My first Shamisen part 2


So I was working on my first Shamisen last fall, but never updated pics, truth be told time got away from me, it could have even been the end of my spring semester.

Anyway today I cut out some pieces of wenge to make the dou, except African padouk would be more traditional, I’m saving that for my guitar necks.

I’m preparing four dou blanks, but may just end up metering them with some wenge tenon, doing a blind mitter in the back, I still have a piece Intend to fuse to some chechen or Caribbean rosewood.

As far as the fingerboard goes, I’m thinking ebony or ziricote?

Want to try a neck of amara ebony though. With a royal (black and white) ebony fingerboard. I’ll wait until my second build to try that.

As for pickups, I’m thinking of classical active pickup from lr baggs.

Not going to lie, will need a lot of advice on the tenjin. And how to shape it.

Kyle’s book is extremely helpful. Fir getting back on track with building. I do want the bridge to be permanent though.

On a side note, I am also making a carved acoustic from the same piece on wenge.

Carved acoustic meaning an acoustic guitar built like a hollow body electric. Planning to use an electric tune-o-matic bridge with a dual piezo from lr baggs on that. One piezo in the bridge blank the other in the bridge itself. Might bring Shamisen design into it, like a tenjin style headstock any suggestions?

Also has anyone made locking tuners for Shamisen or just friction locked them. Thinking of using electric guitar tuners and nylon-steel strings or brass steel strings instead of the usual since I’ll be making the bridge permanent.

Any thoughts?


Hey there, Joshua.

I’m wholly on the playing rather than construction end of things (the builder folks will get to this post eventually, I’m sure) - but I can maybe lend a hand in directing you towards:

These install into the itomaki and help stop the pegs from slipping, thanks to the addition of a grommet. I’m not sure if they’d play nicely with metal strings though.

I’m also a little curious about how you intend to install a permanent bridge on the shamisen itself. Are you doing away with the skin?


Those thumb wheels seem like a nice idea, at least so that I can only remove the pegs for Maintaince and they don’t slide within the range if “wiggle room”. It’d actually a great idea because of microfossils we woidworkers leave to ensure a perfect fit.

As for the permanent bridge, no I’m not doing away with the skin just a cut away, after stretching it.


Just an opinion, but I think you would be better off not cutting the skin and just having a non-fixed bridge. Much of the sound is from the resonance of the bridge on the skin. If you pull that away, you are kind of creating a different instrument entirely. Aside from the very real issue of what to do when the skin breaks or comes unglued.

Banjos don’t fix bridges, and there’s a reason for that.

It sounds like you are trying to essentially make a three string guitar, which is fine, but you seem to avoiding what makes a shamisen distinct.

Just some opinions.


Also, I would just use pegs, traditional style. If you can get them to fit right (not difficult), they are every bit as dependable as machine tuners. Again, switching to a different style tuner will change the sound. Once you play for a while, you get used to the pegs and learn how to fix them when they start getting weird.


Chris, those nonslip things are not cheap!


Chris, those nonslip things are not cheap!

Real talk, right? It looks like they’re charging you for the whole itomaki.