Synthetic Skin Source?


Hello - I am embarking on my first Shamisen project and I am looking for tips on sources for a suitable synthetic skin to use when I get to that stage. I’ve read about Ripple and Fibersen, but I can’t seem to figure out where I can get some?

Many thanks,


Go to the “Store” link on this page and you will find pretty much every skinning option there is available there under “Parts and repair”…


Am I missing something? I see reskinning services, but I’m not seeing where I can obtain the material to do it myself?


Sorry, I didn’t realize you wanted to do it yourself. You can try e-mailing Kyle, (The guy who runs this site). He’s pretty cool about helping people out in general. Maybe he can sell you some.


Hi Joe!
Thanks for your message! At this point, those skins are proprietary to the developers in Japan, so we have the dou sent direct to the repairmen who already have a special contract with the makers of the material. In the future, if Bachido is able to obtain those skins to sell, we’ll definitely have them available for everyone. :slight_smile:


Well there’s that. Have you listened to Kyle’s video of the “tap test” of the different skins? The sound difference is quit striking and might convince you to have Kyle send it off for you.


Thanks for the info! I’m embarking on the project on somewhat of a lark. My main motivation is that my daughter and I really like the movie Kubo and the Two Strings. At this point, I can’t really justify much cash outlay.

I wonder if a synthetic banjo head could be stretched out over a dou?

I have a feeling that I may end up making a gottan disguised as a shamisen. For my immediate purposes, I think that would be a fine outcome. If we dig it and get into learning how to play, then acquiring a more authentic shamisen might be the next step.


Putting a skin on requires a lot of equipment and a lot of skill.

You are not paying for the skin, you are paying for all the time and effort it took that person to learn to do it correctly.


why not just get some goat or calf skins and stretch away! Kyle’s book gives as excellent and very clear trad. method of attaching them


Hi Catherine - I am indeed working through Kyle’s excellent book! I just started cutting blanks for the dou pieces.

I was hoping to adapt the skinning method described to a synthetic material since I have ethical concerns with the use of animal skins. I am going to do a little more research and decide if I think trying to adapt a synthetic banjo or drum head is practical. If not then I’ll use cedar or spruce tonewood.

Either way, I’ll end up with something that looks and plays shamisen-y, even if it doesn’t sound very traditional. That is good enough for me right now. If it turns out I can’t live without a more authentic shamisen, well then I guess I’ll have to take a trip to Japan (which would be totally cool)!