I see a lot of questions here on Bachido about used shamisen on eBay and other auction sites (and have asked them myself). One thing that strikes me is that there are a lot of good or slightly abused shamisen - mostly nagauta or other non-tsugaru-style - for really, really cheap. For instance, @Norumba asks about one in this thread that he got for around US$30 shipped!! I’ve seen them that cheap myself.
My question is: Why? I’ve heard there’s a glut of used low-to-midrange shamisen in Japan, but what about the rest of the world? Is there just no conduit for these goods from Japan to other countries? Is it too expensive to buy them, patch them up, and ship them back out? There are lots of places in this world (including my house) where US$700 (about the minimum that I figured out I would have to pay) is too much for a new entry-level shamisen with no accessories.
Bachido/Kyle’s Made in Santa Cruz shamisen may go a long way to fix the problem of no affordable entry-level shamisen problem (for tsugaru shamisen, at least), but what about all those poor shamisen carcasses collecting dust in warehouses across Japan (I may very well be exaggerating the extent of the problem )? Can’t we, perhaps as a community, do something to get them into the hands of people who want them?