What is a sitar and why is it so popular in pop music?

What is a sitar
What is a sitar

The sitar is a plucked string instrument common in classical Indian music, especially in the Hindustani culture (northern India). Mechanically, the sitar is a rather complex musical instrument. It has sympathetic strings. These are strings that vibrate and hum from the resonance of nearby strings. The sitar also features movable frets and over 20 strings!

What is a sitar 2
What is a sitar 2

The sitar is tuned to a classic stew (or scale) and is played with a special pick called a mizrab (claw ring). The instrument gained popularity in the Western world when George Harrison learned to play with master Ravi Shankar and included the instrument in several Beatles songs, although it has existed in traditional Indian melodies for centuries.

The origin of the instrument and how to play it

Developed as early as the 7th century, the instrument we now know as the sitar may have evolved from the Hindustani musical instrument, a wine common during the Mughal rule of India in the 16th and 18th centuries. For members of the royal family, it was played at special religious ceremonies, and the sitar remains a large part of Indian culture today.

The sitar is usually played with the instrument between the foot and the opposite knee (with the legs crossed). For example, a left-handed person can support him on his right foot and place him on his left knee. This frees up the player’s hands and allows him to easily move one hand along the neck and the other to pluck the strings, while maintaining the weight of the instrument, which is usually quite heavy.

The player uses a mizrab, a metal claw-shaped confidant, to break individual strings. More experienced players use special tricks to add flavor to the sound. Many frets are preset to reproduce micro-tonal notes, providing the smooth and gliding transitions between notes that are why the sitar is so popular.

What is a sitar 3
What is a sitar 3

Handcrafted Miniature Sitar Tiny for Show Piece or Gift to Musician Friend

  • Handcrafted Miniature Sitar Tiny
  • For Show Piece or Gift to Musician Friend
  • All individually made and will be unique
  • Standard decorations, no rear toomba,
  • 5 main, 2 chikari and 4 sympathetic strings

The role of the sitar in raga and world music

With the rapid globalization of music in the 1950s, the sitar really became popular. Back in the 1950s, rock musicians such as Ravi Shankar began using this instrument on world tours to give their music a little finesse, which sparked renewed interest in this popular Indian instrument.

What is a sitar 4
What is a sitar 4

Western musicians began to use sitars frequently in rock and pop music in the 1960s. The Beatles are known to have used sitar in their hit songs Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown), Within You Without You and Love You To in the late 60s. The Rolling Stones used the sitar once in the song “Paint it Black”.

The psychedelic rock community especially liked the Middle Eastern tunes the sitar could create. The Doors have used Indian modes frequently on their albums, often turning to other instruments, including the sitar, to create a gorgeous, enchanting backing track for their trip-rock brand.


  • Acoustic-Electric Sitar. Can be played both ways. Comes installed with acoustic strings and a spare electric string set (magnetic strings). Simply change 3 brass strings to convert to electric
  • Full cedar wood construction; the best wood for sitars to withstand the high tension created by over 21 Strings! Adds to the life of your Sitar dramatically and also ensures more consistent tuning
  • Real bone bridges and brass frets, top of the line.
  • 7 Main String RAVI SHANKAR configuration

Today, electronic musicians, pop singers, world music ensembles and even famous YouTube guitarists are using sitar to create new Middle Eastern tunes.

Rate article
Add a comment