Bhattacharya has released a slew of Hindustani slide albums, and
his 2008 Calcutta Chronicles: Indian Slide Guitar Odyssey is a stunning example of slide-guitar virtuosity and deep musicality.
Like those before him, Bhattacharya has no inhibitions about modifying the guitar to suit his purposes. One of his creations is a 22-string
archtop he calls the chaturangui. It has six primary melody strings for
playing with a bar, four plucked chikari drones, and 12 tarab sympathetic strings, which Bhattacharya tunes to the tones of a given raga.
One major change Bhattacharya made to the mohan veena was
to move the chikari to the other side of the guitar neck. “On all
traditional plucked raga instruments,” he explains, “such as the
sitar, veena, and sarod, the chikari run along the side of the neck
closest to the performer, who strikes them with his thumb. But on
the chaturangui, I located the chikari on the opposite side, next to
“Blues attracted me, as it is
very close to my kind of music.
The tone of the guitars, the
whole feel is so beautiful.
Most importantly, the deep
emotions attached to the blues
pulled me close to it.”
A student of Brij Bhushan Kabra, the pioneer of Indian classical guitar, Debashish Bhattacharya is a Hindustani slide virtuoso who designs his own instruments.
the 1st string. Doing this lets me pluck the
drones with my index finger, rather than my
thumb, and thus play much faster passages.”
The chaturangui, as well as a hollow-neck
12-string with two chikari that Bhattacharya
calls the gandharvi, are built in Calcutta
and distributed by Trideb International.
“These are cross-cultural instruments,” says
Bhattacharya, “for jazz and blues slide guitar-
ists, as well as those playing ragas—which we
believe is not ethnic music for one part of the
world, but rather global music for everyone
Another next-gen Indian slide guitarist is
Salil Bhatt, son of VM Bhatt. In addition to
sharing the stage with his legendary father,
Salil records and tours as a slide master in his
own right. He plays a 20-string archtop gui-
tar he designed called the satvik veena. This
instrument has three melody, five drone, and
12 sympathetic strings. It also sports a gourd
below the headstock that adds resonance and
rests on the floor to support the neck in a
horizontal playing position.
Like his father, Salil often collaborates
with non-Indian musicians. On the two-album Slide to Freedom series, for example,
he swaps runs with Dobro and bottleneck
guitarist Doug Cox, recalling the epic pairing
of VM Bhatt and Ry Cooder.
There are other respected and influential
Indian slide players, most of whom wind up
designing personal variations of the mohan
veena pioneered by Bhatt. Several of these,
including Shri Krishan Sharma, Neel Ranjan
Mukherjee, and Kamala Shankar—the leading female Hindustani slide guitarist—are
well documented in You Tube videos.