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Sarat Sardar & Sons Complete Main Tumba Replacement

When sitarist and luthier Lester Silver acquired this instrument, it was in two pieces and had no main gourd.

The dand, gullu, and tabli were largely in tact, as shown below.

To bring it back to life, Lester decided to add a brand new tumba from among several he ordered from India.

He used hardboard templates to fit the gourd to the existing tabli and gullu shapes. A beautiful gourd.

Here, Lester attaches the tumba to the gullu using bamboo nails, the traditional technique. Weights hold the tumba in place during hammering and glue curing.

Here is the tumba joined with the gullu.

This is instrument in progress, shown with other large gourds that were grown in New Zealand, and dand lumber for a future project.

Here, the wooden backer for the langot is glued to the inside of the gourd. Lester added another thin wedge section of gourd to the upper rim of the tumba to increase the size and volume of the original, then added sawdust glue paste, and then a layer of smooth plaster on the outside to even out the shape of the curve.

Lester then attaches the tabli to the tumba, again using weights as substitutes for clamps or ropes. We use 10 pound bags of dry cement for this purpose. The plaster has been sanded smooth.

Top views of the instrument with the tabli in place are shown below. The striker has been attached using bamboo nails. The gourd is still "in the white" at this stage.

This is the gourd with finish or polish applied and with the binding installed around the edge of the tabli. The distinctive appearance of the tumba and gullu communicates precisely what work that has been done, an important goal for any restoration. This special sitar will never be mistaken for any other.

The instrument is shown here with the langot attached. The brass post will last indefinitely.

Next, the frets are tied.

And here is the start of setup, with bridge fitment and adjustment of wire height or action.

The finished instrument: a spectacular resurrection of a sitar that was otherwise destined for the scrap heap.

And, most importantly, it sounds terrific.

Many thanks to Lester Silver for permitting us to chronicle this important transformation.


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