Shamichan is finally in my arms!

Hello, call me Hanae. :stuck_out_tongue: I have lurked on this forum for a little bit. I have been dreaming of owning a shamisen for the last 15 years. I love geigi so I specifically wanted a nosozao shamisen. My mom wanted me to get futozao because she thinks tsugaru style is way cooler than “boring old kouta.” I got my nosozao, lied to her but now she knows and I am practicing jon-garas to appease her.

I have been practicing “shamisen” for the last few months with what I could find online, and using a plastic ukelele tuned to niagari/sansagari mostly. I also made my own bachis out of whittled cedar (softwood; it wore down LOL) and clothespin + wrapped painter’s tape (which was surprisingly easy on the ito despite making a good sound).

I ordered a nagauta/nosozao shamisen from Murasaki Music for my birthday! There she is! Even though the shipping was actually very fast, it was a long week of waiting dreamily for Shamichan. Yesterday, she arrived!!!

I was so happy to receive shamichan but she is totally not what I expected. After wanting a shamisen for so long, I thought it would feel like meeting an old friend; Honestly, she feels very foreign but she is SOOOO beautiful. I am a little worried about some of the damage, but my bank account is empty so I must improvise with what I have around me. Not much to be found in rural Ohio. :slight_smile: I don’t have money but there is wood working machinery in the garage and my dad is a wood cutter, so we have blocks, logs, stacked wood… every kind. I would appreciate any guidance.

The kawa on the back is ripped as described, but shamichan still sounds pretty good. I live in poverty, so ripped skin isn’t a big deal. But, would it be ok to try to cover the back? I thought about using painters tape to seal the hole or even just covering the back with a panel of cardboard for now, to prevent further breakdown until I can think about new skins.

Additionally, I think during shipping the local delivery people were a bit rough. People who live in my area are either the salt of the earth or… garbage. I suspect the latter type was the delivery person that scuffed Shamichan’s box.
The box arrived with lot of scuffs despite the big “FRAGILE” stickers that Murasaki-sama placed carefully on the box.
When opened, the koma and bachi were chipped!!! T-T The worst part is that the chips were inside the packaging so I am positive that damage happened during delivery. …Karma will handle them. In the meantime, I must help Shamichan.

The chipped Koma came off where I would have placed the San-no-ito; it can no longer hold the string. I can’t afford a new koma at the moment, but I have improvised using a clothespin… Do you think it will be ok?

Also as for the bachi, one side is still ok. Plus I have the other bachi that I made, and I will continue making bachi out of various materials just for fun. I do have access to many woods and we have a woodworking area in the garage. :slight_smile:

I also realized that the itomaki are kind of loose. I shove them in but they slip out easily… I read online that I might need to “File them down from the center?” What does that mean by the center? I don’t want to cause undue stress or hurt shamichan!!! Also, I tuned the shamisen correctly to CFC and walked out of the room for a moment; came back to find it in BEB. Out of nowhere, I bump the neck with my finger and ni no itomaki slips out entirely. I am sure holding tuning is a common problem and there must be a common solution. Maybe I have the wrong pegs in the wrong holes. I think I need some guidance. Your wisdom that you can share is appreciated.

Well, thank you for reading! I hope your day is wonderful.


Congrats on Shamichan! She’s beautiful. Here, let me answer some of the questions you had!

As for the broken skin on the back, I used clear packing tape to bandage my nagauta until I can afford a reskin. It works quite well!

The chipped koma is an easy fix. You can actually use a lot of stuff for a koma! I recommend a simple pencil. It’s the correct height and density so as to not damage the skin. A clothespin is actually pretty smart! Never thought of that one myself. Just be careful it’s not too high!

A chipped bachi is a sad bachi. What I did with both of my chipped ones (plastic; one fell off my bed and the other arrived broken from a past owner) is tried to puzzle all the pieces back together, and I used masking tape to seal it up! It’s not perfect, like at all, but it works. And making a bachi is always nice! Wood is a very good material to use, though it is high on the hardness scale (about a 9). The best bachi is a flexible one like a Faux-Bekkou bachi (a 5). Those are a bit pricy though. Making your own bachi gives you the ability to put your own soul into it. It’s another milestone in Shamichan’s life.

The itomaki problem you have is common. Mine does that too. My ni-no-itomaki is a big jerk when it comes to tuning. Sometimes I can feel it slipping when it’s in my hand. The best thing, is to just kinda…shove it back in. Make sure the itomaki are in the holes on both sides of the tenjin. Sometimes they can slip out. You also mentioned they could be in the wrong holes. It’s possible, but it wouldn’t change much. Though, it’s always good to check! You can actually see which one goes where by these teeny little notches in the itomaki. Kyle has a good video on it. Here!

Tuning slips are a very common issue with shamisens. Though, I like to think of it as a feature. You can always pre stretch your strings to mitigate some slipping. I also cleaned my itomaki and the zagane. You’d be surprised what came off of it! Just be careful to not clean the itomaki too much. You may rub the paint off of the unvarnished part. It actually allowed my itomaki to stay in place again. Try it out!

Well, I think that’s all the wisdom I have. If you need anything else, you can contact me again! Have fun with Shamichan!


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Congratulations on your new shamisen! It sounds like she will be well loved. I am a new shamisen player so I can’t be of much help, but I am a cello player and have used this peg compound to successfully help with peg slippage. HILL The Original Peg Compound (HILL-ZW-97)

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