Beginner Tsugaru Jamisen from Rakuya.com

I’ve been saving up to buy a shamisen for a while but am now unsure as to what to purchase. I am mainly interested in Tsugaru style. Initially, I was planning on buying a Bachido beginner shamisen but I think I would prefer purchasing a futozao tsugaru jamisen rather than a nagauta shamisen. I do want an instrument with a decent sound since I doubt I’ll be able to upgrade any time in the near future so I’m a bit conflicted.

I’m considering purchasing a beginner tsugaru jamisen from https://shami1000rakuya.com/item/7770/. Has anyone purchased a shamisen from this shop? Does anyone have the beginner tsugaru jamisen listed here? How is the sound? Can anyone compare the sound of this shamisen to the Bachido beginner shamisen?

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Hey there, welcome.

Shamisen Rakuya is based near where I live. I buy most of my accessories from them, and would generally trust their recommendations on instruments.

On the page you linked is a video with a demonstration of the instrument. It sounds about as nice as one might expect. While the artificial skin holds back the overall warmth and resonance, it isn’t bad at all.

It’s a bit difficult to compare to the beginner’s shamisen here, since the Bachido offering is a hosozao. The tone is, fundamentally speaking, going to be different. A futozao is always going to have a thumpier growl to it.

Nevertheless, you can hear a sample of the beginner’s shamisen on the store page here and compare them. To me, the beginner’s shamisen sounds better - but a part of that is the recording. Additionally, the Rakuya offering is skinned with a fairly standard artificial skin. I am not certain what skinning is being shown off in the Bachido video.

Cost is another question. While the beginner’s shamisen on bachido is notably cheaper (even with Hibiki) it doesn’t come with everything you need. The accessory set, which adds on another $134 will handle you there - but that really makes the prices comparable. ($684.90 vs $634 [Hibiki skinned]). Freight costs could make the difference utterly negligible.

:man_shrugging:

Either option is going to be good, I think. With the beginner’s shamisen you’ll miss out on the real “futozao” sound, but you’ll probably have a better starting quality. With the rakuya option, you’ll get something closer to the “real” thing, but you’ll be held back by the quality of the skin.

Thanks for your feedback!
I had listened to the the video on their site but it’s nice to hear someone else’s take on it too.
I hadn’t put it into words but that “thumpier growl” that the futozao has is something I really dig about this incarnation of the instrument. As you mentioned, once you add in the cost of the accessory set and possibly the shipping costs the prices start to look very close. I think I’ll be going with the futozao from Rakuya. I just don’t think I’ll be able to uprade to a nicer futozao anytime soon if I want to. If I stick with it though, I think I can swing having the Rakuya futozao shamisen reskinned with hibiki or maybe a vintage toned skin if I want to improve the sound. Thanks again for taking the time to comment it really has been a big help to me.

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