advice for a beginner, interested in the shamisen.


If you have Skype, can you give me your ID, Matteo?


I also am a guitar player, but picked up a shamisen a while back. Now I use it full time in a band I’m in. I stil really can’t use a bachi all that well but I’m getting there. In the mean time, I just play it with a pick.

To me, it is just a fantastic instrument. I can get sounds out of it that I’d never get with a guitar, and all of the crazy resonating undertones remind me of an overdriven amp, which is perfect for me.

“i have some difficulties in defining what can be “japanese” music”

That’s what’s so good about it!


Hi Matteo and Welcome to shamisen world. Kyle already gave you the link for the lessons so it will help you a lot.

I also played classical guitar many years before my discovery for this awesome instrument. If you have questions and don’t get the answers you need, you can always try me.

You can send me a private message here or on Facebook. I think I am not too bad at helping people who have experience with other strings instruments and want to learn shamisen. But Kyle and the instructors have more experience at explaining clearly so you can trust them 100%.

Welcome again!


A learning list of videos/songs would be really helpful as I’ve suggested before!

But start with the basics. Getting Kyle’s book is a very good idea as you can learn a lot about the basics (just skip the construction parts) in a comprehensive format. The basic special techniques are “hajiki, uchi, suberi, and suri” so early on you should know what they are. Try them out - they are used A LOT in shamisen playing! Mastery takes some time and in my (limited) experience people who have decades on shamisen can make their hajiki for example much more impressive than players of considerably less experience.

Try to get used to the bachi as that is quite a powerful tool and an essential part of the shamisen playing experience. Correct grip/holding, relaxed grip etc are also very important but you will work on them over time. You will likely need an instructor or the help of an experienced player to nail it, but also you will progress just practicing on your own.

Once you have learned a couple of basic songs it’s time to resume your search for a frame of reference. A traditional way to do it would be to identify with a classical shamisen school that you take to represent “japanese music”. Tsugaru, nagauta and minyou/folk songs are major traditions/clusters and you should get a feel of each of those at the very least. Also different instruments go with each of these traditions - this site does a good job of describing the differences of these.

You might get some pointers from

but of course spending long hours on youtube might be more helpful.

Random notes on videos:

I agree that a new player easily gets lost in the (now pretty extensive) offering. Tsugaru pieces require an intermediate player I think and simple folk songs work the best in the beginning. The “Techniques” videos seem to actually be pretty advanced stuff and again would require (at least?) an intermediate player - maybe with the exception of Kyle’s videos, which I recall have some good advice even for a relatively novice player.

Some good videos early on are also

Yasaburo Bushi
Ringo Bushi

You learn best with a live instructor or maybe even a buddy to play with. This forum has functionality to locate members/shamisen players near you, so use it!


Most Chinese music:12356

Most Japanese music:13457

some Japanese music kinda alike Persian music to me.