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

Letters to the Editor

Date: Tue, 30 Jul 1996 15:15:20 -0700
From: Carl Cook
To: info [at] batish.com
Subject: hello,

Mr Batish,

I was searching around the net one day and decided just for the sake of it to do a search on the "SITAR" and I found your wonderful pages. I've found the Sitar lessons very interesting and quite informative.


I'm 32 and I've been playing guitar since I was 9, I'm very proficient at all aspects of guitar and have always found the sound of the Sitar very interesting. It has a somewhat hypnotic, calming affect. There are a few things that I would like to know. One is that, are the fret spacings half note steps and if they are not is it very difficult to move them and retie them into place?

Unlike the Western equal temprament where each half step is made equal (100 cents) In Indian music the ratios are not like this. We tune in the pure/harmonic tuning. So the fret spacing varies. It is in a way close to the Western but the differences can make or break the beauty of the scale (raga). I hope this isn't confusing. It might be a good idea to do a little article on this.

Since I'm more proficient at guitar fingerings if the fret spacings are half note steps I could tune the 7 playing strings as though it were a 7 string guitar which would correspond to Ga Dha Re' Pa' Ni' GA' Dha' which should be E A D G B E A. Then all I'd would just tune the sypathetic strings to the scale or internodals of the song that I'm playing.

The sitar doesn't work like a guitar where more than one string can be played together. The relationships are geared for an open tuning. One of my lessons covers this I believe. Fingering across frets is not done except in the lower part of the sitar where the strings are close enought to the frets to make this possible.

If you have any more insight on this let me know. I'm also looking for a good Sitar to start on and I don't have a fortune to spend. The prices I've seen on most of them start at around 1500 to 1600 and go up from there. So if you know any place I might find a decent for not a lot of money let me know. thanks,
Mike Meadors

You should be able to pick one up for about half that price.... I think. Unless the prices have really jumped. We have a supplier I can talk to and find out.


Ashwin Batish

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