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Sitar Ravi Shankar Style
Ravi Shankar Style
Sitar Vilayat Khan Style
Vilayat Khan Style

Sound Sample


The Sitar is the most popular melody instrument in classical northern Indian music today and is, together with the Surbahar and the Tanpura, part of the family of long-neck lutes. The large resonance box is made of a dried pumpkin; - neck, cover and a possible second smaller resonance box are mostly made of Tun wood, an Indian variety of teakwood. Metal strings made of steel (bass strings also of brass or bronze) run across two bridges made of bone. The frets are movable by cords that are tied to the neck and are also made of steel. Depending on the special features of the Sitar (full decoration, plain decoration or Sitars in Vilyat Khan style) it is more or less lavishly decorated with inlaid work of celluloid.

The Sitars that are being made nowadays can be divided into two main categories. One group complies with the so-called "Ravi Shankar Style" (Kharaj-Pancham) in construction and features, the other group orientates itself to the Vilayat Khan Style. On both forms of Sitars, different musical styles are played. Sitars in the Ravi Shankar style usually have 2 resonance boxes, 13 sympathetic resonant strings and 7 playing strings. 4 of the 7 playing strings are played as melody strings and comprise 4 octaves.

The Sitars in the"Vilayat Khan Style" (Gandhar-Pancham) have only one resonance box on principle.There are 11 sympathetic resonant strings and 6 playing strings, 2 of which are played as melody strings over a range of three octaves. The design is unsophisticated and decorations and inlays are sparse.


The central element in tuning a Sitar is the keynote which can be selected individually and is usually between c and d, often c sharp, depending on the desired sound pattern.

Tuning in Ravi Shankar style (Kharaj-Pancham):

2nd string (Jure) - tuning to the keynote
4th string (Kharaj) - tuning an octave lower than the keynote
6th string (Chikari) - tuning an octave higher than the keynote
7th string (Chikari) - tuning two octaves higher than the keynote
5th string (Pancham-Chikari) - is the fifth over the keynote
3th string (Pancham) - is the fifth in the lower octave
1st string is the main playing string (Baj) and is tuned to the fourth

So, if you have chosen c sharp as the keynote, the following tuning results: f sharp, c sharp, G sharp, C sharp, g sharp, c' sharp, c'' sharp.

The sympathetic resonating strings (Taraf) are tuned to the applied scale. The longest resonating string is tuned to the keynote and then you tune from the lower seventh upwards to the high third. An especially important note in the middle octave can be tuned twice.

Tuning in Vilayat Khan style (Gandhar-Pancham)

The first two strings are tuned exactly as in Kharaj-Pancham style (see above), neither is there a difference for the two Chikari and the Pancham-Chikari strings. Instead of the two low melody strings Pancham and Kharaj, however, in Gandhar-Pancham-Sitars only one additional Chikari steel string is used. This string is tuned either to the big or small third. Thus the complete tuning of the playin strings with c sharp as keynote looks like this: f sharp, c sharp, f, g sharp, c' sharp, c'' sharp. For the resonant strings the tuning usually starts with the seventh and then goes up the scale to the third in the high octave.


As standard tuning for a Kharaj-Pancham Sitar (see above) the following strings can be used:
1st 0,30 mm steel
2nd 0,40 mm bronze
3rd 0,55 mm bronze
4th 0,85 mm brass
5th 0,27 mm steel
6th/7th & taraf 0,22 mm steel
These (and other) strings can be ordered from TARANG either as a complete set or individually or on rolls.


Both, the Sitar and the Surbahar are played in a sitting position on the floor. The pumpkin body rests upon the musician's foot and the instrument is held in a way that the neck is in a slanted position of about 45 degrees in front of the player. The playing strings that run across the large bridge are plucked using a wire finger pick on the right index finger. The resonant strings that run across the small bridge vibrate automatically without being plucked. The left hand fingers the melody on the frets. The strings are not only pressed down on the frets but also pulled sideways. This technique makes the unbelievable variety of ornamentation and microtones possible that is so essential in Indian music.

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Tarang's offer on Indian Musical Instruments

TARANG offers on principle only high-qualtiy musical instruments. This is made possible by close personal contact to the suppliers and a strict selection of the instruments that are included in our range of goods. We do not offer any instruments which reach the west from unknown sources via importers and which are often resold by middlemen without any quality check and setting of the instrument. The demand from the west is relatively high in India. The purchase prices are negotiated to the lowest limit by the western countries, especially for high ordered quantities. This has effects on the required care and circumspection in craftsmanship, on the experience and mentality of the commissioned manufacturer and the use of parts of the instruments that are often of a poor qualtity. Irrespective of the qualification of the skill in craftsmanship, this leads, in some cases, to results that do not deserve the name instrument. Thus it is easily comprehensible that it is essential, when bying an Indian instrument, to know the sources. TARANG only supplies instruments from indisputable sources. All instruments are delivered adjusted and ready to be played.

Of course, we understand that somebody who purchases an instrument is also dependent on accessories and spare parts. Also in this respect we can satisfy the needs of our customers. Should an instrument be defective at any time, we can arrange for appropriate restoration. As a rule we can deliver any instrument offered on our website within 1 - 2 weeks. Our international lists of teachers enable everybody to find information about a teacher in their proximity. You can expect from us: reasonable prices, prompt service and straightforward processing of purchase and delivery.

The financial aspect also has to be mentioned. Despite the high quality we offer, we also do our best to offer you these instruments at very competitive and reasonable prices.


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