Never played shamisen, need purchasing advice


I’ve been wanting to purchase a shamisen for awhile, but my dream last night where I finally played one has solidified my decision to get one.

Originally I wanted to get the Beginner Shamisen, but I learned that it is different from tsugaru shamisen. Is the only difference the thickness of the neck or are other parts smaller as well?

Also, what’s a good place to look for a used shamisen as someone residing in the US? I tried searching around on Buyee but no results came up.

The reason I’m asking these are because there are accessories in the Bachido store that I would like to purchase for whatever shamisen I end up getting, and I want to be sure they are compatible in size and whatnot

Thank you!

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As @Patrick_Younes linked, there are some additional resources here on Bachido that will make things a bit more clear!

Beyond that:

Shamisen divide into subtypes based on a few key characteristics, neck size, and body size. Without getting into too much detail the smallest shousun (正寸) or full size instrument is a nagauta.

The beginner’s shamisen is a nagauta made of karin wood. Nagauta shamisen have the smallest body, the highest tone, and the thinnest neck (generally 2.3 cm - 2.5cm). While typically associated with kabuki, they are also used in schools and as introductory instruments due to their relatively lower cost.

A tsugaru shamisen is a kind of futozao shamisen. Tsugaru shamisen generally have among the largest bodies, a thunkier, growlier tone; and, in modern times, the widest necks (typically >2.8 cm).

If you want more data on the difference in body sizes, feel free to click the link in my profile.

The subtype of instrument you get has little bearing on the kind of music you can play on it, but will color the sound.

Most accessories can be used with any kind of instrument, but care must be taken with neo, doukake, tenjin caps, and strings. Differing tenjin, neck, and dou sizes may preclude certain options. Strings are limited by the size of the holes in the itomaki (pegs).

As for buying the in the U.S., you’re highly limited. The Bachido store is the safest choice. Some JP shops will also ship abroad, such as Rakuya (

There are proxy-buyers for auctions, but I cannot comment on them. Always use care when buying from auctions.

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Thank you! I was wanting to get a tsugaru because I wantes to get one of the doukake sold here on the bachido store, and those only fit size 5 sao. I will definitely check out rakuya and see if I can find a shamisen of suitable size, as the beginner shamisen is too small and the available tsugaru shamisen on bachido are outside my budget

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I talked to the owner of Rakuya and he helped me decide on this Tsugaru Shamisen set. I’ll be buying any other needed accessories from Bachido. Thank you for the advice everyone!

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That Futozao looks good, imo since is a nobezao is good if you’re going to use it at home or close distance traveling since travel with a nobezao might be a headache.

Have fun🎶