You can pay as little as around £300 or as much as £15,000 + depending on what you want. They’re not as easy as a guitar to play but not too much more. You have melody and drone strings, it’s just another learning process!
I became modestly accomplished on sitar before ever picking up a guitar. Guitar and sitar are complementary in terms of hand strength & calluses, even though the specific techniques differ considerably.
Getting your head around the Indian system of music, which is essential modal, is not too difficult. You need to learn to tune & re-string it, because it’s pretty easy to break strings. You can sound OK on sitar with only a little practice, but as with any instrument, learning to play well takes years of consistent practice.
If you manage to find a reasonably good instrument, you’ll also need to find a plectrum called a mizrab that fits snugly over the tip of your finger, which is easier said than done. If you go to your locally available lessons, someone there can probably find you a good instrument, and you’ll be on your way. Go for it!
@Twin_Six Thanks for the advice. I hope I can make it to this course and that they can give sufficient information on maintenance as well, though my plan is to see how it goes at first and buy an instrument if it seems it won’t be in vain. I wonder if clip-on tuners can fit on a sitar; if not, I’d tune it with the help of a guitar if it’s possible.
Yes, clip-on tuners will work for the sitar. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the sitar has two nuts, and the lower one protrudes on the side with the tuning pegs. This is the best place to clip a tuner on. Incidentally, clipping my Snark on and twisting it to be visible is how I broke it and end up buying a Peretson Stroboclip HD, which includes a special tuning setting for sitar.
The sitar is tuned in fifths, so if you tune to C as your tonic, the drone, bass, & rhythm strings will all be tuned to C & G. The sympathetic strings are tuned to the scale of whichever mode you’re playing.
I love the way the sitar sounds and it seems to pair so well with rock music. An essential part of awesome tunes like Rolling Stones - Paint It Black. Don’t think I have ever seen a sitar in person, or heard one played live though.
Sitar was used best by the Beatles on Sgt. Pepper. George Harrison had befriended Ravi Shankar, who instructed him on the sitar. The song Within Without You uses sitar, tambura (the drone instrument that accompanies most Indian music) and other Indian instruments. Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds makes use of the tambura, as does Getting Better.
An early '80s Indian music inflected group called Monsoon (with Sheila Chandra) made excellent use of the sitar.