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The Jerry Jones instruments are a step above the Danelectro instruments in quality and are now quite collectable as well. As of April 2011, Jerry Jones retired and the Nashville factory was closed. The earlier Jerry Jones Electric Sitar were closer in appearance to the original Vincent Bell Coral Sitars. Almost a “dead” ringer. The later Jerry Jones Master Sitars had a few slight changes. The headstock had a different shape, the lipstick pickups were mounted without chrome ring, the knobs and the access panel on the back were different. Also the pickguard had no writing on the earlier ones. The later ones had “electric SITAR” written on it. Both generally shipped with a G&G hard case and harp tuning wrench. See Jerry Jones Electric Sitars for details.

Modeled after the original ’60s Vincent Bell Coral Sitar built by Danelectro, the Jerry Jones Master Sitar is constructed like most of the Jerry Jones’ guitars (and original Danelectro) with a poplar wood frame sandwiched between two pieces of Masonite, leaving a hollow chamber. It has a 25-inch scale, maple neck with a pretty flat 14 1/2-inch radius, Indian rosewood fingerboard, six-on-a-side Gotoh tuners, 21 medium jumbo frets, and an intonated “buzz bridge.”

Jerry Jones uses his own lipstick pickups for the Master Sitar – two for the main sitar (6 strings), one for the 13-string sympathetic harp that can be tuned to any key or scale – each with its own volume and tone control. The finish is a very cool red “gator” crackle, along with the etched plexiglass pickguard and tailpiece cover, complete the instrument’s very psychedelic look. The smooth satin-finished neck and low action make it a breeze to play. Like all of the Jerry Jones’ instruments it is notches above the vintage ones. Probably the best quality electric Sitar you can buy.

The Jerry Jones Supreme Sitar features replaces the 13 sympathetic strings of the Master Sitar with a short, non-fretted neck with 6 drone strings. This short neck has its own tuning keys and “Buzz-Bridge” as well. Now, both necks produce the familiar whirring sound.

The Coral type, Jerry Jones Master Sitar has a hollow body, therefore has a percussive tone when the strings are picked. The Baby sitar is a solid body instrument and has an enhanced whirring sound after a string is picked.

The Coral Sitar and later reissues by Jerry Jones have been played in the studio and onstage by Buddy Guy, Duane Allman, Aerosmith, Yardbirds, Traffic, Steve Hackett, Rory Gallagher, Steve Howe, Metallica, Green Day, Steve Miller, Pearl Jam, The Clash, and Pat Metheny. In the late 1970s, Eddie Van Halen used one for his solo on “Ain’t Talkin’ ’Bout Love” from Van Halen’s debut album. The Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart played in the 1985 video for “Don’t Come Around Here No More” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. In 1991, Metallica used it for the intro to “Wherever I May Roam” and in recent years, MGMT guitarist Andrew VanWyngarden used one on “Congratulations.” There was even a Coral Sitar built left-handed for Jimi Hendrix!

Tuning recommendations from Jerry Jones

Light strings on the sitar to increase the sitar buzz sound. The gauges of the sympathetic strings are all .010. and a harp wrench is used for the tuning process. The longest and lowest string is tuned an octave above the high E of a standard tuned guitar. From there the strings are tuned in half steps. This is just a starting point and experimentation can yield some great sounds. More recently we have tuned the instrument with a “drop D” tuning and the sympathetic strings to a D7sus chord which is as follows – longest string to shortest string.

  • D – same note as 1st string of the guitar neck fretted at the 10th fret
  • F# – ascending
  • G – ascending
  • A – ascending
  • C – ascending
  • A – descending
  • G – descending
  • F# – descending
  • G – ascending
  • A – ascending
  • C – ascending
  • D – ascending
  • D – ascending

It should be pointed out that electric sitars are not an actual sitar. It is simply a standard 6-string guitar with a innovative buzz bridge (plus some have sympathetic strings like a harp guitar). It is not tuned the same as a real acoustic sitar, it’s not intoned the same, it doesn’t feel, play or sound the same as an Indian sitar. It does allow musicians that are comfortable playing the standard “spanish-style” guitar to get those buzzy “trippy” 60’s sounds.

The electric sitar is mostly a one trick pony, but does have a sound that is hard to emulate. Most all of the so-called sitar effect pedals, don’t sound much like a real sitar or even an electric sitar. So the electric sitar is quite unique and can add some cool sonic textures.

The buzz bridge is what makes the interesting effect, but the electric sitar is a pain to tune and can makes intonation pretty hard. The electric sitar is mostly for playing lead lines as chording is a nightmare. It is an acquired taste for sure, not an exact instrument in any way. Still quite fun to add to your collection.