If you're like me, you feel the shamisen is unquestionably an amazing work of art. The many curves catch the light in perfect ways. I love the stunning image of the shamisen and am always left with a smile while admiring the sheer beauty.
This being said, a close colleague informed me of a rare masterpiece-level shamisen being masterfully crafted with only a limited number in existence. As one who is so focused on accessibility, the idea of a limited-edition shamisen made me think, "What's the point?".
(Update: Due to a discovery of more materials, this instrument is no longer extremely-limited!)
Well, that thought immediately vanished when I laid my eyes on Eclipse! Without further rambling, please enjoy the gallery and let the pictures explain why this instrument is such a masterpiece.
View image gallery (19 pics)
- Dou: Karin (High Grade) Size 5 (Tsugaru)
- Sao: Karin – Highest Grade (Toguchi Tiger Stripe)
Special Feature: Sao topped with solid, high grade shitan (rosewood)
- Sao Size: 28.5mm wide x 33.5mm thick – Mitsuori (three-piece neck)
- Itomaki: Nejiri (twisted) / Satin wood joined with rosewood
- Skin: Ripple, FiberSen or Vintage Tone
- Hardware: Azuma Sawari, Rindo, Zagane, and Kamigoma
- Accessories not included
Eclipse: A Master’s Dedication
Eclipse is a incredibly unique shamisen for many reasons. After viewing the gallery, you might wonder why so much masterful detail was used for a karin-based shamisen (in a time when kouki is, in my opinion, mistakenly regarded as a superior wood). The inspiration all starts with the karin wood.
Toguchi: Tiger Stripe
When the highest-level master shamisen craftsman were inspired to make Eclipse, they weren’t looking at ordinary Karin wood. They had the highest grade and rarest variety of Karin. This Karin wood features a very intricate tiger stripe grain called Toguchi.
Karin featuring tiger stripe grain is so difficult to find, and the master craftsman thought there was only enough for ten shamisen. They decided to dedicate their immense skill to make these shamisen the most incredible masterpieces never seen before in Japan.
Update Almost a year after the release of the Eclipse, the craftsman discovered a large supply of this wood in their vast storerooms (where premium high-grade wood has been stored for several decades) and decided to continue making these masterpieces!
The Mark of a Master
To enjoy the beauty of Toguchi Karin and still achieve the clean tone of a hard surface, the craftsmen topped the sao with solid rosewood!
But that isn’t all! The craftsmen wanted to deeply express how unique these shamisen are. Together, they pushed the limits of their mastery by perfectly extending the rosewood past the sao, connecting it with the tenjin and flowing it back into the Karin wood!
Because kouki is still viewed as the number one wood in Japan, it’s unfortunate that this beautiful work from master Japanese craftsman will most likely be overlooked in Japan. However, they wanted to honor this wood and are very proud of their work. This is the result of decades of experience from a workshop with history over 120 years! Bachido recognizes their dedication and passion, and is honored to be the first to reveal this masterpiece to the world!
Ripple: A New Synthetic
Recently, the shamisen world has been abuzz with a brand new synthetic skin called Ripple. Like Fibersen, Ripple also boasts a tone nearly-identical to natural skin with it’s high tension and sharp tone (which is slightly richer than Fibersen).
Watching the development of Eclipse, I knew a charcoal black skin would match perfectly with this incredible shamisen. Thus, I reached out to another colleague who has learned to dye the synthetic skin before tightly stretching it on the dou. (Note: The coloring process is permanent and doesn’t affect the strength of the skin.)
Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect when picking up Eclipse. But after playing a few notes, my jaw dropped. This is the best shamisen I have ever played!
Everything about Eclipse felt right. My hands enjoyed the lighter weight combined with the hard topside for clear intonation. My eyes were feasting on the beautiful tiger stripe grain while my ears peaked at the clarity from every note! The sawari (buzzing) effect was alive and energetic, and the tone was incredibly resonant and booming. I could fully express a whole range of emotions through the instrument.
The master craftsman committed themselves to create a masterpiece, and I believe they’ve succeeded.
To help you get started with your brand-new Eclipse, I am including several learning materials for free!
- Bachido Shamisen Crash Course
- Premium Shamisen Course: Tsugaru Jonkara Bushi (Kyu)
- Premium Shamisen Course: Tsugaru Jonkara Bushi (Shin)
- Premium Shamisen Course: The Nitta Ryu Intensive Technique Pack
- Premium Shamisen Course: Advanced Kamashi
Note: A Bachido membership (free) is required to access the courses. To unlock the courses, please contact Bachido after ordering the Eclipse Shamisen. Include the full name on your Bachido account, as well as your paypal receipt for the Eclipse Shamisen. After your account and purchase has been verified, the courses will be unlocked to your account.
Purchase your Eclipse
Get your Accessories!To bring the price as low as possible, all recommended accessories are sold separately. Find them below, and get cases or other accessories in the Bachido Store!. (The Eclipse Shamisen is shipped from a separate dealer, and can't be combined with other items from the Bachido Store. Sorry!)
Bachido Doukake- by Kyle AbbottThe Bachido Doukake is hand-lacquered with a super hard resin and glistens with a "dipped in glass"-like appearance. It is very durable and will keep your shamisen protected while looking simply stunning! Prepare yourself for the oncoming compliments! Includes faux-leather cord and Bachido Saofuki. (Your choice of color.) Handmade in California by Kyle Abbott. Check it out!
Ito Set Pack (Tsugaru) 津軽糸セットパック (IT-TS)
Includes one Ichi no Ito (2X), a pack of three Ni no Ito and a pack of five San no Ito.
Neo 音緒 (NE-T)
The Neo is the tailpiece which the strings are tied to. It is fitted on the end of the shamisen.
Leather Doukake レザー胴掛け (紐付) (DO-R)
Leather doukake look very classy, and available in many colors.
Dou Gomu Shi-ru 胴ゴムシール (DO-GM)
The Dou Gomu Shi-ru is an adhesive rubber pad which is affixed to the lower-right corner of the dou (where the dou rests on your knee). Without it, the shamisen can easily slip off of your leg while you’re playing.
Fujaku 譜尺 (SF-1)
The hardest part of shamisen playing is the lack of frets, or other indicators to where the positions are. The fujaku is an adhesive plastic strip which sticks to the side of the shamisen. When placed correctly, the numbers on the seal line up exactly where you need to press the string to sound the desired position. This seal takes away lots of frustration from your shamisen experience. It can be removed when your fingers attain muscle memory so you don’t need to look at the numbers. Watch how to attach a fujaku.
Yubikake 指掛け (YB-M)
The yubikake is a tightly knit sleeve which is fitted over the index finger and thumb. When playing shamisen, the friction of your skin rubs against the neck, making it hard to play. The Yubikake adds a layer between your hand and the neck, reducing friction and making playing much easier.
Small: 3.2cm wide x 7.8cm long
Medium: 3.3cm wide x 8.0cm long
Large: 3.7cm wide x 9.0cm long
Faux-Bekkou Bachi べっ甲調撥 (BA-BC)
Hardness level: 5.
Highly Reccomended! Perfect for beginners and advanced players alike. It has the same feel & flex of a natural bekkou bachi, but is stronger and will potentially last many more years of hard tsugaru playing! The tortoise will thank you too.
Note: Recently, the production of these bachi were moved to China. Though still flexible, there have been new issues with the bachi blade peeling from the handle and such. Fortunately though, these bachi are covered with one-year insurance. If you bachi breaks within one year’s time, send it back and it can be replaced!
Wooden Bachi 木撥 (BA-K)
Hardness level: 7.
The Wooden Bachi can be used for a variety songs and techniques. It’s only weakness is that it can break fairly quickly with hard tsugaru playing. Perfect for wood lovers!
Plastic Bachi プラスチック撥 (BA-P)
Hardness level: 8.
Reccomended only for trying shamisen with little investment, or if you need an ice scraper. Unfortunately, it is difficult to use and can make the shamisen experience less enjoyable.
Bamboo Koma 竹駒 (KM-T)
Soft and warm.
Bamboo Koma (Bone Tip) 先骨竹駒 (KM-TB)
Clean and crisp. Bone tip brings a sharper tone, compared to the Bamboo Koma
Base – Bamboo
Saddle – Bone
Shinobi Koma 忍び駒 (KM-SNOBI)
Neighbors keeping your sound levels down? Desperately wanting to play shamisen now but still recovering from that hangover? The shinobi koma (Stealth Bridge) is made for you!
Replacing your normal koma with the Shinobi Koma will lower the sound level tremendously.
Note: Though the sound from striking the string is significantly reduced, the percussive sound from the bachi snapping against the skin isn’t affected by the koma.
Shinobi Koma - Deluxe 「静」忍び駒 (KM-SNOBI2)
Prepare for extra-awesome! This Shinobi Koma is loaded with extra features!
1) Unlike the Shinobi Koma (Standard), the Shinobi Koma (Deluxe) is shaped in such a way that you can freely execute maebachi and ushirobachi techniques without being constrained by the size of the koma.
2) Though the Shinobi Koma (Standard) mutes the sound from the string, the loud percussivness of the bachi striking the skin remains at full volume. The Shibobi Koma (Deluxe) reduces the percussive volume as well as the volume from the strings, providing a satisfying and balanced low-volume experience.
3) The timbre of the (muted) sound quality can be adjusted.
Plastic and Aluminum
Eclipse Shamisen are built per order. Please allow three weeks for construction)
Return PolicyThere is a 90 day return policy (which starts on the first day of shipment) for the Eclipse Shamisen. All returns are subject to a 15% restocking fee, and shipping costs must be covered by the customer.
We stand behind the quality of our shamisen with the highest standards. The Eclipse Shamisen is made by the best maker in Japan and skinned with the highest quality skin in Japan. Thus, we will not accept "lack of quality" as a reason for return. Please be certain that you are ready to invest in the Eclipse Shamisen before purchasing.
The Eclipse Shamisen must be returned in new condition. Any signs of wear or damage to the instrument, whether from use or during shipping, will void the warranty. If this is the case, we will provide evidence of the fault, and the refund will not be given. If this is the case, the customer must cover shipping costs to have it sent back to his/her address.
We apologize for the strictness of the policy. The shamisen is a fragile instrument, and there's always risk of damage during shipping, which is why we wish to keep returns to a minimum.
DamagesThe Eclipse Shamisen is fully insured from initial shipment to until final delivery. If the Eclipse Shamisen is damaged upon arrival, please proceed with the following instructions to receive compensation/replacement.
1. Contact us within 48 hours of receipt notifying us of the damage.
2. Send us at least three photos: one photo of the full product, a close-up (or several) of the damage, and a photo of the package.
3. We may ask you to fill a “damage claims form” at your local post office for reimbursement purposes.
4. In most circumstances, we will pay shipping costs for your replacement. In special cases, we may ask that you pay shipping costs.
The skin of the Eclipse Shamisen is guaranteed up to 6 months (starting from initial shipment). We will only request shipping costs to be covered by the customer. If the skin ruptures before then, please proceed with the following instructions to receive skin replacement.
1. Contact us within 48 hours of receipt notifying us of the ruptured skin.
2. Send us at least two photos: one photo of the full dou (body), and a close-up (or several) of the tear in the skin.
3. When we confirm the your Eclipse Shamisen is covered for skin replacement, we will tell you the address of where to send the Eclipse Shamisen dou (body) for skin replacement, and will request a specified payment to cover costs of return shipping.
4. Please watch this video to learn how to remove the dou (body) from the Eclipse Shamisen Watch how to remove the dou.
5. When the dou is separated from the shamisen, please pack it tightly in a box, filled with lots of protective packaging to prevent potential damage to the dou during shipping.
6. Send it to the address we provide. Once it arrives, it will be reskinned as soon as possible, and then sent back to your address.
To ensure longevity of the skin:Keep your shamisen inside, in a cool, dry environment. Extreme heat (inside a hot car, for example) or cold stresses the skin.
Remove the koma from the shamisen after every practice session. The koma puts pressure on the skin. When the shamisen is not in use, removing the koma will increase the lifespan of the skin.
Play your shamisen often! The more you play, the better your shamisen will sound! Just like how doing yoga keeps your body flexible and limber, playing the shamisen often will keep the skin vibrating. Vibrating the skin keeps it supple and responsive. On the other hand, when the shamisen isn't played often, the skin will get brittle, and thus prone to breaking sooner.