How to choose Chinese gong instrument

Berry Mathew

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How to choose Chinese gong instrument

Chinese gong instruments are beautiful, unique, and complex instruments. Concerts and performances featuring Chinese gongs generate enriching aural experiences for audiences. To make the most of these musical tools, it is important to consider various factors when selecting a Chinese gong instrument. In this article, we will aim to provide an understanding of Chinese gong instruments and explore various types, bearing size and decoration, tone quality, durability and construction, price points and specifications, and current trends.

Understanding Chinese Gong Instruments

Gongs are percussion instruments that are fundamental in Chinese music, playing a range of prominent roles in traditional and contemporary contexts. Chinese gongs are typically round or oval-shaped with a tightened center. Decorations vary immensely, depending on intended use and style, with edges and faces typically crafted from brass, bronze or copper – though other metals are also used. Bands or etchings are often included to produce different, complex tones.

Exploring Different Types of Gongs

Gongs can be broadly classified into two groups – suspended gongs and horizontal gongs. The most recognisable type is the suspended gong, which is suspended from three or four straps and played with a mallet. Suspended gongs come in sizes ranging from 30 cm to almost 100 cm. Horizontal gongs are played flat on a masaic-covered table, typically with mallets and beaters that are designed to produce different tones.

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Bearing Size and Decoration in Mind

The size and decoration of a Chinese gong are important factors to consider. Most gongs are usually sold in three main sizes: small, medium, and large. Small gongs range from 10 cm to 50 cm and create bright sounds, while larger gongs boast deeper tones. As for decoration, the gong’s physical properties, etchings, and calligraphic symbols can have significant effects on their tonal quality.

Noting Importance of Tone Quality

Tone quality – or timbre – is a critical factor to consider when choosing a Chinese gong instrument. The timbre of a gong can define its range of tunings and melodies and determine pitches, clarity, and amplitude. Ideally, the gong should possess a smooth and clear tone, but it can also be slightly muted for a softer sound. If a gong is too shrouded in overtones and resonance, it can muddle its tones.

Measuring Durability and Construction

The durability of a Chinese gong instrument will depend on the materials and construction used. Drum and gong makers do not cut corners when it comes to quality and craftsmanship, and will put significant effort into constructing instruments with rich resonance, clarity, and depth. It is essential to inspect the construction of a gong to determine the expected life of it before purchasing.

Considering Price Points and Specifications

The prices of Chinese gongs vary depending on size, construction, quality, and aesthetic. Greater quality usually requires higher prices, though budget gongs are also available. Different tones and pitches often equate to added cost, but some basic models are extraordinary quality for half the price of top-tier craftsmanship. The best way to ensure value for money is to explore different specifications and price points.

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Keeping Up To Date with Current Trends

With the latest advancements in technology and design, the performance of Chinese gong instruments has been improved significantly. Contemporary drums and gongs offer better tone, range, and durability, thus maximizing the potential of artistic expression. To make the best decision, it can be a great advantage to familiarize oneself with prevailing trends and the latest innovations.


Chinese gongs offer a range of aesthetic and tonal options that make them suitable for different contexts. Understanding the various types of gongs, bearing size and decoration in mind, noting importance of tone quality, measuring durability and construction, considering price points and specifications, and keeping up to speed with prevailing trends are all valuable considerations when selecting a Chinese gong instrument. With these points in mind, potential buyers should have no issue finding an instrument that meets their needs.