Recover old shamisen set

Hi everyone!
I’ve found a old shamisen at my parents house.
Beside reskinning what else I need to start? And perhaps you guys can recognize the quality of the instrument from the maker?
Thanks in advance for your time

Can’t wait to try it! :grin:
IMG_20200201_095604 IMG_20200201_095604|483x500 IMG_20200201_100836

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Nice find! :grinning:

  • Bachi :white_check_mark:
  • Koma :white_check_mark:
  • Doukake :white_check_mark:
  • Neo :white_check_mark:

Assuming everything is in working order, just add:

  • Yubikake
  • Strings
  • Free Bachido SchoolHouse crash courses :wink:

Also Recommended :

  • Tuner (or use a free phone app or use the reference tones located on the left underneath the lesson chapters in the SchoolHouse)
  • Fujaku (or make your own markings using painter’s tape)
  • Dou Gomu
  • Cleaning cloth or tool
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Hi there.

Lucky, lucky. You’re a skin and some strings away from playable.

That shamisen was purchased or last skinned at Takahashi Wagakkiya, a Tokyo based store. The last skinning was conducted in October (on the 29th) of the 5th year of the Showa period. So it’s an old girl!

It was previously skinned with dog leather on both sides.

The customer’s name was 尾山 it seems. Although don’t quote me on that, the first kanji is written very casually.

There is no azuma or en sawari. The neck is mitsuori and has a nice hatomune.

The wood is dark enough to be kouki, but I would be hesitant to call it such without viewing the unstained wood at the joint. Old kouki is usually very black, so this may be something else.

The koma is very wide and probably very tall. It might be for hauta, kouta, or jiuta. That said, given the presence of a bachi, I’m somewhat doubtful of kouta, and given the size of the bachi jiuta also seems unlikely.

If you can show me a closer picture I might be able to better id it.

The bachi appears to be wood.

The itomaki are the star-shaped varietal, which I’m personally fond of.

Please flip over the doukake and look for any markings. There will likely be a size mark. This will tell us more about its classing.

If you are able, take a measure to the width of the neck near the tenjin and near the dou.

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Wow! Thank you so much, you understand really a lot about it :pray:
Actually the bachi is the only thing that wasn’t a part of it, a friend give it to me.

The width of the neck is about 2.6 cm, but I’m not sure if I measured the right point.

IMG_20200205_013232 IMG_20200205_013200

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Thanks a lot! I really appreciate it :pray:


2.6 cm, hatomune, tall and broad koma?

My gut says it’s intended for kouta! If you flip over the doukake (colorful armrest), you might see a 5厘大 mark. You might also see 長唄 or nothing bat all.

This is the only mark I founded

Anyway, one last question:
I was thinking about the Kyle hibiki skin as replacement. I just don’t get which style I should select… :thinking:

All the cool kids get hibiki in black :sunglasses: I’m kidding of course, it’s down to color preference but if your end goal is to compete you should probably choose white. Kyle mentioned that “newer” things are not always popular with competition judges.

I think the black one is really cool, so probably I’ll go with that! :sunglasses:
Anyway I’m complete beginner so I hadn’t even thought about competition. I’ll use this one as entry level to check if it fit me :grin:

But for purchase a reskinning I saw that I have to select the shamisen style between tsugaru, nagauta and jiuta, and I don’t know which one I should select.

Try taking measurements of your dou and compare them to the sizes on this page?

The shamisen styles page doesn’t actually list values for sizes, but I have them in my notes somewhere. Take a tape measure to the dou and go from the left to right and top (near the Sao) to bottom (far from the Sao). Record from the flat edge of top face, and do not factor in the curve of the body. I can find out its class from that.

With no mark on the doukake, nagauta is usually (but not always) implied. Especially considering you have an older instrument, I’d be hesitant to claim it out right.

If the instrument is intended for kouta (as most of other charactistics imply) it should be a go-rin-dai sized body, but some nagauta doukake actually fit those. It’s also possible that it’s something else, of course~

I am unsure how @Kyle_Abbott parses the difference between min’yo, nagauta, and jiuta skinnings. So you’d really want to double check with him about those details.

Whoops. I put the wrong link. Sorry! I updated my post to include both. The page that discusses sizes does so using the traditional Japanese measurements (which I find a little confusing) but it’s a start point.

Thank you.
The size is 20X18 cm (7,87X7,08 inches)

Ooh, interesting.

If you measured accurately, my money’s on a shamisen built with kouta in mind!

For reference, here’s what my notes list:

Associated (non-exhaustive) genres are in bold. When I lack direct experience with or sources for an instrument’s dimensions, I produced extrapolated values. These are in italics.

Regular text indicates dou size and the “official” dimensions in centimeters, as converted from Sun-Bu-Rin.

Nagauta - 19.7 x 17.88

Min’yo / Hauta / Kouta
Go Rin Dai - 19.85 x 18.03

Ichi Bu Go Rin Dai - 20.15 x 18.33
Ni Bu Dai - 20.3 x ? (18.48)

Gidayu / Tsugaru
San Bu Dai - 20.61 x ? (18.79)
San Bu Yon Rin Dai - 20.73 x ? (18.91)
Yon Bu Dai - 20.91 x ? (19.09)

Go Bu Dai - 21.21 x 19.39
Roku Bu Dai - 21.52 x ? (19.7)
Nana Bu Dai - 21.82 x ? (20)


Wow, I didn’t thought I need to be so precise :flushed:

The exact size is 20,0X17,3 cm. Anyway still not sure if the measure point is correct.
I added the photo to show you the points where I took the measure.

Since these are largely hand crafted pieces, you don’t need to be incredibly precise - but my notes are for record purposes. While the dimensions are specific within the context of sun/bu/rin there’s always going to be some variance based on human error or preference.

You should only measure the flat of the shamisen - where the skin would be applied. The bevel or curve of the body is not counted.

I have attached an image dug up from the net to better illustrate what I’m talking about.


Sorry :sweat_smile:
Well then is exactly 19.7 X 17.8

Well, this one has an X for Showa and Heisei next to it, so I think it’s 1994.