Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Coral Electric Sitar

I think this model is best summed up by what my friend Larry (who graciously loaned me this instrument for this site) said when he told me he was gonna pry it away from me: "I hope you had a chance to get your swami on!"

I certainly did. This thing is a real gas (but don't try to play chords on it, as they do not properly intonate).

Built by Coral (an offshoot of the Danelectro/ Silvertone empire), the Coral sitar features a "buzz" bridge designed by session musician Vinnie Bell in response to the call for sitars on recordings after the introduction of the exotic tones to the western world on "Norwegian Wood". With movable frets and drone strings, true sitars are incredibly difficult to master, which put Bell's wheels in motion to create an instrument that could be played easily by a guitarist but still brings out the inner swami in all of us. The drone strings don't drone in sympathy a whole lot, but they make for a fun racket when struck.

The Coral sitar was heard on many fine records, including The Box Tops "Cry Like A Baby", many early '70's tracks by the Stylistics, "It's A Shame" by The Spinners, "I Was Made To Love Her" by Stevie Wonder, "Hooked On A Feeling" by BJ Thomas, and "Monterey" by The Animals.

Guitar loaned by Larry Chung; images c2012 Derek See

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