Building a beginner shamisen is more expensive than buy a new one?

I have all the power tools required to build a shamisen but i don’t know if build one is less expensive than buy a new one.

Hello Riccardo!
If you have all the tools, I would believe that building it yourself comes a bit cheaper. However, there are several things that can affect the price such as what kind of wood you will use, skinning, will you make the metal parts, accessories, etc… In the end, it can be very time consuming and if things go wrong, also frustrating. But if you finish your own build, it is very rewarding.

On the other hand, you can get extra lucky and win/buy a nice shamisen in an auction. In a way, this could come cheaper and owning an instrument faster, plus the instrument would be made in Japan. The downside, you cannot check for any hidden flaws and most of the time you would still need to resking the instrument. The other things to keep in mind would be the cost of shipping and your country´s import taxes (if they apply).

If you compare a brand new instrument with a self-built one, then the build is definitely cheaper (as far as I know).

Another question is, are you more interested in the making or playing as soon as possible?

Good luck, whichever way you choose! :slight_smile:

Thank you so much, i think i will try to build one by myself

Riccardo, I think Stefanie definitely nailed it. A homebuilt shamisen can be as simple or as complex as you want, and you can make it as cheap or as expensive as you want too. Tools will add to the cost, as do materials, but one of the biggest prices you pay is really time. If you already have the major tools though, that definitely cut back some time and cost, which is a big help.

In my case, I have worked with both extremes. My first shamisen was built in high school with almost no hand tools, using cheap red oak from Home Depot. I think the total cost of the instrument (including tools, skinning, and strings) then was less than $150, and despite it being extremely crude, served me well to get started in learning shamisen for a number of years.

My next shamisen, which is the one I am finishing up now that I started about 5 years ago, Masamune, is the exact opposite in every way possible. I went all out on this, making this my ultimate dream shamisen. I had a lot of access to a professional woodshop in the local makerspace which was critical for all the layering and laminations used, as well as purchasing general hand tools. While I used a number of high quality exotic woods, which did add a bunch to the cost, the biggest cost has been all of the very special custom hardware I designed for this build. I could have gone without the hardware, which would have made the build cost less than one of the nice models offered on Bachido, but I figured if I am putting all this effort in with unique woods, and since I won’t be building another one, I might as well go all in on every aspect. All in all, this ended up costing much more than I anticipated first starting out, and at this point more than the models offered on Bachido. It has been an absolutely brutal process, and still has its frustrations now in the final finishing stages, but both shamisen were absolutely worth it.

Like Stefanie mentioned, it also depends if you want to start learning to play shamisen immediately, or if you are ok waiting and taking the time to build your own. Even now, it is getting harder for me to wait to start playing on Masamune, and if I stuck with it continuously I would have been done years ago. As much as I would have loved to just start playing with a pro grade shamisen like the Bachido Akatsuki though, I don’t regret taking the time at all to build my own unique shamisen.

Thank you. If you want you can send a picture of your first shamisen ( and the new one as well), only to let me see how it will look once done.

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Actually there is an entire thread I have been posting to under Build/Repair detailing my Masamune shamisen build, where you can see a lot of details and background about my newest build. It’s still not done yet, but in the process of wrapping it up now. I haven’t taken any pictures of my old one yet, but I will probably take a shot and post it there as well for comparison.

Thank you very much for your help