Mother of Pearl on Shamisen?

I’ve got a question.

Has anyone heard, seen, or done some sort of mother of pearl design on a shamisen? could it even be done without destroying the sound quality?

I see it all the time on violins and other stringed instruments, but I’m not so sure it could be done on a shamisen.

Thanks guys!!


Welcome to Bachido, Karolyn!

People have done it on sanshin (the Okinawan version). Aside from some kanji on the tenjin, I haven’t seen any inlay on the sao. Being that it’s done on the sanshin, there’s not much reason why it couldn’t be done on shamisen. I think the main reason why it’s not done is because it hasn’t been done before… if you know what I mean. Just has to do with the Japanese paradigm more than anything else.

Hopefully we can change that. :slight_smile: I’d love to see inlay on shamisen.

I have seen really cool inlay on Tsugaru Shamisen while I was at the tournament in Hirosaki. I’ve spent the last 20 minutes looking for the photo I took of one of them, but I haven’t been able to dig it up. It was probably 3 or 4 years ago.
I’ll keep searching and I’ll upload it for you when I can!
I’ve aaaalways wanted more inlay for shamisen, and I agree that there’s no reason we can’t have more of it!

Hey Karolyn,

Welcome to Bachido! I haven’t seen inlay like we see on guitars on shamisen (Yet! Maybe one day that will change?) At any rate, here is a really nice example of Edo period shamisen decoration using Coral, Ivory, Tortoiseshell, Silver, Gold, and even Jade. drool

The shamisen was made by the famous Ishimura family. It is said this was the family to first apply the use of Ayasugi and Sawari on shamisen! Even though this shamisen was most likely a “decorative use only” sort of thing, it is still probably one of the most important instruments we have around from the Edo period.

I would really like to see some examples of mother of pearl inlay on shamisen, but the best I could find was a picture of inlay work on an ivory bachi… STILL SUPER NICE!

Gotta run now, but am curious to know if anyone else has any information on inlay and shamisen decoration.

Hope everyone has a good weekend!

OH, WOW! that is so gorgeous!

man, I’d love to have something like that…yeah, keep dreaming. I wonder how they inlay stuff like that, though?

super nice yeah bachi design that could really also be a cool way to go as for spicing things up design wise . . . Kyle, would be cool to have some bachis like that available in the store . . .

OMG, I would love to own a bachi as gorgeous as that…!

that bachi is a babe… i would love to own one like that

The bachi gets my vote too! Especially if that tenjin design is its running mate.

Ooh la la!

You guys want me to ask Masahiro to stock it? I guarantee that it won’t be cheap. :wink:
(There are some bee-ay-ootiful tsugaru bachi, Hiroshi Nitta’s in particular)

That would be awsome!! wonder if they accept lay-away…

While this isn’t common with the Okinawan sanshin, yes, I have seen them, but in only one shop. Mother-of-pearl sanshin can be found in a shop in Asato, Naha. I saw several of them in that shop. But, this is the Ryukyu sanshin, not one of the mainland’s shamisen. They took my breath away.