Mohan Veena literally and conceptually a charming string instrument altered from traditional Guitar by Grammy award winner Pt.Vishwa Mohan Bhatt is a true contemporary music marvel of India. Named after its proponent, this Veena is sophisticated and complex in usage and sound. The audio feel it creates is an amalgam of Sitar and Santur of Hindustani and Veena of Karnatic music.
The Mohan Veena is a highly modified concord archtop, played in lap-style. It has 20 strings, 3 melody strings and 5 drone strings coming off the peghead, and 12 sympathetic strings strung to tuners mounted on a piece of wood added to the side of the neck. The melody string are lower in height that the melody strings are on what we would consider the treble side of the neck, and the drone strings are on the bass side. The drone strings are lower in height than the melody strings to allow for unrestricted playing of the melody strings.
The sympathetic strings run underneath the melody and drone strings to yet another level on the bridge. The tuning varies according to the raga being played. A ‘Tumba’ (gourd) is fixed on the back side of neck of the fingerboard for better sound as well as for holding the Mohan Veena. The instrument has a carved spruce top, mahogany back and sides, a mahogany neck, a flat, fret-less, rosewood fingerboard.
The Mohan Veena is under tremendous tension; estimated total strings pull to be in excess of 500 pounds. It is due to this high tension the tone turns incredible with the sympathetics ringing out and strengthening each note played. This is a loud instrument made to cut through in situations with low amplification.