Sitars and Waveshaping

Don Tillman don at
Fri Jan 16 08:07:44 CET 1998

   Date: Thu, 15 Jan 1998 22:51:19 -0800 (PST)
   From: Sean Costello <costello at>

   Anyone have any idea what type of waveshaper could be built to simulate a
   sitar? I can't even think of where to begin looking for clues.  The sitar
   seems pretty nonlinear (the buzzing sound is caused by a curved bridge);
   conventional synthesis doesn't seem like it would simulate it too well.  It
   would be great to build a box that would create sitar-like effects that
   would be volume-dependent, so as to work with guitar (or with synth, if the
   waveshaper is preceeded by a VCA).

I've found two very different approaches that work pretty well:
  1. a full-wave rectifier 
  2. simple germanium diode clipper 

They were both discovered accidentally.  I tried them out several
years apart and my memory isn't good enough to compare them, but it's
easy enough for you to breadboard them both and give'm a test drive.

Time to work out Skunk Baxter's solo in Steely Dan's "Do It Again"...

  -- Don

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