Creating a guitar specifically for Indian Music

by Jack Nathan Jennings in Bradford On Avon, England, United Kingdom

We did it
On 14th January 2019 we successfully raised £945 with 19 supporters in 56 days

Create a new type of electric guitar that is specifically designed to play Indian Classical Music and adapt the techniques of the sitar.

by Jack Nathan Jennings in Bradford On Avon, England, United Kingdom

What inspired this idea

I have been playing electric guitar for 21 years (since the age of 10). For the last 10 years I've been very devoted to Indian Classical Music and have studied the sitar as a second instrument. While collaborating with various Indian classical musicians they encouraged me to focus on the guitar as a means of playing this music. I began to imagine a guitar that could be specially built to do this effectively.

Over the last 2 years I have been developing a design with guitar builder Tom McAllister. Tom is a very innovative guitar builder who was very eager to explore all of the various concepts and technical challenges that were involved in a project like this. He was able to come up with practical solutions to all the different elements I wanted this instrument to have.

"Jack Jennings is one of the finest and extremely versatile guitar players I have worked with, in recent times. 
His thorough understanding of this instrument and his passion towards Indian classical music and it's unique sound, together, has lead to a very innovative idea of modifying the guitar. These modifications will make this instrument more suitable to play Indian classical music. I am sure most of guitar players would be very fascinated by these innovative ideas. I surely am...
I wish him all the success." 
- Manish Pingle, Mohan Veena player.

Concept for the Guitar

The guitar we have designed takes inspiration from elements of the sitar as well as expanding the 'electric' elements of the guitar itself. It will have extra sets of strings similar to the sitar. Such as 'sympathetic strings' to create extra resonance and texture, as well as 'chikari strings' which are used to create additional rhythms and self accompaniment.

"Jack is a uniquely gifted musician, pioneering and combining the sensitivities of Indian classical music into his guitar playing. His guitar adaptation ideas are exciting and I have no doubt he will make it work" 

- Roopa Panesar, Sitarist. 

About the Guitar

Each set of strings has its own dedicated hand-made pickups and dedicated controls. There are even separate outputs so the different sets of strings can be sent through different signal chains, allowing the player to create a customized sound to suit each dimension of the instrument. There are additional switches to control the use of these outputs, allowing the player to divide or combine the elements of the guitar with ease. Also the standard strings of the guitar have a specially designed layout of pickups and variable tone control capacitors to facilitate a range of tones, making it possible to blend with different genres of music as required.

This level of control and versatility is something that sets this guitar apart from other which have been inspired by the sitar in the past.

We have carefully planned out how these strings are arranged on the body to create a truly ergonomic guitar which will remain comfortable and straightforward to play while having all of these extra elements. We have also innovated ways to position the extra tuning pegs on the body so you can adjust them easily on stage. 

“Jack is exceptionally passionate about Indian classical music and is very keen to make strides in adapting this into electric guitar, both musically and technically with a great deal of sensitivity....” 

- Gurdain Rayatt, Tabla player.

The sitar string bending technique

The neck of the guitar has been specially designed to accommodate the sitar method of string bending. The neck will be fitted with extra large stainless steel frets which provide excellent control while bending. It will be scalloped which is effectively more similar to how the frets are laid out on the sitar. This allows you to purchase the string in a different way and do extended string bends without the other strings getting in the way. Also the lower edge of the fretboard will be slightly wider allowing you to pull the string greater distances without it falling off the side of the fretboard. With all of these features it will be possible to expand the note range you can play while bending, creating more access to the phrasing style that you can achieve on the sitar.

What it will be used for

So much time has been put into considering all of these elements and how to make them work and I am so excited to bring this guitar into the world and introduce it to people in a concert situation. I intend to use this guitar in future concerts with the Trio I am part of with Manish Pingle (Indian Slide Guitar) and Gurdain Rayatt (Tabla). I also want to use it make online courses to help others to learn about Indian Music on the guitar.  

How the money will be used

The money that is raised will cover the materials that are needed to build the instrument and Tom's fee to craft and construct the guitar. As some of you may know the cost of building a custom guitar is usually a lot higher. Tom has been very generous to put so much time into the planning stage of this guitar and he is building it at this affordable price, simply because he believes in what this guitar is capable of and wants to see it come to life.

Potential for this project to go further 

Once the guitar is made and people have seen what it can do, we may be able to continue this project and build guitars for other players who also want to explore in the music as a guitarist.

Thank you very much for reading about this project. 

If you would like to see more about Indian Music on the Guitar visit my website :

Thank you for showing interest in the idea

Jack Jennings


This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£20 or more

3 of 200 claimed

CD of performances made with the new guitar.

This CD will feature special performances showcasing the full potential of this new instrument. It will include demos focusing on particular aspects of the instrument as well as traditional recitals of Indian Classical Raags.

£10 or more

Download of my solo album 'Lusitana'.

This album was recorded mostly outdoors in a woodland in Northern Portugal. The compositions and improvisations subtly combine Indian and Western musical elements. The environmental sounds as a result of it being recorded outdoors are also part of the music. Lusitana is the old name of Portugal and to me it represents the gentle, slow pace of life that can still be felt there. This environment is what really made this album what it is.

£20 or more

4 of 40 claimed

Online group to learn Indian Music on the guitar

You can take part in a small group session to learn about about playing Indian Music on the guitar. I have a lot of experience teaching groups and doing online classes. No matter what your level of playing we can explore the concepts of Indian Music and begin a new way of learning your instrument.

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