Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Ruan Baby Ruan!

For the longest time, I've wanted to list the different types of ruans on my website. Mainly because the ruans are the Chinese equivalent of the western guitar(at least to me) and I thought people in the western countries might be interested.

I was still thinking about it before I went to take a nap. I then dreamt of a Filipino dancer who was in the same Music and Drama company as I was some 17 years ago. She told me her daughter had a starter grade Xiao Ruan and wanted to buy a better Xiao Ruan. So I sold her one that costs $650.

I conclude it is my subconsciousness telling me that there are loads of Filipino dancers out there with daughters wanting to upgrade there Xiao Ruans. I guess I better get my act together. (Disclaimer: I do not have any attraction to Filipino dancers.)

Currently I've only listed the Zhongruans, but there are 4 types of ruans, including the Zhongruan. In order of ascending pitch, 1) Da Ruan 2) Zhong Ruan 3) Xiao Ruan 4) Gao Yin Ruan. Here's a picture of them lined up together:

The ruans have a richer tone compared to the guitar, and it has only 4 strings. I've tried to play some blues and funk on the Zhongruan and it sounds alright actually. Not entirely trying to fit a square into a circle.

Will record some video/ sound clips soon.

Click here for our listings of Zhong Ruan.

Click here for additional information about the Ruan.


  1. I tune my Ruan to GDAE, same as a western mandolin or violin. You can then play any mandolin music with fingerings and technique from any instruction book. The more typical Chinese tuning is GDGD or AEAE, but I find the GDAE much more flexible for western chords. I've also found that I can still play the Ruan orchestral repetoire just fine in this tuning.

    I also play DaRuan, and tune it an octave lower that Zhong Ruan. This really makes it an effective bass instrument. I had to find special strings to play it this low. Basically, I take the normal Chinese CGCG strings and move them all one string higher. The original bass string becomes my new third string, the original third string becomes my second string, and so on. I then found a flat-wound gauge of electric bass guitar string that sounded good for the low G. Finally I end up with GDAE two octaves down. I can then play either DaRuan or ZhongRuan interchangeably without changing fingering.