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Re: droning questions

For years I've had the wish to add sympathetic strings to the guitar. The 
I'd imagined this being done would be to use two guitars. The first would 
some sort of pickup for the six (or however many you have !) strings. This
signal would then be fed to another guitar - I think an old acoustic would 
well here - maybe a 12-string. This is where my idea needs work, but maybe 
Sustainiac string driver could be adapted. The sound from the first guitar 
applied to the strings of the second one in a controlled way in order to 
sympathetic vibrations - I'd originally thought of doing this by fitting 
guitar with an internal speaker of some kind, but a transducer such as the
sustainiac or a conventional pickup (fed from a preamp) may be persuaded 
to work
in reverse. The sound of the sympathetic strings could then be mixed with 
sound from the first guitar using a conventional pickup on the second 
The advantage of this setup is that you have a greater range of tuning for 
longer sympathetic strings, and you can also adjust their volume with 
respect to
the main signal. I have a feeling that the original Coral Sitar Guitar 
relied on
the strings vibrating using the resonance (?) of the solid body of the 
This would probably work if you were standing next to a 200w stack (which 
set the guitar and your internal organs resonating), but I doubt if they 
any sort of discernible sound in most other situations - I've never played 
but I imagine that this is the case.
As with a lot of my ideas, this has languished without being put into 
mainly because of the need for a suitable string driver in the second 
guitar. If
anybody has any suggestions as to how this could be achieved, I would be 
interested !

John Mcleod

James Pokorny wrote:

> 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 
> 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. 
> My
> feeling is that they're included on this type of instrument to simulate 
> 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 
> never incorporated into the actual music itself until Pandit Ravi Shankar
> began using it as a sort of punctuation device between phrases or 
> of the raga's development.
> >Another type of guitar ran the sympathetic strings at an angle to the 
> >guitar strings and under them, where they intersected. It had a 
> >pseudo-neck coming out at an angle along which the sympathetic strings
> >ran.
> 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 
> 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 
> (think banjo vs guitar).  My Indian instruments (sitar, surbahar, 
> 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 
> due to the density of the wood in the neck along which they run, 
> the main strings.  So I wonder how well sympathetic strings would 
>vibrate in
> the absence of a resonator?
> Anyway, my 2 "cents" [monetary, not tuning intervals  :-) ]
> James