Removing the top from a Pipa

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Removing the top from a Pipa

Post by bullpuppy » Fri Apr 01, 2016 6:11 pm

I was wondering if there is special approach to removing the top from a Pipa. I have an inexpensive one (when new) that I picked up and like to take it apart none destructively.

Any ideas would be most appreciated.

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Philipp Lerche
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Re: Removing the top from a Pipa

Post by Philipp Lerche » Mon Apr 11, 2016 11:29 pm

Hey !!

I think nobody except chinese luthiers can give you a professional advise on how to remove it. :)
Just for your information the soundboard is likely to be paulownia wood and there should be two
thick braces under the soundboard which are glued to the back, too !

If you decide to cut it off it will not be loose after you have cut through the binding.
It is very difficult (I think) to get it off without ripping it appart.

So good luck and btw I never had a pipa in my own hands, I cannot guarantee that this info is right :)
"If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done."
Bruce Lee

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Scot Tremblay
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Re: Removing the top from a Pipa

Post by Scot Tremblay » Tue Apr 12, 2016 1:17 am

I've done two Pipa top removals. I used to play Zhongruan in a Chinese orchestra so a couple of the pipa players had me fix a cracking in the top of their instruments. One was glued to the bowl similar to a lute or guitar, just directly to the edges of the bowl, no lining and without a binding (but a strip of a cloth tape around the edge like some of the old lutes). That one I just removed the tape and using a little heat and moisture slipped a pallet knife under the edge and slid it slowly around. Be careful at the neck join and end as there will probably be a good chunk of wood at the neck/body join...and at the braces as suggested...this Pipa only had one large transverse brace.

The second one was much more difficult and hopefully yours isn't put together like this one. The top was inset into the bowl with the edge of the bowl acting like the binding. I only opened that one enough from the end to get access to the crack in the lower face (and that Paulownia doesn't bend much, pretty brittle stuff). I'm not sure if I could have removed the entire top without causing some damage. It was a considerably more expensive one with appropriately elevated stress levels in the repair...but I got the crack fixed and reinforced.

Zhongruans are put together like this last Pipa with the top and back inset into the turned sides. Fast way to make the instrument, I guess but next to impossible to fix without suffering some heart palpitations...

Good luck with that. Hope this is of some help.
Scot Tremblay Guitars

"One picture is worth a thousand words. So, for me, one good note put where it should be put, will say what it will take some people many notes to say. ~B.B. King, 1986

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Re: Removing the top from a Pipa

Post by waikuentsui » Tue Apr 12, 2016 3:51 am

bullpuppy wrote:Any ideas would be most appreciated.
I have no idea on how to remove the top.
Attached are some drawing and photo that may give you an idea.
Pipa cross section.jpg
Pipa top removed.JPG
Pipa new top.JPG
Pipa bowl making.JPG
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

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