2018 Buying Instruments, Getting lessons : A quick guide.

#1 Apr 20th, 2018, 14:59
Join Date:
Jun 2015
  • Daemo79 is offline
2018 Buying Instruments, Getting lessons : A quick guide.

As a foreigner to the city (indians too) you will never get the real price!!! and you can guarantee you’re getting charged double the street price. But you can get a price that is fair by western standards. Rudra Veena’s are really 100,000r!! All the online prices are crap.

Other than Taal music, if you are serious recommend getting in touch with the the music families in Kabir Math /Chaura area. the Maharaj, the Sahai’s, the MIshra’s and get a guru/deciple style relationship going.

I haven't listed everything and i am sure there are places i havent seen... e.g. a dude called Tata near the burning ghats, the only 'truely' honest shop owner i met in India.

If you can avoid it don’t rely on getting your instruments in Varanasi - unless you know your Tabla makers. Delhi Mumbai Calcutta are where you should be bargaining for gear.However if you have to there are some things, people and places you may want to avoid. Also keep in mind there is no such thing as a Instrument maker or Luthier in Varanasi, its a industrial chain of events. E.G a ’Sitar maker’ just frets and strings a sitar, the buy all the bodies pre fabricated and then get other craftsmen to decorate and carve them. Tabla walas, just make the skins ’pudis’. and Tune’em

Just to give you an idea of my experience, I am 40 years old, i grew up and worked in music shops and venues around the world. I know my craftsman ship and i know con men. I’ve been to Varanasi 3 times the latest was a 6 month stay.
I only bought Tabla. I was Supposed to acquire a Sitar and Sarangi but found nothing worth buying. I am also an aquantence with 4 musical families here. Two of which refuse to purchase any musical products form Varanasi makers because the cheating attitude and unsatisfactory standards.

Music Melody House.
Jolly Music.
Music Paridise hall.

Tread with caution:
Radi Shyam.
India Music House.
Anwar Tabla Maker.

Taal Music.
Iqbal Tabla Maker.

Here’s my reasoning.
Music Melody House: Harish chandra ghat area, They ripped two of my friends off Majorly. 1 friend ordered new concert series Tabla, but what she got was under par. She paid far too much for them and they broke.
The teachers they offer are good of course, but more concerned on overcharging you, talking to their friends and smoking hash. Your not going to get a guru disciple relation sip vibe here and you'll pay double and get half what you should.
They duo sell some nice high end instruments, but you will not be getting what you pay for.

Jolly Music. Bengali Tola
In short they are just pricks trying to sell on drugs. Over priced crap no quality.

MusicParidise Hall,.
They do good shows and the owner is a nice guy…. however i know his family and they told him not to cheat me and still he was charging me double.

Radhe Shyam Sharma & Co. - Sitars etc.
Good guy, and his son is very accommodating.
He makes some fantastic and expensive sitar for export - even vegan sitar. Unfortunately he thinks his word is golden, so when his stuff brakes or starts to brake he is full of excuses.
We had a bad experience with hime with our Sarangi Bow and tuner. Even our Guru was angered and disappointed.
My Mate gets his Tampura here and they are beautiful to look at and hear.

India Music House. Godowlia Area
This guy is nice, but full of bullshit and won’t stop talking. His prices are a little better than everywhere else, and i met lots of people buying form him and locals getting repairs done.
We still opted out from purchasing what he had to offer.

Anwar Tabla Maker. Lullapura.
I got some kickers Tabla from his son 3 years ago. It was hard to get a good price because they were made to order - pay less get less quality etc. i was overcharged for my Bayan which was supposed to be 4.5kg and was 3kg . Na the case they sold me was way overpriced - i had limited time on that trip and had a good job so it was part of the expense. He has credited me though I’ve yet to go back to see him. The bayan are rough and not much to look at , but the quality of the drums are great.

Taal Music. Bengali tola
If you are here for less than a month and want to get your feet wet these guys are the best bet.
Lesson are very reasonable 250r hr. they also change their teaching style depending on your length of stay, so for sitars you would get a more disciplined approach for a longer stay or slammed and overloaded with information on a short stay.
They also offer reasonable prices on gear but you need to know what your looking for. You will still pay more than you should but at least these guys are honest.

Iqbal Ahmed Tabla.
i Never heard of him and my local friends don’t really know him. He said he only really deals internationally and makes concert series gear.
I got a test set 6” and 2kg Brass for my practicing needs. Much nicer than my Anwar models i must say. i got a really good price but thats because I’m looking to export.

Theres lots of other shops and they just see you as fool that will over pay. but try them all and practise your bargaining skills.
So what should you pay?

Tabla: with bag and accessories.
Basic 5 1/2 sheesham / 2kg steel bayan 3500r -5000r i got a fellow traveller a set for 4000r which were on par with a 10000r set another traveller bought

Nicer 5 3/4 sheesham / 2-3kg brass 5500-6500r

Concert series Sheesham / 3-5kg Brass 12,000r - 18,000r

Fibre cases should be no more than:
Double case 2500, (really 1800)
Triple case 3500, (really 2800)
Cheaper in Kolkata or delhi where they are made.
The quality is always suspect. and often made of random parts yet the sitar cases are awesome???


you can get the odd 2nd hand ones for 7-9000, some are amazing some are shit.
You can buy new Kolkata models 16,000r (black or dark red). The lowest i could get one was 12,000r. Some are shit some are okay new wood takes time to settle, and can brake.
Case’s are 3000r, and better made than the Tabla cases.
Spare strings, a set should be no more than 650r for quality german steel and indian coper. and you should be able to restring the main 6 strings 3 more times.
Go to Radhe for your sitar and India music house for your strings.
OR there is a nice guy on the road before Tulsi Ghat. his shop looks crap, but he supplies some important people in Varanasi, and hates the tourist mafioso shops with a vengeance when he’s not reading his sutras. :-P
#2 Apr 20th, 2018, 15:35
Join Date:
May 2014
In the original virtual world - 'The Mind' - a beautiful thing
  • snotty is offline
That is a lot of research that you have shared.
I am sure people will make good use of it.
Sar Pass Trek , Rohtang, Munnar, Badrinath Kedarnath, Vaishnodevi, Goa, VOF, Kedarkantha, Kuari Pass, Brahmatal Trek

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