These spinning tops are a great traditional toy that have stood the test of time! All tops are to be made by hand, suitable as toys for children of all ages, affordable and, even if already played with, can be displayed in a museum display case. The parish top would be kept in the town courtyard and would certainly require strength and endurance to keep such a large object spinning and at times, with more than one adult whipping. After coming through the string hole, the string is wound one-half way around the tuning machine post. If you are on a serious budget then this could be an option but I would avoid it at least for the soundboard if you can – often you can pick up something cheap that has a solid top but laminate back and sides.
The example instrument has a special wooden capodastre on the neck, through which all 3 strings go; by sliding this up and down the neck the easiest range for the singer can be found, without re-tuning. Eric then (somehow) commands this behemoth to begin spinning in the designated area. I and several other steel string builders are now applying this type of construction. The nanyin pipa has only 4 triangular frets (instead of the 6 of the normal pipa, missing the lowest and the top one), made of triangular pieces of wood, covered with sea turtle shell.
Alan, and the star below, Eric Wolff, are, respectively, the acknowledged Stradivarius and Amati in the world of custom tops design and manufacture. On most old Japanese instruments the front was decorated with glued-on dark coloured wooden ornaments and near the bridge a square piece of cloth or snake skin. Generally speaking, the throwing top is composed of a cord wrapped around the body of the cone shaped or peg top.
The old gekkin (made in Japan) was almost the same as the modern yueqin : so also two circles of softwood for soundboard and back, but now glued on top of the narrow strip of hardwood for the sides. It is slightly different in that it is a tethered object, meaning that it is attached by a cord or string. In Japan, koma asobi (top spinning) has been enjoyed by adults and children for centuries.
The front of the tuning head is decorated with cut-out white plastic, with the glued-on top end in a shape resembling a Chinese helmet (or more likely : a bow-and-arrow). The tops are turned from Camphor Laurel and have a brass spinning tip for durability as they do a lot of miles. Wind chimes or Aeolian chimes are often hollow or solid metal or wooden tubes which are usually hung outside of a building and are intended to be played by the wind, which causes the chimes to strike each other or metal, wood, or rubber balls which may be hung in the center.
It is interesting to notice however that there are dozens of stories about spinning tops in the early 1800’s through the early 1900’s. Because of the round shape of the top of the frets the strings buzz, which is the typical sound of the biwa. One example describes a boy who discovers with delight the ability to use his father’s wood turning lathe to make a perfect spinning top. Records involving twist tops usually have to do with longest spin times, and the number of tops that can be set spinning in a given period. There are decorative black/white painted curly lines on the front, around the edges on the top half and along the bottom half.
Some believe that the throwing top was born from the whip top, where top spinners could play with a top requiring less strenuous activity than with the whip top. This is because the top will rise and fall with changes in temperature and humidity. The key RULE is that the top cannot be aided in any way once it is set in motion. This swelling raises the end of the fingerboard, which is actually attached to the top rather than the neck.
The story is that the Vietnamese who emigrated to the USA in the 1930’s were eager to get an instrument that could be played like their home instruments – when you pluck a thin string between high frets (like on the Dan Nguyet for instance) you can easily bend the tone up by pressing a bit harder. This item is a genuine vintage toy from an era when there were no safety standards. The twirling motion of the top invites the kind of surface decorations that deliver a variety of illusions not evident when the top is at rest.
The unique coloring of the top base is achieved by color pouring” which allows the grain of the wood to absorb the color. Operates from the bottom up only and has a cord lock with strings coming down from it. Pull on the strings to raise the blind up and then pull the strings to the left or right to lock in place. Two nylon strings (tuned to a fifth or a fourth) run to a carved wooden bridge, glued to the soundboard.
You may want to make your guitar easier to play and use one of our lighter string sets, but your bridge saddle and neck may have to be adjusted to prevent fret buzz. The type of chime described here is a traditional, percussion wind chime made of aluminum tubes, any of a variety of types and shapes of wood as the top, braided nylon string that is used to attach the tubes to their top and the top to the hanger, and metal fasteners or nails to clip the strings to the wood.