The Maharaja


I feel proud to introduce this particular sitar, which  I have decided to name (for obvious reasons) "The Maharaja".

The challenge in this case was to completely transform a sitar from the 50's built by Sher Mohammad in Pakistan (Rikhi Ram's teacher before the partition of India). So yes, this is despite of its looking, a genuine vintage sitar.








This sitar has a particular history......the instrument was hanging on a wall for 70 years as a decorative object and came into my hands almost by accident.

Although the instrument was aesthetically very simple and without any particular attribute to highlight, I quickly saw clear potential in it, since the body of the instrument was well built, made of pine wood and at the end..... ..the instrument was seasoning more than 5 decades waiting for a chance!









At this point I decided to take the risk and customize it to the extreme just for pleasure. The idea was to turn an instrument that would go unnoticed in the eyes of any sitariya into a piece worthy of admiration.

The main idea was to contrast the black color with brass and from there comes the combination of materials that define the Maharaja sitar.

Most of the decorations are made of pure brass while the wood used for the main bridges is African Blackwood......wood that I have been using for years in substitution of Indian ebony which tends to be pretty soft in comparision. On the other hand, I even considered using solid brass for the main bridge, but I finally put this idea out of my mind since I knew, almost certainly, the final sound would not be to my liking.











Leaving aside all the work done that defines the particular aesthetics of the instrument (such as the main brass gourd), I also wanted to dare to make some new innovations. The most notable of these are undoubtedly the frets of the instrument, made in a combination of pure brass and African Gabon ebony and clearly inspired by the frets of a rudraveena although clearly curved, like the frets of any modern sitar.







After many months and many unexpected events, the sitar was completed, adjusted and , although I was happy with the aesthetic result, I felt a bit nervous since sound was and always had been a mystery reserved exclusively for the end of the project.

Luckily for me, this instrument (halfway between a sitar and a surbahar due to the width of its neck) shows a very defined sound and a beautiful sympathetic response, somewhat metallic and warm at the same time. The sustain is more than acceptable and after trying several registers, I decided to give it a fairly closed jawary, which is in my opinion, the sound that best suits the nature of the instrument.







That said, I hope you enjoy the photographs and at this point I can only thank the hours shared with my mother during the construction process (who sadly passed away to a better life a few months ago), my wife Cristina for the support, encouragement and motivation and finally, to my great friend from a distance and sitar fanatic like me, Victor Cabello for his words and knowledge. Thank you all.