Should I buy one of these shamisens?


Also, in regards to neck widths.

Like Ian said, it’s actually a bit hard to play precisely on some of the very narrow hosozao shamisen at first. I started on a loaner from my teacher that was about 2.5 centimeters wide; moving up and down was extremely fast, but hitting the right string was rough.

When I moved up to a 2.6 (the upper limit of what’s considered a hosozao) I started having a much better time with things. I’m sure that was partly due to my overall skill level increasing, but that tenth of a centimeter felt gigantic.

I mostly play on a 2.8 cm chuuzao and a 3.0 cm futozao these days. Both feel good, but both took a little while to get accustomed to.

Also, having played on the 3.3cm futozaos before, I have no idea how people use those. They feel mammoth :confused:


So i bought mine from Etsy do the seller is really Nice.


Ok yea so the tsugaru shamisen arrived today (oh man so stoked lol!) and it is a world of difference to the clearly smaller nagauta at least to me. Although it still kinda trips me out that the scale lengths are the same, physically, everything is bigger from the dou, sao, itomakis, neo, doukake … the bridge is smaller lol go figure. That thin string being nylon also makes a huge difference - I feel like I can be much more precise with hammer ons and pull offs. The neck stays level much further closer to the dou as pointed out earlier. And of course the sound - clearly more fuller. That nylon string also has a crisper tone to me than the silk nagauta string. (Or have I been using the wrong thin string for the nagauta?? lol)

Yea, to a beginner wanting to get into shamisen and also liking the more typical modern music, definitely bite the bullet and spend more for a tsugaru. Again, nothing wrong with the nagauta. Oh and get the sawari adjuster thingy. Hey you’re gonna spend that much may as well spring for it cos its very cool to be able to control the amount of twang.

Anyway just my 2 yen as a total shamisen beginner.


Congrats Rob! :smiley:

Yeah, the size makes a huge difference. I like it though - it feels robust! At least it’s not a gidayu bachi, no clue how they deal with those :stuck_out_tongue:


Enjoy it, yo.

Traditionally, you’ll use the azuma or en sawari to make sure you get the longest buzz possible no matter what you’re tuned to. If you tend to only play in a single tuning, it’s also an easy way to tell if you’re properly tuned or not before your ears are trained.

Re: Strings

I’m a little surprised to find out you prefer the nylon to a silk sound. I’m happy for your wallet though :p. Nylon sounds fine enough, but there’s a character to silk that I prefer.

Pity it barely lasts. Like, the moment you go below a 15 gauge string, the longevity just drops into the abyss… it’s nice to splurge on it now and again though…


Whether you were using the wrong thin string or not is difficult to tell if they weren’t marked or in packages.


Guys, thank you. On one hand, I am kicking myself for going the cheapo route off the bat but on the other, I can’t blame myself for playing it safe in case it turned out I hated the instrument.

Christopher, I will go check the strings on the nagauta again. The thin string broke and I was anxious to get playing again so I grabbed what looked to be a thin string replacement. I totally appreciate what you are saying about the sound. And thank you for the tip on the sawari adjuster! I was just adjusting it so it was loud enough to be noticeable but subtle enough so it didn’t sound like my shamisen was broke loll.

But man, this (tsugaru) instrument is LEGIT. I can’t tell you how happy I am to start getting close to the sounds I am hearing my favorite videos of Rokudan and other tsugaru style songs. Now just need to keep practicing like crazy.


Sigh! Time to save up for a tsugaru shamisen.