Sitar and Electric Sitar Guitar


Open string tuning of the Raga Bilawal

     Chi Kari (drone & rhythm) strings which are the uppermost on the sitar:
     C (2 octaves above middle C)
     G (in next lower octave)
     C (1 octave above middle C)

    Then the "Main Playing" strings which are suspended directly over frets:
     C (below middle C)
     G (next G up)
     C (Middle C)
     F (next up)

    The sympathetic strings which run below the frets are tuned as follows:
     C (above middle C)
     B (1/2 step below)
     C (again)
The dominant notes in a Raga are tuned to two of the sympathetic strings so that they will be stronger in the piece.

More Tunings

Another Sitar Tuning 
The standard tuning is: #1-F 1 octave below middle C, #2-C 1 octave below middle C, #3-C 1 octave below middle C, #4-G 2 octaves below middle C, #5-G 1 octave below middle C, and the chi Kari #6 & #7 are middle C & C 1 octave higher than middle C. The sympathetic strings are tuned to the raga. The tuning I use is: Strings #6,7 (two strings closest to the player - as in string #6 on guitar) are called chi Kari's. String #7 is tuned to high C (2 octaves higher than middle C - C7). String #6 is tuned to an octave higher than Middle C. String #4 is tuned to an octave lower than middle C. Strings #2,3,5 are tuned to middle C. Finally, String #1 is tuned to G5. The sympathetic strings are tuned in a standard C major scale starting with a low G up to a high C or D. 

Somewhat of a theory here:
The Indian music system is based on Ragas.  The Indian music notation is basically the same as the western system. However, there are more notes. Each western major note has 2-4 different Shruti's. A Shruti is a small cent gap in the pitch of a note which most people would not be able to notice (as in a very small string pull on a guitar). 

Playing The Sitar

First, instead of using a guitar pick, a Sitar player uses a 2 mizrabs, which is a metal finger pick (like steel pickers). One pick is placed on the index finger and the other on the pinky. If the player does not want to use a pick on his/her pinky, it is also common for them to grow their fingernail and use that instead. Just like a guitar player.

Second, the Sitar is similar to playing the Guitar although there are quite a few variations in the styles of playing. It's held similar to the Guitar but in a sitting position and their are different sitting positions. The bowl end sits on the leg, between the legs or on the floor.


Rogue STR-1 Pro Electric Sitar Guitar

Traditional Tuning:

The longest and lowest string is tuned an octave above the high E of a standard tuned guitar. From there the strings are tuned in half steps. This is just a starting point and experimentation can yield some beautiful sounds.

Another great tuning is to use a "dropped D" tuning (dropping the 6th E string down a full step to D) on the guitar neck; then the sympathetic strings would be tuned to a D7sus chord as follows (longest string to shortest string):

D - same note as 1st string of the guitar neck fretted at the 10th fret (the 1st string is tuned to standard E)
F# - ascending
G - ascending
A - ascending
C - ascending
A - ascending
G - ascending
F# - ascending
G - ascending
A - ascending
C - ascending
D - ascending
D - same as previous note



Copyright 2015 Hot Rod Guitars
All Rights Reserved.

Fender, Strat, Tele, Jaguar, P-Bass and Jazz Bass are registered trademarks of Fender Musical Instruments Corp. Gibson, Epiphone and Les Paul are trademarks of Gibson Guitar Corp. Hot Rod Guitars is not affiliated with these companies or any other Manufacturers on this Website.