Position Markers


Hello everyone! I was just wondering if anyone knew how to use position markers for other types of shamisen? I just bought what looks like a Jiuta style shamisen, and I’m assuming the positions would be different from that of a tsugaru type. I have also heard that the sao joints can be used as a reference, but I’m not sure how to do it.


Actually the length of jiuta shamisen is very close, if not the same as tsugaru and nagauta shamisen. For these you can use the Fujaku, sold in the shop.


On my shamisen the sao joint is exactly on position 4 when I have adjusted my koma to be a little more than 3 fingers from the edge of the dou. The other joint close to the dou is at position 14.

I played with a Fujaku in the beginning but removed it. When I arrived in Japan for practice my fellow Bachido members told me to at least use something on position 10. If you want to go without positions then that does help a lot as you get a reference for the nearby notes.


Like everybody said, if you have a fujaku (ruler or position indicator) you can just line the four up on the top joint and position one should be pretty close to the joint of the head and fourteen should be pretty close to the bottom joint. Shamisen can vary a little in length so it may not be super exact, but the fujaku is just to get your fingers close to the right spot anyway. If you did not have a fujaku, but did have a tuner, it is pretty easy to figure out as each position is just a half step from each other with just a few exceptions (there are some sharps and flats in there, I do not know if all fujaku show them). Below is how a fujaku with every position is marked, with one closest to the head and 18 closest to the body.

1 2 3 # 4 5 6 7 8 9 b 10 11 12 13 # 14 15 16 17 18

So if you had a tuner, you can tune the string something like a C3 on first string or a C4 on third string, put your finger at the joint where the head attaches to the neck, move your finger around till the tuner shows half a step higher than the open string (C# in example). That is position one, go up half step for position two, etc. following the positions listed above.

I tend to recommend to people to not get too use to position markers as the more dependent someone becomes on them the harder it is to get rid of them later, but it does make the beginning a lot more enjoyable. Shamisen go out of tune very quickly so you cannot really rely on the markers to have good pitch. After a while people tend to play more in tune without the markers as they listen to the pitch better instead of just visually lining their fingers up on the marker. Even when you remove the positions, like Karl said, people tend to leave a marker (like a piece of clear tape) on one of the high positions to make it easier to find. In jiuta, it seems that some people actually mark position nine as it is considered harder to find than position ten which is the octave. Incidentally, as a bit of shamisen trivia, position nine (and nineteen) is the only position that is the same number in both kinds of shamisen notation ^_^;


Thank you all so much for the help! I really appreciate everyone’s support


very helpful -Im total newbie and have a amazing teacher but having next to almost no musical experience I appreciate this straight-forward advice (that even I can somewhat understand)