Morin Khuur isn’t available in most stores unless you live in Mongolia! Horsehead fiddles are popular on the Mongolian steppe, but they are not well known in most other parts of the world. The price of a morin khuur isn’t as low as you might think.
It’s easy to find good morin khuur for sale online thanks to the internet. Whether you’re shopping for a basic instrument or a high-end one, here’s how to buy one!
However, I would like to draw inspiration from the great Batzorig Vaanchig:
Purchasing a New Morin Khuur
Through the power of the internet, you can order a it from a few different makers in Mongolia and China. For anyone who wants a real-deal instrument they can play, not just look at, this is a great option. Although it’s great to be able to buy directly from the source, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
One of the most important things is that you will probably find yourself alone after purchasing a morin khuur. There are probably no other players in your area unless you live in an area where Mongolian immigrants are prevalent. If your its needs to be repaired, you’ll either have to send it away or do it yourself. To get new strings, you’ll need to order them from Mongolia.
Generally, you should purchase it from a reputable dealer if you want the best quality. On eBay, Amazon, and elsewhere, you will find many morin khuur for sale from anonymous brands or big instrument wholesalers. Beginners may find these attractive because some of them are very affordable. You are, however, at risk of buying something that isn’t worth playing if you don’t buy from a reputable maker.
The historical area of Mongolia is divided between Mongolia and Inner Mongolia in China, so it’s not uncommon to see the morin khuur described as a “Chinese instrument.” This can be a touchy subject, since many Mongolians see this as cultural appropriation. Regardless of politics, China has plenty of good it players and makers. Even though the it is very much a Mongolian instrument, this is one case where “made in China” could actually mean it is authentic!
Mongolian artisans produce a wide variety of products for sale through Mongulai in the US. A big part of their business is on Amazon, but they also sell through their own website. With Amazon you get some of their customer service benefits, which is always a plus when you’re buying internationally. Mongulai offers a number of different models that are divided into three different levels.
“Beginner” instruments are aimed at beginner morin khuur players who want an affordable entry-level instrument. These are very simple, made from standard woods without any carvings or designs. As well as being made more quickly, by a team of skilled craftspeople instead of a single artisan. The beginner morin khuur is an excellent instrument for learning and practicing.
“Standard” is the next level up, which offers a good compromise between performance and value. This khuur is made with nicer wood than the beginner’s khuur by a single master craftsman. They have some extra flourishes in the carvings, especially on the headstock, and both look and sound good enough for an intermediate or advanced player to perform in a concert or recital.
Mongolia’s ‘Master’-level instruments were designed for more advanced players, but can also be used by beginners to make learning easier. Their handcrafted design ensures maximum sound quality and playability. As a result, they have some beautiful carvings and use premium tonewoods.
Two Dutch men married two Mongolian women, and now the four of them make and sell morin khuur. It’s not a combination you might expect, but like Mongulai, it means that they are well connected to Mongolian culture and Western culture. Through their website, which is easy to navigate and offers several different models of it for sale, they sell their products.
Morin-Huur.com also sells three levels of morin khuur, called “Beginner,” “Semi-Pro,” and “Professional.” These roughly align with Mongulai’s categories, and can be used to determine which it is right for you. You can find well-made, affordable instruments in the “Beginner” line. “Professional” and “Semi-Professional” lines feature better sound, looks, and playability for more advanced players. If you want to purchase an instrument, it is always a good idea to get the best one you can afford.
The Sound of Mountain Music
There is a range of morin khuur models available from The Sound of Mountain Music, which specializes in traditional instruments from China. The majority of them are classified as “professional” models, but little is described as to what that means. They are available in a variety of designs just like the Morin-Huur.com and Mongulai instruments. The headstock carving on some of these guitars is spectacular, which adds a nice touch. The morin khuur made by Sound of Mountain Music are mostly made of sandalwood, with a pine soundboard.
“Morin Khuur” Medieval Workshop
In addition to medieval music and instruments, the Medieval Workshop offers folk music. Morin Khuur is a relatively new product, but they’ve built a pretty good business selling hurdy gurdies, bagpipes, and other niche instruments on Etsy and Amazon.
They are definitely not a Mongolian company. They have added some non-traditional touches to their morin khuur. Their use of guitar strings rather than horsehair is indicative of this. Pure purists will balk, and it’s not an instrument for someone who wants a traditional experience. Yet, getting guitar strings in the US is a lot easier than getting horse hair morin khuur strings. If you’re just looking for an approximate solution to play around with, then this may be a good option.
How to Buy a Used Morin Khuur
You can save some money by buying used instruments. As a newcomer to morin khuur, however, you should be extremely careful when purchasing used. Make sure it is in good working order and will not require replacement parts or repairs. It might take you some time to notice any problems, especially as a beginner.
You should only buy from players who are experienced in morin khuur. You should ask for sound samples, videos, and extra pictures. Make sure that the file is fully playable. There’s a good chance you don’t have a morin khuur specialist near you!
When it comes to buying used items, eBay is by far the most popular option. It’s not common to see a used morin khuur for sale, but they appear occasionally. There are a few makers of new morin khuur on eBay as well. Before buying, do your research on eBay before placing your order. If you get scammed, there is some buyer protection, but many instruments are sold “as is.”
Collections of local colleges and universities
It’s worth checking out your local college for morin khuur if you’re interested in just trying it out. Instrument collections are available at many schools for the purpose of lending out hard-to-find instruments to students. The field of ethnomusicology is growing, and schools are offering lessons in non-Western instruments more and more. Perhaps you can borrow a morin khuur for a short time or even try one out.