Pegs size difference?


Hello everyone!

I’ve been ghosting through the forum for a while, and after a long search on various websites which lead me to no answer I decided to finally ask here ^^

As I never had the chance to see a shamisen in real life and compare the different types, I can’t recognize a type when I see a pic of one. I was wondering, as all of them have different sizes, if the size of the tuning pegs was different from one type to another.

There are some rare occasions to put your hands on a really cheap tsugaru shamisen on Yahoo Japan Auction. The only problem is because of the materials used for some elements, like tortoiseshell for the bachi and ivory for the tuning pegs, which import is strictly forbidden in Europe. So the seller will not send the instrument with these. Finding a replacement bachi is not a challenge, but it’s more difficult for the pegs. There are a few sets of ebony pegs available, so I was wondering if any of them could be used instead of the ivory ones. As a tsugaru shamisen is bigger than the others, I tend to think that the pegs would be bigger too but I’m not sure.


(Can’t wait for the store later this month! Thanks for the effort Kyle, this is brilliant! :3)


Hi Elodie,

The sizes of the tuning pegs are different. The Tsugaru (Futozao) has a much bulkier set of pegs than the Hosozao and Chuuzao shamisen. Bachido Lesson 1, Part 3 goes over the three types and shows you the differences in size.

As for the material, I’ve heard ivory is the best, but I don’t know how much of a difference it really makes. My shamisen came with ebony pegs, and quite a few players use dyed-acrylic pegs in their shamisen for a cooler look, so in the end it’s really just up to your personal tastes. :slight_smile:

Hope that helps!


Of course that helps, you fully answered to my question. Thanks!

Ivory is out of the question for me, I would be too scared about the idea of the fine if the package was opened by the customs ;_; It’s true that some dyed-acrylic peg sets are damn cool. As I have a creative brain I think I’ll try to make some myself when I receive the book, as there are templates in it…

Dreams now of apocalyptic pegs with silver skulls on top of them…


Yeah, Denver is on point. Tsugaru Shamisen have the biggest pegs. Not every shamisen is going to be built the same, so you can buy some and file them to fit, or make some out of ebony blanks.
Ivory pegs (itomaki) are usually reserved for the leader of the group. I personally haven’t met too many players with ivory pegs.
Beyond the initial quality of the wood, (or acrylic) it’s all aesthetic choice.
My favorite that I’ve seen are these light brown wooden ones that are carved into a spiral. Also, the acrylic ones are really cool a well, but sometimes can have a harder time fitting in snug.


Do you know where someone would get the dyed acrylic pegs for a shamisen?


Holy thread necromancy, Batman!

Good on you for searching before posting.

Acrylic pegs are usually referred to as クリスタル on Japanese shops. You can definitely get them from the good folks at Shamisen Rakuya (, although they may not be on the website at the moment.

Bachido also has the LED raiki pegs, and some of the bachido specific instruments come with colored pegs.