Please help a new member


#1

Hi all,
I always wanted to learn how to play the shamisen but I just recently started looking online for more information. I’m so happy communities like this one exist and that it’s possible to learn with all the great videos online!

Looking over the posts very quickly, I wonder if anyone can give me a hand with the below?

  1. How much will it cost me (average) to have everything I need to actually start playing?
  2. It is worth looking online on Japanese site to buy shamisen?
  3. Anything I should watch out for?

I’m not going to lie, buying an instrument (that I have never played before) is a little stressful. It’s a lot of money and I’m not ever sure I’ll like it or if I’ll be able to play it. Any comments on this?

Thanks for all the help!


#2

I would like to purchase a shamisen this year so I’ve been running a lot of purchase ‘scenarios’ on paper and short of selecting a Beginner’s (nagauta) shamisen here on Bachido, I don’t really see how to purchase a tsugaru shamisen for less than $2,000 US.

Whatever the base price of the tsugaru shamisen you choose, add about $600-700 for:

  • Faux-Bekkou Bachi (plectrum)
  • Dou Gomu Shi-ru (non-slip rubber)
  • Doukake (cover)
  • Naga Fukuro (cloth slipcase for instrument)
  • Ito Set Pack (strings)
  • Koma (bridge)
  • Neo (tailpiece)
  • Yubikake (finger sleeve)

& shipping. (Actual shamisen owners please correct or update any errors.:slightly_smiling_face:)

You can be vigilant about watching for a used listing, but I’m very wary of places like ebay and reverb because instruments are often listed incorrectly (there is a sanshin listed on reverb as a “shamisen” as I type this) and the “condition” of an item can be very subjective. Even with reputable shops willing to ship overseas, in the event that there is a problem, either the language barrier or the distance can be a huge obstacle to resolution.

At the moment, I’m waiting to see what else Bachido produces. The Raven popped up not long after I began seriously weighing options, and Kyle keeps mentioning something called ‘Made in Santa Cruz’ on the Bachido Instagram.


#3

Thanks for the reply. Not sure how I feel about spending this much on something I’ve never tried before.
I’ll continue my research and see if there are cheaper options out there. I do not mind getting a cheaper shamisen just to try it out before spending more.


#4

I guess you can always get one of the cheap instruments on eBay just to see if playing the shamisen is something you’re going to like as much as to be doing it for years, only then I think you’ll be able to find out if it’s worth investing more money on it.

One important thing would be to know which of the additional parts are included in your purchase and if not, which ones you’ll definitely need and which ones are just an optional buy.

I can’t say much about this because I am in a pretty similar situation as you, never owned or played shamisen before and I’m waiting for some news to decide when to buy my first shamisen and how much money to expend on it.


#5

It is indeed something stressful to buy an instrument (something I’ve never actually touched before) and hope to learn online!


#6

I hear you on the stress. I took me a long time to figure out what to buy and I was super stressed until the day it came in the mail!

I got a really nice tsugaru shamisen on Yahoo! Auctions Japan for $620 plus $100 shipping. It took a while. It’s not easy to navigate the interface if you don’t know Japanese (I don’t), auctions tend to end in the middle of the night, and I guess you run a risk of getting a hunk of junk, but be patient and you can find something. I used buyee.jp and it made life a little easier.

One other lesson learned, buy all of your accessories at once. I bought a bunch of stuff and then realized I needed a dou gomu shi-ru. Now I don’t want to pay $20 to ship something that costs less than $10!


#7

Yup, already started to look on Yahoo! Auctions - that’s probably where I’ll buy it. Prices are reasonable and I know enough Japanese to understand what’s going on. If not, I’ll wait for my next trip to Japan!


#8

I missed the newsletter (I thought I was subscribed, but :woman_shrugging:t2:) so I didn’t see the write up for the ‘Made in Santa Cruz’:

https://mailchi.mp/165ccb730b4b/the-bachido-newsletter

It looks quite interesting. I look forward to Kyle’s post-ShamiCamp updates on it.