Slipping Itomaki

Hey there guys,
I recently got my first Shamisen. It´s really neat and beautiful, but unfortunatly also a pretty old Lady from 77 ^^
So I got the Problem that every time I try to tune it right, the Itomaki of the sannoito (and sometimes the one for the ninoito) slipps out of the fitting unless I use an uncomfortable amount of pressure to secure it. Even when it finally stops to slipp, the sannoito gets out of tune in just a couple of Minutes :/
I searched the forum already and tried almost every trick from roughening up the itomaki with toothpaste and sanding paper and cleaning the fittings to putting a thin layer of lacquer on the ends, but nothing really worked out…
Now I´m really asking myself where the problem is. Are the itomaki too old and used? Have I tied the strings incorrectly, so that they pull to strongly on the itomaki or are they just too new for the old itomaki? It´s really starting to frustrate me a bit :/
Did anyone of you have an similar expirience and found a solution?
It would be really nice if I finally could start to play some tunes…
Here are some pictures of the tenjin with the itomaki:


Edited 2 times; last edited Jan 28, 2016 by Gunnar Hütz

I've had that problem last year too and I tried using rosin (for violon) as mentioned in some discussions. I also tried the tip of a Q-tip with a bit of water. It helped a bit but I am not sure there are permanent solutions to this problem.

Last summer at the Shamicamp, Katoh san did something to fix it for me. Unfortunately, as soon as winter came back the problem came back too.

The level of humidity might have an influence on the wood so it makes the itomaki slippery when it is too dry or too cold. As seasons changes every 3 months in Canada, I deal with these temporary solutions.

Hope this can help you a little.


Violin rosin helps. If you get that hard, dark stuff use a knife to scratch some off until you get a little pile of power. Apply it to the pegs and twist it in with firm pressure.

Your Itomaki look like they've got some city miles on them. Eventually you'll probably just have to replace them. But try the rosin thing for now!

Edited Jan 29, 2016 by Joseph Pants

If they are wooden itomaki try to hold them over steeming water to swell the wood a little. It gets compressed over time. Also if you don't have rosin you may also try ribbing the itomaki ends with soap and chalk. A tip I got from a violin player.

Edited Mar 1, 2016 by Martina Kopp

Hi guys I'm new here and I'm a violinist. Rosin is not a good permanent solution, it is what we do in a pinch if we are not prepared and no one has any peg drops with them. It's also cheaper than rosin!


Hi all – last year I got an old shamisen re-skinned, but am having the devil's own time with slipping itomaki. Rosin/violin peg drops, sanding, cussing, varnish, nothing keeps the pegs from slipping. Does anyone know where replacements can be purchased?


Hey Dave - sorry for the late reply.

Generally itomaki are made for a specific shamisen, so just any might not work.
If you have a luthier in your area, at a guitar shop or music store, even one unfamiliar with the shamisen, it's possible you could take measurements of your own itomaki (and possibly even adjust them slightly, maybe a bit thicker to keep it from sliding, if the width is the problem) and have some made.
If he's not sure how, perhaps the instructions in Kyle's book would help.
Or, if you'd like, you could give it a try too!
Alternatively you might be able to get in touch with a maker in Japan, though I'm not sure how many of them speak English well (probably pretty few).

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