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Sitar goes out of tune with meends

Posted by Moderator on

Q: When I pull a note or two on my Ma string, the whole sitar seems to go out of tune a little bit. Is there something wrong with my sitar? Maybe the neck is warped or loose?

A: All sitars, even the very best, go slightly out of tune when you do a long meend on the Ma string. This is especially noticeable in the bass strings of a Ravi Shankar style sitar. When you pull 4 or 5 notes, this puts extra pressure on the bridge, which then sinks down slightly into the tabli (face), and slightly changes the string tension. If the tabli were thick enough for this not to happen, the sitar wouldn't sound good. That is the dilemma faced by all sitar makers. So the problem (in a good sitar) really has nothing to do with the neck. On a cheap sitar, a warped or loose neck might exacerbate this problem.

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