New shamisen beginner!


#1

Hello! My name is Rachele and I’m from Italy.
I’ve never played an instrument in my life and my music notions are at level 0. I really like Japan culture, and I practice Kendo and study Japanese language, so I want to introduce also Japanese music to my studies :slight_smile:
I’m interested in Nagauta style and in the Beginner Shamisen I saw in the shop. Someone can please tell me all the accessories I need to buy? It would be very helpful! Thank you :slight_smile:


#2

撥道へようこそ!:smiley:

Apart from the beginner shamisen itself, the beginner shamisen accessory set available on the same page right below it has most of what you’ll need to get started. Aside from what’s in that, you’ll still need a koma (bridge), and a bachi (plectrum). Those are also available below the main listing for the beginner’s shamisen, and for nagauta, the best available in this shop for a beginner would be either the wood or the plastic bachi. As for the koma, I play Tsugaru and use the 100% bamboo koma, but I would think for nagauta the bone tipped bamboo would provide a better sound.


#3

Hello, Rachele.

What Ian said is on the mark, but let me clarify a bit.

The Beginner Shamisen is where you want to start.

In terms of additional gear:

You’ll need the following:

Koma - Can’t play with out it

Strings - Can’t play with out it

Neo - Can’t play without it

I recommend

Start simple, go plastic or used.

A plastic bachi - Start Simple. Get one sized for Nagauta. It should be a little bit bigger than a tsugaru bachi but lighter. (Maybe 10 cm wide, 18 ~ 19 cm long)

A plastic koma - You want to get one at 3分 height at the least. Nagauta often uses up to 3分5厘. The plastic koma on the store here is sized at 3分.

You should invest in a

Yubikake / Yubi-suri - Makes playing easier but - Fingerless cotton gloves will work fine.

Kamigoma - Protect your tenjin from wear and tear.

Doukake - Protect the dou and skin from sweat.

Hizagomu - Minimize the change of the dou slipping from your leg.

You can get

Fujaku - position markers can be helpful in the beginning, but are ultimately a crutch.

Fumen/Bunkafu - Written music to practice with. If you buy the beginner’s shamisen, you’ll get a few lessons to work through and practice. While these will help you learn to play the instrument, they won’t be traditional nagauta pieces.

I’m a min’yo player, but I can help direct you to specific resources if I know what piece you want to learn.


#4

Thank you Ian and Christopher, now is more clear :slight_smile: Another question: the shamisen will come disassembled? Do I have to assemble all the accessories? Is it a thing that a non expert can do? Thank you very much!


#5

It’s a mitsuori (three piece) neck, so both the shamisen itself will come in pieces and the accessories (both necessary and recommended) will all come separate, but no need to be an expert to do it.

You’ll need to assemble the neck, which this video should help with. The joints make sense which they fit into, and if you make the same mistake I did with my first disassembled shamisen and put the neck on backwards, you can remove it by tapping the spike at the end until the neck dislodges :stuck_out_tongue:

Then you’ll affix the neo (the little rope tail) which just slides onto said spike protruding from the bottom of the shamisen. Insert the itomaki (tuning pegs) into the holes (I don’t know if they are on the beginners shamisen, sometimes they’re numbered 1 to 3 with dots to help) but the way you do it should match the picture basically.
The order matters a bit as the hole for the string is placed differently on one.

Then use this to attach and tie the strings; the shamisen in the video like the one above is Tsugaru, but the process is the same.

The doukake (arm rest body cover thing) should you get one (it comes with the beginners accessory pack) goes on the side of the shamisen where your arm goes overtop which this ought to help with.

The dou gomu (adhesive rubber pad so the shamisen won’t slip off your leg) is attached on the bottom as demonstrated here. It also comes in the accessory pack, as does everything I’ve mentioned so far that doesn’t come with the shamisen itself.

The fujaku (position marker strip) is attached as described here.

Finally the kamigoma (metal nut) is glued on as demonstrated at the timestamped part of this video.

I hope that helps!


#6

Thank you, just too kind!
I think I will afford all the necessary in one or two months. Just another question. A friend suggested me to buy from Kameya shop. What’s the difference between the Bachido beginner Shamisen and the Kameya beginner one? Do they also use FiberSen?


#7

You’re welcome!

I don’t know this for certain, but I would expect the beginner’s shamisen from Kameya would use the 90’s style plastic synthetic skin. That’s the one I started on and it’s very lackluster, sounds plastic-y and hollow, and not all that much like an actual shamisen in my experience. I could be wrong and that’s not what they use, but I’m sure the base model at least does not use fibersen.
The ones that are steps up from that would be the ones to use either natural or possibly a higher quality synthetic skin along those lines, but you’d have to ask kameya what skinning options they offer in that case.


#8

Thank you for the help!
I think I’ll go for the Bachido one. Just need to wait to have the money :stuck_out_tongue:
Meanwhile I’ll look at the theory :slight_smile:


#9

You’re welcome! If you have any other questions at any time feel free to ask :smile:
Good plan, have fun!


#10

Hello again!
I’m looking at the lessons here (I’m trying to figure out if I can do it, since I’ve never studied music before XD) and I noticed that are based on tsugaru style. I’m interested more in nagauta style, so where can I find lessons for that kind of style?


#11

Hey Rachele,

The fundamentals of shamisen are the same, whatever style you play in, but if you’re more interested in the particulars, you can find some videos on youtube.

As well, if you head over to the Bachido group on Facebook, you may be able to get in touch with other folks interested in nagauta.


#12

Hi! I have a nagauta shamisen and have taken many of the Bachido lessons they offer. (The easier ones for now as I am also a beginner)
Yes they are played on Tsugaru but they sound fantastic on any other shamisen too. The only difference you will notice is the power with which you strike the strings will probably be considerably less. (I think this is also good in order to preserve the shamisen as it has thinner leather on it.)

It is an amazing instrument, you will have a lot of fun!

Cheers!


#13

Thank you very much guys!

I was looking in Etsy and I found this:

It seems a good deal, since it has also FiberSen and all the accessories.
The doubt I have is that it’s a Chuzao, and I’ll need a Hosozao to play Nagauta style. Or not?
What do you think?

Thank you :slight_smile:


#14

To clarify, any time of shamisen music can be played on any subtype of shamisen. But the sound will be slightly different.

Nagauta is primarily associated with the (unsurprisingly named) Nagauta shamisen, but other versions are used in some pieces.

Regarding the difference between Nagauta and Jiuta shamisen:

Nagauta shamisen use a hosozao neck (2.3 ~ 2.5/2.6 cm max width) and a Nagauta body. They usually have a gentle curve where the neck meets the body. They generally lack an azumasawari.

A Jiuta shamisen uses a chuuzao neck (2.6 ~ 2.7 / 2.8) they usually have the more dramatic curve you see in your picture. They usually have an ichi bu go rin dai shamisen, which is two sizes larger than a nagauta’s body.To my knowledge, traditionally, true jiuta shamisen lack azuma sawari.

Your sonic take aways are:

A jiuta shamisen will have a larger ranger of playable notes due to the longer fingerboard.
A jiuta shamisen has a stronger bass response and a much louder upper limit to its sound due to the bigger resonator.


#15

Thank you Christopher!
Is there any specific video where I can hear the difference of sound between the 3 types of Shamisen?


#16

There’s a bunch if you take the time to look.

Here’s a little introduction by NHK blends

Nagauta

Jiuta


#17

hi! my name is cedric and i m from utah. i have started playing shamisen but i barely know any songs or techniques and i was wondering if i could be taught any shamisen skills cause there isnt any shamisen stores or any place that can teach shamisen in utah and i bought a shamisen from amazon and it has different strings than the ones i see people have and im wondering if it affect how i should learn how to play shamisen. if you could give useful information to me it would be a big help cause i wanna make a living from shamisen. thanks


#18

Hi Cedric,

Can you tell me a bit more about your instrument? Perhaps post a picture?

There’s good learning tools on the website. The bachido crash course that Kyle Abbott put together is great for getting started.


#19

This is what my shamisen form amazon looks like, it has a guitar sound then a shamisen type of sound and it came with the original Bachi, a booklet but it was all in Japanese, a tuner that Didn’t make any sense, a shamisen case, strings that are the same as in the pictures, two pairs of bolts and I think I have to put them onto the shamisen but it only came with two, a leg cloth and that’s all it gave


#20

But I am buyin a doukake and a skin protector and the ito string pack