Below are various microscopic string pictures of dunhuang strings for the guqin. These are typical metal-nylon construction strings for the qin. This set happens to be a rather low end set, and for $25 a set, you get what you pay for. Of the several metal-nylon qin string sets I have tried, this set was my least favorite, and perhaps my least favorite of all qin strings I have tried so far. For one thing, I have found them incredibly stiff, much more so than other metal-nylon strings. This set also seems like the strings are made a bit too short, making stringing these on the qin an extraordinary difficult endeavor. They also have an extremely strong metallic overtone to them, which is at least very noticeable on my own qin. These were the first strings I have ever purchased for the qin, and was the set I originally used for the buzz checking phase on my qin. I bought these strings with the intention of being a “sacrificial” string set, and they have served their purpose well for my studies. Some pictures of particular interest include the various shots of the several layers of nylon that make up the wrapping around the core. This is a very typical and standard way of manufacturing strings, and is very similar to methods used for other instruments such as harps. In the pictures, you can see four layers to the string: the first outer layer comprising of a thin nylon ribbon, the second layer made of another nylon ribbon wrapped in the opposite direction, the third layer of nylon fibers, which are twisted around the fourth layer, or the steel monofilament core of the string.
At the time I had purchased these strings, I did not yet embark on my journey of harmonic analysis, and during the buzz checking phase, several strings broke due to the fatigue of stringing and restringing them dozens of times during the process. As a result, I currently do not have harmonic data for these strings. I have also decided to further not use these strings on my qin due to the higher potential for damage of the finish on the qin. However, I will continue to use the remaining strings for various other tests, such as developing stress-strain curves, and running harmonic tests on them on a separate rig to compare results with and without creams that are often applied to metal-nylon qin strings. You can click the thumbnails below to enlarge the pictures.