Sao troubling me

Hi everyone! I recently bought a beautiful nagauta shamisen off of Facebook for a paltry $100. It’s a beauty.

So, obviously the skin is broken, but that’s not what I’m asking today. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a shamisen like this one. The sao is mitsuori, but the final piece by the dou is cut in two. It’s too clean of a cut to be made by the previous owner.

I don’t quite know what’s going on here. The problem is, is that when I put the sao joint into the dou, it doesn’t seem to stay in place. It leans forward when I tighten the ito. It puts unnecessary strain on the strings, because I’m falsely tuning them. By the time I hit the true note, but put the sao joint back in, the strings are pretty close to breaking.

Here’s a closer picture of the sao. The keenly attuned will notice, there’s a crack in the bottom. It was repaired by the previous owner, but it’s a little messy. Do y’all think this could be the problem? Or am I just not putting the piece in through the dou correctly?

Maybe we can get Kyle in on this? I think this would interest him. I’m just so confused. Thank you so much, guys!


Hi ! It should not be so difficult but the nakago has to be glued to to sao !

You think so? I thought it came like that. Usually I’ve seen the nakago thread all the way through the dou but this one confused me. I might pick up some glue or something later today. Thanks!

Still open to other replies.

Give a look here !

Omg! This is exactly what’s happening to me! I’m so glad to have found the answer. Thank you so much for the help. I’ll most certainly get the wood glue and clamp it together.

I thought I was going insane. I wonder why the nakago wasn’t originally glued together? Probably for storage or something. Anyways thanks again!

Just to chime in, it’s more likely that the glue just degraded over time.

It happens now and again with older instruments at the tenjin and nakago :0!

I actually noticed that yesterday when I was in the sunlight. The glue degraded and it seemed to have broken off! I put it under a clamp after I glued it yesterday so we’ll see how that works later today!


How did that work?..I have exactly the same problem. I have been thinking of gluing and then putting wood pins in it…and if I may ask what kind of glue did you use?..

thank you for any reply!
Pierre Rose

Just sharing some pics :slight_smile:

To attach the nakago to the bottom part of the sao, I used hot hide glue and clamped it overnight. The next day, I cleaned up the remaining dried glue.

When you take apart a mitsuori (three piece) sao , it should look something like that, no other parts should be or come lose:

Hope this helps!


Thank you…was just about what I was going to do…give it a whirl this morning. the piece is beautifully cut and finished…will get at it here in a bit…:slight_smile: Thank you again…


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Ah, it worked wonderfully! I had to carefully sand some of the residual glue, but it fits snug now. I’m so very happy with the quality of this shamisen and even if I had to fix it it makes it feel like I was a milestone in its story.

The sound is beautiful now that it’s fixed. The sawari makes the most amazing sound. My half-deaf self loves the feeling of the buzz.

What I used was Gorilla brand wood glue. I let it sit in a clamp for 24 hours, and sanded it over a course of two days. Mostly because I had school and work. So far, no issues!

I hope you fix yours soon. I’d love to see it!


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Thank you for the information!.. mine is in the clamp right now and will get it out and do a bit of sanding tomorrow.

I am always glad to hear that someone is liking their sound and music… I hope Tuesday to0 have my first practice session with mine…



Let me know how it works out! Good luck to you.


Hi All,

Just thought I would catch you up on the soa gluing. It worked like a dream. I was able to find some hide glue! Put it on Sunday afternoon and put the whole thing back together yesterday and is holding like a champ. Now i have 2 good Shammies in the house!


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Woohoo, nice!! :smile: Enjoy your shamisens!

Yay! I’m glad you were able to fix it! Have fun with your new shamisen.