Saraswati Veena

The saraswati veena is the most important solo instrument of classical Carnatic music. It is as popular in the South-Indian tradition as the sitar in the North.

EU: 1,290 €
incl. VAT, plus 48.10 € shipping within Germany / on request € within Europe
Non-EU: 1,084.03 €
plus on request € shipping within Europe / overseas on request

The characteristic sound of the saraswati veena is warm and full and at the same time slightly buzzing and metallic. All melodic and rhythmic subtleties of Indian raga music can be played on it. However, it may as well be discovered as a fascinating and complex melody instrument in other music genres or it may be played for therapeutic or meditative purposes.
Saraswati veena and sitar are built similarly in principle. However, the sarawasti veena's resonator is carved out of a single piece of solid wood, its neck is narrower (so that its strings can not be pulled quite as far sideways as on the sitar), the frets are flat and fitted into a bed of wax, the bridge has a metal surface and it has no sympathetic strings. The plucking technique corresponds in principle to that of rudra veena and vichitra veena.

Sound sample saraswati veena


Corpus made of solid jackwood, metal frets set into wax, brass bridges, four melody strings, three drone strings, carved dragon head color contrasted and glossy lacquered, with celluloid teeth, upper resonator cast in plastic.

General Info

The sound of the saraswati veena, especially the degree of buzzing, may be changed considerably by modifying the surface polish of the bridge. Thus it can be entirely adjusted to ones liking. The possibilities range from a very sharp, buzzing sound, extremely rich in overtones to a clear and round sound with hardly any overtones, remotely resembling the sound of a guitar.

Veena is a general term for a multitude of different string instruments. Rudra veena and vichitra veena are different traditional veenas still in use today. Other veenas fell into oblivion in the course of history. Also newly developed instruments are often called veenas, e.g. the mohan veena, a modified slide guitar equipped with sympathetic strings and drone strings.

Saraswati is the goddess of music, fine arts, speech, wisdom and learning in Hinduism. Musicians and students pay homage to her once a year on the public holiday Saraswati Puja. She is often pictured playing a saraswati veena. The instrument is therefore considered exceptionally holy, also playing a cultic part in the Saraswati Puja. Saraswati is worshipped by many Muslim musicians in India as well.

Manufacturer / Supplier

Our saraswati veenas are supplied by our partner Paloma. They are made by traditional craftsmen in South India and are bought in the Carnatic music capital Chennai.

PALOMA is the international brand name for instruments made by Haribhau Vishwanath from Mumbai (formerly Bombay). Haribhau Vishwanath was founded in 1925 as a small repair business and developed into one of the leading Indian harmonium manufacturers in the course of decades. In addition, Haribhau Vishwanath makes shrutiboxes, santoors, swarmandals and some drums. Haribhau Vishwanath is also an active musical instrument trader and supplies us with some rarely demanded instruments where a direct purchase from the manufacturer is not profitable. Thanks to his good infrastructure and long experience with instrument manufacturing, trading and international shipping, Haribhau currently supplies all common harmonium models and many other instruments constantly in a high quality regarding workmanship. In addition, he excels through attractive innovations, like e.g. the harmonium Compactina or a particular silk-mat finish. Haribhau Vishwanath is a partner of India Instruments since 2005. Today the company is run by Ashish Diwane.


Measure: length 134 cm, width corpus 40 cm, depth corpus 40 cm, weight: 6.8 kg
Each instrument is individually hand-crafted and might differ from our description.

Playing Technique

The saraswati veena is traditionally played sitting on the floor with crossed legs. The corpus is put on the floor in front of the right knee while the upper resonator is placed on the left knee and / or the left thigh. In this position, the fingerboard is adjusted diagonally upward. The right forearm rests on the corpus, stabilizing the instrument. The left arm reaches around the neck for the finger board from below.

The plucking technique corresponds generally to the one used for rudra veena and vichitra veena: Index and middle finger of the right hand wear wire plectrums (mizrabs) with which the playing string is plucked alternately with both fingers during fast sections. The drone strings (chikari) are played with the long nail of the little finger.  The thumb of the plucking hand is supported at the base of the neck.

The fingering technique is similar to that of the sitar. The melody strings are pressed onto the frets mainly with the index finger of the left hand. During melodious flows, the whole hand wanders along the neck following the index finger. Ornaments, small intervals and closing notes of rising melody lines are played with middle or ring finger. Ornaments and small intervals can also be articulated by pulling the string sideways on the frets. The highest melody string is the main playing string. The three deeper playing strings are used mainly for notes deeper than the tonic of the main playing string. The thumb is not supported by the neck but is held freely in the air sideways.