Beginner: Getting Started on Esraj

My site’s been hacked and I’ve lost quite a bit of written content.

If you’re keen on learning what I’ve got to share – let me know.
I’m considering recreating a whole new systematic course on a more modern, easier to access platform.

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12 thoughts on “Beginner: Getting Started on Esraj”

  1. I have two dilrubas and a sarangi. The dilrubas, I’ve finally got tweaked and can get pure notes. I don’t have a decent bow. The dilrubas differ in size – one is small, the other large. The Sarangi, I’m still working on. I don’t know what gauge of wire to replace sympathetics. It is a very old instrument and I’ve had to put a plastic runner to cover the groves (from years of being played) beside the first string.

    I also play surbahar and sitar.

  2. Hi Robben,

    I now sometimes use a violin bow to play my esraj. Since it’s light – I get a lighter sound which seems to de-emphasize the note being played a little bit – and makes the sympathetic strings seem louder.
    But since the bow is so light, I have to exert a lot more downward pressure on the string.
    I have been told by 2 people that a Cello bow works great too.

    Sympathetic wire:
    There’s no hard and fast rule really.
    If i’m not mistaken – the thinnest possible gauge is Music Wire number 0 (zero).
    The thinner the wire – the more resonance you will get – and you can tune the notes much higher too.
    A buddy’s Esraj has thin sympathetics (probably number zero) made of copper. It sounds great.
    If you use Music wire number 1 – that should also work fine. You’ll just have to tune to slightly lower notes.
    Nothing is standardized – every maker’s instruments are slightly different.

    Sarangi: I have no experience with the Sarangi – but the principles are most likely the same.

    Surbahar and sitar – awesome. any videos up?

  3. Shaan asked me about buying a Cello Bow:

    I have no experience with the standards for western instruments , so can’t tell you the Bow size number or whether you should get a s m l xl size bow . heheh

    but here’s what I can tell you

    Right now, I’m using a violin bow which I got for free with another instrument .. it’s a little harder to grip because there’s not much of a gap between the hairs and the wood, but I sort of force it open slightly and do it anyway (with only my ring finger, not two fingers).

    It’s MUCH lighter (40-50%), and about 20% longer than my dilruba bow.
    Works great for me , I love it.
    You could do the same.

    or if you want me to come up with a general rule of thumb from my experience ->

    Compared to your current bow ..
    if your new cello bow’s weight = light … length can be longer
    if your new cello bow’s weight = heavy-ish .. get a shorter one.

    “quality” doesn’t have to be superb. don’t spend too much on a hi-end one.
    A cheap, reasonably decent looking one is fine.
    just make sure it’s hair , not nylon – and you’re good.

    hope that helps.

  4. Help. I bought a new esraj and am getting wolf tones (uncontrollable vibrations that you can both hear and feel on your finger tip) on ma (11th fret). I tried tuning the 1st string lower or higher but still cannot get rid of these strange tones. Anyone has this experience and any suggestions on how to get a pure tone?

  5. hi

    wolf tones:
    try tuning that string to a different note ?
    you could switch the tunings around a bit
    for example .. instead of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa
    you could do Sa Ga Re Ma Dha Pa – and see if that works.

    or – adjust the fret .. maybe it’s slightly too low / too high and it’s hitting the wrong vibration because of this misalignment.

    if none of those things work – let me know . I’ll ask around some more.

  6. The wolf tones range from ga to Ma and everything in between. Different tuning didn’t seem to help at all. I have adjusted the frets also but still no luck. I took it in to a professional repair shop and now waiting to see if they can do anything.

    Thanks for your suggestions.

  7. singh ji i just bought an esraj for my sister but i don’t know women s scale on it can you help me be posting a picture or something about it

  8. Hi, I just bought an esraj, I can’t get one note out of it. What am I doing wrong. I am totally new to this. What string do I play? I watched the tuning video, and could not get much out of it. Somebody please help

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