
    ixlramp, Bloody_Inferno and c7spheres like this.

Share This Page