Erhu Assembly – Questions Beginners Always Ask!

Questions all new Erhu Players Ask: Part 1 — Erhu Assembly

Our work revolves around musicians, both beginners and experts who are always so kind to lend a hand at helping beginners with seemingly mundane but extremely important issues. When it comes to Erhu, most beginners overseas, in their search for more information, have come across . Prolific performer, educator, Music Director of Toronto Chinese Orchestra… the list goes on. She has always been a friend of The Bamboo Grove and we’ve even collaborated on projects and performed together several times. She’s kindly given us permission to reproduce some of her instructional videos. More info can be found at //

Erhu Assembly

Well, most purchases made today have the erhu come mostly assembled. In the off situation where the erhu is disassembled, here’s what to do:

1) Fit the neck (shaft) into the hole on top of the sound box and through to the bottom.The top hole is usually oval or olive shaped, while the bottom hole is round (maybe 0.5″ in diameter) or square. Make sure the fit is snug.

2) Push the first tuning peg through the hole at the upper neck, then do the same for the second tuning peg. Make sure they fit securely. There are 2 pegs and just 2 holes, so you may have to play around to see which peg fits which holes the best. Make sure that both the small ends are approximately equally long after you have put the peg through the erhu peg hole.

3) Attach the base to the bottom of the sound box. In the video below, Patty demonstrated using a Dunhuang erhu made in the 80s with a thin base. Post 1990s, most erhus require a screw to hold the base to the resonator box securely.

Attaching the Strings

1) Take out your set of erhu strings. First take the inner string (内弦) and thread it (the end withoutthe loop) through the hole of the upper tuning peg until 1 inch of the string is through. Make sure the string lies over the lower tuning peg. 2) Loop this end through the hole again so that the sharp point is not exposed. 3) Turn the peg slowly (away from you) to tighten the string, making sure the string is wound closely together. As you are turning the peg, use your thumb to push the peg tightly into the instrument so that it does not loosen when you release it. 4) Tighten the string until the loop end of the string is close to the base of the erhu, where two pins are located. 5) At this point, put the loop over the pin and push it in until it is secure. 6) Tighten the string until the tension from the tuning peg and pin keeps the string secure. 7) Repeat steps 1 – 6 for the outer string (外弦). Note that at step 3, for the outer string, turn the lower tuning peg towards you.

Tying the Qianjin appLiên kết đăng nhập

The above is the best animation i saw on a clear way of tying the qianjin strings. Very stable and very secure. Though remember, you probably need about 60 Inches or 5 ft of Qianjin Strings. If you cannot find qianjin strings handy, go to hobby lobby or Michaels’ and look for Waxed Linen Thread. They work!


Dizi Membrane – The Bamboo Grove Way!

IF I had a dollar for every one who asked me how to PROPERLY attach the dizi membrane, I would probably make a couple more dollars everyday. It seems weird that with dizi being such a prevalent instrument, we ought to see that the skill to do dimo as commonplace as dizi itself. Sadly, thats not the case. Watched a few popular youtube videos, and seen quite a few posts on social media. They all say the same things. Well, for 30 years, (thats as long as I have been playing dizi) I have been taught only 1 way of doing membrane. I am not saying that its the ONLY right way. Thats just how I have been taught, and thats how I teach my students.  Its not rocket science, but its not as simple as it seems online. Firstly, we need to understand WHAT IS DIZI MEMBRANE? It is the inner tubing of the cattail reed. Stripped from the inside of the cattail reed and dried, and packed. Best times to buy dimo (for us in bulk) is early summer. The membrane lasts several years, but we get first pick somewhere in May/June. That is if you (like us) buy about 500-1000 packs in an order. Between, me, my students and my close associates (about 20 packs each), thats all the first picks that we get for the year. The usual run-of-the-mill dizi membranes are OK. I use them myself daily. For that special recording or special performance, we may use our picked dizi membrane. 🙂 Now that we know the membrane is a piece of inner tubing in a plant, 8 times thinner than paper, we need to understand its properties. First up : If you wet the membrane, the part where it is IN THE HOLE, the membrane is gone. The sweet buzzing sound of the membrane will no longer hold. Even if you manage to dry it, the membrane is about to disintegrate. Remember this, as it will really affect the process of attaching the membrane.

Step 1 appLiên kết đăng nhậpDimo Stuff

Assemble all the stuff you need. In a perfect world, you have some bit of water, a piece of glue  (I prefer E-jiao) , a small pair of scissors, and some dimo in a pack. In the “real” world – and in concert halls, I  usually have my piece of glue and the membrane. Thats the bare minimum for me, though I know of people surviving with just the membrane.        

Step 2

CLEAN THE DIMO HOLE. I cannot stress how important it is to wet the membrane hole and wipe it real clean. On your shirt, if  you are desperate enough and make it real clean. AND DRY.  

Step 3

Cut one inch off the tube of dimo from the pack, and have it slit open. In a perfect world, you have a pair of scissors, so thats how it should look like. appLiên kết đăng nhậpSlitting the Dizi Membrane

Usually, you can use ANYTHING. I have used kebab sticks, pen nibs, the edge of the dimo pack, my glasses, my dizi tuning carving knives.  

Step 4

This is a critical part which many others miss. appLiên kết đăng nhậpOpened membrane

Open up the slit membrane, and look at it closely. You may want to take it up to the light. this is what you see.  You want to see the NATURAL GRAINS on the dizi membrane. This is the natural lines on the membrane. These lines will have to go PARALLEL to the length of the dizi.       Next you need to make Artificial Lines. These lines are meant to be the stretch lines caused by you. These lines go perpendicular to the natural lines. You pick up the dimo up, and hold it with your thumbs, ensuring the the natural lines are vertical (facing you) if you hold the membrane up. Wiggle the membrane a bit with a gentle bit of horizontal tugging force.  Do this for maybe 5 secs. Set the membrane aside. appLiên kết đăng nhậpStretching the Membrane


Step 6

Glue up. I prefer Ejiao as it is a solid piece, no mess, no bottles. For those of you squeamish about using boiled gelatin of donkey skin,  you can use any type of glue that cleans up easily with water. Starch glue, mod-podge even hair gel has been used by me. It was a concert tour, and seriously it was… desperate. Traditionally we used cut garlic as well. It works very well. Dip the glue piece in a tiny bit of water. In a perfect world, we have nice little containers with clean water. On stage, in other situations, just wet the glue. I don’t care how we do it. After that, rub the wet glue piece around the hole, ensuring that you rub around the hole and about half an inch around the hole on the dizi. Use more glue if you ever feel there is not enough glue. There cannot be too much glue (if you use Ejiao), so just rub more, and rub it sparingly.  

Step 7 

I stated right from the onset, the center of the membrane, that is over the membrane hole MUST NOT touch any wetness. SO, stick your pinky-finger into the membrane hole, and clean up any bit of glue that may have dripped in. This is VERY VERY IMPORTANT. Turn the finger around a few times to ensure no glue is INSIDE the edge of the hole. appLiên kết đăng nhậpCleaning the inside edge of the dizi membrane hole


Step 8

The moment we have all been waiting for. Attaching the membrane. This takes a lot of practice (and wasted membrane) but do it, and you will thank yourself. for it. appLiên kết đăng nhậpAttaching the membrane

You hold one edge of the membrane down to the side of the hole with your thumb, and in ONE SWIFT MOTION, hold the other other side of the membrane across the hole and stretch it firmly, and at the same time, pressing it down. It needs to be stretched firmly at this point. Keep in mind the natural grains, the artificial lines that we spoke about earlier. After this, rub the (still) wet glue stick around the edges of the membrane, to ensure that the membrane stays down. Please ensure that its is just sticky and no very wet this time round. PLEASE do not wet the center of the membrane.            

Step 9

Play the dizi for a bit. If you feel that the membrane is too tight, gently press on the membrane (while playing the dizi. somehow this doesn’t loosen well when you are not playing it). If its too loose, wet the edges around the hole, and stretch the membrane out using your thumbs.  


The above is basically what I do when I put on my dizi membrane. It is in no way definitive. I just felt that a lot of details were missing when most other people attach the membrane. you are most welcome to email me at if you have any queries or have any other suggestions, which I will be happy to accept.


New Website Up! Finally! Happy July 4th!

Happy July 4th! WE’RE FINALLY UP appLiên kết đăng nhập

After sending out a couple thousand pieces of instruments since our inception in 2013, we are approaching our 5th year online. We are sincerely thankful for the love and support of all our friends all over the world. Without you guys, the Bamboo Grove would never have been a possibility. We have had plenty of requests to “upgrade” ourselves onto a better platform. Better “chat” system, better “shopping cart” and better “blog”. We totally understood that the previous website was old technology. Hey, times change! WE FIGURED WE HAD BETTER KEEP UP with the times, even if we are doing traditional music.

So this is it! 

On the bottom right corner of the page, its the chat platform. We are on it almost 24/7. Get to us, ASK questions. We’ll certainly try our best to help. Some products have been removed. Some, added. Some upgraded. Its all part of the ever changing landscape of luthiers, manufacturers. What doesn’t change is our commitment to provide the best service we can to our friends all over the world, and to promote Chinese music internationally. appLiên kết đăng nhập

Erhu Making – How NOT to make an Erhu!

We came across a video recently. It actually states how to make an Erhu. Most parts were acceptable, except when it talks about the most important part of the making: The Affixing of the Membrane.
Proceeding to 22:50, there are so many flaws in which we see with this portion! 1. Whoever is sacriligeous enough to fix an entire piece of skin without even removing the flesh and fat layer from the top most layer, is asking for the erhu membrane to warp with changes to the weather. Flesh and skin are 2 distinct layers, which will will expand and contract at differing rates. When the weather gets moist, or air pressure drops, the flesh will sag first, causing the erhu’s tight skin to have a stage of muffled sounds, till  it sags sufficiently to have a softer tun usual mellow tone. The interim stage is when we say “the erhu got a flu”. Its not a bad way of foretelling the weather. When the air gets dry, the outer skin expands first, while the flesh behind stays intact. You get a muffled sound again, but this time, if the skin dries much faster than the flesh, guess what, the skin may tear. 2. No respectable maker will apply glue while the skin is still in a flimsy form. If you ask any respectable maker, Wang Geng Xin, Hu Han Rou, Wan Qi Xing, or even EcoErhu (yes, they make using traditional based methods as well) , the skin needs to be stretched and dried on a mold of the Erhu box or the box itself to give it the shape that is needed. At this stage, the maker can adjust the tension adjust the angles, tune all corners, making sure all sides are well stretched and dried at least 2 times. During this time, the maker must even out the skin. Think of it as TuiNa massage, when you release all knots of your muscles, its done on the skin as well, 2 times. It is only after the maker is happy that the skin is in its most balanced form when he will apply the glue. 3. Stretching. Using the screw down clamp, the hydraulic jack and such methods are akin to cooking everything together in a pressure cooker. You can’t control any side or corner. Whatever comes out is based on luck. True makers use this method, or a slight variation: