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.

The soundboard and backboard are both made of single pieces of Paulownia elongata, a fact emphasized by the exposed grain pattern on the backboard. If this instrument had used plywood, the isntrument would have most likely been painted black.


A close look at the soundholes reveals a welcome surprise: a thin piece of wood has been shaped to line each of the four cutouts. I can't speak to the acoustic impacts of this choice, but I can say it makes the instrument look far nicer, as there are no loose fragments coming off from the edges of those cuts. It also prevents slivers when reaching inside to change the strings. This fine detail suggests more attention was paid to the construciton of this instrument than one might expect.


The tuning pin compartment is adequately sized for the strings and the smooth finish in its interior is a nice touch. The closing mechanism is a modern set of magnets. This is actually my one critique of the instrument's design. The magnets are not recessed into the wood as on some other models, but are raised past flush. The visible silver magnets in the hatch contact painted but raised magnets in the body of the instrument. This nearly direct magnet-to-magnet contact makes the lid accelerate closed just as you release it, causing the lid to slam shut with a resounding echo. It's dramatic, but it also suggests those magnets are experiencing a lot of force. In the long term that will damage the magnets; in the short term it seems to be causing some visible defects in the finish on and around the magnets.

This is not necessarily a flaw of this model, it could be limited to this particular instrument. Perhaps someone didn't drill the holes quite deep enough,