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1950s Rikhi Ram Gandhar Pancham Necklace Sitar Restoration

This instrument came to us in superb original condition except for multiple cracks and breaks in the tumba, a missing main bridge, loose and oxidized frets, a chikari post that had broken off, and a well-worn finish on the tabli and dand. It was structurally perfect, and thus a perfect target for restoration.

Here is the broken tumba in the condition in which we received it.

This is an easy repair, but requires that the entire tumba be refinished. We set out to recreate our favorite 1950s Rikhi Ram tumba finish inspired by another instrument in the Permanent Collection. The objective is to create a classic three-dimensional depth in the finish, with layered hues of brown, yellow, and green.

The first step is to repair the cracks and breaks.

As can be seen above, the original first layer of the tumba finish was a bright yellow sizing, consistent with all other Rikhi Ram necklace instrument of this era that we've restored. The new finish is created by applying alternating layers of lacquer and heavily-tinted varnish.

The results, we hope, are faithful to the rarest, but most desirable, original tumba finishes that can be found on these instruments.

Here is the rest of the sitar following restoration. The main jawari is single-piece resin made in our shop with a blend of polymers that give it a tone somewhere between ebony and deer horn. It was molded from our favorite Rikhi Ram bridge, found on a 1970s Gold Medalist.

These 1950s necklace sitars have a tone all their own that is different, in very a good way, even from Rikhi Rams of identical design made in the 1960s.

This instrument is part of The Registry's Permanent Collection and is not for sale.


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