3D modeling and producing a G402 yangqin (揚琴 / 扬琴)

Last modified: 
27/1/2017
This article documents an attempt to re-create a yangqin for my girlfriend and musician Chung-Yi Lan. The yangqin would be light-weight, and fit for occasions requiring a lot of improvised transportation such as busking.

Brief literature review

The only construction plans of a yangqin, which we have been able to find on the net, are two very rudimentary plans. Further more, the design represented there seems not to relate to any standard string set-up (looking at the number of bridges): they are in fact sketches, not building plans.

Another Chinese article on Jeremy Chang's1 blog also features quite a lot of detailed pictures (again of a different string organization: this time a 402 model) and claims that the total pulling force of the string tension exerts a force of 2000 kilograms on the surface.

The most useful resource we have been able to find is a documentary on making yangqins by hand2 (as is done in China), which features some measurements. Such measurements are transcribed (from the video) onto Jeremy Chang's blog.

If you happen to know any other literature with regards to measurements or the construction of a yangqin, please feel free to let us know.

3D model

Based on a Beijing Xinghai Yuehua 501

In fact, I only found out about the most useful of these resources after I had completed my 3D model. My model is thus, for the most part, not based on dimensions found in the 'literature' described above, but instead on measurements taken by ourselves. We measured a 501 yanqin (which I adapted into a G402 set-up in my 3D model), formerly owned by Lin Ya-Xue3, and constructed by the company "Beijing Xinghai Yuehua Chinese Musical Instrument Co Ltd",4 with series numbers "52" (on the right-hand side wing and its lid) and "25" (on the left-hand side lid).

Structural differences

First of all, it should be noted that measurements may contain significant errors, especially when related to parts which were not or badly visible (inside the instrument). In my model, I have only put two strings per tone (with an exception of one string per tone, for four low tones). The left and right 'wings' (where the tuning elements and string anchors are mounted respectively), I have made much less wide (since I plan to use mostly but two strings per tone; and to save weight). Obviously, the f-holes at the bottom of the yangqin are not present in any traditional yangqin. Curvature features are mostly not simply copied but their most important functionalities have been taken into consideration in the sculpture.

Strings diameters

Strings diameters were collected using a leather thickness measuring device of 0.10 mm accuracy. The table below shows our measurements, arranged per traditional string index number. The type of wire is also indicated. Almost all of the wound wire consisted of a steel wire core5 wound with copper wire. String index number #25 is traditionally not present in a 501 yangqin model. In other models where this string #25 is present, the string is of the plain round steel wire type.6
Measured strings diameters
Traditional string index numberMeasurementWire type
#1421mmPlain round steel wire
#1517mm
#1617mm
#1715mm
#1814mm
#1910mm
#208.5mm
#218mm
#225mm
#237mm
#245.5mm
#25n.a.n.a.
#264.5mmWound wire
#274mm
#284mm
#293.5mm
#303mm
I presume this is the first downloadable 3D model of a yangqin. The HTML files can be viewed interactively across all major browsers. The model was made in Blender, all other files are exported files.

Table with download links
On-line interactive view (.HTML)Web-compatible model (96.1 MB)
3D Blender file (.BLEND)All parts seperate (66.4 MB)All parts merged (61 MB)
Being updated soon.

Licensing

I hereby publish all my plans and/or 3D models under the Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 license.

Production

Body and shaping

The main body can be shaped by 3D CNC mills, such as: Other ways of production can also be considered:
  • Quickparts (Silicone Moulds, Rapid Foundry, Rapid Tooling, Direct Metal Printing, MultiJet Printing, ColorJet Printing, ...);
  • ...

Footnotes

  • 1. Jeremy Chang's Chinese name: "張毅宏".
  • 2. The documentary was broadcasted by China Central Television 7 ("CCTV-7") on 2 February 2011 as part of the television program "农广天地", introduced by the presenter hostess "杨璐".
  • 3. Who, at that time, was head of percussion at the National Chinese Orchestra Taiwan (ROC, Republic of China).
  • 4. In Chinese: "北京星海粵華樂器有限公司".
  • 5. Presumably a steel core.
  • 6. ▸ Yueha Yangqin, 北京市朝阳区东垻红松园: BEIJING XINGHAI Piano Group CO., LTD., s.d. (±2008), 6 p.

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