Sheng – no sound, unwanted sounds, cleaning

Subject: Re: Faulty Shengs- what should I do?
Date: Thu, 2 Apr 2009 15:43:56 +0800
From: Chris Lim
To: Percy Wong

Hi Percy,

I’m sorry for the late reply to your questions. I have been tied down with a lot of work recently. By the way, you have emailed me before (another email account) a few years ago if I’m not wrong. You asked me some questions about the Sheng. Anyway, I will answer to your questions now……

Q: Hi, I am a beginner, novice Sheng player who has recently encountered three problems: one, my Gaoyin 36-Jiansheng bamboo pipes are loose and come out of the metal soundbox at the bottom, when I put them back in, the instrument no longer makes any sound. Is there any way to fix this? I did spend lots of money on that instrument.

A: If I’m not wrong, some of the bamboo pipes are still loose (not fully inserted to the air chamber). Please check each bamboo pipes carefully, especially the middle row.

Q: Also, my 17-reed traditional Sheng will sound notes randomly even if I don’t cover the respective holes, making it impossible to play anything without the unwanted notes sounding. Any help would be much appreciated, I tried reading the FAQs on your website, but I wasn’t sure how to do those steps. I am located in California, somewhat near Los Angeles. If there are Chinese websites with more information on taking care of and fixing Sheng, please let me know; I can read Chinese also.

A: Try reading my FAQ no. 2 again.

Q: I also have an Alto Paisheng, but two notes do not sound well for some reason (I need lots of air to get it to sound). How can I fix this? Also, is there any way to tune a Sheng? And I’m not sure if I’m cleaning the Sheng right; what should I do for the Paisheng in addition to cleaning the mouthpiece?

A: 1) Pull out the 2 pipes which do not sound well. Check if there is any crack on the yellow wax. If there is no crack, check whether is the 簧舌 (the small part of the reed which vibrates) “flat” with reference to the whole reed. If the 簧舌 is protruding, please use a mini screw driver to gently depress the 簧舌 until it is “flat” with reference to the whole reed. This should solve your problem.

A: 2) You can also blow the pipe directly by putting the bottom part (where is the reed is located) into your mouth. Try to blow and inhale and do not let your tongue touch the reed. Why do you need to do this? This is because dust might be stuck in between the 簧舌 and the reed. By the way, don’t touch the reed with your fingers as you might accidentally remove the power on top of the reed.

A: 3) Tuning a Sheng is more complex. It is difficult for me to write in words. Try to look for a Chinese instrument shop dealer.

A: 4) You just have to clean the mouthpiece. You can use some warm water to rinse the whole wind pipe (吹管). But make sure you empty any water inside the pipe before blowing and always empty any water residue inside the pipe after playing. You can “air” the Sheng (without inserting the wind pipe) once a while inside an air-conditioned room for a few hours. This is to remove moisture inside the Sheng. That’s all.

Thank you for your time. I really wish I didn’t have to ask all of these beginner questions, but as far as I know, there is no Sheng teacher around where I live, so I really don’t know how to proceed.

You are welcome. Sorry for the late reply again.

Regards,
Chris Lim

From: Percy Wong
To: Chris Lim
Sent: Mon, 23 Feb 2009 15:08:28 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Faulty Shengs- what should I do?

Hi, I am a beginner, novice Sheng player who has recently encountered three problems: one, my Gaoyin 36- Jiansheng bamboo pipes are loose and come out of the metal soundbox at the bottom, when I put them back in, the instrument no longer makes any sound. Is there any way to fix this? I did spend lots of money on that instrument.

Also, my 17-reed traditional sheng will sound notes randomly even if I don’t cover the respective holes, making it impossible to play anything without the unwanted notes sounding. Any help would be much appreciated, I tried reading the FAQs on your website, but I wasn’t sure how to do those steps. I am located in California, somewhat near Los Angeles. If there are Chinese websites with more information on taking care of and fixing Sheng, please let me know; I can read Chinese also.

I also have an Alto Paisheng, but two notes do not sound well for some reason (I need lots of air to get it to sound). How can I fix this? Also, is there any way to tune a Sheng? And I’m not sure if I’m cleaning the Sheng right; what should I do for the Paisheng in addition to cleaning the mouthpiece?

Thank you for your time. I really wish I didn’t have to ask all of these beginner questions, but as far as I know, there is no Sheng teacher around where I live, so I really don’t know how to proceed.

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