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.


The soundboard and backboard are both made of single pieces of wood.  That's both a wonderful surprise and makes a great deal of sense. On the one hand, a smaller instrument is less likely to command a high price, so makers may look to cut corners and use cheaper materials. On the other hand, the instrument's diminutive size uses smaller pieces of wood, which are easier to find. It seems this maker chose the second approach.


The overall build quality of this instrument is comparable to that of a quality beginner's instrument. The wood appears in good shape, the joints seem sound and the finishes are fair. The head compartment closes with the aide of exposed magnets. While modern, the decision to leave the magnets exposed is disappointing. Magnets such as these are fragile, and repeated contact with each other or the edge of the tuning wrench can lead to their eventual disintegration. Protecting them would extend their life considerably. Of all the shortcuts they could have taken, though, leaving magnets exposed is a minor one indeed.

Thanks again to Rebecca L for the photos and allowing me to discuss her instrument!

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