Shamisen type identification

Hello All

Need help in identifying the shamisen type:
I am 98% sure what this is tsugaru from the itomaki, azumi and skin protector as well as the skin width on the body. Please see photos attached: press on the photos to see the whole photo
1 2

Hi there.

Without dimensions, it’s impossible to identify a shamisen accurately. While it can be relatively easy to pick some of the more extreme examples of hosozao or futozao out with very little reference, because of the spectrum of sizes that exist exact measurements are necessary for the majority of examples.

So I’ll tell you what I can see, but I suggest you find out details before buying.

The instrument you have linked has an en sawari, a jiuta style neck, and a bachigawa typically (but not exclusively) used on tsugaru instruments.

The gomu is in a position more consistent with tsugaru posture than other types.

The Sao ends in a wood rather than metal tip.

The tenjin cap seems to have 20.5 written on it. This is a middling size. The range runs from 19.5-23.

Again, with no measurements it’s impossible to identify it concretely - but I have some doubts that it’s a tsugaru. It reminds me very heavily of the kouki chuuzao I have upstairs. Big for a middle neck, but still smaller than a futozao.

I could be wrong though. Hit me back with dimensions later, if you would.

Thanks Christopher

Unfortunately I do not have dimensions.
Yes, you right, it can be Chuuzao size instrument.
The koma is bamboo and looks like tsugaru as well.
Also, I have photo of bachi as well:
It might be re-purposed minyou shamisen as well like the one here:

On the listing it mistakenly marked as Hosozao.
Owner has no idea what type of the instrument he is selling and he says so straight forward :sunglasses:

Hello from Saint Petersburg!
Wont start new topic so i post here.
Resently I bought a shamisen on ebay for 220$ and now I asking Bachido community for help to identify it type. It is not tsugaru thats all I new =)
There is no bachi, I made from DVD case blade and 3D printed handle, best I can get now…
I dont now japanese(also my english is not enouth good=) ) so will someone help me with translation?
Dou dimentions
nNTHyt4eCDo 9BFRCeq95IA
Dou inner sticker
Doukake marks
Sao top
thanks for help!
my bachi? don’t hit me! =)


From what I can see: it is a karin hosozao shamisen (Nagauta).
How tight is the skin? Looks like it is quite loose.

Best regards,

PS: any bachi is better than no bachi at all. This one need some work to make the handle smooth IMHO or you going to have a lot of calluses very soon.

Tnx for your answer.
Skin is tight as I can feel and this shamisen is wery loud for me.
Bachi blade part is wery flexible now, it need to be harder and yes, handle need to be painted i think.

Oh, yes, it is an extremely loud instrument, even Nagauta, the smallest one. I would recommend to make/buy silent koma (bridge) if you don’t want to have troubles with neighbors and family members :sunglasses: I would put it on the same loudness level as a violin. Even in the “old city” with 0.5 meter wall thickness it would be quite annoying, and in the “soviet” time buildings it would be a disaster…
As for bachi, the handle Can be sanded, leveled with epoxy, primed and painted. I have done it with 3D printed parts with good results. Blade can be changed to a 2-3mm acrylic or plexiglass sheet , PEI material is the best IMHO but expensive.

Hi there, that’s a shamisen intended for kouta.

Kouta shamisen use go-rin-dai bodies and usually nagauta style necks with hatomune, although they can be found with wider chuuzao necks as well.

The tall, broad koma is a dead give away.

Tnx for advice!
Silent koma is definitely needed =)

Kouta shamisen are typically played without a bachi, which is why one wasn’t packed in.

On the skin are those four dots holes or just markings?

Its markings.
So its some special kind of shamisen I have?

Thanks Christopher!

I had some suspicions about koma! Otherwise the body is only 3mm wider and longer compared to Nagauta if I understand correctly. It is still can be used with Naguata Koma and Bachi, correct?

Best regards,

It’s intended for a specific genre, that’s all!

Kouta is a style of music from the edo period that is mostly about everyday life and, sometimes, love. It’s associated with geisha.

The markings are meant to look like nipple holes on cat skin. It means your shamisen use dog skin instead.


You can use anything with anything, generally speaking. Specifics are only important if you want a certain result.

The difference between nagauta and go-rin-dai are very, very small - but they’re there.


Sure, it is good to know what it was intended for originally :sunglasses:

Right, genre. :slight_smile:
Tnx for your help!

Japanese markings are last mystery to me :dizzy_face: