New Shamisen Player!


I’m happy to be a part of the community!

I’m brand new to the Shamisen scene.

I bought a Shamisen [ The Suzuki brand - Beginners Shamisen ]
Without knowing there were better ones here.

Oh well, too late! D:
I hope I will be able to learn just as well on this instrument.

I will eventually save up for something else here later, once I feel confident enough to move on from this one.

Please do let me know any tips or tricks as a noobie! I would really appreciate it!
I don’t have anyone here in my area who can teach me how to play, but I will be using the resources here to help me along.

Thank you!


Something like this?

It’s fine to start on. The synthetic leather will not be as resonant or sound completely correct, but you’ll be able to practice just fine.

Use the bachido school house to get an idea of playing. The crashcourse will run you through a few basic playing techniques as well as tsugaru phrases. Youtube also has a large number of videos that are geared towards beginners if you can Japanese a little, and a smaller number if you can’t.

The only real tip I’ll give you is to play every day.

Every day.


Yeah, that’s the one!
That is okay! I expected as much!
I’m happy I’ll just be able to practice on it until I am comfortable.

Thank you!

Every day! Got it! :smiley:


Kyle’s book is absolutely fantastic for beginners!


Thank you for letting me know!

Any and all material to help me out is very appreciated!


You are very welcome! Also, don’t worry about the quality of your shamisen right now. Get to know what it feels like when you play it, learn the positions of all the notes (ongoing battle), and how to properly strike with bachi. There will ALWAYS be a better shamisen out there, no matter what you or anyone else has.

Also yes, the courses on Bachido are also great. Look up Kyle’s songs first. In my opinion they are the best for beginners. Not that the other ones are no good it’s just that the other instructors cater to slightly more experienced players. (my humble opinion)
Definitely check out the crash course, one of Kyle’s videos, and you’ll see how the rest of his lessons are structured.



That is good to know!
I’ve been practicing every day on the notes and positions that is for sure!
I really appreciate the encouragement!

I’m trying to go through Kyle’s crash course slowly, letting it all sink in before moving on.
So far, so good!

How long have you been playing?
What kind of Shamisen do you have/like to play?

Also I have an interest in the Raven Shamisen here.
From my understanding it comes in the medium and large size.
I am learning on the smallest size, would that be an issue down the road if upgrade to the Raven?
Or would it just take some getting use to?

Thank you so much for all your help! I really do appreciate it!


My pleasure! :slight_smile:
It’s funny you mention it, I just ordered a Raven yesterday! Originally, I own a nagauta and i love it. I got it from my mother in law from Japan and I’ve been playing for roughly a year. It’s a challenge to get started as, other than Bachido, there is not that much reference in English. Combine that with living in a non major city and things just got even more challenging. But challenge accepted! :slight_smile:
I play both, Minyou songs and Tsugaru. I enjoy the calm, soothing notes of traditional minyou songs and music but then I also like the loud, fun, tsugaru sounds. I am a little worried playing rough on my shamisen as it is not of tsugaru style. haha.
I recommend you use the one you have at the moment, see if you even like it, and take it from there. If and when you decide to switch to tsugaru it will just be a larger, fatter, louder instrument.
I will post some photos when the Raven arrives and let you know how it goes.



Oh my goodness! That is fantastic!
I completely relate on all those challenges, but it won’t stop me.

That is great! I would be worried too, haha.
I’m so delicate with mine right now but I am assuming that is because I am so new to it.

I noticed playing with the bachi is my biggest challenge at the moment.
So I go through the measures with my fingers, then do it with the bachi.

The other challenge comes with the bachi hitting the skin, I’m still trying to grasp the idea of that.

Of course! I will keep up with the one I have!
I can’t afford the Raven anyway, not at the moment haha! :smiley:
I consider it my dream Shamisen for now.

Please do! I love that instrument so much xD
It’s gorgeous, sounds amazing, and has all my favorite colors.

What skin option did you get?


I went with the black hibiki. Not that I have anything against the natural skin but I travel a lot for work and not having to worry about the skin loosening due to humidity is huge.
As for the bachi issue, don’t worry too much. There are videos here on Bachido that will help you figure it out. Think of your shamisen as not just a stringed instrument but a percussive one too. It takes some practice but after a few weeks or less, you will see improvement. Do you have a plastic or a wooden bachi. I hated the plastic one as it was really no fun at all playing. It felt like an ice scraper and you could hear this awkward sound of the strings hitting it and buzzing off. (hard to describe, haha)
I have a wooden one which gives me a great sound quality and it feels good in my hand. I also have a fake bekkou (the turtle shell) that I scored when I went to Japan. By all means my favourite. It’s a softer material which makes the sound, how to describe it, gentler perhaps. But they can be expensive so wood is the way to go in the beginning.
I also recommend a fujaku. It is a sticky tape you put on your shamisen (on the side of the sao) that will tell you positions of all your frets. I use it as I don’t have too much experience with the higher notes. Like 9 and +


I may go with the same if and when I do decide on getting the Raven.
Where I live tends to get super humid…and I mean like… unbearably so.

I believe my bachi is resin and wood. [ I can provide pictures if needed?? ]
I’ve heard that about the plastic ones!
And lucky, I was just looking at the bachi that are here in the store.
How was the trip to Japan? [ I would seriously love to go! ]

Oh! I do have the fujaku. THANK GOODNESS.
Because I would be lost without it for sure. xD


Yeah the humidity can definitely affect the natural skin. I believe different glue is used on the synthetic one which will not be affected by the changes outside or inside your home. I bought a little drum when I was in India and the hide loosened up so much when I got back to Canada that it is now just a paperweight (and a cool story piece)
Japan is awesome. I go there at least once a year as my wife is Japanese so we go visit our friends and family over there. Love it. Love the food, love the drinks, people are awesome, country is beautiful. :slight_smile:

haha, here is a video of Mika and I practicing our shamisen/acrobatic skills. haha

Oh, also, (and I hope Kyle doesn’t mind me putting this up for you but check out

You will have to use a japanese keyboard to get the proper search result though. You can just copy and paste this into the search: 津軽三味線

You will see manu used tsugary shamisen AND associated parts.

Some they do not ship overseas but some they do. It’s sort of an ebay. I bought my fake bekkou bachi there, used for $70. hehe.

I hope I am not stepping on anyone’s toes here. Just helping out Bachido friends! :):smile_cat::smile_cat::smile_cat:


Yeah, darn that humidity!
Oh goodness, no! Poor drum!
Ahh, you went to India, too! Another place I would love to go to.

So lucky! I’m glad you are able to go as frequently as you can.

That video is awesome! :smiley:
Great playing and your wife has such beautiful hair!

Thank you for the website, I will keep it handy!!

I’m thinking about buying a koma here in the Bachido store to mute the volume of my Shamisen.
I live with other people so practicing can prove difficult when I’m trying not to disturb others around me.


Hehe, I travel for work. Some places friendly, some not so much. India was an eye opening experience and I promised to return someday.

Koma will not mute your shamisen. Shinobi koma will. But that takes away from the overall experience. I am sure your room mates will forgive you while you learn. As long as you treat them to some awesome music later on as a thank you. :slight_smile:
I had a plastic one in the beginning then swithched to the bamboo/ bone. You can definitely tell the difference.

Oh, do you have an iphone? There is an amazing app called shamisen tuner!
I use it all the time. Sadly, not on android


and thanks for the comment on the video! She is awesome!


That is awesome!

Shinobi is the one I meant, I just forgot to edit it lol
I feel like it would take away from it, especially after listening to the example video in the store.

I’ve been thinking about nabbing a bamboo one soon.

I don’t have an iphone, I do have a snark tuner though.


Ah, that will work! I am looking forward to hearing you play someday!


I bought a beginners shamisen from Kyle–I adore it and having NO musical background but a love for this instrument ,im chipping away at learning…Dont be discouraged by the quality of your shamisen-Just start learning -get the basics and proper techniques down-The site has videos that are very helpful and maybe you have a shamisen teacher near you-if not I’ve heard of some great teachers offering lessons vis Skype, etc… One day I hope to upgrade but for now I just want to learn it…Good luck and Welcome to Bachido


Hi Mandi, I’m new too, we can learn together! As soon as I get my used shamisen into playing condition ha ha!


Yes I took time to do so too! Have to re string old silk strings soon. Welcome and whats on your list?