I am a physicist building a Guqin, an old Chinese zither. I try to understand its construction, how it vibrates, what are the key features to obtain a good sound.
I found only one paper on the subject, Vibroacoustic of the Guqin, but it is only scratching the surface. Can somebody with playing / building experience give me suggestions? More specifically, I am trying to understand:
- What is the main drive mechanism? In guitars and violins we have the strings attached to a light bridge and thin soundboard, while for the guqin the head is massive! How is the vibration of the strings transmitted to the body?
- Are there some "cheap tricks" to change its sound, like closing the soundholes, that can help understand what affects the sound?
- Tonewood choice. I am now using Larch as the main wood material, because of its availability, and I like the color. Officially, I should use Pawlonia wood that is much lighter, but I can't find it here. I have seen an instrument for sale made of Fir wood. Is there a difference?