1st Shamisen build plans and advice seeking.



This May Seem presumptuous, but I would like to build a Modernized Shamisen as I can more easily afford the lumber.

I’m a woodworking student, and may possibly be carving a cnc v Guitar while I hand carve a Shamisen. I had a Spare board of Caribbean Rosewood lying Around as well as wenge.

As Far as Modernized, I’m trying to figure out a way to put a Guitar microphone Pickup Inside with easy access to a switch engaged bled pot and one other acoustic pickup inside. I would Rather not bother with a preamp as they are all geared for guitar, unless I bought one from Shamisen-Katoh. I think I would use an end pin preamp, also known as a power jack, unless anyone has experience with guitar preamps on Shamisen. I would order, but its easier for me to build right now.

Anyway I plan on posting pictures as I go along and I have my material marked for harvesting, to saw it into smaller pieces before I begin my rough cuts and carves.

Any advice would be appreciated. Please forgive my long list of plans. I will consider any advice and be very thankful and appreciative for it.


I started hollowing my Tenjin, May post in the coming week.


I may add a form of reinforcing the neck, I’m saving up to order “Shamisen of Japan” by Kyle Abbot.
I’m also wondering where he got the snake wood, its expensive everywhere I look. I can Find Caribbean rosewood and cocobolo cheaper, but the snake skin looks so cool, but hearing from him in the live stream(I’m the guy practicing shamisen scales on a down tuned Guitar) I may have to change the joinery with a few tenons if I Ever make Ito-maki out of it, nut not right now.

I have Macassar Ebony Pen blanks I plan on using for Ito maki, Maybe if I can get small pieces of pale moon Ebony so it contrast the Macassar.

I can get black ebony for the fingerboard.

I’m changing the neck construction, from Neck-thru-body, to Set-Neck on Heel-thru-body. Some Pale Moon would look nice around the heel.


You can find a set of plans at Guild of American
Luthiers website


Thank you. This may actually work better because I can make template for the final specs, which are what I care more about, since I will be changing construction to accommodate both material, reinforcement rides, probably a truss rod, and microphone pickup.

Thank you and it’s only $25 sounds good to me.


I’m a little late, but I’m still cutting out my tenpin, school…I have to catch up on my CNC lab and get banks cut for Thursday’s turning class.


Regarding the Pickup, I’d highly recommend a Transducer pickup.

Many of these pickups don’t require a pre-amp, which is a great thing, regarding the body structure of the shamisen. I even built one into my guqin.
You just have to glue them inside the dou, and pull the wire through the hole where the sao leaves the body, so the dou stays fully intact. afiting a preamp into an acoustic instrument can be a real pain…and most of the times you do more damage than anything else.

The Shadow SH712 or Harley Benton HB-T are good low budget options, with a really good sound quality. But before you really glue them down, you have to experiment a little, since the sound can be different, depending on where you positioned them.


I actually have an idea of how to fit the preamp, but I’m not building it 100% traditional to begin with, just that the end result plays traditional like a Tsugaru-jamisen, but yeah I’ve come up with an idea for a bracing to help me install the microphone pickup, otherwise it wouldn’t be posdible to install it in any Shamisen.


I would love to go for a blended system though.


I have an idea, an active blend pot for volume and end pin preamp.

I prefer the idea of an end pin preamp/power Jack. I can fit the battery compartment into the dokake.


Haven’t logged in for awhile, I’ll be ordering some steel or titanium fixed truss rods and a two way adjustable truss rod. Now to convince my friend Lanz to go to buy lumber after Christmas.i get a discount for buying a $100 worth.


Regarding pickups, I just use a $25 no name piezo split mic and just stick it to the skin on either side of the bridge with that putty you get from the hardware store for hanging posters on the wall. I duct taped the jack to the body and just run out to an external footswitch operated preamp that sits on the floor.

It works great. I don’t lose any resonance on the skin and I don’t lose any sound quality running through the amp.

Best $30 I ever spent.