People often come into our shop, interested in purchasing a synthetic-skin Erhu as it is commonly viewed as a eco-friendly option. However, there are more factors than meet the eye; consequently, some customers leave with a conventional python-skin Erhu instead. What motivates them to purchase a python-skin Erhu instead of a synthetic-skin one, and vice-versa?
Traditionally, all Erhus come equipped with python skin. Python skin was the ideal skin of choice, as it has tremendous elasticity. Synthetic materials – most notably, PVC – later arose as a substitute, as a result of the desire for a less cruel option. At first, this sounded like a great idea – however, instrumentalists soon realised the disparate qualities between Erhus made of real and synthetic skin, regardless of the type of wood used.
Check out our comparison video below:
At the same price point, synthetic-skin Erhus can sound much more one-dimensional than their python-skin counterparts. A python-skin Erhu’s warmth and sweetness is tone is something that cannot be duplicated through synthetic skins. However, this does not discredit the ability of a synthetic-skin Erhu in terms of volume and clarity! To the beginning student, this difference in tone and timbre may not be obvious, but to the initiated, the difference could be as clear as night and day.
Thus, the choice of whether or not to purchase an eco-friendly instrument comes down to a battle of priorities: while many would pick the python-skin Erhu due to its superior sound, others stay steadfast in their bid to create an eco-friendly world. The synthetic-skin Erhu is also a tempting option to people who travel with their Erhu – a CITES certificate for skinned instruments is usually required by customs in varying countries (otherwise, you risk being stopped or having your instrument confiscated). If you are debating which of these two types of Erhu to purchase, you might want to ask yourself: what are my expectations of an instrument, and will I be using the instrument for performances and/or examinations? Hopefully, this post will be able to help you make an informed decision.
If you would like to check out our eco-friendly Erhu collection, have are 2 models: