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?
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.
Interesting. I'm really used to using flexible plectrums with all my plucked instruments, so using a brittle bachi is definitely frustrating. I can't pick upwards without it getting stuck.