8 October 2015
8 October 2015,
Getting good intonation on the Erhu is always a struggle for Erhu players, especially for beginners.  Unlike fretted instruments like guitar or mandolin, the Erhu does not have frets.  Heck, it does not even have a fretboard like the violin.

There are ways to help you out with the pitching, especially if you are a beginner.

One way as explained in my post in my previous blog way back in 2007 is to stick a fingering label on the Erhu.  The good thing about the labels is it is easily done.  You just need to stick it on the neck and the markings are all on the label.  The bad thing is you have to move the qianjin to a certain height for it to be accurate.  Also, we do not like to stick adhesive tape on the neck of the Erhu as it might damage the wood if left there for a long while.

The second method is the preferred method by Erhu instructors, at least in Singapore.  It is something you can do on your own.

You just need a chromatic tuner and a correction pen.

The idea is to put markings on your erhu strings of the individual notes (usually the D scale) so that you know exactly where to hold for each note of the scale.

We like this method because you put the markings on the erhu strings instead of the neck, hence there is no damage to the wood.  Correction fluid will not damage Erhu strings and even if they do, it is easily changed.

Below is a video we have specially made to take you through the process.

You should note that as you get better, you should remove some of the markings and maybe just leave markings at the perfect 5th or octave position so that you do not get too reliant on the markings.

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2 responses on “Marking your Erhu for better intonation

  1. Robert Moran says:

    I think that video was helpful the one I looked at before was in Chinese so I didn’t understand what he was saying but got the idea what he was doing. I was given an Erhu so I made 2 but no snake skin, one has a thin wood front and a pick up and plug it into an amp it sounded good but I need to try and play it more often I made 20 fiddles, 3 mandolins, 1 strum stick, and 1 ukulele, I have 11 fiddles now and about 28 string instruments in all and my hands are week I stop making instruments or repair now I though my grand kids would like these instruments but they have no interests in them. Anyway I’ll give that a try and see what I come up with as far as sound I cant tell an “A” from a “Q”. I have some tuners to go by.

    Robert Moran

  2. Jose Bello says:

    Thank you so much this has proved very useful I tried to find information in English and there is literally none available ,so it is a massive help for me I really like the sound that the erhu produces and I’m very eager to learn, I also look at the instruments that you sell specially synthetic erhu and pips very nice, again thanks a lot and good luck

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