Thursday, December 30, 2004

 

The New Toy

It's a Rogue electric sitar, by way of Musician's Friend. They cut the price to $299, and since it's the Kwanzaa season :-) I decided to pull the trigger. As much as the Jerry Jones is a fine instrument, plunking down $650 or more (about the best online price I could find was Ed Roman's) just wasn't in the cards for what's basically a one-trick pony. It immediately has application for me with the band, as we're doing Paint It Black, and I wouldn't mind getting Steely Dan's Do It Again into the set. The big positives about it are that the build quality is quite good, perhaps not at the level of the Jerry Jones, but certainly within the ballpark. The sound, well, it sounds like your average Coral or Jerry Jones sitar, with the only big caveat being the pickups have a pretty low output. I'm sure there are lipstick replacement pickups out there, so I might replace them eventually, but I think a compressor will do nicely to fix the output level in the interim.

The negatives? The pickguard is in an awkward place, and interferes with playing a bit. It's probably just me, and I'll see if I get over it as I get used to this beast. The drone string tuning is a big PITA. I suppose the drone string tuning is why Jerry Jones came out with their new Supreme Sitar (the one that looks like it has a mandolin neck grafted onto the standard Master Sitar), but the Rogue has the same types of wrench-adjusted pegs for the drones as the Coral and Jerry Jones archetypes (visualize piano tuning pegs and you get the idea). Tuning them is an interesting exercise in frustration. A gentleman I very much respect suggested tuning the drone strings chromatically, longest drone string tuned in unison with the Open E on the guitar, then up the full octave. The problem with this is that the wrench adjustment is a bit tough to nail the tuning exactly; I found that either I was extremely flat (> 60 cents below) or fairly sharp (30-40 cents above) the note I was trying to tune to. Again, I've only played with this thing for a couple of hours, and it might just require a more experienced hand (I'd rather tune the drones to this tuning than to the factory-suggested tuning, which is an octave higher; the last thing I want to do is replace the drones until they absolutely need it. Restringing the drones looks like an exercise in frustration on the part of the one you get restringing a Rickenbacker 12-string with the 'R' tailpiece). This thing doesn't really resonate all that much, at least at bedroom volumes on my tiny Fender practice amp. I'll try cranking it a bit today or tomorrow and seeing if I get any good resonant effects from the drones.

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