Good intonation on the Erhu is always a struggle for Erhu players, especially beginners. Unlike fretted instruments such as the guitar or mandolin, the Erhu does not have frets. Heck, it does not even have a fretboard like the violin.
Fret not! 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 can be easily done. You just need to stick it on the neck and the markings are all on the label. However, 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 prefer 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, strings can be easily changed.
Below is a video we specially made to take you through the process.
You should note that as your skills get improve, you should remove some of the markings and maybe just leave markings at the perfect 5th or octave positions so that you do not get too reliant on the markings.
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