Improvised shamisen strings (when you can't get them)


#1

I don’t live in Japan and can’t get things shipped from Japan to here.

Is there anything that I could use as a string in a pinch? Like things that can be bought at hardware stores, etc.

I have run out of 2nd strings and have a show in Friday.


#2

I’ve read that fishing line could work, as long as the thickness is relatively the same as your ito. A quick search should get some dimensions. You might want to play around with the different thicknesses to make sure they fit in your itomaki nicely and sound good. Good luck!


#3

Probably try to tie fishing line to the end of what string I have left and roll it onto the itomaki.


#4

I’m pretty sure shamisen Katoh does international shipping. Why not send him an email?

I can ship them for you if you trust me with pay-pal or something. (I promise I wont steal your 1000 or so yen… :p) According to JP post website its just 290 yen to send a “small package” to Kenya.


#5

Luke,

Thank you, that’s kind. If I lived in a country with a dependable postal system, I would just order them, but unfortunately, I live in Kenya. No guarantee that it would actually get to me haha.

Thank you.

Pete


#6

Hi Pete,

Did you ever find a replacement for shamisen strings?
I’m thinking of trying nylon guitar strings and seeing if that will work.

Thanks in advance,

Alex


#7

I have used (and still use for that matter) nylon guitar strings on my shamisen before, both for the first string and the second string. It has a warmer and slightly different tone than twisted silk strings, but I think they work great. I forget the exact sizes I use for the first and second strings, but they should be standard nylon classical guitar string sizes - I just brought in the silk strings for size comparison when buying them at a local music store. They are dirt cheap, and while a bit on the short side, they last forever. I have been using them nearly exclusively now on my cheaper shamisen to save money on silk strings. I have also made my own twisted synthetic strings from nylon, polyester, and kevlar as well, but these aren’t really something that someone would use in a pinch, since it takes some extra equipment and a lot of practice. But I would say that monofilament nylon classical guitar strings are a great alternative to silk strings, regardless if you need them in a pinch or not.


#8

Braided nylon fishing line works pretty well if you can find it there.


#9

I have had success using even the lowest grade fishing line.


#10

I’m convinced that nylon classical guitar strings are simply the lowest grade fishing line with a 5000% markup


#11

They are.