The Electric Sitar


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.

String Gauges

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.

Phase 2

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.