Chord & Scale Charts for Shamisen


Bachido member Denver Norwood contributed his charts for those who are into scales or who want to learn chords on shamisen. These PDFs are a wide variety of scale charts (minor scales, blues scales, gypsy, greek, etc) and a Chord chart.

Note: These are Denver’s own works. They have neither been checked, corrected nor offered by Bachido in any way. I am uploading the links for now until we set up the website for people to upload images/files themselves. Also, scales are quite advanced (even I barely understand the theory), so if you are a beginner reading these, don’t be discouraged if you can’t understand them.

And without further ado, here they are!

Minor Scale -

Major Scale -

Blues Scale -

Greek Scale -

World Music Scales -

Japanese Scales -

Japanese Scales (cont) -

Chord Chart -


Because I never wrote it down on any of the pages, I need to put a little explanation on what my charts mean. :slight_smile:


So first off, I’ve diagrammed these in the middle of the fingerboard as moveable chord forms, instead of open forms at the nut. I’ve drawn out the bars and I’ve noted that they can be interchangeable with the nut, so that open forms can also be played. In addition to that, I put Roman numerals for fingering info. I also color-coded the root, because the chord is named after the root note. So, whatever note the root is on becomes the base note of the chord. (i.e. When the root of the major form is on G, the chord becomes a GMaj chord.) That way, any chord in the category (major, minor, etc.) can be formed from this one chord shape, instead of me drawing out every imaginable variation.

I was unable to diagram more advanced chords like maj7 and min7 because higher level chords require four or more notes to distinguish themselves from the more standard chords. Seeing that the shamisen only has three strings, these chords would either have to be played as arpeggios or in a duet, with one player playing the base chord and the other playing the accented notes over it. So, I left these out and did four of the more common chords that only require three notes instead.


I’ve color-coded most of the important notes in the scales, and the forms will work for any key, you just need to change the shamisen’s tuning. I’ve also double and triple checked each of the scales, so I’m pretty certain that they’re accurate and free of careless errors. :slight_smile: I did have to name a couple new positions, specifically “9#” and “13#” in order for some of the scales on the chart to work, but I don’t think that should cause an issue. My shamisen still only goes up to 21, with 21 being the 2nd octave.

And my handwriting is awful, so when the legend looks like it says “67th” and “63rd,” I mean flattened 7th and 3rd. It’s supposed to be a “b”. :slight_smile:

If you have any questions, feel free to message me. I’ll be happy to answer whatever you’ve got! :slight_smile:


Wow great stuff!!! I appreciate it :slight_smile: Your only 16? im 17. We a lot of time to get better !!! I’m making a video soon and i hope you will too.


I have no idea what I’m looking at, but I downloaded them all and made a word doc out of your post anyway Denver. I’m sure this will come in handy when I get a shamisen and start to play decently! Thanks in advance!


Thanks man, glad you like it! :slight_smile: Yeah I know, we have plenty of time to practice! Definitely, I’m gonna try to put together a few guitar and shamisen vids for Youtube sometime this week.



Once you start playing and getting used to the feel of the shamisen, it’s not too bad. I tried to make the charts as visual as possible, so that it’d be a little bit easier to pick up. Hopefully these will help you out when you get started! :slight_smile:


Thank you for making these Denver!


these charts are great,
thanks a million!!


Wow, this is totally bad ass!
Even a long time player like me is benefitting from these notes!
About circa 4 years ago, Mike Penny developed a chord chart that he showed me. Sadly I haven’t seen it since then.
Thank you!!


Thanks guys! I’m really glad to know that y’all are finding the charts helpful! :smiley:


Kyle this files are unavailable. Would you upload this files again please?


Hi Decio,

Hmm… I can’t find them on my computer. :-S Denver, do you have the originals, perhaps?

In the meantime, I would check out Karl Hedlund’s Shamisen Scale Viewer. It’s very, very useful. :slight_smile: -


I should really close down the old site.

has more functionality.


But has it been tested? :wink: I think there was some issue in the Composer part, so I went back to the old one, should really check if I can see it again and report it.


The old composer has quite a few bugs. I’ll probably find some time in the coming weeks to fix some stuff.


Karl… have the links changed for the composer? I click them and it basically says the domain name is parked on the host… but no site.


Hi Tina,
Unfortunately, Shamisen Composer hasn’t been renewed due to lack of use from users. Hosting the online resources costed a chunk of money, so the change is totally understandable. But we’re trying to beg him to create a desktop version so he wouldn’t have to deal with hosting and security updates. :stuck_out_tongue:


So there’s no way to get these anymore… and Karl’s Scale Viewer is down? Dark times these are…


Kyle, the scale viewer is simple javascript with just a few details that could easily be changed into php. If you could convince Luke to take it in at Bachido I’ll gladly send you the code.


Bachido member Denver Norwood contributed his charts for those who are into scales or who want to learn chords on shamisen. These PDFs are a wide variety of scale charts (minor scales, blues scales, gypsy, greek, etc) and a Chord chart.

Hey, old post I know but any chance you could re-up these? (404)