Question for the Kokyu Gang - Strings

I am trying to reach anyone who owns a kokyu.

What sort of strings are used for the instrument? Are those the same as used on a shamisen or do you need to buy kokyu specific strings?

Thank you for any info!


@Kyle_Aaron, @Linda_Caplan ? Sorry for tagging you :blush:

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Hi Stefanie!

Nice to see another Kokyu enthusiast here. I recently got an all wood Kokyu from Shamisen Rakuya, and the extra set of strings I bought were categorized as Nagauta/Kokyu silk strings.


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Hi Karen!
Thank you so much! Just to make sure, the strings would be 15-1 13-2 and 13-3 ?

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You’re welcome! And yes those numbers exactly

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The Kokyu I have got came with the strings. The thickness is close to Nagauta strings but the 3rd string is not transparent and looks very similar tp the 2nd one, just thinner. IMHO this is because transparent one would have less friction on the bow hair and would hardly produce any sound.
I have tried to use Nagauta strings on the one I restored and ended up sanding 3rs string in order to get enough “grab” with 800 grit sandpaper.

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Hi Alexey!
That makes sense, I guess for the kokyu, all the strings need to be silk. By the way, is anything used on the bow hair, some sort of rosin?

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I have answered the email but not sure if it gets to the forum.
Yes, the one I have got come with rosin. I assume any violin rosin should to the trick, just not too much as with any other bow. As well my understanding is what finest violin string there made from silk as well in the past. There is a person in US who still makes them from silk on orders.
Here the video from this person:
Silk string manufacturing
and his article on the process:
silk strings manufacturing

Hi Alexey, thank you!
Hm, I didn´t get any forum email… I guess it has to be done through the site?
Ah, I remember reading about the person making silk strings, looks quite crazy (I mean, the process, not the guy :)) )

Hey Kokyu players!!
@shamisenk @Alexey
I’m a Kokyu beginner and looking to buy more san no itos, since mine rip so quickly. Also, all the ones I found on Japanese websites can’t ship to Europe (where I’m at), so can you recommend me which ones I coule get maybe off of this site?

Thanks in advance, excited to get in touch with some Kokyu players :smiley:


Hello Irina

I have got the same issue and honestly have not been playing a lot lately. Need to pick it up a bit.

Apparently you can use shamisen strings sized 15-1, 13-2 and 13-3 from Nagauta Shamisen.

Just make sure the thinnest one is braided as well, the translucent one does not grab the bow well (from my experience)

What Japanese sites did you find strings at? if it is places like Rakuten or Yahoo Auctions? I am using this service to order strings for Shamisen: Buy from over 100 popular Japanese shops- - Japan Shopping & Proxy Service

Those guys deal with stores, repack goods and ship them all around the world.

Best regards,


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Hi Alexey,

thank you so much for the quick reply! That helps a lot, I’ll go for braided nagauta 13-3 for my most fragile san no ito then!
I checked out the link you sent, super helpful thank you :slight_smile:

During my search, I also found a japanese online shop that should ships overseas: Order Form | KAMEYA Shamisen OnlineShop
And this one in Europe:
For now, I ordered from the shami-shop since it’s in Germany and I’ll get my strings a little quicker, but I’m determined to check out other shops for comparison.

I saw that there’s supposed to be a discord channel for the bachido community but couldn’t find it - is that still going?

The shops from JP I looked at were the following: (had to take out the links due to being a new member)

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Shamisen strings may work because the Kokyu uses the same tuning (& string names) as a shamisen but an Octave Higher.

I use a Cello Bow w/ Double Bass rosin to compensate for that.

Shamisen Strings should work great on Kokyu because the Kokyu Tuning is the same as a Shamisen (or Mountain Dulcimer) but an Octave up putting it in the Register of a dulcimette.