≡ Menu

Tuned Gongs Introduction

Over the past few months, I have had the honor of welcoming a few shipments of tuned gongs into this country. I have learned there are many types of gongs, but a few tune more easily and accurately than others:

The most popular are our Tuned Thai Gongs, featuring a raised center that is one of the characteristics giving them their unique sound and meditative quality. When struck, they have a clear fundamental pitch and a colorful array of warm overtones to give each gong its own “personality.” The fundamental is best heard when the gong is struck on the raised center, and the harmonics are clearer when struck about halfway between the center and the edge. We have successfully tuned these gongs to many pitches between B♭1 at ~59.9Hz (two ledger lines and a space below the Bass Clef) and G#5 at ~836Hz (just above the Treble Clef), with all quarter- or semi-tones within that range an option as well. These gongs do not distort easily because of the flanged edges and how thick they are compared to other gongs. The hand-carved designs on them really add to the overall aesthetics. I’ve had good luck recording them for percussion-based pieces I’ve written, and even playing a 13” G#3 like a hand drum in my lap focusing on the different areas of the gong for different overtones. We currently have these gongs for sale individually by size (no specified pitch, however they can be fine-tuned from where they are, within reason) and in the following tuned chromatic octave sets: Low (C2-C3), Mid (C3-C4), High (C4-C5), and Extra High (C5-C6). We can easily accommodate orders for specific pitches by phone/email/fax.

We also have mini Tuned Chau Gongs, which have a very clear and focused tone, a bit brighter than the Tuned Thai Gongs. These are sold only in chromatic octave sets C4-C5 and C5-C6 (not individually), however we do have other smaller Chau gongs available.

Opera Gongs, which “bend” up into a steady pitch, can be tuned here as well.  They have a bright tone and distort well for a “shimmering” sound when played at a loud volume. At a softer volume, these gongs have also have a nice warm tone. They are featured in Zivkovic’s multi-percussion pieces “Trio Per Uno,” and “Generally Spoken It’s Nothing But Rhythm,” among other popular percussion pieces.

The main focus when tuning and selling these gongs has been to make sure that everyone knows which octave the note(s) they want are in. We are using C4 as Middle C, and the gongs come to us based on A442. We can easily take any gong down to be based on A440 by request also. We go between the Helmholtz Designation (G#′′ / B♭, / etc.) written on the gongs when we receive them, to the Scientific Designation (G#5 / B♭1 / etc.) when we sort, tune, and sell them. There are a growing number of pieces that require tuned gongs, and they are fun instruments on their own – We are absolutely your best source for getting the right types and pitches for the right price!

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Jen Mitlas January 16, 2012, 6:34 pm

    This is a very well written post about tuned gongs. Really informative!

Leave a Comment