The sitar has an instantly recognisable sound:
I've always assumed that the characteristic 'lush background drone' that I associate with the sitar came from its sympathetic strings resonating with the plucked string.
But on Friday night when I went to hear the amazing Lady Maisery at the Cambridge Folk Club their violinist and banjo player, Rowan Rheingans, played one piece on what she called the bansitar, a cross between a banjo and a sitar.
The piece is Nottamun Fair on their first CD, Weave and Spin.
The bansitar Rowan plays is invented and made by her dad, Helmut Rheingans, and I emailed him to find out more. One thing that surprised me was in this comment (my emphasis):
The BanSitar has only 5 strings, no sympathetic strings, as did the original persian sitars (si tar meaning Three strings), the sympathetic strings where a 19th century addition, when steel strings where invented.
So his bansitar does not have sympathetic strings and yet it clearly has the sound I think of as characteristically sitar-like. What gives the sitar its characteristic sound?