Shamisen re-skinning


So, here it is. Re-skinning shamisen on home made contraption.
Let see how it would come out :sunglasses:


Here the final result:
image image
Did I got right what the sao is made of kouki?


Would post video with sound shortly


Sound was awful. Apparently I did not made skin tight enough.
Good thing about using hide glue: very easy to take off the skin using heat gun.
Re-skinned it one more time today.
Sound is much better (much more bright tone but worse than nagauta I have) and the tension still low compared to the original skin.
The main issue is the clamps slipping off the wet skin before I can get to the right tension.
Going to redo it one more time with sandpaper between clamps and the skin for better friction.


Here is the 2nd try sound test video
Shamisen sound test
How does it sounds?


Hi Alexey, I think it sounds pretty decent. From what I can tell, you’re using a plastic koma right? Maybe the sound would benefit from a bamboo or wooden one. I’m not an expert, but based on my understanding, the bridge has a lot to do with the tone. It transfers the vibrations to the skin and dou, so the right material probably has a lot of impact on that.


Hello Luke
I might be wrong but it might be ivory coma or a very good fake.
I have tried bamboo as well and the sound gets softer.
I might give it another re-skinning try today


If you can’t see concentric striations on the koma, it’s not ivory. If you can, it might still be fake.

That sounds pretty good! It’s not as tight as it could be, but you’re definitely getting in the neighborhood.

And yes, you have a kouki neck with real or faux ivory itomaki. The doukake is laquer, though it might not be the hand made variety.

Excellent find.


I can’t tell exactly as I do not have good magnifier and koma is very old, no fresh cuts. But it is definitely organic:

As for Itomaki I can see arcs crossing under close to 90 degrees, but it might be a really good fake :sunglasses:



If I had to guess, I’d think your koma is shari (ox bone) if you’re certain that it’s organic. The few zouge koma I have have relatively clear striations and are extremely delicate. This one looks a bit more robust like the bone examples I used to keep around.

To be honest, I’m not a big fan of ivory for a number of reasons. But, you may as well enjoy and care for it, if you have it!


I feel the same about Ivory but description says plastic itomaki. I had no idea. Bone koma even better :sunglasses: i have checked both under UV light and this is not plastic.
Just got another skin done. Let see tomorrow how good it is.


Ok. 3rd time should be a magic one…
Here it is:
Re-skinning, 3rd attempt
As well as a new try on bachi:


Your bachi is beautiful. Is it abalone?


Thanks! No, it is an old resin bachi combined with celluloid sheets :sunglasses:


Yeah really nice Bachi! Is it smooth?? Did you make it yourself?

I work with resin but just for my photographs, I can see how it would work for the bachi!


Hello Sasha

Yes, I made it from old resign bachi and celluloid sheets. It is more flexible than original resin bachi.
It is smooth and does not grind strings as wooden does. And it is not as fancy as it looks on the photo 8-). I am planning to make another one soon.

Best regards,


Nice Alexey! I copied your shamisen skin builder machine, but the pegs just slipped off as I tightened. You didn’t have any issues? May be mine are no good (bought from amazon)

Also, what did you use for glue?


Hello Luke

Mines from Amazon too. 220lb version.
Yes, those tent clips are not the best.
I have used pieces of coarse waterproof sandpaper to increase the grip and a wooden block and hammer to close the clips all the way.
Also, it helps to have the edges of the skin dryer so they do not slip too much.
In the end, I was able to put pretty high tension on the skin.
Also you need to watch what the rope tension is divided properly between the clamps as the side ones tends to get more force on them.


As for glue I have used tilebond hide glue.


Ahh, yeah I did none of those extra steps, that’l do it. And as you said, they clips started slipping on one side first, then it kinda just fell apart in that area. I will make an effort next time to evenly distribute tension.