Hey there, this is my first post here. I hope this is the right place to ask this kind of question.
TLDR: How long does a new dog skin typically last on a tsugaru shamisen before it needs replacing? I live in a pretty humid (but not too hot) environment. Unfortunately I’m busy, so the shamisen won’t be getting very heavy use. Is it worth paying around 130USD more to get an artificial skin, for the extra durability?
I’ve been living in Japan for a year, and practicing the shamisen for about 6 months now. I’m returning to my home country soon and want to buy a tsugaru shamisen to bring with me. I’ve been eyeing up a 94,500yen (~850USD) shamisen. The store normally skins them in dog skin, but can use an artificial skin instead for an extra 15,000yen (bringing the total cost to 109,500yen or ~984USD).
I’m not unhappy with the dog skin (I’ve been playing on dog skin up until now) but I am worried about how long it will last. In your experience, how many years can I expect to get out of a new dog skin? If I can only get around 3 years out of the dog skin before it bursts or starts sounding unbearable, I’d upgrade to the artificial. If I can get ~7 to 10 years out of it, I’ll get the dog skin.
For reference, where I will be living is pretty humid, but not too hot (~80F in summer). Although I really enjoy the shamisen, I’ll be busy so won’t be able to play it more than a few times a week, so it won’t be getting a heavy amount of use.
Thanks for your help, and sorry the post is so long.