What Gong Should I Buy???

First off, welcome to The Way of the Gong™ blog post number 200! When I started this blog nearly 6 years ago, I never planned to still be here in the year 2020. A big thank you to all who read and support my work here, and on my other two blogs as well.

I've covered this subject before, back in April 2013 in my Percussion Deconstruction™ blog before this one. It's a subject that keeps coming up, so I don't think it's bad to cover it again. 

Now on to today's blog:

What Gong Should I Buy???

Today's topic is a reoccurring one that came up again in a Facebook forum this week. I also receive a lot of E-mail with the same question, either, “What Gong should I buy?,” or a variation like, “I'm looking at these two gongs, which one should I buy?”

Today, there are a lot more choices than when I started out on the Gong Path some 45 years ago. There are so many choices, and opinions about those choices, that it can be a very confusing prospect for a neophyte to come to a decision. Let's take a look at both questions:

“What Gong Should I Buy?”

This is always a difficult question to answer! When this was asked on Facebook, all sorts of people jumped in with their suggestions, “You should get X because that's what I use,” or, “You shouldn't buy anything smaller than X" because you won't get the right sound.” And on and on. Ask 100 people what Gong you should buy, and you will most likely get at least 80 different answers.

Here's my suggestions for buying a Gong/Gongs (and this goes for buying singing bowls, bells, or any other instruments):

  1. Listen to as many Gongs as you can, listening for one that speaks to you personally. Of course, listening in person is best (either at a store or someone's Gong session), but if that's not possible, listen to sound samples on various dealer's websites, and to various YouTube videos. While nothing can substitute for hearing something in person, that's not always possible.
  2. Play as many Gongs as you can. This is very different than listening. Playing gives you the feel, the up close vibrations that you don't get sitting and listening to someone else play.
  3. If possible, ask questions of other Gongs players about their Gongs and why they use the particular ones they have. Realize that their reasons and needs may be very different from yours, but all this information helps build up your knowledge base.
  4. Make a list of what type of sounds you are attracted to: dark/light, high/low, bright/dull, full/compact, or whatever sort of sound descriptions you feel
  5. Make a list of the types of Gongs that match your preferred sound descriptions.
  6. Try to play those Gongs, or at least listen to them.
  7. When you finally buy something, buy what feels best in your heart, your body, your soul. Gongs are very personal, so no 2 person's needs/reasons/feelings about them are identical.
A personal story here: I never met a Gong that I didn't like in some way, but I've met a lot of Gongs who's sound was not useful for what I do. I've also found a lot of Gongs that others disliked that work perfectly for my needs.

“I'm looking at these two gongs, which one should I buy?”

There are 2 ways to go for a 2nd Gong:
  1. For example, if you have a 32" Symphonic/Planet/Chau type, you can look for the same type, but in a smaller/larger size. If I had just a 32", I would look for something 26" or smaller (or 38" or larger), because the tonal differences will be wide enough to give you 2 different tonalities to work with. If you had a 32" and a 30", the tonal differences are really not that different, and both Gongs cover much of the same tonal areas.
  2. If you have a Symphonic/Planet/Chau type, you can look for something in a different type of Gong to give you 2 distinct voices. I would add a Wind Gong to give me a 2nd, different voice and response. I would again go either larger or smaller, so I would also have a frequency/tonal difference.

What about 3 or 4 Gongs?

  1. I would follow the same sort of idea. For example: 32/26" Chau with 28/24" Wind. This would give you a nice tonal spread. Of course, there are a million different ways you could go and this is just one example.
  2. You could also look at one of the many other types of Gongs available: Heng, White, Sun, Jia, etc; or some sort of bossed (a Gong with a raised center boss or nipple) Gong, like a Thai or gamelan Gong. There are also Gongs from many of the various smaller Gongmakers out there, so the choices and possibilities are endless.

I Bought A Gong. Now What?

Play it, play it, play it! And listen to it every time you play. As you go along, you will develop your ear for sounds and subtleties of sounds, and also you will also expand your idea on how a Gong feels. These are important skills, especially when you are buying a new Gong.

It's also important to understand that your idea of what you want in sound & feeling may change over time. Down the path, you may feel differently about the 1st Gong you bought and find it doesn't suit your needs anymore. This is perfectly natural. But it has served its purpose to get you started on this glorious path! 

Or you may find that your 1st Gong is a keeper for life. I still have my 1st Gongs from 1975, and I play them often. In fact, I have all the Gongs I've ever gotten. And that brings up another subject:

But A Good Gong Costs So Much!

Yes, a good and/or large Gong can cost a lot of money. But anything of lasting quality does. Don't cheapen out and just buy a cheaper/smaller Gong when you want something else. Save up until you can get what you want. A properly cared for Gong can last a lifetime. All of mine have! They will also hold their value if you ever happen to sell them (some of my Gongs are worth double of what I paid for them).

In conclusion, buy a Gong and play it everyday, all the time. Get to know it. Get to know what you like and don't like about it, so you can make the right choices when you buy another one.

~ MB

Chop Wood / Carry Water / Play Gongs™

Over the past 9 years and 3 different blogs, I've written almost 500 blog posts. That's a lot of my time and energy devoted to putting my thoughts and ideas out there on the internet for you to read. If you've enjoyed reading them, and have gotten value out of them, please consider a donation. You'll be helping me keep writing for hopefully another 9 years. Thank You ~ MB.


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