Circa-1972 Rikhi Ram Gold Medalist Gandhar Pancham Sitar
Updated: Feb 13, 2019
This sitar came to us with some major issues. It had been sold to the previous owner by AACM. It was in such poor cosmetic condition that we took the unusual step of replacing the strings and bringing it up to pitch to test the neck joint before starting the restoration.
The neck was rock-sold, and, based on its sound before commencing any work, we're confident that this instrument's tone will be sublime after the repair and with adjustment. The neck is arrow-straight. This instrument is more than worthy of restoration and will be a gem when completed.
The tumba had had at least one major repair. Following the repair, it had been coated in very thick layers of epoxy or bar top lacquer. The only way to evaluate this repair is to remove all of the epoxy and finish, down to the bare gourd. We also suspect a neck repair based on visual inspection.
The tarab grommets had been replaced with orange-red hard plastic eyelets, which we assume came from a craft store. The eyelets had been sloppily epoxied in place.
The eyelets are shown below, after having been partially drilled out. The missing strip of mother of pearl has been replaced with a reasonably close, genuine match.
The tabli binding had been replaced with plastic faux mother of pearl, indicating that the tabli had separated from the gourd, which required removal of the original binding to make the old repair. This will be replaced with binding made in our shop, which will replicate the headstock binding. In the photo below, you can see the plastic binding that will be replaced, and we've starting grinding the epoxy-covered langot and sanding the tumba.
This is a major restoration that is substantially underway.
This instrument had suffered moderate trauma that separated the tabli from the gourd on the upper bout. The prior repair was very good structurally, but very poor cosmetically.
There had been no past neck repair as initially suspected. The neck joint is rock solid and as-new.
We removed cosmetic flaws from the tabli, leaving only the wear marks from past playing, which we consider to be part of the history of the instrument.
There had been crazing (and not the good kind) over much of the top. Many hours of french polishing went into this restoration.
The ebony jawari needed little adjustment.
The classic Rikhi Ram "fringed" bridges.
The mizrab wear on the tabli remains, under a light polish.
The tumba was taken down to the bare gourd and refinished in the original color.
After adjustment, this is a beautifully balanced and resonant sitar. If you know anything about its history, please contact us.
This instrument is part of the Registry's Permanent Collection and is not for sale.