We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is an Erhu?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Musical Expert is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Musical Expert, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

An erhu is a Chinese stringed instrument which can be played in a solo, as part of an orchestra, or to accompany singers. The thin, slightly reedy sound of the erhu is very much associated with Chinese music in the ears of Westerners, since it is so widely used. Once one learns to identify the sound of an erhu, it can usually be readily picked out from other musical instruments, because it is so distinctive. Stores which specialize in Chinese instruments carry erhus, along with their accessories.

There are several main parts to the erhu. The first is a small resonating chamber, traditionally covered in snake skin. The resonating chamber is attached to a long, straight handle which may be curved or ornamented at the other end. Two strings run down this handle to the resonating chamber, and they are attached at the top with oversized tuning pegs.

An erhu is traditionally played with a bow. In many cases, the bow is actually attached to the erhu, with the strings of the bow threaded between the strings of the instrument and the handle. The player, therefore, pulls the bow against the back of the strings, rather than in front as is the case with a Western violin. Tuning for erhus varies, and the instruments generally span about three octaves.

The history of the erhu spans thousands of years. The first examples of erhus appear to have emerged during the Tang Dynasty, around 600 AD. Since the traditional Chinese character for “erhu” indicates that it has two strings, the erhu has probably changed little over the centuries. Alternate names for the erhu include huqin or hu, and Westerners sometimes call the instrument a “Chinese violin.”

When played by someone who is very skilled, an erhu can be haunting and quite beautiful. It is often used to accompany traditional song and dance performances in China, as it has been for centuries. Erhus have also joined Chinese orchestras, primarily thanks to arrangements written in the early twentieth centuries which include the erhu.

It can be difficult to find someone to teach erhu in the West, since the instrument is considered to be obscure by some musical teachers. In a large urban area with a big Asian population, it might be possible to find a willing teacher. Otherwise, people interested in learning to play the erhu might want to try asking at stores which sell the instrument, or posting notices asking for an erhu teacher.

Musical Expert is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Musical Expert researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon321308 — On Feb 21, 2013

I bought an erhu and I would like to learn how to make a nice sound out of it. It has a rough sound when I play it.

By anon159764 — On Mar 13, 2011

it's quite an interesting instrument and has a cool background. I'm learning erhu from a chinese teacher.

By feliciaerhu — On Mar 21, 2010

I'm teaching erhu now.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
Musical Expert, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Musical Expert, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.