A publication of the Batish Institute of Indian Music and Fine Arts

Question & Answers about your Sitar's Jawari

by Ashwin Batish

levi23 wrote:

Greetings. I've recently acquired a sitar which needs reconditioning (the Hindi name for the treatment-- starts with "jawa...."-- escapes me as I'm new to all of this)......

The term you refer to is "Jawari". It is crucial this be ground correctly in order to give it a clear sound and good sustain especially for gamak purposes.

The best tool to use for this is a file (medium gauge). Don't use sand paper as this will tend to grind it unevenly. Some "Jawari" openers will use razor blades. Caution is advised as this also has a tendency to grind unevenly. It can be used for the final touchup.

There are two main styles common to Jawari. Khula (open) and bandha (closed). Ravi Shankar's sitar would be a good example of the "open" sounding Jawari. Nikhil Banerji's sitar sound would give you a good example of how a "closed" Jawari sounds.


followup question..... Shantigram Venkatesh Jagannath wrote:

What exactly does the word "jawari" mean and refer to? Is it the bridge on which the strings sit? Or is it the act of filing down the bridge to eliminate the grooves which suppress the sound of the sitar?

"Jawari" is the process of optimizing the tonal quality of an instrument such as sitar, tanpura, veena. I have even heard it being applied to tablas where a thread is inserted under the chanti portion to raise the skin and hence add more resonance to the drum. On a tanpura, the Jawari is opened by inserting a thread under each string on the bridge and sliding it until a noticable increase in the vibration of the string becomes evident. The thread literally raises the string such that it vibrates upon the bridge.

The bridge is called "Ghodi" (Ghoda means horse).

The act of filing the "Ghodi" is a part of the "Jawari" optimization process.

What is the difference between "khula" and "bandh" jawari?

"Khulla" means open. Hence the timbre of the instrument is vibrant, bright and resonant. The string has a raised front half to create this tone.

"Bandha" means closed. Jawari gurus will usually lay the string with full contact with the bone surface to produce this type of tone. It has a dull sound but produces more sustain and triggers the sympathetic string more effectively

How frequently should we have the jawari "fixed"?

That depends on the condition of the surface. You are correct in your summation that the grooves on the bridge hinder resonance. Usually when these get deep, a tinny sound timbre is noticable. This is a good time to fix it. The Khulla Jawaris develope this problem quicker than the Bandha type.

Hope this is of help. This answer will also be posted on our RagaNet electronic magazine pages.

Ashwin Batish


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