Starter shamisen for smaller hands

Hi all! I am a new member here looking into getting my first shamisen, and I have questions related to neck sizes. I have been debating between getting the Beginner Shamisen or waiting for the ShamiBuddy to come back.

I am a small person with small hands. For reference, I can span an octave on white keys on the piano, but a ninth becomes an uncomfortable stretch. I want to be able to explore different styles with my instrument (tsugaru, nagauta, minyo, everything). Does anyone have experience with this particular issue affecting how you play and the instrument you buy? Are there issues with style vs. neck size? I would appreciate any insight.

I have small hands as well, and for me both a hosozao and futozao neck are reasonably comfortable. I have a Beginner Shamisen I’ve played for about 3 years and also just recently bought a Raven. Going from the thin neck to the thin neck has definitely been an adjustment, but it’s still quite manageable and I can play it comfortably.

The narrow neck on the Beginner Shamisen is definitely easier to wrap your hands around if they’re small, and I’m glad I started on it when I had never played before, but I honestly think I’d have been OK starting on the thicker neck also.

@MeanOwl Thanks for your thoughts!

@Kyle_Abbott Do you have anything to add?

Someone also mentioned smaller bachi to me. I see there are a few sizes of wooden bachi in the store. How can I determine which size will be best?

Hi Alanna!

Thanks for writing and the tag! :slight_smile:
Very, very good point. As MeanOwl says, futozao can be reasonably comfortable with smaller hands. However, if you also have a petite stature as well, I think it might the overall size and weight of futozao shamisen a bit less manageable than it could otherwise be.

Before starting Bachido, I had a very petite friend who got pressured into starting with futozao, because our mutual friend gave off a strong but ignorant “tsugaru is the only real shamisen style” whenever they got together. Needless to say, she eventually bought a full size futozao shamisen, and while she could hold it, it was just uncomfortably big and she ended up stopping a short time later. In hindsight, I think a hosozao shamisen (which neither of us had at the time) would have fit her like a glove and would’ve made the experience much more fun.

In short (too late), I think you might find the Beginner’s Shamisen much easier as your first shamisen, and perfect size for playing in general. Tsugaru pieces can also be played on it as well.

A quick fun fact! In the next few months we’ll be releasing a chuzao minyo-style Raven! It’s currently in my studio ready to take promo pictures, but I’ve been swamped in the workshop. Anywho, soon there will be super sexy shamisen options for the slender styles! :smiley:

Re: bachi size. Given what you’ve said, I think the Small size should be perfect. :slight_smile: