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Erhu - Chinese musical instrument

Updated on October 9, 2011
Woman playing Erhu
Woman playing Erhu

What is Erhu?

Erhu is a Chinese musical instrument and is commonly known as a Chinese Violin or a Two Stringed Fiddle. The history of Erhu dates back to the Tang Dynasty, descendants of a Mongolian tribe. You can buy Erhu online from international sellers, however make sure you read this before buying your Erhu online. Read on for facts about Erhu, the Erhu body structure and some fabulous suggestions for your Erhu purchase online.

Erhu body structure

The body of Erhu has a similar principle to that of many other stringed instruments like the guitar, only much simpler. The base of the Erhu is a resonator or the sound box on top of which is a long stick like neck. Two strings run along the neck of Erhu which are help on top of the neck by tuning pegs. Below are the parts of Erhu explained.

1) Neck of Erhu

The neck of Erhu, also known as the stem is like a long stick. The stick or the neck of Erhu is long and round unlike stringed instruments like the guitar or violin where there is an actual fret board or a touching pad. Although the length of the neck of Erhu can vary, typically it is 81 cm. The top of the Erhu neck may be bent or shaped in a certain way. However, there is no acoustic or technical impact of this bend as it is only for a better visual appeal of the instrument.

2) Tuning Pegs

Along the neck of Erhu run two strings, held on the top of Erhu neck by two tuning pegs or tuning handles.

3) Resonator of Erhu

The resonator of Erhu, also known as a sound box or the sound body of an Erhu. This part of Erhu is like a drum which has a hexagonal shape. The sound box of Erhu is covered with python skin on the front and usually left open at the back. The characteristic sound of Erhu is produced by the vibration of the python skin.

4) Erhu strings

The strings of Eru were traditionally made of silk or nylon. However, the use of metal strings in an Erhu is not uncommon these days. The two strings of an Erhu are generally tuned to the D and A chords. The inner string is tuned to D while the outer is tuned to A.

5) Erhu Bow

The length of Erhu bow is generally between 76 and 81cm and made from reed and horsehair. What makes this bowed musical instrument special is the fact that the bow itself is never detached from the two strings. Unlike other stringed instruments which require a bow to be played, the bow usually passes between the strings, rather than on top of them.

Common guidelines that you should know before buying an Erhu

1) Buying Erhu from Chinese seller online

Erhu is a Chinese Musical Instrument so it is no surprise that most of the Erhus are made in China. If you find a shop or seller online who is selling Erhu, you must know that the Chinese government has banned the use of wild python skin in the manufacturing of Erhu. Only the sale of Erhus made from farm raised python skins are allowed to be sold and carry a certification with them.

2) Buying Erhu from seller based outside China

If you buy your Erhu from a seller who is based outside China, you must make sure that you Erhu has relevant CITES certificate and approval from the government. CITES is the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species. Generally, most online Erhu sellers mention in the product details about the CITES certification of the Erhu you are about to purchase.

3) Buyers who are repulsed by the idea of using python skin

Are you staying away from buying Erhu online simply because the use of python skin and you are an animal rights advocate? Put your worries to rest because now you can buy Erhu online which has synthetic material used on the resonator or the sound box of the Erhu.

4) The cost of buying Erhu online

The cost of Erhu can vary according to the material used in manufacturing of the musical instruments like the wood, snakeskin, the strings and the overall build quality of the Erhu. The price of Erhu can range from $150 for a starter grade Erhu and can go up to $2,000 for a professional grade Erhu. If you are a pure beginner or are merely trying your hand at this unique chinese musical instrument, it is advisable to buy a cheap Erhu online rather than spending big bucks. Once you are familiar with this musical instrument are you are ready to take your exotic talent to the next level, splurge in and you can buy a professional grade Erhu online.

Wang Ying plays Carmen on Erhu

Buy Erhu and Erhu accessories online on Amazon


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    • profile image

      hallo 5 years ago

      amazing musical quality. amazing heritage

    • vietnamstrangest profile image

      vietnamstrangest 6 years ago

      It's also a polular musical instrument in my country.

    • princesswithapen profile image

      princesswithapen 6 years ago

      Hi Gabby

      I have to agree with you. An Erhu is an old instrument that carries with itself the culture and sounds of many dynasties. The thought itself is very magical. Erhu is definitely not easy to learn. How have you been going? Do you keep a track of your progress? Maybe you can write a blog about your journey and pen down some tips that we all can use! If you ever do, make sure you pass me the link!

      Thanks for reading and commenting.


    • profile image

      Gabby 6 years ago

      Hi.. I think the Erhu is really something to comprehend. I'm currently playing one for 8 months now. Trust me, it is not as easy as it looks. Its a very old instrument and full of wonder.

    • princesswithapen profile image

      princesswithapen 6 years ago

      Hi tlmcgaa70

      The video for the Erhu performance has now been replaced with another magnificent Erhu piece by Wang Ying. I've heard Dance to the moon too. It is a popular piece.

      I will check out your hubs on uncommon musical instruments. Glad you liked this hub!


    • tlmcgaa70 profile image

      tlmcgaa70 6 years ago from south dakota, usa

      wow! delightfully incredible! the video sample you have says it is private so i went to you tube and entered erhu music and listened to one called dance to the moon. so beautiful. i am continuously amazed at the musical instruments that exist out there, and the ways man have come up with to make music. if you are interested, i have begun a series on uncommon (even if only so to me) musical instruments, that include such instruments as the hurdy gurdy, nyckelharpa, hydraulaphone and so on. and even a guy who makes instruments out of anything handy including vegetables.

      thank you for sharing this wonderful hub, voted up and over.

    • princesswithapen profile image

      princesswithapen 6 years ago


      I too, did not know a lot about Erhu until a few years back. However I'm sure that you'll find this instrument truly mesmerizing if you ever got a chance to hear it live.

      I'm glad you found this hub on Erhu, interesting.


    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

      Thank you for this very interesting hub.

      I have never heard of this instrument so i am glad that we are never too old to learn.

      Thanks for sharing and take care


    • princesswithapen profile image

      princesswithapen 6 years ago


      I've heard this musical instrument live in action at a street side performance during my travels, and it is nothing less than exotic. The tonal quality of an Erhu is quite unique. If an Erhu is of a good quality, the tone is very mellow and pleasant.


    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      I've never heard this instrument in a live performance.