Kawahari (skin replacement)
Jessica Dowd has been training herself in the art of Kawahari using instructions in Shamisen of Japan. Though she has only skinned shamisen for a short time, Jessica has good craftsmanship and takes great care in her work. Her material is calf skin which offers a warm, mellow tone.
Some dear friends of mine in Tokyo finally found a Shamisen for me that had the skin damaged, but as missionaries, funds are limited. It was built in 1944, and now I couldn’t be more proud. Thank you Jessica for doing the repair and getting me hooked up! I’m so thrilled!!! – Craig
Jessica’s Skinning Rate – $95
Price includes cost for return shipping.
For arranging a skin replacement, please contact: superfrog1979 (at) gmail (dot) com.
About calf skin
Unless one is able to legally obtain dog skin for Japanese cultural purposes, it is safe to skin with calf skin. Calf skin is a great alternative to the standard skin, and is what Jessica uses for kawahari. Here are some things to know about calf skin.
- Sound Quality: Calf skin produces a great sound for shamisen. It tends to be warmer and you get a full range of “flavors”, sound-wise. It sounds the best on nagauta shamisen. Note: the density of calf skin is different than dog/cat (which tends to be denser), and so it will have a slightly different tone from standard shamisen skin. If you don’t require your shamisen to sound exactly like a shamisen skinned with dog skin, you will be very happy with calf skin.
*Listen to a sample of a nagauta shamisen skinned with calf skin (Kawahari by Jessica)
- Price: It’s no question that the cost of professional Japanese kawahari is pretty high. One reason is that it’s getting difficult for the skin to be made and sold, so the craftsman has to pay a high cost for the skin itself. On the other hand, calf skin is always in demand from drum and banjo players, so it is very easy to obtain at places like Mid-East.com.
- Visuals: Unstretched calf starts off semi-transparent, but turns opaque as it is stretched.
- Kyle’s recommendation:Unfortunately, a broken skin prevents many people from starting/continuing their shamisen practice because of the high cost of professional reskinning. She provides a great service to the shamisen community by restoring shamisen to playable order while charging little cost for her time and materials. Jessica is here to make sure a broken skin doesn’t stop your shamisen practice!
Note:Generally, a stretched calf skin will turn completely opaque, but sometimes there may be a spot that remains semi-transparent. It’s a natural part of the skin, and won’t affect the sound.