Tuesday, March 25, 2008

New Stocks - Part 1

Our new shipment of stocks just came in here are some of the more interesting items.

1) Man Rui Xing octagonal Erhus

The Man Rui Xing 8 sided Ebony Erhus look gorgeous and sound marvelous. I don't know if its just me but I find his workmanship really classy. The Erhu is feels responsive and sounds comfortably clean. The inner and outer strings and the highs and lows have very good balance. If you are looking for an octagonal Erhu, this is it:


Priced at US$420.

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I've scoured the darkest pits and deepest oceans of China for a long time for these, because the 'authentic' ones are so darn expensive. Yes, I've finally found good quality China made Shakuhachis. There aren't many who makes these but this guy makes it well.

Before there were 8. Then there were 7:





Priced at US$200 each. Shipping to USA, Europe and Australia is US$12.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tips from Mr Z (Part 3) - Dampener

The dampener (piece of thing below the bridge), when installed will eliminate wolf tones and noises from your Erhu.

The problem is that there is not really a 'correct' way of installing the dampener. There are definitely better ways in the relative sense but it is hard to pinpoint the best way.

The general concept is to have the dampener stuck between the strings and the snakeskin below the bridge so that it has ample contact with the snakeskin without being too tight or too loose.

I have seen a lot of different materials used as the dampener. There is of course the standard issue of a rectangular piece of foam. I have seen people use tissue paper as well!

However, the material that most people favour is a piece of felt.

So comes the next question, how thick should the piece of felt be? Too thick and it will mute the tone too much, too thin and it hardly has any effect. To fold it such that it makes good contact with the snakeskin without being too tight takes some skill.

So here comes tip number 3 from Mr Z:

Put a piece of sponge in between the felt.

The material of the sponge will give provide more elasticity and at the same time more mass and body to the dampener.

Folded felt might be too hard and sponge by itself might be too soft. So together they make a great combination.

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I've just listed 3 new products on my online store. One's the big Sanxian you've read about in my previous blog posting. The others are 2 new models of Erhu between the range of US$200-$300.

Check it out.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Who? Handroll?

Just communicated with Wang Gen Xing a few days ago about my next batch of Erhus from him. He says this will be the last batch of Erhus he is making. He has no raw materials left and is getting old.

So that's it folks. No more Wang Gen Xing Erhus (except for the 1 or 2 Aged Rosewoods that are we are getting in April).

If you manage to get it elsewhere, there are 3 possibilities:
1) They got it sometime ago
2) They are fakes and imitations
3) He lied

So I am now looking to his apprentice, Hu Han Rou for exquisite Shanghai Erhus. Hu's Erhus are said to be as good as Wang's, and they cost slightly less as well. Hu's Erhu also has an uncanny resemblance to Wang's Erhus. Pretty much the same design. Even the font they use to stamp their name looks similar.

I had this conversation with a Canadian friend/ customer the other day. His favourite game is an intellectually un-stimulating game called fight club. Thus you can imagine that his brain is a little rusty sometimes. He thinks he is Skeletor in disguise, so I call him Skully.

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Me: - Wang's not making any Erhus anymore, so I'll be getting Erhus from his apprentice.

Skully: - Great. Tell me about his apprentice.

Me : - Hu is the apprentice of Wang.

Skully : - Well, that’s what I want to know.

Me : - But that’s what I’m telling you,

Skully : - Well, that’s what I’m asking you, Sung Wah. Who is the apprentice of Wang?

Me : - Yes.

Skully : - I mean the fellow’s name.

Me : - Hu.

Skully : - The apprentice of Wang.

Me : - Hu.

Skully : - The new maker you'll be getting Erhus from.

Me : - Hu.

Skully : - The Chinese national!

Me : - Hu will be making the Erhus.

Skully: - Whaddya’ asking me for?

Me : - I’m telling you Hu will be making the Erhus.

Skully: - Well, I’m asking you, Sung Wah. Who is making the Erhus?

Me : - That’s the maker’s name.

Skully : - That’s who’s name?

Me : - Yes.


Skully : - Will you or will you not tell me the name of the apprentice of Wang?

Me : - Han Rou

Skully. : - No I don't want a handroll. You know I don't like Japanese food.

Me: - Buzz off Skully.....

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Yeah I made that up. Adapted from a Bush joke.

But Skully's a real person who likes fight club and seems to be a rather intelligent being.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Some Interesting Stuff

Some interesting media clips:

1) Some dude came into my shop the other day with this minority Erhuesque instrument:

video


According to my collegue, we used to sell these a long long time ago. Out of the 20 pieces we ordered, we condemned 10 of them.


2) Check this out: http://www.gandharva.at/

Soothing Zen music from an Austria instrumental group comprising of the harp, cello and the Erhu!


3) Finally, this lady made a youtube video with an Ebony Erhu bought from my online shop. She picked up the instrument on her own.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqzaZ0LzdBQ

Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Tips from Mr Z (Part 2)

Its part 2 of Tips from Mr Z!

Back to the Qianjing again, instead of putting superglue or UHU glue on your Qianjing, drip some wax on it. According to him, the effect is even better!

Why? I can't remember. Something about giving more weight to the Qianjing which makes it a more effective conduit between the strings and the neck.

Try it and let me know please.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Tips From Mr Z (Part I)

The great thing about having a shop selling musical instruments is that you get music enthusiasts that come into your shop regularly and they share with you some of their own findings on how to improve their instruments.

Today I had a visit from an old friend who loves to tweak his Erhu. He was playing around with the Erhus in my shop here and there he gave some of his tips of how to improve the sound the Erhus. Most of them make sense to me, although some of them goes against what I have been usually doing.

Some of them may work for you, some of them may not. You have to do some trial and error to find out if it suits your Erhu.

So here they are, the first tip from Mr Z, as we shall call him. Have fun trying them out.

- Qianjing
The Qianjing should not be tied with too many loops. This is because too many loops reduces the vibrations circulation from the strings to the neck of the bridge. The ideal number of loops should be 6 across the string, and just one extra loop above and below on the neck. You will find that the sound of your Erhu improves by 10-15%. If you're worried that the Qianjing is unstable, put some UHU glue or superglue on the Qianjing on the 2 areas indicated below: