"Finger Training" tool - avoid

This is something you should not buy. It and products like it are advertised as 'Finger Training' or 'Strengthening' tools. In reality they are a waste of money. The concept is fine: create something that mimics a small section of the guzheng so a student can practice technique when away from their instrument. The interpretation is heavily flawed.

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53" Travel-Sized Guzheng

Let's take a look at a Travel-Sized guzheng. This particular one is a 53" Sound of China-brand guzheng made in China and sold in the US. Its frame is listed as generic "rosewood" which means it could be any number of woods. The bridges are nonstandard; rather than the rosewood bridges sold with the instrument, this particular instrument has had its bridges swapped for African Blackwood bridges.

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36" Baby Guzheng

Here's an adorable example of a Baby Guzheng, photographs courtesy of Rebecca L. Coming in at just 36 inches (~91cm) this tiny instrument has 21 strings packed onto it for a full 4 octaves of coverage. It's about as wide as a full-sized guzheng, but about 43% shorter. The string spacing is close to that of a full-sized instrument, but the tensions in the strings and overall timbre are affected by its length.

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ZhengJ BBabyComment
Full-sized, S-Bridge, 21 Nylon Strings

This here is a modern, full-sized guzheng with 21 nylon-coated steel strings, with the bass strings wound in copper. The fixed bridge on the right is straight while the one on the left is curved into an S. The tuning pins are in a compartment at the head of the instrument. The tail is where the strings are anchored.

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18 Strings, Steel

As the government pushed for traditional instruments to take on a new form in post-war China, instrument makers added strings to the then common 16. Different changes spread at different speeds through different makers, creating surprising fusions of new and old. Here is one example of such an instrument. Built in the 1980s in Hong Kong this Skylark-brand instrument takes some of the innovations of the preceding decades in their own direction.

First up is its size: at just around 58 inches or 147 cm long, it's about as long as the modern "Travel Sized" guzheng made today. It has 18 strings of steel, with the 4 bass strings wound in copper to emphasize their depth. This is typical of the time, as makers sought to expand the zheng's range and sound qualities. 

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ZhengJ BHong KongComment