PT. RAVI SHANKAR
The association with respected Panditji dates back to 1950 when in this year Bishan Dass ji joined A.I.R as musical instrument expert & in the same year Pt.ji was the chief composer there. It was then that Bishan Dass ji became his student and learnt the detail character of the sound and tone of Maihar Gharana. Bishan Dass & Pt.ji used to discuss for hours ways to make the sitar in a standardized form & call it a Pt. Ravi Shankar style sitar or Maihar Gharana style. Sitar playing really helped Bishan Dass ji while making new innovative changes in the sitar and these changes have been accepted and are being played by all musicians. The sitar Pt.ji is playing since 1979-80 has been made by Bishan Dassji. In 1965 Pt.ji discussed with him the constant problem of traveling with huge Tanpura. These tanpuras were very delicate so they used to get damaged easily. Bishan Dass ji pondered on this problem and finally made an all wooden Tamboori. This Tamboori was very compact and easy to travel with, the size was half of the big tanpuras. The best thing about these tambooris was that they had the same tonal quality as the traditional tanpuras and could be tuned to any pitch. These tambooris are played by all the musicians today. Pt.ji’s daughter Anoushka is also playing sitars made by us. She is very satisfied with her main sitar. Bishan Dassji assisted with son Ajay have recently designed Ovation sitar (new innovation) both for Pt.ji and Anoushka and they are both very happy with its sound and tonal quality.
LATE USTAD VILAYAT KHAN SAHIB
The association of Rikhi Ram family with late Ustad ji is of 3 generations. Ustad ji always treated Bishan Dass ji as his younger brother. To make his sitar in a standardized form He and Bishan Dass ji spent days and years together discussing all the possibilities to accomplish the correct Design, Sound and Tone of his gharana. It is no doubt that Vilayat Khan style sitar is most widely played around the world. Ustad ji explained the detailed nuances of sound and tone that he required to Bishan Dassji who then master crafted many of his style sitars. Khan sahib always appreciated Bishanjis experiments with different type of materials for the jawaris.
Ustadji’s both sons Shujaat Khan and Hidayat Khan, ustadji’s brother Ustad Imrat Khan & his son Nishat Khan play sitars made by Bishan Dass of Rikhi Ram. Apart from his family the other top names who play sitars made by Bishan Dass ji are Budhatitya Mukherjee, Shahid Pervez and many more. They are a regular visitors to the shop.
Bishan Dassji and Son Ajay have designed Ovation sitar fitted with pick up, which Shujaat ji will also play in his forthcoming world music projects with western musicians.
USTAD ALI AKBAR KHAN SAHIB
Pt. Ravi Shankar ji introduced his student Bishan Dass to Ustad Ali Akbar sahib way back in 1952. For Ustadji, Bishan Dass made accompaniment tambooris for his sarod and many times restored his sarod. In 1970 when Bishan ji toured United States he was invited by Ustadji to his college in San Rafael California, where he restored Ustadji’s and his students instruments. With Ustadjis blessing & guidance he learnt many things about music, sound & tone of different instruments. Currently the Ali Akbar college store carries Sitars, Tambooris etc.from Rikhi Ram.
USTAD AMJAD ALI KHAN
The association dates back from Ustadji’s respected father Late Ustad Hafis Ali Khan. Late Ustad Hafis Ali Khan Sahib was a regular visitor of our shop in Connaught Place. Bishan Dass ji was fortunate to receive his priceless blessings & guidance on Music, Sound & Tone. Ustad Amjad Ali Khan Saheb is also fond of Bishan Dass ji and always send his instruments for finer tuning. Bishan Dass ji made Tambouris and his new creation Swarsangam for Ustad Amjad Ali Khan Saheb.
Pt. JASRAJ JI
Pt. Jasraj ji came to know of ‘RIKHI RAM’ & Bishan Dass(Prop.) from his fellow musicians. He immediately paid a visit to our shop in Connaught Place where he found a variety of tanpuras in different shape and design. He instantly fell in love with tamboori which Bishan Dass had designed way back in 1965. Earlier the Tambooris were criticized & only instrumentalist used to play it but Pt.Jasraj ji being a vocalist appreciated the effort put into designing & was surprised by the sound generated by the tamboori which was 1/4th the size of big tumba base traditional tanpura. Now that the traveling of the musicians have become imperative, the tambooris are very convenient to carry, handle and tune. Pt. ji and his students are a regular patron of our shop.
Pt. SHIV KUMAR SHARMA
Pt. Shiv ji’s father late Pt. Uma Dutt Sharma was a regular visitor to the Rikhi Ram shop in Lahore & discussed many possibilities of different instruments with late Pt.Rikhi Ram ji. Shiv ji used to accompany his father to the shop & met Bishan Dassji there. Since then Pt.Shiv ji is a regular visitor for Tambooris, Santoors & instrument cases.
Pt. BHAJAN SOPURI
Bishan Dassji’s association with the sopuri family goes back a long way. Shumbhunathji, father of Bhajan sopuri is a long time friend of Bishan Dass. Shumbhunathji used to come from Kashmir to Lahore to buy his instruments. In the 1976,professor sahib for the first time brought his son Bhajan ji to our shop in Connaught Place. Since that time Bhajan ji has been coming to our shop regularly.
Bhajan ji and Bishan Dass used to have long discussions about music and the changes that could be brought about in Santoor playing. To accommodate the versalities in music Bhajan ji asked Bishan to increase the no. of bridges in his Santoor and also introduced the concept of meend work in the Santoor. Bhajanji discussed all the changes he wanted to be made in his santoor and finally Bishan ji crafted a custom made santoor for him which he plays in all his concerts. Bhajan ji’s son Abhay sopuri also comes regularly to get his Santoor serviced.
Pt. DEBU CHAUDHURI
Bishan Dass ji came to know of Pt. Debu Chaudhuri when he was appointed by the Delhi university in 1958/59 as a sitar professor. Bishan ji became his undettered fan after hearing his concerts and from then on their acquaintance turned into a beautiful long lasting friendship.
Bishan ji has made a number of sitars for him and his son Prateek chaudhuri. They used to sit for hours together discussing the sound and tone of sitars and ways to enhance them & the type of material changes that could be brought about as per their Gharana.
Debu ji is continuing the Senia Gharana tradition of sitar playing of Ustad Mushtaq Ali Khan, who used to play sitar with 17 frets. Bishanji is very happy that Prateek Chaudhari is following on his fathers footsteps and continuing the tradition of sitar playing with 17 frets.
We hope to continue this family relationship and keep making sitars for the coming generations also.
Pt. HARI PRASAD CHAURASIYA
Pt. Hari ji came to know of Bishan Dass from Pt. Shiv Kumar sharma. Pt.Hari ji was amazed to hear the sound of the beautifully crafted Tamboori which could be tuned to the different pitches but the size of the instrumental Tamboori remained the same. The first time Pt. Hari ji visited the shop was in 1972, since then he and his students are a regular visitor to the shop.
LATE USTAD BADE GULAM ALI KHAN
The pioneer of Patiala Gharana Late Ustad ji was a regular instrument seeker in the Rikhi Ram shop in Lahore. Ustadji’s requirement of a Harmonium, Swarmandal and Tanpura was only fulfilled by Late Pt. Rikhi Ram and son Bishan Dass. In 1962 Ustad ji asked Bishan Dassji to make a special Swarmandal for him. After a few weeks Bishan Dass ji presented a beautifully crafted Swarmandal of 36 strings which could be tuned with the help of individual beads attached to the individual strings, which was highly appreciated and till his last years Ustadji played the same Swarmandal in his immortal music.
USTAD ALLA RAKHA JI
In 1964 Bishan Dass ji experimented to electronify the sitar and made a sitar with in-built ampli-speaker operated through batteries which were also in-built. He then presented this unique sitar to his Guru Pt. Ravi Shankar where he was introduced to Ustad Alla Rakha ji, both Pt.ji and Ustad ji were amazed to see and hear the sound of this sitar. Ustad Alla Rakhaji gave his kind blessings and regards in this context. When Bishan Dass ji of Rikhi Ram toured USA in 1970 he stayed in Ustad ji’s house in LA and met his young talented son Ustad Zakir Hussain, who is currently the icon of Tabla