An Introduction to the Chinese Guzheng

Chinese Guzheng pic
Chinese Guzheng pic
Chinese Guzheng

Dr. John Chiu serves as president of the California Spine Institute Medical Center ( in Thousand Oaks, California, and as operator of Thousand Oaks Spine & Sport. Beyond his activities as a business leader and endoscopic spinal surgeon, Dr. John Chiu enjoys practicing martial arts and playing stringed instruments such as the guzheng and the ukulele.

The guzheng, alternatively known as the gu zheng or zheng, is an ancient Chinese instrument and a member of the zither family of stringed instruments. The guzheng, which can be traced back to China’s Warring States period, rose to prominence under the Qin dynasty and has become one of the nation’s more influential instruments. It has served as inspiration for the Japanese koto, for example, as well as the Korean gayageum and the đàn tranh of Vietnam.

The earliest iterations of the guzheng featured 12 strings, though more-current versions have evolved to include more than 20 strings, a half tube, and multiple moving bridges. Ancient models relied on silk to create the strings, while modern guzhengs generally use steel, copper-wound steel, and nylon. The modern version of the instrument is highly customizable, as some players might prefer as few as 15 strings, compared to as many as 25 strings for others.


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