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This very cool instrument was made by Jerry Jones in Nashville and is a reproduction of the Danelectro/Coral sitar from the '60s. It is just a guitar with a special buzzing bridge to make the sitar sound and "sympathetic" strings that don't vibrate sympathetically. Mine is heavily customized, of course. I didn't like the tuners, so I put mini Grovers on it.
It originally had no buzzing bridge on the sympathetic strings, so they sounded like an autoharp instead of a sitar (listen to Steve Miller's "Wild Mountain Honey" to hear the symp strings on a Coral). Former bandmate/guitarist/artist/luthier/maniac Pat Jordan made me a buzzing bridge for the sympathetic strings, so now I can rake the pick across them, and it sounds like a sitarist preparing to render a raga. (Hear it: 33K mp3)
I get a lot of emails asking about this custom bridge. If you are interested, you can email Pat Jordan.
I then mounted the guts from a DOD DFX-94 delay pedal inside the sitar to facilitate making a drone sound for playing Indian duets.The pedal derives its power through the audio cable, which is stereo.
Delay level ---> Infinite repeat button w/LED----> Fast time + fast decay/ Slow time + slow decay ---> (To quickly bleed the sound out of the delay between songs)
<--- Pickup selector <--- Tone <--- Delay On/Off
Because the digital delay eats batteries like there is no tomorrow, power is provided to it through the guitar cable, which is 3-conductor. A splitter box is used to connect the sitar's cable to the amp and 9V adapter:
Homemade Sitar body Splitter Box +---------------------+ +--------+ +-------------+ | | | 9V AC +------>|-------->Ring+<--------->|Tip<-Audio out | |Adapter | 1/8"| +-Tip | 1/4" |Ring->9V for delay | +--+-+---+ | | | Stereo | | | | | | | Cable +---------------------+ | | | Audio out <-----|-------+ | to amp 1/4" | | Mono +-------------+
Here is my version of the famous Indian raga Hapibhor Dhetuyu using the modified sitar and SwarShala software for the tabla sounds. (1610 K mp3)
To hear more of the modified sitar in action, go to the Indian Duets page.
I use very light strings on the sitar to increase the sitar buzz:
009 010 011 021 030 038
The sitar came with regular set of 010's, but I didn't like how they sounded. The G string hardly buzzed at all. Using the lighter string gauges listed above helped a lot.
At the time I did the above delay modification, I didn't have any looping pedals to use for drones. Now I do, so recently I yanked the delay pedal completely out of the sitar. I'm still in the process of rewiring...I decided to try putting a Fender TBX tone circuit on the "sympathetic" strings to cut bass frequencies and make them sound more like a real sitar. I'll update the page when I get around to finishing that.