Hard work and a little elbow grease

Sundlof Engineering

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E-mail: patricksundlof@gmail.com

Sitar Banjo

This is a banjo I inspired from listening to Bela Fleck, He incorporates a Sitar style bridge on a banjo but I wanted to get more resonance from this design because the Banjo has amazing acoustics with the drumhead over the resonating chamber. I created this instrument from scratch carving a 4x4 into the neck and fashioning the truss rod. The whole instrument is very thick and can hold a lot of tension because it needs to having the five sympathetic strings tuned to  F#, E, D, A and G. This is to improve the resonance of the G major Chord but you can switch the tunings any way you like it. The frets are constructed from drawer handles and are tied on with string, similar to the sitar so you can move the frets if the intonation is incorrect. There is also a brass tone ring that is underneath the head to allow the banjo head to rest on a vibrating metal ring.

While I made this in 2007, I went to India and saw the most famous sitar builder in all of India Sanjay Sharma son of Rikkhi Ram. They had built an electric sitar with a similar style headstock as this instrument, using machine heads instead of wooden tuning pegs. A major aspect that allows for more resonation  is the bridge on the skin it has the sympathetic strings lower than the playing strings. When the playing strings are struck the sympathetic strings will ring loader because of the direct contact through the bridge. The strings are tuned with individual carved tuning pegs that slot into the wood.

The Sinjo with five sympathetic strings stands about 3 1/2 feet.