Choosing either the Beginner's Shamisen or the Shamibuddy

Hi! I am excited to finally learn the Shamisen and I have saved up money to finally afford one! I also have a friend of mine who is interested in learning the Shamisen with me so we can have duets together! However, due to the Coronavirus (CoVid-19) making us lose our jobs, we are low on money now, and have decided to not buy the more expensive ones (like the Sakura) until later on down the road.

But we have enough money for the Shamibuddy and the Beginner’s Shamisen, but we have several questions.

1.) I assume most people here have either one of those, so we’re interested in your thoughts on it. We would prefer very specific opinions on each part of them.

2.) We have been eyeing down the Shamibuddy’s mostly though since they have such a low price tag, but do they any major drawbacks?

3.) I do know for a fact that they are both the smallest size (Naguata), but we want to try every style of Shamisen playing, including Tsugaru. Would Tsugaru be alright with either of these Shamisens? If they both work, which one will be best for Tsugaru?

4.) If we settle on one of us having the Beginner, and one having the Shamibuddy, would they both sound good together in a duet?

5.) We have very musical friends, many of which play guitar and violin, would these Shamisens sound good playing together with any other instrument?

That concludes my questions for this topic. Thank you for responding! :slight_smile:


I own a ShamiBuddy, so I’ll try to cover your questions concerning this instrument with my personal experience :wink:

  1. So basically, I think what you get for the price is a very well made shamisen, that even has everything included to get started (with the best buddy set). The sound is actually quite good in my opinion. It isn’t as loud or clear as a japanese made tsugaru shamisen but it certainly fills the room. It’s not a quiet instrument.
    The skin is glued on very well, and you get it with the strings already installed. The itomaki feel comfortable, the overall desing is certainly a little simpler than the beginner shamisen, but it’s also a good looking instrument none the less.

  2. I wouldn’t say there are any big drawbacks, the beginner shamisen probably has a little bit of a different sound due to being built in the traditional way and with different wood. I think the ShamiBuddy has a chuzao sized neck, whereas the beginner shamisen has a hosozao sized neck. So the ShamiBuddy will probably be better for bigger hands. I could be wrong there though.

  3. The dou is nagauta sized on both, yes. But you can basically play every style on every shamisen, so that doesn’t really matter. Kyle recommends not to strike the skin on smaller shamisen too hard, I don’t if that’s also the case for the ShamiBuddy, but I also try to be a little more careful with it when playing tsugaru pieces.

  4. I don’t have personal experience with this, but I’d say it would sound good together. Those aren’t really different instruments anyway.

  5. Since the ShamiBuddy sounds pretty good in my opinion, and the Beginner shamisen does probably as well, I’d say they’d also sound good with other string instruments. You could maybe listen to some of the shamisen tracks that are online on this site. There are some good examples of Shamisen playing with other string instruments.

Hope I can help a little!

1.) See below. :slightly_smiling_face:

2.) I don’t mind the stylistic difference (straight tenjin, light color) and I don’t need a three-piece neck so I am perfectly happy with a ShamiBuddy. If I had two tiny wishes it would be that it had zagane (Beginner Shamisen has this) and built-in sawari (BS doesn’t have this). The zagane because I think it might make tuning a little easier (for me), and the sawari just because. :smile: However the parts and labor for installation would add considerably to the price so I understand why they’re not standard.

To add to what Luke said about the ShamiBuddy’s Chuzao neck (28mm according to Kyle’s measurements), most of the Tsugaru shamisen offered on Bachido are 28.5mm or 30mm (Futozao). I don’t know the specific measurement of the BS’ neck but to be classified as Hosozao it’s 26mm or less. Some musicians adapt easily to the change, others don’t.

3.) You can play Tsugaru pieces. A smaller dou means they won’t be as loud as a Tsugaru shamisen (SB are probably not a good size for busking :performing_arts:) but it’s very loud inside a house or apartment. At least that’s what my housemates complain to tell me.

4.) Unless it has a feature you really need that the SB doesn’t, I don’t see the draw of spending more on a BS—it’s still not a Tsugaru shamisen which it sounds like you were hoping for before this pandemic upended everyone’s plans. I would rather put money towards a better bachi.

5.) With the right arrangement, sure. :smiley:

Violin & Shamisen:

Guitar & Shamisen:

Thank you for coming to my TedTalk. :rofl:

Alright! Thanks both of you! We have decided on the Shamibuddy since it seems to be loved by most of the people here. Thank you :slight_smile: We will order it later on.

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