It was one fine day in 1968 when a 15 year old Vishwa Mohan Bhatt who was than learning sitar, stumbled across a Spanish guitar brought by a German student at his fathers music school. He started experimenting with it, trying to modify its structure to suit Indian music. What resulted was an Indian version of Hawaiian slide guitar designed to play Indian classical, The Mohan Veena.
Mohan Veena is a Indian stringed instrument used in classical Indian music. It refers to two distinct classical instruments, one “ Sarodâ€ created by well-known Sarodhya Radhika Mohan Maitra and the second being a modified Hawaiian guitar created by Vishwa Mohan Bhatt. Many western musical instruments have been accepted in India.
The Mohan Veena is a highly modified concord archtop, which VM Bhatt plays lap style. It has 19 strings : three melody strings ,four drone strings coming out of the peg heads, and 12 sympathetic strong tuners mounted to a piece of wood added to the side of the neck. The melody strings are considered as the Treble side and the drone strings are considered to be the Bass side. The drone strings are lower in the height than the melody strings to allow for unrestricted playing of the melody strings. The sympathetic strings run underneath the melody and the drone strings. The instrument has a carved spruced top, mahogany back and sides, a mahogany neck and a flat, fretless, rosewood fingerboard.
Mohan Veena is a adaption of Western Slide Guitar and is called as Hindustani Slide Guitar. VM Bhatt drew a lot of flak when he forayed into fusion music with the Mohan Veena. The distinct sound of Mohan Veena can be discerned especially in the interludes of the song “Narumugaiyeâ€. There is a Mohan Veena solo version of Jana Gana Mana in A R Rahmans album of the same name.