Last Updated on Wed, Mar 24, 2004

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Welcome to Sitar Section

Lesson 01: Looking at sitar

1. A front view

As mentioned in "Organology" section, the instrument has its two major parts: body and neck.

The neck has typically nineteen or twenty metal arch-shaped frets tied by threads, however, the number of frets varies according to grade, style, or makers of the instrument. The neck is thicker than that of standard acoustic guitar, also, the back of neck is round-shaped.

Sitar: a front view

2. Body

The body is usually made of a kind of calabash [Lagenaria leucantha (Cucurbitaceae) L.] , which was dried, hollowed and cut into appropriate shape and size. The body is usually covered by sound board made of some vrieties of wood.
3. Strings
The sitar has usually nineteen or twenty metal strings, including twelve or thirteen taraf (sympathetic) strings and seven main ones. The standard tuning for these strings may change according to the school or tradition, and has also changed in its history.
4. Pegs

Unlike the guitar or other modern musical instruments, pegs of the sitar are simple enough only to keep strings tensioned and also to adjust the pitches of open strings properly. The pegs do not have any mechanism like gear heads.

Sometimes, a peg may be too slippery not to hold the string tension specifically in mind (Hindi) and choking technique. In such a case, applying chock powder may help making pegs tighter. The next image shows one of the pegs for typical main strings.

Sitar: Peg

5. Mizrab

The mizrab (Hindi, Urdu) is a kind of plectrum, made of steel wire (might be the same or different gauge as some of main strings) and put on the right index finger to pluck the strings.

The size of mizrab may vary from three centimeter as the shortest to four centimeter as the longest. If you have enough skills in handling metal wire, you may make your best mizrab to fit on your finger.


Ver. 1.01 24 Mar 2004
Ver. 1.00 17 Sep 2003
Lesson 01: Looking at sitar
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