Whether you're new to sitars or are looking to pickup another one, we're confident you'll be satisfied with our selection. If you're looking to buy a sitar online, we encourage you to take a look at our inventory and contact us if you have any questions!
There is a number of factors you should consider before buying a sitar, including: the depth of its carving, the quality of its meend, its fret quality, and its physical condition (looks online can be deceiving).
A quality sitar will have a clean and deep carving. It will have a good meend (in other words, its ability to bend or pull the main string for a wider range of notes). Its taraf (sympathetic strings) will assist you in coaxing out the deepest, richest sounds. The strings should add resonance and volume to the sitar's sound. A quality sitar will feature thick, solid frets. They should also be tied on with thread; cheaper sitars are tied with nylon fishing line, which is not very durable and doesn’t hold as tightly.
We at Old Delhi Music strongly recommend that you get a case. Padded gig bags are okay for short trips around town, but a hard fiberglass case will offer the best protection for your sitar.
When buying a sitar online, it's all too common that you'll find cracks in the gourd or impressions and swirls on the finish. You'll then have to pay to have these issues addressed, which is why we recommend you order direct from Old Delhi Music. We closely inspect each instrument before shipping out, and we'll quickly address any issues that arise after purchase.
If you're new to sitars, all of this may be overwhelming. Not to fear. We have sitars available for players of all skill level, and each sitar comes with a quality assurance from Old Delhi Music.
If you're looking for a capable, entry-level sitar, speak with us personally and we can recommend you a good brand to start with. We can recommend a best sitar for beginners, as well as some of the overall best sitar brands.
In general, the sitars on the lower end of the price scale are mass-produced, lack high levels of quality control, and will force you to spend more time trying to keep it in tune than you will playing.
Popular sitar brands:
The sitar is a plucked stringed instrument used in Hindustani classical music. Its distinctive sound and resonance are the product of sympathetic strings, unique bridge design, a long hollow neck, and a gourd-shaped resonance chamber.
It is closely related to the tanpura, which we discuss below. One big difference between the two is the frets present on the sitar. The frets on a sitar are movable, which allows the player to tune exactly to their preference.
Sitars will have 18, 19, 20, or 21 strings. Six or seven of these are played strings which run over curved, raised frets, and the remainder are sympathetic strings which run underneath the frets and resonate in sympathy with the played strings. A sitar has two bridges - the larger bridge, called the badaa goraa, is for the playing and drone strings; the smaller bridge is for sympathetic strings.
Two of the more popular sitars are the "gayaki style" (aka "Vilayat Khan style") and the "instrumental style" (aka "Ravi Shankar style"). The instrumental style is often made from seasoned toon wood.
The Ravi Shankar style is probably the most recognizable style. It has 7 main playing strings, which include one Ma string (the 1st string), a jora string (2nd), two kharaj strings (lower octave strings), and three chickari strings (used for rhythm ornamentation). The Vilayat Khan style sports a simpler design and is carved without decorative pen work. They also have only 6 main strings, 4 chickari (rhythm) strings, 1 Jora and one main string.
To play a sitar, you will balance the instrument between your left foot and right knee, holding it at a 45° angle. Your hands are able to move freely without being responsible for much of the sitar's weight. The sitar is used as a solo instrument with tambura (drone-lute) and tabla (drums) and in ensembles.
There is some confusion regarding the difference between a sitar, a sarod, and a sarangi. We've clarified that here: A sitar is a fretted lute. A sarod is a fretless lute. A sarangi is a bowed fretless instrument.
Closely related to the sitar is the tanpura, which is also known as the tambura, tanbura, tampura, or tambora. It's a long-necked plucked lute, and its shape is somewhat similar to sitar. It has no frets and is often used as an accompanying instrument due to its overtone-rich sound. Tanpura strings are plucked one after the other in a regular pattern.
There are three main styles of tanpuras:
Miraj style: probably the favorite form for Hindurstani players. It has a rounded resonator plate and long, hollow neck. Its wood is usually tun or peak, and its bridge is fashioned from one piece of bone.
Tanjore style: popular with south Indian players, specifically Carnatic music perfomers. Instead of a gourd, it has a spherical portion gouged from a solid block of wood. The tanjore style is typically fashioned from jackwood.
Tanpuri style: The Tanpuri style is two to three foot long, making it the smallest of the three. It will have anywhere from four to six strings.
All tanpuris fall into one of three categories: instrumental, male, or female.
Old Delhi Music has its roots in Urbana, Illinois, but we frequently do business with customers across the United States, Australia, Europe, Canada, and Mexico.
Why go through the hassle of ordering from a mass-production outlet only to have more work to do after receiving your sitar in the mail? All instruments from Old Delhi Music are of the highest quality, and our careful packing ensures safe delivery of your sitar. If you're looking to buy a sitar online, Old Delhi Music is the best choice.