I have come to the conclusion that this:
… is an abomination!
Seriously, it looks horrid, a health hazard, an instrument of torture, etc and it covers up part of the fengzhao thereby restricting some of the sound. The plain sections of the strings are gathered together so they touch and can cause wolf tones and ringing sounds. Also, the bit that hooks onto the goose feet can damage them. Then you could damage the qin’s lacquer with a slip of the tuning wrench (which you must have to string it).
If the ancients could manage to string a qin traditionally (i.e. by wrapping the string round the goose feet) then so can you! Yes, it seems you need to know ‘kung fu’ to be able to pull it off but by diligently practicing stringing, you could do it in less than a few minutes and with minimal effort! There is really no excuse other than nothing short of having a broken arm (in which case, you won’t be able to play qin anyway…)
You too can achive this:
Simplicity and elegance.
Any qin player who can’t do this cannot in their right minds call themselves a qin player. It is the most basic skill that you should have learnt as a beginner. It is hardly a grand piano where you have to get/pay a tuner to string/tune it for you… Here are some tips:
1. Put the head of the qin on the (carpetted or cushioned) floor instead of a chair. You will be able to retain tension easier and with less effort.
2. Wrap the string around a suitable dry cloth and wind it up to around 5″ to the feet. Hold the cloth with the wound string portion on the cup of you hand with the incoming string running parallel to your arm.
3. With you standing behind with the back of the qin away from you, push down, dragging the string wound cloth down to tighten the string. Use other hand to push the string on the other side to help it tighten more. Pluck the string for the desired pitch.
4. Wrap the string around the goose foot in the appropriate direction. Make sure the incoming string is flat against the board. This is so you can tuck the string end in between when you finished. During wrapping, use your left hand to stablise the string whilst you unravel more of the string.
5. After stringing each string, tune to the correct pitch for each.
6. When all the strings are on and you are tuning, gently pull the string to release some slack of each string. This will stop the string from slipping in the future.
7. If the string wrapping end is not textured and/or the goose feet are round and not squarish, use rosin on the wrapping end of the strings to stop them from slipping.
Really, I cannot believe how much the sound has improved!
TBH, when I got my ZCW home and fiddled with it for a few months, I thought ‘is this it?’ Seriously, I thought that it was several years until it ‘opened up’ and dare I say I was slightly dissappointed but when there was these unpleasant wolf tones that I cannot get rid of coming from where the strings are gathered and are touching each other, I decided to remove the device. It was difficult than expected as I had no zither wrench and pilers won’t work. Had to push the string ends out of the zither pin holes (had to cut the second string; they’re all useless as they are cut short).
I must admit that I used the old strings from my old qin so they are smoother but that can’t be all it (I used two new strings). On first play, I noticed a remarkable difference in tone and projection. Much more full and sweet; the sound I fell in love with when I heard ZCW’s qin. Seriously, it added two/five years increased sound quality in but the 15 minutes it took me to change the string setting. This is the qin I wanted!
I urge anyone with that silly tuning device nonsense to get rid of it post haste! As I demonstrated, it clearly does make a noticable difference for the better! And enough of this ‘too much of a bother’ crap; you’re hardly going to change strings every single day, are you?! And knowing how to do it means you’re independent and don’t need to rely on someone else to do it for you that would be rather ridiculous for a musician of a portable instrument with only seven strings…