A sitar is typically made using a combination of dried pumpkin, tun wood, bone and metal strings. The dried pumpkin is used to make the main resonance box, and its neck and cover are made using the tun wood. The bridge of the sitar is made of bone.
The frets of a sitar can be moved by cords attached to the instrument's neck. These cords are generally made from steel. Depending on the style of the sitar construction, a second resonance box made from tun wood can also be part of the instrument. Some sitars also feature decorative inlays, which are sometimes made of celluloid.
There are two distinct styles of sitar construction: the Ravi Shankar and Vilayat Khan styles. A Ravi Shankar sitar is constructed with two resonance boxes and 20 unique strings. Of these strings, 13 are considered sympathetic resonance strings while only seven are playing strings. Of these seven strings, four strings are used as melody strings and make up four different octaves.
A sitar constructed using the Vilayat Khan style only has one resonance box, 11 sympathetic resonance strings and only six playing strings. A Vilayat Khan sitar generally contains less decoration than a Ravi Shankar sitar.