I just got my first shamisen. It came with a plastic bachi. I learned, almost immediately, why these are frowned upon. I'm looking for some good places to purchase a better one, online (or in the San Diego area, where I live). Any suggestions?
I checked all over the bachi I have. No markings or engravings except for バチ written in what appears to be red marker. Looks and feels very much like plastic, but I don't have a basis for comparison.
Maxine if you are still looking for a bachi replacement, I really like the wood one that came with mine. I have no comparison point here though. But at least the wood one you can find pretty easy locally on ebay.
I saw those, too. I was considering getting one, when my wife insisted on 3D printing one. We decided to have one professionally printed out of flexible plastic. I'm hoping it works out! If not, I may try a wood one, just because I haven't yet.
The lack of flexibility in the plastic bachi makes it almost impossible to do any tremolo picking. I compare it to a heavy guitar pick vs a light guitar pick. A light, flexible pick “glides” over the strings better. A heavier, more brittle pick tends to get caught on the strings.
Interesting, in my guitar playing experience it's way easier to do tremolo picking and fast playing with a heavy rigid pick. I play with a Jim Dunlop Jazz III which is around 1.5mm thick. The more flexible picks tend to “lag” a bit because of the bend and it's harder to play tremolo by turning them sideways.
For Shamisen I've only used the faux-bekkou bachi since that's what came with my Shamisen. I don't think I'm good enough yet to notice the difference :) I always thought the main reason for a more flexible shamisen bachi is that you get more of the snap off the strings onto the dou, but the disadvantage is that it's more prone to chipping.