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Back in the early 1992 I had this record called “Disturbing the peace” of Alcatrazz with Steve Vai.
On that record there was a song with called “Desert Diamond” which had an intro with a sound of a sitar.
I thought that it was just some keyboard sound, but later I found out that Steve was playing this Electric Coral sitar, and if you listen very closely you can hear the sitar coming back on almost every Steve Vai record.
Just like the “For the Love of god” song, you can hear the same instrument in the background.
The cool thing about this instrument is, it’s tuned like a normal guitar so you don’t have to “learn” how to play on this Sitar.

The Sitar Bridge and pickups you get this very unique sitar sound.
And after a search of many years I finally got it in my collection.
My search started in early 1999, there were many company’s who were willing to sell me one, but to a very high price shipping cost.
So I passed on all there offers, because I was hoping that I could find one here in Europe, which would save me a lot of money.
There was only one thing that I wasn’t clear about, the 13-sympathetic strings.
How to tune those, what kinds of stings are needed to tune and set it up with, where can I get those strings?
All questions that needed to be answered first before I wanted to buy an instrument like this, I mean what if I would break a string, and I have no clue where to get a new set of strings.

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White dot’s
Maple black/red crackle finish
Gotoh fixed bridge
Black plastic

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All of the above knobs are for controlling the volume of each pickup output.
The one at the left is for the harp 13 sympathetic strings pickup, at the middle is the bridge pickup volume and the right is the neck pickup volume.

You can play around with the different settings for a nice tone on the pickups.
The 3 knob's below them are the tone control knobs, and the configuration is the same, Left-harp-13 sympathetic strings, middle-bridge, left-neck pickup.

There is a double tone for each tone knob.
Keep it in the middle, and you have the natural sound, by turning left, and you get a high open sound, while turning it into the right you get a low open sound.

This is something you really have to sit down for before you understand what it does and how to use it, because it could be confusing at first.
I mean, when I pick it up, I thought that the pick ups where broken because they didn’t sound very well.

But by turning down the tone knob, you get the new option to even turn in some more and you get a totally other feel from the pickups.

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The 13 sympathetic strings add this special feel to the sitar and what it makes this Electric sitar so unique.
The gauges of the sympathetic strings are all 0.10 strings and a harp wrench is used for the tuning process.
The longest and lowest string is tuned an octave above the high E of a standard tuned guitar.
From there, the strings are tuned in half steps.
This is just a starting point and experimentation since you are free to tune it in any other configuration.

You can tune the instrument with a "drop D" tuning and the sympathetic strings to a D7sus chord, which is as follows - longest string to shortest string.
D, F#, G, A, C, A, G, F#, G, A, C, D, D - same as previous note

And the 6 string tuning is just like any other guitar.
I have set this guitar with a 0.10 set of strings, which is Blue steal Dean Markley String Gauges: .010 .013 .017 .026 .036 .046 tuned with out the dropped D on the low E string.
So it’s just tuned like a normal guitar tuning.

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If you wonder where this sitar gets his sound from, well it’s all in the bridge and pickups.
When you look closely to the bridge you can see that the strings are ‘resting’ on the bridge end.
This way you get a buzzing effect on the Gotoh Bridge, which gives you the real Asian sitar feel.

With the two screws at the side, you can tune the height of the bridge; which also gives a different attack on the strings buzzing sitar effect.
I have set it with a low action on the neck, and a mid to high buzzing on the strings.

This enables me the get the most clear and sharp buzzing sitar sound on the strings.
Because the neck is somewhat thicker that my other guitars and I use the 0.10 over a 0.09 stings, I needed a tuning that made me still able to play like I am used to.

The pick guard is set above both the 13 strings as the 6 strings.
This way your hand won’t mute the strings and they will keep ringing, and keep on sounding very cool.

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There are many ways to tune this instrument.
You have to sit down to get the feeling of this instrument, from a real Asian sounding, to an Egyptian kind of feel, a really cool instrument.
One of the tunings that I like is the Steve Vai ‘Sex and Religion - State of Grace’ song tuning.

6 strings from low to high:

The sympathetic strings high to low:

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I really love this Sitar, it offers you some new idea’s for your music and playing.
Experiment with different tunings and you’ll get a nice instrument that can offer you some amazing chord tones for backing up your music.

There was no strap added to the Sitar, since the comfort-cut works fine on your lap while playing the instrument.

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