• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Stop wasting time looking for files and revisions. Connect your Gmail, DriveDropbox, and Slack accounts and in less than 2 minutes, Dokkio will automatically organize all your file attachments. Learn more and claim your free account.


Instruments of India

This version was saved 11 years, 6 months ago View current version     Page history
Saved by Andrew Alder
on March 27, 2009 at 2:24:25 pm

This page covers instruments associated with the subcontinent of India, including Pakistan and Bangla Desh.




There are many patterns of sitar, and not only the tuning and stringing but even the number of strings varies from player to player.


The tuning is in just intonation. The frets are movable, and tuning involves setting the fret positions as well as the string tensions.


There are from 18 to 23 strings in all, of two types:


  • Six or seven playing strings above the frets, most commonly seven. These strings can be plucked and fretted. They are further divided into melody strings, the first three playing strings, which are the ones which are most often played, and drones which are playable but rarely played. Most of the playing takes place on the first string.
  • Eleven to sixteen sympathetic strings (tarab strings) which lie beneath the frets, and can neither be plucked nor fretted. Eleven and thirteen are the most common numbers; Sitars from around Mumbai and Delhi for example tend to have eleven sympathetic strings, while those from Calcutta and elsewhere in Bengal have thirteen.


The tuning pegs for the playing strings are those on or closest to the head, and are  larger then those for the sympathetic strings. Fine tuning of the more important playing strings is achieved using tuning beads between the bridge and tailpiece.


There is no standard tuning. The tuning depends not only on the type of Sitar but also on the player and the piece. Both playing and resonant strings may be retuned between pieces.


Student tuning depends upon the teacher, who may give different tunings to different students, tailored to their needs at the time. Some start their students on instruments with playing strings only.


Westerners often start on a C tuning based on Ravi Shankar:

Seven playing strings:

  • c ' ' - c ' - g - C - G - c - f

Eleven sympathetic strings:

  • c ' ' - b' - a ' - g ' - f ' - e ' - e ' - d ' - c ' - b - c '


Common tunings range from B tunings up to D tunings.



Ravi Shankar

Teacher of George Harrison and many other western rock musicians, Shankar did much to popularise the sitar outside of the subcontinent.


C# tuning

Seven playing strings:

  • c# ' ' - c# ' - g# - C# - G# - c# - f #

Eleven sympathetic strings:

  • c# ' ' - c' ' - a# ' - g# ' - f # ' - f ' - f ' - d# ' - c# ' - c' - c# '


( From:


http://www.buckinghammusic.com/sitar/sittut/lgsitar.html )


Ashwin Batish

Teacher and author of instruction videos of both stringed and percussion instruments.


Sympathetic string tuning for the Bilaval raga:

  • c' - c' - b - c' - d' - e' - f ' - g' - a' - b' - c' '


Sympathetic string tuning for the Bhoopali raga:

  • c' - c' - a - c' - d' - e' - g' - a' - b' - c' ' - d' '



External links






Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.