Why Does it Sound Like That?

Hi, everyone!

My name is Haley and I’m new to the shamisen. With the help of Kyle’s videos, I’ve been attempting to tune the (used) shamisen I received for Christmas. However, even with an electric tuner, I can’t seem to get a C-G-C range. In fact, when the ni-ito is tuned to G, it feels too loose to strike. Then when I mimic other shamisen players, my instrument has a much deeper sound that sort of resembles more of a bass guitar. Does anyone know if adjusting the strings would help or is it a sign of a deeper issue? As I mentioned, the instrument is rather old and I wanted to get someone’s opinion before I started blindly taking it apart.

Thank you, Sensei!

From your description, it sounds like you’re tuned an octave lower than you should be. If the strings are floppy and not ringing out much, that’s probably the case. The lowest key you typically hear the shamisen tuned to is F or F#. Try tuning your string up slowly until you hit the next C on the tuner. Don’t force it if it feels like it won’t go higher, you don’t want to break a string.

Hope that helps.