Rikhi Ram 21-string Indian slide guitar
Click on a picture to link to a larger version
This Indian slide guitar was made in Delhi. It has eight strings running from the main bridge to the headstock, and another 13 sympathetic strings running from a lower bridge to the tuners along the edge of the 'fingerboard'.

It's an amazing design, but needed quite a lot of work. I had to replace a couple of cracked bone bridge elements and raise the sympathetic string bridge so that it provided the correct 'sitar-like' sound. The sympathetic string tuners are a great improvement on the friction pegs fitted to traditional Indian instruments, but they were poorly fitted and some of the holes were over-sized and out of round. I had to fill the holes with tapered ebony plugs and then mill new holes to the correct diameter.

The owner also wanted me to fit a pickup system. I recommended a K&K Definity system. It is designed to work with virtually any floating bridge instrument, like archtop and Maccaferri guitars, and even semi-acoustic electric guitars with Tune-o-matic bridges. It is also well-suited for the banjo, cello, and many ethnic or folk instruments like bouzouki, saz, etc.

The attraction of the Definity is that one single pickup element can transmit an entire instrument with good balance - but the 21 strings of this slide guitar posed quite a challenge! The pickup is only 6/1000 of an inch thin and measures 1 3/4" x 3/4" total. K&K call it a "compression pickup" because it is especially suited for "wedged" applications under a floating bridge. However, the pickup element is capable of transmitting sound like soundboard transducer as well. In fact, K&K have found that the best tone is achieved if the pickup is mounted so it is partially "wedged" and partially open on the soundboard.

I fitted the pickup on the treble side of the bridge as the melody is usually played on the 'treble strings'. This produced just the balance we wanted from the 'main strings' and the sympathetic strings which run over the smaller, lower bridge. The tailpiece is raised off the body with a block of cedar, so I ran the cable through it into the body cavity, and then fitted a regular Switchcraft endpin jack. Sounds amazing!

The Definity pickup is supplied with the Definity Preamp, which features a phase switch, adjustable mid and treble controls (via trimpots), and a 1/4" line out. Alternatively, a more professional solution combines the Definity pickup with a K&K Pure XLR Preamp. It features +/-20 db bass, mid, and treble controls, plus an adjustable input gain control. Its noiseless circuitry provides unsurpassed clarity and power and the adjustable input gain allows you to dial in the precise amplification factor needed for your instrument.

Rikhi Ram 21-string Indian slide guitar
Rikhi Ram 21-string Indian slide guitar Rikhi Ram 21-string Indian slide guitar Rikhi Ram 21-string Indian slide guitar
Home Home Back to Recent Projects Back to Recent Projects