Choosing a guzheng
Many beginners often think that they should choose a cheaper/beginner – leveled instrument. It might not be the best starting point if you are a serious music lover. A high quality instrument can bring you satisfactions and enjoyment beyond monetary value. There is an old Chinese saying that “One cent more in price, one cent more in the worth of quality.” It is very true in purchasing a guzheng as well. The price of an instrument is based on its quality. Our philosophy is to buy the best instrument that you can afford and buy one you will enjoy playing everyday. The look and design of the instrument are important but not as much as the sound of it. Remember that you will be listening to the sound of the Guzheng every moment you play it and you will find yourself not paying much attention to how it looks.
Our appreciations to sound are subjective. What one person likes might be what another person dislikes. Therefore, it is important that you choose an instrument that can satisfy your taste and ears. In general, different manufacturers have their unique features and characteristics of the Guzheng that they produce.
If you like a sweet and solid sounding Guzheng, we recommend you to consider the brand of Dunhuang. If you like a bright and focused sounding Guzheng, we recommend that you the Tianyi brand. If you like crispy and rich sounding Guzheng, we recommend that you try the brand of Biquan. If you like a robust bass sounding Guzheng, considering the brand Zhuque (Scarlet Bird.) The manufacturing techniques used from different factories are different as well, thus resulting in the differences in sound and appearances. Brands such as Dunhuang and Tianyi offer Guzhengs that have oven-roasted dried soundboards. This type of soundboards are in darker colors range from light brown to dark brown. Please note that the color of the sound board is determined by the color of the wood stain that is painted on it. An un-stained oven-roasted sound board has a very light brown color that is only slightly darker than the original wood color. The oven roasted-drying technique gives the instrument a very sweet and crisp tonal quality. Another type of soundboard is air-dried. Zhuque (Scarlet Bird)brand and some of our custom-made guzhengs are built with this type of soundboard. This technique gives the instrument a clean and warm sound and the soundboards are in their original wood color. The soundboard and backboard of Guzheng are usually made of Paulownia. The frame can be made from different types of wood such as rosewood, nanmu, sandalwood, plywood, etc.. The frame also shapes the tone of a Guzheng greatly. Rosewood gives a sweet sound, scandal wood gives a bright sound, nanmu gives a solid sound. However, each individual instrument has its unique tonal qualities just like no two human-beings are the same. Your ears will be the final judge. The bridges are usually made of rosewood, black sandalwood, Zitan (purple sandalwood) and plywood. All strings are made of steel inside with nylon wrapped outside.
The designs of the Guzheng can be very simple or very fancy and complicated. Some designs are engraved, some are carved, some are inlayed, and some are painted. We have a large selection of various designs that can satisfy different tastes. You can now start your search for the prefect instrument for you or someone else here…
1. What are the determine factors of a Guzheng’s tonal quality?
• The wood selection of the soundboard.
• The wood selection of the backboard.
• The drying method used on the soundboard and backboard. Oven roasted-dried and air-dried are both ideal. We only sell these two types of Guzheng. Torch flame-dried is not desirable. The color of oven roasted-dried soundboard is determined by the color of the wood stain painted on it which counts as a part of the design. A darker colored soundboard dose not mean that it is inferior than the lighter colored ones.
• The method used to carve the soundboard.
• The type of wood used for the frame. Manufactories pair more expensive and nicer-looking wood with higher quality of soundboard and backboard.
• The type of wood and saddles used for the bridges. Natural wood such as rosewood and black sandalwood are better than plywood. Cow-bone saddles are better than plastic ones. Ivory saddles are very rare and expensive.
• Quality of strings.
• Craftsmanship used on all other details of Guzheng making.
2. Where are the Guzheng instruments made?
Mainland China produces most of the Guzhengs in the world. The largest manufacturer is the No.1 Shanghai National Musical Instrument Factory which produces the brand Dunhuang. The city of Yangzhou (China’s eastern city) is called “The Hometown of the Guzheng” due to its recent rapid developments in Guzheng-making. There are many different factories in Yangzhou. Xi’an of Shanxi Province is famous for the Scarlet Bird (Zhuque) brand. The province of Hennan which produces majority of the Paulownia used for Guzhengs also produces significant amount of Guzhengs. There are very small quantities of guzheng are made in Taiwan, mainly from small workshops.
3. Do you offer warranties on the Guzheng?
Yes, we do. We offer one-year limited warranties on any new instruments. The warranty covers any major structural breakages. The warranties DOSE NOT cover cracks on the frame/soundboard/backboard of the instrument caused by dry climate. All natural woods are possible to crack under extreme conditions. It will not affect the sound quality of the instrument if the cracks appear on the frame. If the cracks occur on the soundboard or back board, a repair is preferred. Please refer to our “ guzheng service guide” below on how to prevent this from happening.
4. What is your shipping/handling policy?
We usually ship out orders within two business days. For all guzheng instrument, domestic shipping will be handled by Fedex Ground with a flat rate of $85 with an approximate 5 days of delivery time. California shipping rate is $65. Hawaii, Alaska and international shipping rates varies, please use the “Add to Cart” button to choose your shipping destination. If you purchase accessories/books/CDs when you purchase the instrument, you will receive a refund on the shipping cost that you paid for these items.
5.What is your return/exchange policy?
We offer a 14-day exchange/return policy on most of our product. Buyers will be responsible for return shipping cost. Please contact us immediately if you are not satisfied with our product. We will do our best to offer you a solution to the problem. All items must be in unused condition with the original tags on (if there was one on originally.) A restocking fee of 10% of the purchase price will be charged for all returned product that is not defective. Please note, for damages occurred during shipping, please contact us and we will file a claim with the carrier and you will be compensated in that way.
6.What other services do you offer?
We offer classes, rental instruments, and tuning the Guzheng.
7.How do I set up and tune my new guzheng?
Please refer to the tutorials page.
8. Where can I find more information and resources?
Under our tutorials page, you can find information on many topics such as tuning and servicing your guzheng. You can also join our Facebook page to ask questions and share your learning and playing stories.