Monday, December 31, 2007

Erhu Belt Clip and Small Sanxian

In one of my previous posts, I talked about Erhu belt clips for playing the instrument standing up.

Well, I ordered a box that came with my latest shipment of instruments.

Here's how it works:

video

Frankly, I think the workmanship still has a lot of room for improvement, but it does the job. You might need to twist and turn, press and knead to make it fit nicely. In view of that, I am going to sell it at a low introductory price of US$8. It's not up on online store yet, but here's the link if you need one urgently: Erhu Belt Clip.

Another item I am going to list is the Shanghai Dunhuang small Sanxian.

Its not exactly a new product because I have it in my stocks for quite a while already. I just haven't listed it. We also have medium and large Sanxians as well. Do email me at tansungwah@eason.com.sg if you are looking for one.

Here's how the small Sanxian looks like:

Friday, December 28, 2007

Erhu Strings Again

Ok, I need to apologise to those who have ordered items from my online store in the past week. We are really short handed at the moment because 60% of my collegues went overseas before Christmas. As a result, some of the orders are delayed so do bear with us for the moment.

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Back to the topic of strings again. I was talking previously about how Dunhuang Erhu strings has more tension than Mudan Erhu strings. Today I took a micrometer and measured the thickness of both sets of strings. The inner string of both Mudan and Dunhuang strings measured 0.42mm. However, the outer Dunhuang string measured 0.24mm compared to 0.21mm of the Mudan string.

That accounts for the increased tension in the strings. The thicker gauge gives a fuller tone to the instrument, albeit at the expense of playing comfort.

I have just listed the Dunhuang Erhu strings on my online store. They look exactly like Mudan Erhu strings, except for the words.


Besides the newly listed Dunhuang Erhu strings, I also listed the ABing silver and gold Erhu strings that I brought back from the Shanghai fair. It is named silver and gold because the outer string is made of a gold alloy while the inner string is wound with 99.9% pure silver. Honestly I have not tried them before, but strings from ABing are generally not bad.

Interestingly, the inner string measures 0.38mm and the outer string measures 0.21mm in thickness, significantly thinner than Dunhuang and Mudan Erhu strings.

Should be quite easy on the fingers.

Lastly, join my mailing list!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Mailing List and Wang Gen Xing Erhus

I am creating a mailing list for my website www.eason.com.sg.

Subscribers to the mailing list will be notified of any new products that we have in our shop, any new learning materials we have created and special promotions!

Of course you can check this blog for updates, but an email in your mailbox would be much faster.

So sign up now here!

If you have bought anything from us before, you will also receive an email about the mailing list so do look out for it. Thanks!

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Wang Gen Xing is arguably one of the best Erhu makers in China. He is the chief Erhu engineer of Dunhuang - Shanghai No.1 National Musical Instruments Factory.

Besides overseeing the production of thousands of Erhus everyday, he produces his own signature Erhus as well in the comfort of his home. His Erhus are very much sought after because of its exceptional tone. They say it is the most Erhu sounding Erhu you will ever find.

The scarcity of stocks is also one of the reasons for its high value. He's already in his 70s and has a day job supervising Erhu production in Dunhuang so he has a very slow production line. His name has such high intrinsic value that people fake his name on their Erhus to sell at a higher price.

So where is all this heading?

Well, we're picking up a few of his Erhus from his home sometime in January. Wang is only left with 2 small leaf sandalwood Erhus and some aged rosewoods at the moment. He won't be having more of the small leaf sandalwood Erhus anytime soon because there is a complete lack of raw materials for him to work on in the market.

I will be getting 1 small leaf sandalwood Erhu and 2-3 aged rosewood Erhus. The small leaf sandalwood Erhu has already been booked.

If you are interested in the other small leaf sandalwood Erhu or the aged rosewood Erhus, please drop me an email at tansungwah@eason.com.sg before 2 January 2008.

And how do you know if you're buying the real thing and not fakes?

If you ever show him the Erhu you bought from us (he's at the Shanghai Music Fair every year) and he says its a fake, I'll double your money back and post an apology on my blog!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Something About Erhu Strings

I am not much of an Erhu strings person, not yet anyway.

As in, I have not done much in depth analysis of how different kinds of Erhu strings affect the tone and sound of the Erhu - unlike bridges.

Partly because it takes 2 seconds to change a bridge. Whereas to change strings on an Erhu takes at least 3 minutes and you need time to season the strings before the full effect kicks in. Moreover, the strings cannot be sold once I fitted and unfitted them from my Erhu.

But yesterday I had a changing strings experience. I was playing this Indian small leaf sandalwood Erhu. It has a really clean and rich tone. I enjoyed the sound coming out of the Erhu very much. But the problem is the inner string is not very responsive. I had to bow harder to get the same balance as the outer string.

Someone in the shop suggested to changing the strings to see if the responsiveness improves.

I changed to a set of Mudan Erhu strings.

While changing, I noticed immediately that the Mudan Erhu strings are significantly thinner than the strings on the Erhu. When I played the Erhu with the new Mudan strings on, I noticed the tone is significantly thinner and softer, although the inner string is more responsive now. Because if the thinner gauge, it is easier on the fingers when you do vibrato. Granted, the Mudan strings are new and needs a period of seasoning before it performs to what is expected.

The one who put the snakeskin on the Erhu was in the shop at the time. He commented that because the snakeskin he used is slightly thicker, the thinner gauge strings might not send strong enough vibrations to the snakeskin for the rich tone to come out.

Possibly. I'll monitor the tonal changes on the Erhu closely for the next 2 weeks.

So what is the moral of the story?
- If you want more comfort for your left hand, choose a thinner gauge.
- Thicker gauge Erhu strings might be more suited for thicker skin Erhus
- Thicker gauge strings might give a richer tone to the instrument, but reduce the responsiveness of the instruments.

Noticed I use the word 'might'. Results might vary Erhu to Erhu even if all things remain constant. Each Erhu is an individual.

For our range of Erhu strings, please visit our online store here.

P.S. Dunhuang Erhu Strings (not listed) and Dunhuang Mingren Erhu strings
(not listed) are of thicker gauge than normal Mudan Dunhuang strings.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Non Guzheng Photos of Shanghai Dunhuang Musical Instruments Co., Ltd 'Yun' Factory

Here are the non Guzheng photos from the Shanghai Dunhuang 'Yun' factory tour.

Man giving Erhus their necks...

Woman giving color to the necks of the Erhus...

Man working on Erhu resonators...

Man fixing the rear window of the Erhu resonator...

Man touching up on the neck of the Erhu resonator...

Those are resonators of Gehu (the erhu equivalent of the Cello)...

Man skinning the pipa to shape...

Almost finished pipas...

Lacquer room...

Woman working on the frets of a Yue Qin (Moon lute)..

Unfinished Zhongruans...

Piled up Zhongruan bodies...

Finished Zhongruans...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Guzheng Making of Shanghai Dunhuang Musical Instruments Co., Ltd

Sometime in October factory last year, I had tour of the factory of Shanghai Dunhuang Musical Instruments Co., Ltd where we are the sole distributor for their 'Yun' brand Chinese Music Instruments in South East Asia. Shanghai Dunhuang 'Yun' brand is actually a different brand from Dunhuang Brand, although they share the same boss. If you are familiar with Singapore's media industry, they are like mediacorp and the ex-mediaworks, always competing with each other but the directorship trace back to the same person.

That is another story for another day. Shanghai Dunhuang 'Yun' Brand produces excellent quality musical instruments, especially the Guzheng. Below are some pictures that I took on their Guzheng making. Not in any order of work in progress.

Storage area of different anatomy of the Guzheng....
Unfinished business #1...

Strings unattached...

Covers...

Some internal structures of the Guzheng...

Unfinished business #2...

Craftsman carving the 'Yun' brand on the side of the Guzheng...

Women painting the putting color to the 'Yun' brand on the side of the Guzheng...

Another storage area...

Guzheng soundboard exfoliation...

Unfinished business #3...

Unfinished business #4...

Unfinished business #5...

Unfinished business #6...

Craftsman doing something to the sides...

Skeletons in the closet...

Soundboard added...
Unfinished business #7...

Manicure and pedicure...

Where's are my teeth? (Click here for the finished product)

Hmmm....

Raw materials...

Some internal structure being carved out from blocks of wood...

Fossilized bridges...

Keeping the soundboard in place...

Raw materials...

Raw materials...

Full bodied buffing...

Almost finished business...

There you go...
Finished business!

Packed up and ready to go....
Click here for one of the intended destinations!

So you see, a lot goes into that Guzheng you have in your living room.

And this little girl wants to do it all by herself...
Finally, the man who has been in this business since 1978 - my father...