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Re: droning questions

Gareth wrote:
>there was a thing calling itself an electric sitar with 12 sympathetic
>strings under a Perspex cover and a sitar type bridge.

>Tuning of the extra strings was done with a sort of autoharp/dulcimer key.

I've seen this type of guitar and have to chime in (pun fully intended) 
these type of strings are not truly sympathetic strings.  That is, they
don't really resonate when the main strings are plucked.  I think the
intention of that design is to imitate the multiple strings of the sitar.
However, when they're located too far from the main playing strings they
won't begin to vibrate spontaneously from the sound of the main strings.  
feeling is that they're included on this type of instrument to simulate the
tinkling, cascading zither-like sound called "jhankar" that we associate
with the rapid brushing of the sitar's sympathetic strings.  As an aside,
this sound used to be exclusively a "tuning check" of these strings and was
never incorporated into the actual music itself until Pandit Ravi Shankar
began using it as a sort of punctuation device between phrases or sections
of the raga's development.

>Another type of guitar ran the sympathetic strings at an angle to the main
>guitar strings and under them, where they intersected. It had a protruding
>pseudo-neck coming out at an angle along which the sympathetic strings

This instrument sounds as though the additional strings really would work
"sympathetically" due to their resting beneath the main strings.  I'm not
really sure how effective this would all be on an electric instrument,
though, since the pickup would essentially replace the resonator.  I have
half a dozen traditional "ethnic" instruments that use sympathetic strings
and of course, they're all purely acoustic.  Most have very thin wooden
faces that emphasize a bright sound and rich harmonics, and some of them
have skin-covered resonators, which also really liven and expand the sound
(think banjo vs guitar).  My Indian instruments (sitar, surbahar, dilruba)
also have specific "twanging" bridges for the sympathetic strings that
increase their resonance.  I've found that on some of these instruments 
taken a long time (up to 5 years) for the instruments to 'warm up' enough
that the sympathetic strings really begin to "speak."  I feel that this is
due to the density of the wood in the neck along which they run, underneath
the main strings.  So I wonder how well sympathetic strings would vibrate 
the absence of a resonator?

Anyway, my 2 "cents" [monetary, not tuning intervals  :-) ]