I'm looking for an inexpensive shamisen. I'm a student and just starting so any of the mentioned above styles would be good… I can pay up to 200$ with shipping to Poland included ;_; Student's budget cries
Thank you everyone in advance!
Welcome to Bachido. You're better off saving your money for a while longer and build up a bigger budget.
In Japan, with some searching and care it's possible to get a serviceable second hand instrument for around $150 but shipping and customs easily pop that above your budget.
Even at that price point, the quality can be dodgy and you run the risk of wasting your money. (Speaking from experience here)
If you've got wood or leatherworking experience you could try and build your own or purchase parts via auctions to reconstruct something.
I wonder how many Beginner's shamisen have been sold to central Europe - these would eventually pop up for 2nd hand market and could offer high instrument quality/shape for the budget, although would likely sell for a bit higher.
For what I know, there are cheap-ish plastic and fiberglass shamisen, but the sound quality is not nearly as good as for ones with real materials.
Also, you will find instruments with broken skin (or old ones where the skin would break easily) - these can be expensive/complicated to repair, I think around $300 or more if you have you instrument already in Japan and take it to a professional shop - there are some enthusiasts who can do this in the Western world as well, but they are very few.
PS. For low end budgets, a sanshin, gottan or even an ukulele (you can buy passable ones for 20eur, brand new) might be a good option - you'll miss much of the shamisen finesse but it gets you started playing on an instrument that is somewhat similar, and of course you can play many of the same tunes (you may need to translate notes though…).