Necessity of skins


Hello, I’m planning on building my first shamisen, and would like some advice on the skins. I’m aware that calf, goat, and synthetic skins exist, however, I was wondering if I could just use a thin sheet of wood over the dou. You see, I lack a lot of money and materials, but I still want to build a decent shamisen. I simply can’t see myself putting a skin on the dou with my current knowledge and materials. So I would like to know it the wood covering would sound ok, or if there is an easier way of stretching a skin over the dou. Of course, which doesn’t require a large jig, extensive materials, and a lot of money. I’m all ears for any opinions I can get, any info could be useful for my first shamisen.

Thank you, Dan


Another note I forgot to add, this is my first shamisen, but not my first instrument. I have built a mandolin, dulcimer, and a couple of lyres. I hope that this might show my minimal experience. As well as how I’m a little bit willing to try some different techniques, as long as they’re not too expensive. But I heard that the skin on the dou accounts for some 80% of the instruments sound/tone. So I want to be able to go into this project not completely blind.


Hello there

You’re describing a Gottan.


A 木の津軽三味線, playing Jongara