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the indian santoor

The gallery below contains photos of two traditional Indian Santoors. Thanks go to Nitin Pandit and  especially Kamaljeet Ahluwalia whose Santoor were used  to create a new custom built Santoor.  The second gallery below contains documentation of that process and more shots of the finished version. Click on the first photo to view full screen.

Building a 16/15 Indian Santoor

After having built a number of aspects of Indian Santoors, I finally got a commission to build a complete instrument based on a traditional Santoor. You can see photos of that traditional Santoor in the gallery above. I used as a guide (Kamaljeet Ahluwalia's Santoor). She provided a lot of photos and measurements from her instrument as well as information on string gauges and tuning. The instrument I completed accomplished the first three characteristics the customer desired but wasn't quite the sound she was looking for; the level of sustain was excessive. As a result, changes were made to the first version.  I replaced the continuous bridges with chessman style individual bridges which can be seen in the rest of the included photos.  Information on the completed Santoor and shots of the process of building are available in the gallery below as well as a PDF on Building an Indian Santoor which includes some drawings and a more detailed description of the process. Although not complete, it is far more information than currently available on the web. If there is additional information you'd like to contribute, send me an email. 

Desired Characteristics:

  • It had to look like a Santoor with specific traditional dimensions and be comfortable on a lap sitting cross legged with no support from a stand.

  • It had to have a specific weight, again for comfort on a lap and for travel.

  • It had to be built elegantly, with care and craftsmanship, as opposed to how Santoors in India are built.

  • It had to sound like a Santoor (listen to sound samples Kamaljeet created below)


Finished Santoor with Chessman bridges

Santoor Tuning chart
Comparative Santoor Sound Samples
traditional Santoor
phadi alap_trad - Ahluwalia
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full range_trad - Ahluwalia
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dhira dhira stroke_trad - Ahluwalian Artist
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D to D_trad - Ahluwalia
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James Jones Santoor

with continous bridge

phadi alap_james - Ahluwalia
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Eventually I will have sound samples of the James Jones Santoor with chessman style bridges

full range_james - Ahluwalia
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dhira dhira stroke_james - Ahluwalia
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D to D_james - Ahluwalia
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Photo Gallery of Building a Santoor with photos of finished instruments (Click on the first photo to view full screen)
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