Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Where Do Broken Necks Go?

Throughout all my years of selling erhu to oversea customers, these are the photos that I dread to see most:


Ouch, ouch.

Ouch. ouch, ouch.

Ouch, ouch, ouch ouch.

Despite our best efforts to pack the head, sometimes the shipper had a bad day and starts to throw the packages around.  One poor customer in Japan had his erhu neck broken on his initial purchase.  He insisted on sending it back to us despite our best efforts to dissuade him.  But the replacement that we sent him was broken yet again!   

Its quite depressing to hear customers tell us things like, 'You sent me a broken instrument!', 'I'm very disappointed in your service and products!', 'This is the last time I am ordering from your company!'.  

The head is the most fragile part of the erhu.  A lot of people do not realize that the head is made up of 2 pieces of wood glued together and not carved out of 1 piece of wood.  You can clearly see that from the pictures below. Some makers bother to make the 2 pieces of wood closer in grain and color.  (Some obviously couldn't care less)  Hence it does break rather easily so you need to be extra careful with it.

Fortunately a broken head does not affect the sound of the erhu in anyway.  And it can be easily fixed by any respectable guitar or violin repairman.  We usually advise our customers to bring the broken to a repair shop to get it fixed.  It is always a better option than shipping the erhu back for a replacement as there are shipping costs and CITES application costs involved.  And the main thing is that there is a slight chance the neck will be broken again. 

The erhu will always look as good as new after repair and our customers are generally very happy with the end result.  Especially when we tell them to send us the bill and we will reimburse their repair costs.  I think we are the only company that does that. 

Just don't try your hand at gluing it with superglue first.  It's going to take the repairman thrice the effort to remove the superglue and patch up the holes if you did a botched job.