Development and creation of a new instrument with 16 strings.The Sit-guitar was designed to play the music of North India.Its vibrations are a mix of sitar and guitar playing technique of left hand techniques are used (from sitar strings) and sarod (ropes dragged) the right hand uses techniques sarod.

Pathway in the development of a new instrument.

The idea to transform a guitar came to me after my first visit to Benares in 1997. Wanting to introduce me to classical music of North India, I took courses with the sitarist Amar Nath Mishra on a folk acoustic guitar, 6 strings. I must admit, however, shortly thereafter, that the limitations of this instrument would not allow me to fully explore the ragas. I then found myself faced with a choice:

1. Change instruments, familiarizing myself with the sitar, sarod or the Mohad-Vina (Indian slide-guitar that is played on the knees with one stone)

2. Enjoy my experience and my skills as a guitarist since 1974, and therefore adapt a guitar to get involved in the vibrations of Indian music.

Dilemma? No ! Very quickly, and in 1999, I started to design the sit-guitar.

The mental development of the instrument, inspired by the sounds of sitar and sarod, materialized by a prototype guitar sounds Indian

While I am not the first guitarist to be attracted to Indian stringed instruments and similarities of sounds / techniques between guitar and sitar or sarod on. To cite just include the most famous musicians who are embarked on this type of transformation, John McLaughlin. For my part, I knew pretty quickly define what I wanted as an instrument, the transformation process was initiated.

I did not want to build a non-tempered instrument with frets removable. It seemed important to keep the opportunity to play chords … I did not want to build a guitar, I wanted to change the instrument and make him learn new skills.

Development process and construction
My first idea was the addition of a bumblebee named chikari. The Chikari consists of two small ropes used to punctuate the different types of musical discourse peculiar to Indian music. For this addition, so I bought a Takamine 12 string of average bills, limiting the damage in case of failure in the project. Why a twelve string? because it seemed essential to have at my disposal a sufficient amount of mechanical for the addition of new strings and a neck capable of supporting a higher voltage than a normal 6 string guitar. The handle, wider, and would allow me to pull the strings more easily in a downward motion (bending technique of sitar). – Played 6 strings guitar (normal string guitar) (a) – 2 Chikari strings, Which are Usually found in all Indian string instruments, as the drone. (B) – 8 sympathetic strings Called “taraf” (c)

Step 1

The first difficulty was to find a bracket for attaching the strings that were not facing the handle. For this vibration, I had to adapt a bridge, broad, rounded, causing the rope on an extension of the note (“sustain”).
The first difficulty was to find a bracket for attaching the strings that were not facing the handle.
I first used the existing holes in the bridge and pierced some holes, used the same bridge, diverting the strings with a screw. We also had to lengthen the nut at the top of the handle.

The Djavari was made in Delhi by Ajay Das and his father (store Rikhi Ram). These two passionate, colorful and knowledge, I have always provided valuable support, and this, throughout the design of the instrument.

The first amendments so made, I set the tone of the instrument: D (D) and began to work the technique of chikari … Quite an art. I quickly realized I did not like the strings of chikari 4, (a record in 2001 with the chikari 4 strings), I, therefore, reduces the number of strings 2. Was it then possible to use mechanical unused for four sympathetic strings (called Taraf).

Diameter ropes (gauge) and bend and slide technique. During the first year, it was very difficult to find the correct diameter for each of the six strings. The techniques of Mind (bend down as a sitarist of glissando a sarod) and gamaks (with) multiple ornaments difficult to achieve for the uninitiated, is painfully felt in the fingers by the tension that is imposed. I was so tempted to put thinner strings to have less pain. But these strings did not have enough volume and they curled. I even tried for a short time, a string “plain” in bronze for the Sol, which would enable me to “slide (slide) without noise, routinely broke the rope. It took me over a year to finalize the diameters of the strings (string game) that I play today. D 62, A 42, G 22 B 29 D 15 E 12. I sometimes mix the phosphor-bronze and bronze.

At one point, for technical bend, I was tempted to bend my neck like a sitar. However, after a long conversation with Roy Chaudury, one of my teachers in Delhi, I gave it up. We were in 2002, I was no longer a novice. Roy then advised me to content myself with the limitations of my instrument, and to take advantage. Indeed, by the technique of bend, I pulled some strings on and could drop to 2-tone why waste more months to convert an instrument rather than devote that time to play music with the instrument that I had designed. Years later, I remember this moment as one of the key moments of the journey I made.

step 2

We had to find a location on the body of the guitar to tighten the strings of Chikari and that of Taraf. I wanted to add a new bridge on the body. This option, very expensive, did not prove wise. The table of the guitar would not have endured the tension. Following the recommendations of luthier Jacques Vincenti, I opted for a mandolin bridge.
Back to Delhi with Ajay Das, I built two new djavaris; for a chikaris two strings, one for four strings tarafs. Djavari prototype
The transformation seemed complete, returning the strings vibrate. They afforded me a sensation unequaled by any other instrument I’ve played before. Yet I sensed that I was missing … yet sympathetic strings. 5 notes struck in sympathy, if I could adapt to 7 or 8, I could cover all the notes of a raga, entirely within an octave. It was a new challenge. How to set new lifts on the head of the guitar neck? Random conversations, it was suggested to me to adapt the mechanical Banjo. It was the key to the problem. Mechanics that grant from the underside of the shaft without gearing, or quarter turn. I then hastened to set two, then three of these mechanisms in Geneva, complemented by a new movement in Delhi, to make a new Djavari. From that moment, I had the feeling of “completion” of the Sit-guitar. The metamorphosis had taken nearly 5 years. It was November 2004, and the prototype was finalized.

Step 3

The construction of a new guitar with 16 strings. Moon
At this point, I had an instrument that certainly filled me enormously, but that was only a prototype. Therefore, I decided to build a sit-guitar and found myself looking for a guitar maker. After a few months, my investigations led me to choose the luthier MOON, Glasgow (Scotland) to whom I have communicated all the instructions for the realization of my instrument. I also chose the wood, rosewood Mozambique, Siberian pine, ebony. The manufacture of the guitar took a little over a year and in late March 2007, I discovered the instrument. Amazement on my part, the Sit-guitar MOON was born. This instrument has all the characteristics of the prototype but timbre is infinitely richer, the “sustain” and incomparable quality of wood used makes a remarkable instrument.
Acknowledgments

I would particularly thank those who contributed to the prototype, by their critics, their expertise. I have already mentioned several times Ajay Das and his father, recently deceased, with whom I experienced moments of pure magic. We discussed plans and strategies élaborions all changes before they are real. The next day, the guitar was no longer the same, it sounds different from the previous day. They have definitely been drawn by the challenge of the Guitar and Sit-have contributed to the monitoring of the transformation. But today I also want to thank Mike Cameron (London) and Michael Fenwick (Geneva), two guitar luthiers who have “given” the prototype, by changing the bridge and who, each in turn, have remade the Nut ( broken more than 5 times). Using the same nut, they finally raise the chikari.

I thank Jacques for his contribution Vincenti and the luthier MOON, his two associates, for having started this manufacturing company.

My Learning

My learning of classical music of North India was not painless. Through my training as a professional musician and teacher, I left with a specific requirement and real expectations. I had to find a master for years. During this quest, I studied with Amar Nath Mishra and Raj Singh Ban (sitarist Benares) Vikaj Maharaj (Sarod Benares) Vinod Lele (tabla in Benares), Sabri Khan (sarangi in Delhi), Roy Chaudury, sarod Delhi and Upaydhe Atul (Pune violinist). I therefore traveled throughout India, and since 2000 lived in Benares, Delhi, Pune and Calcutta for more than three and a half years. But it was, actually, in 2004, that my encounter with Kushal Das, sitar from Calcutta, was decisive. My search took a lot of sense.

My left hand technique for the minds and gamaks borrows heavily from the Sitar technique, although more limited, sit the guitar allows me to pull some strings (mind) in some places the handle up to 2 colors, I can even to bend faster (GAMAK) to a tone and a half. Many thanks to Kushal Das, teacher and musician noted for the great help he gave me in learning these techniques. For the right hand, and the technique chikari is to the sarod as I turned, I learned a lot with Vikaj Maharaj in Benares.