Shamisen Tunings

These are three main tunings used for shamisen:

Honchoushi 本調子

This is the standard tuning. The other two tunings below are based off of Honchoushi.

Niagari 二上がり

San Sagari 三下がり

“Is there a standard shamisen key?”

Unlike other stringed instruments, there is no specific key which the shamisen is tuned to. Where the shamisen is pitched depends on the singer/instruments being performed along with it. The important thing is maintaining the correct pitch spacing between the strings. If that is done correctly, you can pitch your shamisen higher or lower, depending on your preference.