I just got my first shamisen. It came with a plastic bachi. I learned, almost immediately, why these are frowned upon. I’m looking for some good places to purchase a better one, online (or in the San Diego area, where I live). Any suggestions?
I’m also very interested in this so thread subbed.
If I may ask Maxine, what was it about the plastic bachi that made you realize so quickly that it is suboptimal particularly since this is your first shamisen? I am anxiously awaiting my first as well.
The lack of flexibility in the plastic bachi makes it almost impossible to do any tremolo picking. I compare it to a heavy guitar pick vs a light guitar pick. A light, flexible pick “glides” over the strings better. A heavier, more brittle pick tends to get caught on the strings.
I know exactly what you mean. I’ll keep my eye out.
Personally, I swear by the faux-bekkou bachi from the Bachido store. It’s expensive, but it looks, feels, and sounds just like the real thing, and it doesn’t involve any real tortoises!
Other options include going through a specialty shamisen/wagakki shop like E-Kameya or YouFour or something like those shops. Ebay sometimes has a nice bachi too, but that’s pretty rare.
The thing to watch out for is that if it’s real bekkou, it’s illegal to import into the U.S. So, if I were you, I’d go for faux-bekkou.
Hope this helps!
You can look into faux bekkou at the bachido store
You can occasionally find other options on ebay or yahoo auctions; but take great care with importing actual tortoise shell or ivory.
Other online options include:
E Kameya (Definite Internation Shipping)
Sansui-en (The Owner Speaks English, not sure about international shipping)
Flexibility and weight are largely a function of preference and strength. Some of my co-workers who play prefer heavier picks, others tend towards lighter examples.
Personally, I like something in the middle. It’s fun to break out the jiuta behemoth from time to time though~
Also, I don’t think it’s worth stressing over gear in the beginning - beyond finding a bachi weight and size that you’re comfortable with.
I think I like the weight behind it. Makes it easier to keep a light grip on it. My hands are on the smaller side, so I will probably want something a bit smaller than my current one. I’m not too terribly picky about all the details right now, but I definitely want a better bachi than this glorified putty knife I currently have.
The etsy entry says the bachi weighs 110g or so, right? That’s pretty light. It does look to be nagauta sized, however. You could go smaller by looking at tsugaru style pics which tend towards being the lightest standard style.
(There are actually smaller, extremely specialized ones, used for kouta and jiuta)
One question as well: does your bachi have a sticker on the underside, Maxine?
It’s light?? Wow. Feels pretty substantial, to me. I actually might still want a heavier one. As for a sticker, that bachi does not have one. All it has is “bachi” scribbled on the end of it in katakana.
Yep. It’s pretty light!
As I mentioned on another post somewhere, bachi occasionally have a maker’s sticker on the bottom of it.
One of the better plastic models is labeled with an elephant, as it’s meant to simulate ivory.
Others are marked by size labels (occasionaly, S/M/L other times 20 - 50 in increments of 5).
I started on a 40 since it’s what my teacher had on hand. Those are around 175g, I think. I’d need to track it down to be sure.
I saw a faux ivory one on Ebay. Are those any good?
I somewhat misspoke earlier.
To be clear: a Tsugaru bachi might actually be heavier than the bachi you currently have, though it will likely be balanced differently and shorter.
I don’t use faux bekkou or acrylic, so I cannot comment on their relative dimensions better than whatever the store’s listed dimensions are.
Now I wish I had a bunch available just to see what I like…
If you link the auction, I can give you an idea.
If it’s a 白象, then they’re not bad. They’re very common in my neck of the woods as a starter bachi because they’re relatively cheap compared to more traditional options.
I found a few listed. The box on this one claims to be 白象. Looks rather like what I have…
Look at this on eBay http://www.ebay.com/itm/272713724875
That’s a shirozou.
Looks like the Jiuta variant, which would mean it’s big one. According to this shop’s listings
It’d be 240g.
Oh! Unless I’m mistaken, judging from the picture on the Bachido Shop 白象 is the brand of plastic bachi carried by the store here.
Also, you may have a 白象. Just look for a small elephant on the handle somewhere.