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ichadwick
02-19-2014, 03:38 AM
I want to tinker with my Risa tenor/Jupiter baritone steel-stringed ukes to fit a custom bridge that will make the strings vibrate and produce a sitar-like sound.

Any suggestions? Anyone else tried this?

Jon Moody
02-19-2014, 03:52 AM
Much of the sound of a sitar is derived from the extra drone strings. If you can add enough of those, it should approximate it well enough.

Also remember that on a sitar, the frets are as such that you never really touch the fingerboard, so you get a more metallic and thinner, biting sound when you play.

PhilUSAFRet
02-19-2014, 05:10 AM
Get a harp ukulele, doesn't sound exactly like a sitar, but it's a uke http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEHqlBb94GQ

Also found a cool pinching technique a guy uses to make his uke sound more like a sitar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBJfaprk62Y

ichadwick
02-19-2014, 11:18 AM
Much of the sound of a sitar is derived from the extra drone strings...
Yes, but the strings (including the sympathetic ones) vibrate on an extended bridge. I'm looking to make or buy one.

~dave~~wave~
02-19-2014, 06:48 PM
What you're imagining is a uke version of the Coral Electric Sitar.
I was lucky enough to pick up an asian copy years ago when Musician's Friend sold them for $299.

For starters, you'd save a lot of time and trouble by spending $250 on the Electro-Harmonix "Ravish" sitar effects pedal.
http://www.ehx.com/products/ravish

If you insist on butchering one of your nice ukes, you're going down a lonesome road.

You're correct in that the key to the sound of the electric guitar version of sitar has nothing to do with the sympathetic strings, and everything to do with the "buzz bridge."
My experience with my instrument is the same as Wikipedia:

...A unique type of bridge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridge_(instrument)), a "buzz bridge" (developed by session musicianVincent Bell (http://www.vinniebell.com/)), helps give the instrument its distinctive sound (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jivari)...
The "sympathetic" strings on most electric sitars do not resonate strongly enough to match the effect of an acoustic sitar... the sound is more like an autoharp (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autoharp) than a sitar...

Gotoh makes an electric sitar bridge, part number SB-5810-010

Here's a DIY blog by a guy who did his own conversion: http://aaronlumguitar.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-diy-sitarcaster-revisited.html
It has a good diagram of how a buzz bridge works and photos of the original product and his improvised version.

I really need to see a video if your pipe dream comes to fruition, best of luck.

ichadwick
02-20-2014, 03:35 AM
What you're imagining is a uke version of the Coral Electric Sitar.

;) Yes!



If you insist on butchering one of your nice ukes, you're going down a lonesome road.

Well, not exactly. No ukes will be harmed in this experiment.

A bridge of this sort can be removable. I was thinking of something either screw-in like the Gotoh sitar bridge (replacing the bridge on my Risa or Jupiter) or that got placed under the strings near the saddle and was held in place by a bit of putty (the sort motorcyclists use to attach emblems to gas tanks... still have some in my garage).

I played the sitar back in the 70s - a real one, not a Coral. I wish I'd kept it, but I was young and foolish.

vonbiber
02-20-2014, 10:35 PM
In this music store in New York City called ``The Music Inn'' (in the West Village, somewhere on W. 4th St.)
I once saw they carried sitarkuleles.
Their web site: http://www.musicinnworldinstruments.com
On this page there are 2 models of sitarkuleles:
http://musicinnworldinstruments.com/market/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=726_1784_984&sort=20a&page=4

PeteyHoudini
02-21-2014, 06:28 AM
Hi Ian,

I love the Sitar as well. I bought a Sitar-kulele but could never tune it properly. The tuning pegs wouldn't stick. I'm still saving it for a rainy day to figure it out. I have a MelBay Sitar book as well that explains a lot. I got some melodic ideas from the book before I did my song "Sitar Lights" as mentioned above.

I noticed there is a fusion guitar sitar.

Fusion Sitar/guitar
http://www.mid-east.com/banjira-Sitar-Fusion-Electric-Taraf-Gears-Dark-G-Rosul

cheers,

Petey

iamesperambient
02-21-2014, 09:13 AM
I want to tinker with my Risa tenor/Jupiter baritone steel-stringed ukes to fit a custom bridge that will make the strings vibrate and produce a sitar-like sound.

Any suggestions? Anyone else tried this?

acoustically for some reason my konablaster makes a sitar/tambura like tone but not when plugged in. i think its a really cool idea im actually trying to find a way to get a tambura myself at the moment.

The Big Kahuna
02-21-2014, 09:16 AM
I tried to emulate a Sitar by hanging paperclips from the strings by the bridge on electric and steel-string acoustic guitars once, about 30 years ago.

They sounded like guitars with paperclips hanging from the strings.

Might want to give it a try though.

Warbulele
02-21-2014, 09:46 AM
I find it heartening what lively response there was to this idea. I'm cheering you on too, the sitar has a very interesting effect on people, it's other worldly.
It's certainly possible to get the vibration sound, I've done it accidentally on both my guitar (steel string) and Uke (Aquila Nylgut strings).

But, I'm not sure "how much" you want it to sound like a sitar: the note bending on a sitar comes from the very high frets, much like a Chinese Pipa. See photo (http://www.cs.princeton.edu/sound/research/controllers/esitar/images/frets.jpg)

Not that this would be a complete road block - depending on how heavily you are willing to mod the Uke, you could raise (replace) the nut, and there would be multiple ways to make high frets like this. Either by copying the sitar (using metal arcs) or simply stacking layers of narrow shims on the frets with some kind of adhesive. These shims could be made of bamboo slats, which are very hard due to high silica content, which would mean the strings would vibrate freely, and bamboo is easy to split into narrow pieces, it separates easily.

For the strings to sound right:
The harder the strings, the easier it is, the sitar uses metal strings. Aquila isn't the hardest Nylon out there, and there are steel strings for Ukes, but AFAIK only for the wound 3rd and 4th strings. When I tried Ko'Olau Golds (nylon), they sounded harder to my hearing than Aquila Nylguts (more guitar like).
Chinese pipa strings are very hard and guitar like - available on ebay - would likely need a new nut to accomodate the wider string diameter. The silk sounds more soulful than metal, and operate at lower tension than metal (Ukes can't handle high tension required for unwound metal AFAIK).

Good luck, keep us posted!