Since releasing the Beginner’s Shamisen in 2015, the maker build these instruments from his large supply of 30 year old Karin wood. Materials were much cheaper then, and allowed him to offer these shamisen much more affordably. However, as of mid-2022, the maker depleted his supply due to the overwhelming popularity of the Beginner’s Shamisen. Because karin wood is much more expensive these days, the cost would increase by $200, which I feel is too high for a resource intended for accessibility.

In order to keep the cost the same as before, the maker is acquiring used hosozao/nagauta shamisen (which is technically what the Beginner’s Shamisen is) and giving them a full refresh to new condition! All the parts are relacquered, metal fittings are polished, mitsuori joints are refitted, and brand new itomaki are installed. Basically, everything is done to bring used shamisen back to a brand new condition.

The main difference is that unlike the original Beginner’s Shamisen (which were all made to the exact same specifications by the same maker), these refreshed shamisen will have some variations, because they come from different makers from different decades. As you can see in the picture above, the shamisen on the left has noticably wider chibukuro (the “hips” of the tenjin, as it were) than the right. The maker is carefully looking for shamisen that match the original Beginner’s Shamisen as closely as possible, but certain elements will always have a bit of variation (like the minor differences shown in the picture above).