Beginners to the yangqin often find themselves hard-pressed to find good tutorials on how to play and maintain their yangqin and its various parts. Hence, we’ve enlisted the help of one of our yangqin instructors, Anson Lim, to answer one of the most common questions a yangqin beginner has: How do I change the rubber tubings of my yangqin beaters (otherwise known as qinzhu)?
As you may know, replacing the rubber on your qinzhu is unavoidable after much wear and tear. However, many try to avoid doing so, for fear that they may fail. This is not advisable – playing with rubber tubings that have been worn too thin will result in unwanted timbres and alter the way you physically play the instrument. Nobody should practice the wrong way!
This is the first of a three-part series addressing concerns pertaining to yangqin beaters: with this tutorial, we hope that you can alleviate your doubts and successfully embark on your journey towards becoming a good yangqin musician.
Before you begin, what you’ll need are: qinzhu rubber, qinzhu and cosmetic scissors (or any small pair of scissors with a sharp end).
Firstly, cut an appropriate amount of rubber tubing for the head of the qinzhu. How much to be cut is up to personal preference: Anson prefers the length of rubber tubing to be slightly shorter than the head of the qinzhu. While it is okay to cut an amount of rubber that is the exact length as the head of the qinzhu, he feels that cutting an amount that is slightly shorter allows for the rubber to stretch out comfortably over the qinzhu head when properly placed. If the rubber tubing is too long, it may shift position when playing; if the rubber tubing is too short, the rubber may snap easily. Hence, it is important to give much thought to this stage of preparation.
Secondly, indent the rubber tubing and make a hole in it with your scissors. Do this slightly near one end of the tubing. Do not do this too near to the end – a slightly off-center hole would be preferable.
Next, make a slit (with the hole your have created) and cut along the rubber tubing from one end to the other. Be very careful here: do not cut all the way until the end. Anson prefers to leave more space at one end than the other; the side with more space will be the one first pulled down across the head of the qinzhu. He theorizes that if the end with a slit too near it is pulled down across the head, it might snap easily. Thus, it would be safer to
leave more space for the end of the tubing that will be pulled down.
Bearing this in mind, pull the rubber tubing down across the head of the qinzhu, with the cut portion facing upwords. The best of way of doing so is to grab – or pinch – the head firmly and push the tubing over it with a suitable amount of force. Anson says that this is the most time-consuming part – patience is required!
Lastly, stretch the rubber tubing and affix the loose end at the top of the qinzhu head.
Prefer a visual representation? Check out our tutorial video below:
Check out our yangqin accessories here: