One of the perks of electric guitar is the plain fact that the sound can be changed and modeled as far as we want: for this reason, even other instruments can be imitated as well, and the sitar is one of those imitated musical instruments.
This instrument started to enter into the mainstream in the 60′, after the experimentations of the Beatles and then of many more bands that tried to use that sound in their sound palette.
In this article we’ll see the many options for this exotic sound and how you can get it on your own guitar with some quirky stompboxes!
RAVISH SITAR EMULATOR (ELECTRO-HARMONIX)
Electro-Harmonix (also called EHX) is well known worldwide for his effects and the many bold pedals crafted under that brand: the Ravish Sitar Simulator is one of the bold pedals indeed.
In a sitar, the played string resonates as well as other nearby strings (the played one is called lead string and the other resonating ones are called sympathetic strings), and this pedal emulates, with his digital circuit, both lead and sympathetic.
Beyond that, this stompbox includes two expression pedals, that allow you to control both the volume and the pitch of those 2 types of string, giving you a lot of possibilities for your guitar playing.
The main features for this pedal are:
- buffered bypass (the signal goes trough the whole circuit, but it’s designed to minimize the signal deterioration and therefore it doesn’t ruin the high end of the sound as much as a “normal” non-bypass pedal);
- Audio type: mono
- polyphonic synth emulator with tracking for the sound, with customisable decay speed for lead string’s simulation and full tonal simulation of the sympathetic strings;
- 2 expression modulators for the pitch and the volume, as well as selectable keys/scales for sympathetic strings
- Prices ranges in between 210-270$ for a shiny new pedal
SITAR SWAMI (DANELECTRO)
Another sitar simulator pedal is the Sitar Swami, from Danelectro: despite being more rare, and mostly available from ex-owner of that pedal, its manufacturer claims that this stompbox can simulate the sound of the exotic indian instrument.
Despite the name, though, it’s easy to see contrasting reviews about its “traditional indian sound”, someome saying that the sound is a true sitar sound and someone else stating the exact opposite.
As with most of the things, the only way to check is to hear by yourself (you can see a review video below from MarshallTV), but anyway lots of buyers say that this pedal is a good pedal (even if not for the original purpose): the sound, is often defined as an octave pedal mixed with a phaser, and sometimes as a dirty fuzz pedal mixed with the previous sounds.
In fact, mostly loves it for the sound, but not for the actual sitar sound; anyway, you can just hear its sound and decide by yourself .
A BONUS PART: THE VARIAX GUITAR (LINE6)
Another way to emulate the sitar’s sound on an electric guitar is using a Variax Guitar, for example the Standard model.
These guitars are actually emulators, that let you have the sound of several guitars (acoustic, electric from several models such as Fender, Rickenbacker or Gibson) and also exotic guitars, such as sitars.
With this solution, also, you’ll have lots of possibilities for modeling your own sound (they also have a software for customising the guitar’s sound and its tone), so, if you’re very open to experimentation, it can fit your needs too for playing.
CONCLUSION: THE BEST CHOICE FOR A SITAR-LIKE SOUND ON YOUR ELECTRIC GUITAR
As a summary for this whole article, we can say that:
- for the true sitar sound emulation alone, a pedal like the Ravish Sitar Emulator (EHX) is the best fit for your style;
- for a pedal that sounds kinda-like the sitar but with other nuances and possibilities you can instead use the Sitar Swami from Danelectro;
- for an all-round and extremely versatile solution, that includes the sitar but is certainly not limited to that, you can try one of the Line6’s Variax electric guitar.
As usual, though, the best fit for you is just the thing that you like the most, so these are only general indications: don’t have fear and just decide using your taste!