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Tutorial on the Varzandeh-style Santur and Mezrab

Reza Varzandeh invented an original and brilliant new configuration for the santur and the mezrab, which because of the advantages and new capabilities they offer to the santur player, logic may deduce that the incidence of santur musicians adopting this new configuration should be far greater than currently the case. 

The Varzandeh-style santur offers the following primary distinctions from the conventional santur:

  • It features 12 rows of notes or "kharrak" in contrast to the conventional santur having 9-10, which offers a greater range of tones and versatility to play more complex compositions
  • The sets of wooden structures suspending the strings (the "kharrak" and "shaytanak") have increased height, and thus, offer the ability to change the pitch of the strings by lower-frictional modulation of the position of the "kharrak".  This negates the need for direct manipulation of string tension or retuning (pictures of Varzandeh-style santur below show the modulated positions of the kharraks)
  • The increased height and length of the santur base platform causes for a deeper, richer sound emanating from the santur. 
  • The incorporation of a thicker walnut wood frame and sheets making up the santur base platform and wooden reinforcement screws, help build the santur's resistance to temperature and humidity changes.
  • By dedicating five strings to each note on the primary octave of the santur (middle column of strings) instead of 4, the santur produces a more luscious, dominant sound in its primary octave.

Conventional Santur:

Varzandeh-Style Santur (replica of original):

Details on the assembly of the Varzandeh-style santur:

  • Approximate overall dimensions of the wood base platform (trapezoidal wooden box):  Height = 4.3", Width = 14", Back-edge length = 43",  Front-edge length = 18"

 top view

  • Approximate wood base platform component thicknesses:  Top face thickness = 4mm, Bottom face thickness = 6mm, base frame thickness = 1" (all four pieces have the same thickness)

  • Shaytanak height = 3/4"

  • Kharrak height on left row = 1.125", Kharrak height on right row = 1"

front view


The Varzandeh-style mezrab offers the following primary distinctions from the conventional mezrab:

  • The straight wood handle of the mezrab (in comparison to the conventional finger slotted mezrab) allows for the fingers to move the mezrab.  In using the conventional mezrab that constrains movement of the fingers, motion is achieved by movement of the wrist or arm, however, the achievable speed of the mezrabs can be greatly increased when the fingers are utilized. 
  • The contour of the Varzandeh-style mezrab allows the santur strings to be struck from shorter heights, which further accelerates the rate that the strings can be struck.
  • The use of pomegranate wood for construction of the Varzandeh-style mezrab, in contrast to the conventional use of walnut wood, provides greater springiness to the mezrab's mechanical behavior.  This characteristic enhances the sound emanating from the santur since the mezrab has been designed specifically to "bounce up" from the strings after being struck.

Conventional Mezrab:

Varzandeh-style Mezrab:

Details on the assembly of the Varzandeh-style mezrab:

  • Mezrab may be constructed from pomegranate or pear wood

  • Total length of mezrab is approximately 10"

  • Approximate mezrab handle dimensions: thickness = 2mm, width = 8mm

  • Approximate mezrab head dimensions: overall width = 2.2", thickness = 3mm



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This site was last updated 03/29/06    Contact the webmaster, Neema Hekmat, to report any problems with this page.