Sheng – servicing and maintenance (Part 2)

Re: Success!
From: Chris Lim
Monday, 10 September 2007 11:41:21
To: Steve

Hi Steve,

Thank you 🙂 You are welcome. I’m just doing my part to help people who wish to know more about Sheng.

Sure, it is a great suggestion!!! I will try to re-organise the information and put it up on the website. Presently, I’m a bit buzy with my work, therefore, I still got no time to update my website. I will upload more photos of different types of Shengs soon…… (My complete collection of the Sheng Family).

Stone = 五音石
Copper Plate = 红铜盘

No worries. If you take good care of your Sheng, you should be able to use it for years…. I have bought 2 Shengs in the past from my teacher which were made in 1973 (which is even older than me by a few years). So, Sheng has a long life span if you really take care of it 🙂

That’s all and take care!


From: Steve
To: Chris 
Sent: Friday, 7 September 2007 10:28:11
Subject: Re: Success!

Hi Chris,

I hope you had a good trip. Thanks for both of your e-mails. You answered all my questions perfectly. What a life-saver! Maybe you could put some of this information up on your website (which is already more informative than many), because I am sure it would help a lot of people better understand this great instrument. I am sure there is some information in Chinese on the internet, but I have also tried searching for that and there is generally nothing as detailed as the information you gave me. I understand that many sheng players learn everything from their teachers, but as you may imagine, many foreigners do not have teachers available in their home country.

I did study Chinese and understand 汉字. Maybe if you tell me the type of stone I can look it up in the dictionary.

Thanks again for all your help. Now I will be able to take care of my sheng and hopefully keep using it for many years.


From: Chris Lim
To: Steve 
Sent: Fri, 7 Sep 2007 6:09 am
Subject: Re: Success!

Hi Steve,

I’m glad to know that your Sheng sounds silent now when you blow or suck gently. (refer to my previous email sent before this)

The greenish or bluish power is created by using a type of stone (don’t know its name in English), copper plate and water.

You will need to use the stone to rub on the copper plate (with some water) in “circles” to produce the greenish liquid to rub on the reeds. When the greenish liquid is dried, it will become a greenish powdery coating on the reed.

The copper plate can be purchased in my country but it is quite expensive. My teacher should have some stones left.

You are welcome. Take care 🙂

Chris Lim

From: Steve
To: Chris
Sent: Monday, 20 August 2007 10:06:28
Subject: Success!

I just wanted to write you to let you know that your advice worked. I managed to bend two or three reeds back into their original position. I accidentally bent one too far, though, and that pipe would sound when I drew air (without covering any of the holes). My solution was to slide a slightly bent paper clip into the hole that you normally cover with your finger, and then push the reed up from behind. That alone was not enough to permanently bend the reed back, but while the reed was slightly raised I slipped a piece of tissue paper between the reed and the frame, and after continous efforts I managed to lift the reed up enough to slightly bend it back into its original position. Now all the reeds are silent when I blow or draw without covering any holes, and they all sound properly when I cover the holes.

I just wanted to thank you, because your help was indispensible in fixing my sheng, which I thought was hopeless. As I said I used to play the Japanese sho once, and in trying to fix it in the same manner as above I accidentally broke one of the pieces of wax on the tip of a reed. After that the reed was out of tune and I couldn’t play it anymore. I was very frustrated with having to always heat the instrument up (there is no resevoir for hot water in Japanese instruments). It seemd like I was heating it more than I was playing it! Then when I got my new sheng, I was very dishearted to find it had the same problem, but now you have given me a great solution that I can use to fix the sheng myself if there is ever a problem in the future.

I thought I would never be able to play pianissimo notes crashing slowly up to fortissimo, without a lot of noise, but now it seems like anything is possible and I have fallen in love with the instrument!

I am still curious about the instructions on putting in the water, and also about the bluish powdery coating on the reeds (what is this called and can you buy it online?). I will soon return to America and I doubt there will be anybody there who can repair these instruments, so in addition to taking care of it, I need to know how to maintain it when it develops a problem that I can fix.

Thanks again, you are a life-saver!

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