Having your Erhu setup properly can make the difference between your Erhu sounding horrible and good. Sometimes, the most obvious thing to us might not be obvious to a beginner. So this blogpost will be talking about the basic Erhu setup. As all our erhus come setup properly, so this will help all those people who bought erhus from eBay, craiglist or any other places and the erhu does not come properly setup.
Notice we use the word basic because there are little details and nuances to each area which we can take the whole day to talk about. But if you got your basic setup done, you got half your battle won.
So here are some of the major things you need to take note of:
The first thing you need to check is if the strings are in order. Sometimes the strings might have gotten loose during shipping so you need to twine them back.
There is an inner string and an outer string. The inner string refers to the string that is closer to you and the outer string is the string that is further from you. The strings should be twined / bunched at the tip of the pegs. The inner strings should be looped in an anticlockwise direction and the outer string in a clockwise direction.
The strings go all the way to the end bottom of the Erhu where there are 2 pins for you to hook the end of the string to. Take note that the strings are not crossed if not you will definitely get a horrible cackling sound.
There is a roll of string that holds the 2 erhu strings together called the Qianjin. Many first timers mistaken it as a ribbon and cuts it with glee when they receive it. Glee turns to sorrow when they realise that the Erhu cannot do with the qianjin and the material is difficult to get from your neighbourhood stationery shop.
If you accidentally cut it or if it has unravelled by itself, click here to buy a roll of qianjin string from us.
If the strings and qianjin is in order, you can now slide in the bridge.
Pull up the strings and carefully slide in the erhu bridge so that you do not damage the scales.
The bridge should be in the centre of the resonator.
After the bridge is in place, you can then put the damper underneath the bridge. The damper you have is either a piece of cloth or a block of sponge. I personally prefer the felt cloth.
The reason why I put the bridge first before the damper is to make sure that I do not fold the damper too thick. If it is too thick, it will be difficult to slide the damper underneath the strings.
Just like the violin bow you will need to rosin the Erhu bow before you play it. If it is a completely new bow, you will need to rosin it much more for the first time. Make sure you rosin it both sides of the bow as both sides are needed to play the inner and outer stringa.
You do not need to remove the bow from the strings to rosin the bow. But if you think it is easier to do it that way, twist the end pin of the erhu bow out and you can detach the frog from the bamboo. Once that is out, take the frog and slide it out between the strings. Put the bow back the same way.
The final thing you need to do is tune it! The inner string is tuned to D and the outer string is tuned to A. Twist the pegs inwards when you tune if not the pegs will slip out.
So there you have it. A simple basic erhu setup should you buy an erhu from a place that does not setup the erhu properly.
Here’s a video explanation of the Basic Erhu Setup:
But seriously, the only place you should buy an erhu online is from Eason Music.
Here are our Erhus: