Electric sitar  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

An electric sitar is a kind of electric guitar designed to mimic the sound of the traditional Indian instrument, the sitar. Depending on the manufacturer and model, these instruments bear varying degrees of resemblance to the traditional sitar. Most resemble the electric guitar in the style of the body and headstock, though some have a body shaped to resemble that of the sitar (such as a model made by Danelectro).


In addition to the six playing strings, most electric sitars have sympathetic strings, typically located on the left side of the instrument (though some do not have these). These strings have their own pickups (typically lipstick pickups are used for both sets of strings), and are usually tuned with a harp wrench (a difficult process). A unique type of bridge, a "buzz bridge" (developed by session musician Vincent Bell), helps give the instrument its distinctive sound. Some electric sitars have drone strings in lieu of sympathetic strings. A few models, such as the Jerry Jones "Baby" sitar, lack both sympathetic and drone strings, while still retaining the distinctive buzz bridge.

The "sympathetic" strings on most electric sitars do not resonate strongly enough to match the effect of an acoustic sitar. There are resonant chambers in the solidbody instruments that have Masonite tops, however it is not enough to excite the 13 strings into true sympathy. The strings are tensioned over two rosewood bridges with fret material as saddles so the sound is more like an autoharp than a sitar.

Versions of the electric sitar were also developed mainly in India. These are smaller sized sitars that look like a sitar. These sitars are tuned the same way as the original classical sitar would be tuned.

Because the tone quality and playing technique differ significantly from that of the sitar, it is typically used in rock, jazz, and fusion styles. Notable early hit singles featuring electric sitar include Eric Burdon and the Animals' "Monterey", Joe South's "Games People Play", Stevie Wonder's "I Was Made To Love Her" (played by Eddie Willis) and "Signed, Sealed, Delivered", B.J. Thomas' "Hooked on a Feeling" (played by Reggie Young), The Spinners' "It's A Shame," The Box Tops "Cry Like A Baby" as well as some sides by The Stylistics and The Delfonics.

Other recording artists who have featured the electric sitar include Kronos Quartet, Genesis, Yes, The Clash (in "Armagideon Time"), Todd Rundgren, Redbone ("Come and Get Your Love"), Guns N' Roses (in "Pretty Tied Up"), Lenny Kravitz ("It Ain't Over 'til It's Over"), Oasis, R.E.M, Metallica (in "Wherever I May Roam"), Steely Dan (in "Do it Again"), Santana, Roy Wood, Eric Johnson, Mystical Sun, Pearl Jam (in "Who You Are"), Redd Kross (in "Play My Song"), Alice in Chains (in "What the Hell Have I"), Torsten de Winkel, Flower Travelin' Band, Hiroshi Takano, Miyavi, Sugizo, hide, Kaoru of Dir en grey, Pat Metheny (notably on "Last Train Home"), Sigh (band), Steve Vai, Rory Gallagher, Mint Royale, Steve Miller, Van Halen (in "Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love"), Tony Hicks of The Hollies, Schizo Da Maddcap, Rob Mastrianni (Beatbox Guitar, Next Tribe) and Sameep Kulkarni.

Vinnie Bell used the instrument on several songs, including "Green Tambourine" by The Lemon Pipers, "Band of Gold" by Freda Payne, and "She's A Heartbreaker" by Gene Pitney.

The 1971 album Somethin' Else recorded by Danny Davis and the Nashville Brass prominently featured an electric sitar, a first for the country music industry. The instrument provided accompaniment on such songs as "Snowbird," "Rose Garden," "Are You From Dixie?" and others.

In 2010, MGMT released their album Congratulations, where the electric sitar was played on many tracks by lead singer and guitarist Andrew VanWyngarden. Blues musician Buddy Guy played, among other guitars, a Coral electric sitar in shows on his 2010 tour.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Electric sitar" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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