advice for a beginner, interested in the shamisen.


hi everyone
i am basically a guitar player and i collect instruments from all around the world. i have several stringed instruments (indian sitar, turkish saz, italian mandoilin, chinese liute, peruvian charango…) and i can play flutes and some other instrument.

i recently bough a shamisen in japan but still i had not found anything regarding some “traditional playing technique” for beginners. i had a look at bashido school videos but they are really a lot and i got lost!

i play pretty well the (electric) guitar and i’m at ease with the shamisen but, right now, i play it mostly like a guitar and i found myself to apply a somewhat “chinese” style to the shamisen, so that the melodies i came up with are somewhat typical chinese! :open_mouth:

i have some difficulties in defining what can be “japanese” music… on the contrary while i was i china i immediately defined what is “chinese music”! :smiley:

so, what i’m looking for? well, that’s difficult to understand even for me!

i would like to get an insight of some typical playing techniques, that differentiate the shamisen from a simple guitar, for example, and also some traditional easy, japanese song.
can you give me some advice?
i will happily pay for some good video or book explaining me the basic of shamisen technique. i am not interested in the use of shamisen applied to “western” music and i don’t want very “advanced” video

i don’t want to become a shamisen virtuoso and i admit shamisen will never be my main instrument, but i like to learn something with each instrument of my collection, because i compose my own song and like to record myself.

to give you an example, this is my latest project:

i really look forward to use the shamisen in my next song but i don’t want it to sound like a “cheap” guitar! :slight_smile:


Unfortunately, I can’t help you because I don’t play shamisen
I listened to your album, Matteo. Have you played all the ethnic instruments?
I love world music :)??


thanks for the reply, appreciated!
yes, i played and recorded everything. all you hear and see was made entirely by me! :slight_smile:


E possiamo parlare in italiano noi due, oppure è meglio di no, perché sennò poi la gente non capisce?
It’s because I am Italian and Matteo is too!


magari meglio non parlare in italiano qui… non sarebbe cortese
better not to speak italian here, it would not be polite! :wink:

but we can get in touch by email! :slight_smile: just visit my website to get it


I know, but it was only because you are Italian
It would be very interesting if we can get in touch, because I have a project to!
What shamisen type have you bought? I. E. Tsugaru, jiuta, nagauta, gidayu…


of course we can get in touch! :slight_smile:
Regarding my shamisen, honestly i have no idea! maybe if i post a picture someone can help?
it was the only (and cheapest) used shamisen i can find in Nagoya, where i bought it…


Can you also post a sample of you playing something? It’s because I am blind


you can go my bandcamp account

or to soundcloud:

i still don’t have recorded anything saerious with the shamisn, beside this little test:


wow that’s a lot of instruments and cool clips . . . !


Hi Matteo! Welcome to Bachido! :slight_smile:

That’s awesome you have picked up the shamisen! I’m sure that with your wide instrumental experience, you will have no problem with it after getting the basics down. :slight_smile:

Please check out my free video crash course (, which teaches you a basic Japanese folk song, and all of the standard shamisen techniques as well. It’s near the bottom of the Schoolhouse page, and so is probably easy to miss. :wink:

After learning the basics with that course, you can learn more Japanese songs in the ‘Songs’ section of the Schoolhouse.

If you’d like a book to read, Shamisen of Japan also offers some nice instruction (for both building and playing shamisen) -
However, it’s best used after the Crash Course, as it’s a wee bit more advanced.



I think the music you made was like a Chinese pièce


thanks for the advice! i will have a look at the video!


Matteo, but how did you learned all these instruments?


I learnt flute, some keyboard and how to read music when I was young. Then I took some electric guitar lessons when I was at the university.
All the rest is self thought!


Seriously? Wow!
But what program do you use to record?


Hi Matteo. No offense, your work reminds me Stephan Micus. Is he a part of you influences ?


Hi there!
Patrick, no i did not know Stephan Micus, but i’m listening him right now and the music is quite cool! thanks for the spot on!

Sakura, yes, seriously all self though, even if the basis from flute and guitar helped a lot! :slight_smile:

I use sonar as my main recording workstation, i have a quite cool setup at home!


I’m Learning how to use it from a blind friend called Andrea


Matteo, it’s cool to hear from you here on bachido. Look forward to hearing what you do with shamisen in the future. Feel free to hit me up on Skype anytime.