The difference between Naguta and Tsugaru Shamisen


Hey everyone, I currently own a Naguta style Shamisen, and soon I am going to buy a Tsugaru Shamisen. I have heard that changing from Naguta to Tsugaru style has its differences. I want to know if it is actually hard to switch styles.

Which Bushido shamisen do you like best? Why?

This is what nagauta playing looks like

Primarily wrist action when playing, dou held away from the body, sao sits at a lower angle, strike zone higher on the dou, stronger “string” sound, bachi used more like a guitar pick than a drumstick.

This is what Tsugaru playing looks like

Arm action when playing, wrist snaps to create a strong percussive sound, dou held next to the body, sao at a higher angle, three strikezones utilized for different tones, bachi somewhere between drumstick and guitar pick.

But if you’ve been using the play guides on Bachido, you haven’t been learning to play nagauta style ;V so i don’t think there’s much acclimation to worry about, beyond mechanical ones.

Those pretty heavily depend on the kinds of gear changes you’ll be experiencing. Neck size, instrument weight, koma height, bachi dimensions, string gauge and all that can take some getting used to.


Nagauta is cool.

I don’t like that people seem to think that it is second or third best.


On a side note, kanjincho is a very difficult song to learn. It is too tricky. It’s actually not hard to adapt, I have a tsugaru and a minyo, I also do touch on a nagauta. One thing I was told was that the position of the shamisen isn’t so important if you’re on your own or in a group, but you need to be mindful when you’re with any sensei.

Nagauta and minyo both have the shamisen slightly in front of the belly with roughly a fist sized gap, then slanted back a bit with the tenjin pointed at a lower angle like 2 o’clock. Tsugaru wise the dou right close to your belly and the tenjin is pointed right up to 1 o’clock. I hope I’m making sense.

You’re still balancing the shamisen on your right forearm, same spot, just different angles and hitting spots.


For a nagauta, it is crucial that you not choke the back skin. The sound becomes completely different, and it becomes difficult to hear, particularly for the player.