When Bachido released the Eclipse in 2016, I thought we had created one of the most beautiful shamisen in the world. Is it even possible to make another shamisen better than the Eclipse? Well guess what, it is!
Built by the makers of Eclipse, our friends at Tokyo Wagakki brings mastery from their 120 year history to present you with another spectacular masterpiece!
Akatsuki ('Dawning' in English) continues the legacy of the Eclipse shamisen, bringing new advances in tone and playability that accentuates the shamisen's beauty.
View image gallery (27 pics)
- Dou: Karin (High Grade) Size 5 (Tsugaru)
- Sao: Karin – Highest Grade (Tochi Tiger Stripe), Darkened with red urushi
Special Feature: Sao topped with solid, high grade kouki
- Sao Size: Chuzao (28.5mm wide) or Futozao (30mm wide) – Mitsuori (three-piece neck)
- Sao Shape: ‘U’ Style, ‘V’ Style
- Tenjin: Ogi Cut, Eclipse Style – Kouki extends from sao to tenjin.
- Itomaki: Nejiri (twisted) / Kouki wood joined with rosewood
- Skin: Hibiki (Black/White Synthetic) or Vintage Tone (Natural)
- Hardware: Azuma Sawari, Rindo, Zagane, and Kamigoma
- Accessories not included
Ogi Cut (Fan cut)
One unique feature of the Akatsuki is focused on the Chibukuro, the area where the sao (neck) connected into the tenjin (headpiece). The Chibukuro typically has a convex curve. In the past, this convex curve possibly provided extra strength to the joint. Nowadays, the joint is so strong, the extra wood doesn’t serve much purpose. In fact, the extra mass can look and feel cumbersome, especially when playing position ‘1’.
We want full freedom while we’re playing shamisen, so the Ogi Cut (fan cut) has been developed. The Chibukuro is skillfully trimmed. Sleek and convexly curved, this slimmer Chibukuro is incredibly beautiful and allows us to be fully mobile as we play.
Two Sao Style Options
This is the standard shape of the sao. You will find this style on almost all shamisen. The base of the sao has a broader curve, so it fits comfortably in most hands. Because it can feel thick for some, we recommend a Chuzao size (28.5mm wide) for this style.
If you are purchasing the Akatsuki as your first shamisen, the standard ‘U’ Style would be safest choice.
If you’re like me, you’ll notice the base of a futozao (30mm wide) can feel too thick. Even though the wide fingerboard is easy to play, the thick shape feels unnecessarily big. Because of this, I (Kyle Abbott) have designed the ‘V’ Style sao. (Note: the Akatsuki displayed on this page has the ‘V’ Style)
This base of the ‘V’ Style sao is greatly reduced, making the sao feel much thinner while still providing a full futozao width (30mm). The careful shaping of the sao brings out a subtle edge along the base. This is a very unique style, ideal for experienced players who want to fine-tune their playing experience.
Comparing Akatsuki & Eclipse
Find out what separates the 2017 Akatsuki from the 2016 Eclipse.
As you can see, there are several similarities between the two shamisen. We have brought the features we love most about the Eclipse and incorporated them in with the incredible new unique advances of the Akatsuki. Because the Toguchi Karin, Ripple, and master craftsman are the same, you can read more about them on the Eclipse page.
When I pulled the Akatsuki from it’s box for the first time, I felt an instant sense of awe. I stared at the beautiful tenjin for what felt like hours, marveling in it’s every perfect curve and edge. This sensation continues as I play it. The Akatsuki’s tone is clear and the resonance is deep. When first playing the Akatsuki, I literally struck notes slowly so I could close my eyes and savor the pure resonance from the Akatsuki.
It should be mentioned that being used to a standard ‘U’ Style sao, it took me a short time to adapt to the new ‘V’ Style. Within 10 minutes, my hand loved the new size! It’s a real treat to enjoy a full futozao width on the fingerboard while having the comfort of a slimmer base!
Honestly, I didn’t think it was possible to see a shamisen more stunning than the Eclipse. Once again, the master craftsman at Tokyo Wagakki have shown their prowess and abilities by bringing the bond of beauty and functionality to new levels.
To help you get started with your brand-new Akatsuki, 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 Akatsuki Shamisen. Include the full name on your Bachido account, as well as your paypal receipt for the Akatsuki Shamisen. After your account and purchase has been verified, the courses will be unlocked to your account.
Purchase your Akatsuki(Note: Each shamisen is built per order. Please allow six to eight weeks for construction)
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 Akatsuki 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: On very rare occasions, the blades of these bachi sometimes crack or separate from the handle. (It used to be a frequent problem but that issue seems to have been eliminated recently.) That being said, these bachi are covered with one-year insurance. If your bachi cracks or separates from the handle 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!
Note: In the video, Nitta san plays an earlier model which we used to sell. The pictures show the current model available.
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
Akatsuki 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 Akatsuki 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 Akatsuki 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 Akatsuki Shamisen before purchasing.
The Akatsuki 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 Akatsuki Shamisen is fully insured from initial shipment to until final delivery. If the Akatsuki 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 Akatsuki 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 Akatsuki Shamisen is covered for skin replacement, we will tell you the address of where to send the Akatsuki 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 Akatsuki 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.