Chris Mendez in Sitar

A guitarist's journey learning Sitar

I love guitar. I've always loved guitar and especially Flamenco guitar. I started tinkering with the instrument in 1995 but when I discovered the On-Line Guitar Archive (OLGA) in 1996, I really began to take things seriously. By 1998, was formally studying Flamenco guitar which led me to pursue a degree in music from the USC Thornton School of Music. Although I choose to study Music Industry and Recording instead of guitar performance, I continued to play regularly and jam out with friends.

Fast forward to 2017. On my recent trip to Varanasi and New Delhi I decided to stop by a small instrument shop and buy a $300 Sitar. I figured the Sitar would be a great way to learn more about Hindi music while also continue practicing my guitar skills. Easy right?

No.

Learning Sitar is unlike anything you learn in guitar.

I mean, from a really basic perspective, yes, there are frets, strings, tuning pegs, picks. Yes, you will also need to work on building calluses before you can start making a decent sound but from that point on, everything else is different.

The tuning, the fret count, the pedagogy and THE ENTIRE MUSICAL SYSTEM is completely different.

Even worse, I couldn't figure out who to trust on YouTube to help me even tune the damn thing! LOL.

For this reason, I am starting a new section in my blog dedicated to guitarists trying to learn sitar. I will do my best to help explain things that are non-obvious as well as provide context and translation to anyone who is of the school of Tonal Harmony and Counterpoint.

More on Sitar

Thanks!