Sarod Tuning and Maintenance
© Brian Godden 1/1 /1981
Sarod Stringing Chart
Sarod Stringing Chart
1st peg..........ma...................009" steel
The Maintenance of the Sarod
1: The Sarod should be kept in a case
or under a cloth cover
2: The Sarod strings should be changed regularly depending on how often they are used.
A Sarod that is played daily should have all the strings changed every 3 months, and the main four playing strings, every month.
3: The finish should be rubbed down with a soft dry cloth after every playing to maintain the shine. The strings should be wiped of after every use. Do not use furniture polish on a sarod. The fret plate should be polished with a soft cloth after every use, to keep it clean and smooth for slides.
4: With use, the jawari bridge will develop grooves in the bone surface under the strings. The tone will deteriorate and sound buzzy. The Jawari strings will become difficult to tune, as the pitch of the notes will sound ambiguous. It is then time to have the bridge resurfaced, This is called Sarod Jawari. It should only be done by a professional.
4: The skin and pegs are very fragile and must be protected form any kind of knock.
5: The Sarod skin is sensitive to atmospheric moisture. It will be tighter in the summer months and looser in the winter. The skin will need to be changed after time, depending on how much use it gets, and the climatic conditions.
A sarod that is played every, day will need the Sarod skin changed every 3 to 5 years. It is a highly skilled job and should be done by a professional.
6: Sarod pegs can begin to slip after a year or so of use. When changing the strings it is a good idea to lightly chalk the pegs with carpenters or sidewalk chalk. Do not use blackboard chalk as it has wax in it to prevent squealing, and this wax will ruin the peg. If the pegs continue to slip, they will need to be filed to correct the taper and to remove any lip ridge. This should be done by a repair person.
7:High action or buzzy notes when sliding. The action height depends on the straightness of the fret plate. Normal action height on a Hemen sarod with a good straight plate, is between 1/4" and 3/8" on the "Ma" string above the fret plate where it meets the skin. Some cheaper sarods come new with an action height of up to 1/2". This is usually because the plate is thin and light and has some dents. These dents or waves can cause buzzes when sliding on any of the 4 main strings. if the action is too low the height can be raised by adding bone shims to the bottom of the bridge until there are no buzzes. If the action is too high and still buzzing, then the plate can be removed and worked on to fix buzzes, but that is not always successful. It is very hard to remove dents from the plate. You can hammer a dent out, only to have it transfer somewhere else. If you can get it to transfer away from the playing area, then you have a cure. I have spent a lot of time repairing dented plates, with about 80% success rate. It is very frustrating to fix a dent, and then put the plate back, restring, and find a new transferred buzz somewhere else. Older sarods can have high action because of bending upward of the neck. This can be fixed when re-skinning. The back of the sarod where the string anchor plate is attached can be planed down about a 1/4", and this can lower the action by about 1/8" at the top of the plate.
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