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Dunhuang Bubinga
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Sunny
Nanmu Mica


Joined: 18 Jan 2006
Posts: 225
Location: Bangkok, Thailand

PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:47 am    Post subject: Dunhuang Bubinga Reply with quote

After few months to make decision what should be my next babie, finally I chose a Dunhuang Bubinga from Yukina. Well, there is no doubt for her service and price. I bought one Scarlet Bird and one Tianyi custom made from SOC. They are so excellent. I really appreciate SOC and Yukina for these terrific instruments. Actually I got many guzhengs, one old rosewood, one Zitan, one nanmu, one black sandalwood and one rosewood. That is why I am curious about the Bubinga which is not a common wood material for guzheng in my experience. Let's see the sound difference.
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Sunny
Nanmu Mica


Joined: 18 Jan 2006
Posts: 225
Location: Bangkok, Thailand

PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2010 12:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Finally I got my Dunhuang Bubinga on Saturday. I have set the bridges and gave them a well tuning. I can comment that the sound is much better than many models of Dunhuang I have seen. It is much louder but still crispy and sweet (Dunhuang's characteristic). The soundboard & backboard are nothing to be complained but only the handicraft of the frame. It is not comparable to Scarlet Bird or Tianyi for the delicacy of handicraft. Maybe Dunhuang have to produce a huge volume of instruments so they cannot pay attention to that. However I feel the sound is not as 'Tight' as Zitan. Frankly speaking, the soundhole near string no.1 does not give me a difference in term of the loudness. I tried to close it by 3 pieces of stickers, the sound is still very loud!!!! I think because of the new lower sound post inside makes the sound more resonant than before. By the way, I need to thank Yukina for her perfect service and comments. I always appreciate her kind assistance and sincere suggestions. No doubt that I will buy the next one from SOC again.
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Webbedfingers
Junior Guzheng


Joined: 09 Sep 2010
Posts: 55

PostPosted: Sat Dec 25, 2010 5:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's nice to hear.

Importers of Gu Zhengs have variable quality control and worse - sometimes misrepresented.

I bought a Shanghai Dunhuang Rosewood from Yukina (Carol) too - although I live half way across the world, I guess what swayed me to trusting Carol is her honesty and a musician too.

My Aged Rosewood cost shitloads of money! Its manufacturing quality is brilliant, but I'm new to Gu Zhengs so I can only look at the way the wood is joined and the characteristics of the grain and cuts to work out whether there was an intention behind the manufacturer looking for a consistent and resonant sound.

Carol was first class in selling and getting the Gu Zheng delivered. There is a store closer to me (150 miles), but they don't have a good a range. I accept that there are limitations in buying off the internet, however Carols' Youtube sound clips and private guidance helps.

The only disappointing thing with the Shanghai Gu Zheng I bought....was the hard case. I travel a lot and had hoped to have a robust travel case. The case broke at the hinges on opening the case immediately when I lifted the lid off. This is due to the poor manufacture of the hard case, which is literally held together by a few woodscrews and fabric. It is the only type of hard case which can be used to transport the Gu Zheng on an aeroplane.

So at the moment I'm really stuck and I have had to put my Gu Zheng in storage because I can't carry it. Carol refunded the 100% cost of the hard case which was very generous of her - especially since it is a manufacturing issue. The soft cases which Shanghai Dunhuang now supply, are excellent quality and good for transporting on land (but not plane).

Case aside - I love my Shanghai Gu Zheng though - the sound and build quality are superb. Thanks Carol! I can't wait to start using it though as it's still in storage Rolling Eyes
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annk
Junior Guzheng


Joined: 30 Jun 2009
Posts: 57

PostPosted: Sun Dec 26, 2010 4:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suggest that you consider double-boxing to transport your zheng on a flight. The hard cases are very heavy, and if a case gets dropped by handlers (yes it happens, and more often than you'd like to think), a lot of damage can be done.

You need two sturdy cardboard boxes, which you'll likely have to construct yourself. One is almost exactly the size of the zheng, with only a bit of space for packing peanuts or a similar cushioning product. The second box is slightly bigger, so that you can place wedges of styrofoam between the two boxes. These are IMPORTANT - the point is to provide an extra layer of space that absorbs any impact that might happen along the way. These wedges must be placed around the entire instrument, about 10 inches apart. I got sheets of styrofoam from a local home improvement store.

I use duct tape to close the outer box, and I used colored electrical tape to write MUSICAL INSTRUMENT - FRAGILE on each side of the box in huge letters.

I can't guarantee anything of course, but I have travelled twice with a zheng this way, and both times it's worked perfectly. I was inspired by this ad (http://www.casextreme.com/). They demonstrate by throwing a guitar off a roof in one of these cases (http://www.casextreme.com/madels_pages/custom_made.htm). I did contact the guy and he was willing to make a case to my specifications, I just haven't done it yet.
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Sunny
Nanmu Mica


Joined: 18 Jan 2006
Posts: 225
Location: Bangkok, Thailand

PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, webbedfingers. I understand your frustration about the weight and inconvenience of the hard case. Fortunately Dunhuang shipped this Bubinga to me with a soft case. It is well improved, getting better designed and look modern and superb to me. They also gave me a long brush (for cleaning the soundboard). I think Yukina should have this one in her stock. It is convenient. Well, I personally think the hard case is too heavy and really inconvenient. The high quality (well padded)soft case is enough for me to carry my baby locally. Anyhow, if you need to load it on plane, annk's method may be better but be careful of the size and the weight.
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Webbedfingers
Junior Guzheng


Joined: 09 Sep 2010
Posts: 55

PostPosted: Sat Jan 08, 2011 2:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ann - many thanks for your recommendation. It gives a lot of insight and plans for what I need to do.

One problem I have, is that the planes I fly are small regional planes. It's going to be tricky to get on a plane with double boxing. I notice that the original box was nothing more than a cardboard box, and the terrible hard case which came apart as soon as it opened. The Gu Zheng made it over here fine, so maybe the broken hard cases are not so bad after all, when packed inside the cardboard box?

With the snow and rain, I worry the cardboard box would just disintegrate.

The extreme case looks great - except the size and volume of the external case. I would have huge problems carrying a double-boxed Guzheng from the baggage carousel to the taxi alone Sad

In any case, maybe I need a baby Bubinga like yours? I do love the rich sound of the rosewood ones and prefer warm rather than 'bright' gu zhengs.
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Webbedfingers
Junior Guzheng


Joined: 09 Sep 2010
Posts: 55

PostPosted: Sat Jan 08, 2011 2:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Sunny - is yours a padded dark blue kind of bag with zips and the Shanghai Dunhuang logo in the centre, with some front pockets?

If so, this is the soft case that Yukina tells me is the new replacement for the older hard case (which was bought separately). Yukina speaks highly of the soft case - and she's right. I like it for short journeys ... but flights ... still petrify me!

I'm worried about sticking a Gu Zheng in the cargo hold at -45 degrees with 0% humidity 12,000ft above ground! And yes - the baggage handlers are less than gentle.

Is your Bubinga around 163cm long? I love the straps of the soft case - you can use extra webbing straps as harnesses to go around the body of the Gu Zheng case for more support.

Are you travelling with your bridges out btw.
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Sunny
Nanmu Mica


Joined: 18 Jan 2006
Posts: 225
Location: Bangkok, Thailand

PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 2:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Webbedfingers, yeh my soft case just likes that. Well, eventhough I am only worrying about the lifespan of the rubber parts it is still much better than a hard case for me!! I can ensure you that you can follow Yukina's suggestion. It won't disappoint you in all aspects. By the way, I see no big effect with the guzheng when kept in the cargo for a certain hours. I always order and let my guzhengs shipped on board from USA to Bangkok. Fortunately they are all alive. My bubinga is the standard size but the sound quality is much beyond my expectation.
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Sunny
Nanmu Mica


Joined: 18 Jan 2006
Posts: 225
Location: Bangkok, Thailand

PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 2:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, another choice is to keep the carton & its cushioning things when you got it at the beginning. So when you need to carry it on board, you just take out all the bridges and put the instrument back into its carton, then carefully lay it in a good order surrounding with the cushioning products.
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Webbedfingers
Junior Guzheng


Joined: 09 Sep 2010
Posts: 55

PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2011 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

that's the thing ... there was no cushioning with the guzheng when it arrived! Just the hard box and the cardboard box!

Well today I checked with the airline - British Airways. Others will be different so don't take this literally until confirming with your own airlines:

Size: 190cm x 70 x 60cm dimensions max. for a musical instrument.
Weight: Counted as a part of your checked luggage (i.e. NOT FREE)

Oddly, a cello, or violin, gets to travel free in the hand cabin compartment.

The aeroplane will go 12k feet + into the air - so there is a real danger of the wood cracking at such high altitudes and low humidity. You can probably shield it by polystyrene cushioning for short flights.

I'm still a bit nervous about flying with a gu zheng. If it cracks - that's it.

Does anyone fly? Do they take insurance out?

Sunny - glad you like your Bubinga so much. What other Gu zhengs do you play?
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annk
Junior Guzheng


Joined: 30 Jun 2009
Posts: 57

PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My teacher has flown with hers between Norway and China. She says she just puts it in the hard case, and hasn't had a problem. Personally I wouldn't do it without the sort of double boxing I've done on my travel-sized zheng, or one of the extreme cases I linked to. But her experience so far is good.

I worked as a professional orchestra musician for 12 years, and did tours where we flew between Northern Europe and the US. Even if BA claims on their site that a cello can go onboard, don't be fooled. All the airlines I've been on with orchestras demanded that that a separate seat be purchased to have cellos onboard. One cellist I know here has a special flight case for her cello. It's about eight inches of strong padding that goes all the way around the hard case. In addition, she calls ahead, convinces them to turn on the heat in the cargo hold, and has even on occasion been allowed out on the ground to observe while the baggage handlers are placing it. This was before 9/11 though; I don't suppose they'd let civilians near the baggage hold now Sad

But - you could always call to hear what their policy is on heating the hold when valuable wooden instruments are being transported.

When they're shipped from for example Carol's shop to the other side of the US, are they never shipped on planes? The ones that come to Carol from China and Taiwan - are they shipped by boat or plane?

If you feel you just aren't able to take the chance on air travel with your zheng, what about renting or borrowing at your destination? If your purpose is just practicing, any reasonable instrument will do (and then you could also consider a travel zheng, which is much easier to transport). If your purpose is performing, then the people or organisation usually arrange and pay for transport (or you can negotiate this with them, if it's not included in the contract). Most professional concert arrangers and venues are used to this, and have contacts with companies they use regularly. They transport harps, double basses - all sort of huge and fragile things.
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Webbedfingers
Junior Guzheng


Joined: 09 Sep 2010
Posts: 55

PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 9:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your invaluable advice Ann - that's very informative.

You're right about the peculiar issues specific to individual airlines. I didn't think it was possible for BA to accommodate heating the hold - I'd thought of travelling during summer with the Gu Zheng but I guess that still isn't much warmer at 12,000ft. I see then, that the double boxing would insulate from extreme humidity and temperature changes for flight transport. In any case, they would probably laugh at me on an economy flight ticket.

Not sure how Carol posted things across - on the final leg from Carol's shop to buyer - it is via aeroplane on Fedex: my box arrived via Fedex within 5 working days from USA. As for manufacturer ---> seller: probably by plane from China/Taiwan too?

Am I worrying about nothing then?

Out of curiosity - are you happy with your travel Gu Zheng? How is the sound quailty compared to a standard rosewood Gu Zheng? I really loev the deep vibrancy and tones of my full size Gu Zheng! I don't play professionally - I just play Wink
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annk
Junior Guzheng


Joined: 30 Jun 2009
Posts: 57

PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I figure sending something as baggage on a commercial flight is always going to be a risk - even if it's just a suitcase! Very Happy I've only flown a few times - once overseas - with my travel zheng double-boxed, and it's entirely possible that I was just lucky.

One thing that has occurred to me is that there MUST be a slight amount of heat on in those cargo holds. Otherwise, the suitcases would be blocks of ice - or at least very, very cold - when we pick them up after the flight.

But since my teacher has done it many times and doesn't seem to worry, and since Carol's instruments are sent by plane (if I understand your post correctly, and I think you're right - they probably are sent that way from Asia at least), I tend to think it can be done. I think finding a way to pack it, a way that will not let it get crushed, is the biggest issue.

I think the 51" travel zheng is amazing for its size. You can't compare it to a good, full-sized instrument, but as a much-more-portable practice instrument, it's wonderful. I've even performed on it in a concert in a church, though I wouldn't do that with all pieces. A very bass-heavy piece wouldn't sound quite right on the travel zheng. If I knew I would be travelling often with it, I would invest in one of those extreme cases.

Check out Carol's video on YouTube where she demonstrates both the 51" and the 55" travel zheng. The 55" is even better.
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Jkyyuen
Plywood


Joined: 17 Nov 2010
Posts: 15
Location: Calgary, Canada

PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2011 11:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My experience is buying a guzheng from carol and flown it back to canada as a fragile luggage. We just have a hard case from carol, and went to the grocery store and bought a few rolls of Saran wrap. Tightly wrapping the case, the guzheng arrived perfectly. (the airline lady was nice and did not charge extra.)
I think there is greater risk from fedex than flying with you as a luggage.
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Webbedfingers
Junior Guzheng


Joined: 09 Sep 2010
Posts: 55

PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2011 10:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
One thing that has occurred to me is that there MUST be a slight amount of heat on in those cargo holds. Otherwise, the suitcases would be blocks of ice - or at least very, very cold - when we pick them up after the flight.



....and you're right! Smile

I've checked the last 4 flights I've taken - and all of my luggage was at air temperature when it arrived! Unless the hold is frozen, and then the airline toasts the luggage to fool us just before we receive them, I think you must be spot on.

The exception is the smaller aircraft, like interprovincial small carriers with around 20 seats, which charge a fortune to get a Gu Zheng in the hold in any case.

I feel less nervous about this, however I have been looking at finding a better hard case in design. I don't think it should take much more for a hard case to be modified so that the brackets are bolted, rather than hinged, and double insulated - it might be bulkier, but hopefully with about 1cm of denser insulation foam around the outside, and then re-upholstered in nylon, it should be the ultimate travel case.

Quote:

I think the 51" travel zheng is amazing for its size. You can't compare it to a good, full-sized instrument, but as a much-more-portable practice instrument, it's wonderful. I've even performed on it in a concert in a church, though I wouldn't do that with all pieces. A very bass-heavy piece wouldn't sound quite right on the travel zheng. If I knew I would be travelling often with it, I would invest in one of those extreme cases.


I liked what I heard from the 55" Travel Zheng clip. But Carol had to go and play the full sized ones afterwards, and I changed my mind lol. It feels too much of a compromise to head towards a travel Zheng now. Unless it is about 30" and full sounding, it isn't really a great compromise Wink

I'm definitely veering towards the conclusion, that there is not that much more inconvenience of carrying a 51" Travel Zheng, versus a 62" Gu Zheng. Both are going to be inconvenient. The challenge is whether the extra 11-12 inches is impossible to get in a car/taxi/train from the airport and destination.

Thanks Ann.
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