Bachi (plectrum)

Commonly mistaken for a putty knife, the bachi is the plectrum for the shamisen. Choosing the right bachi for you is just as important as the shamisen, as it greatly affects your playing experience. What’s the most important factor in choosing a bachi? Flexibility.

Flexibility changes your playing experience the most. When you hold the bachi, you strike the strings with the tip. When there is flexibility, the tip will bend, which makes striking the string feel smoother. If it is really hard, it will feel like the tip is getting caught in the strings. A good rule of thumb is that more flexibility is better. However, higher flexibility means that it may break more easily. Knowing that, please consider your budget as well as your desired experience.

Pantera Bachi パンテーラ撥

Introducing the newest technology for shamisen bachi! Made by TOA, the synthetic material of the blade is as close as it gets to natural material. Unlike other Faux Bekko bachi which are made from a material closer to acrylic (I’m not 100% sure, but it’s something like that), the Pantera is made of casein, which is a natural protein, and thus much closer to real shell than any other. 

Until now, I hadn’t felt that any bachi could match the same feeling as real bekko. Faux Bekko and Acrylic bachi are both outstanding, but still the feeling and tone were different (not bad, just not exactly the same). With that in mind, I am very, very impressed with the flex and tone from the Pantera bachi. I can only assume that casein is the key ingredient, because I can’t feel or hear a difference from bekko. 

Flex Options:
Hard: 8 This is very rigid, almost like Plastic Bachi, or cheaper bekko bachi. Only choose this if you are accustomed to hard bachi and especially prefer it.

Medium: 5 This is a similar level to the Faux Bekko Bachi, as well as most bekko bachi available.  

Soft: 3 This is ideal for beginners. (Flex level has no connection to skill level – many professional players use soft bachi) Soft bachi are comparable to high end bekko bachi, as very flexible shell are reserved for expensive bachi. (Hard/Medium bachi can be high end as well, but it’s much harder to find natural soft flex in the lower price ranges) The extra flex makes it very comfortable to get a satisfying percussive snap against the skin, and unlike stiffer bachi, it doesn’t get caught in the strings as much. Masahiro Nitta’s personal bachi has a similar flexibility as this, and it’s my favorite as well. 

Size options: (Length x Width)
Large 167mm×93mm
Medium 164mm×88mm
Small 161mm×83mm

Price:
$240 USD
Size:
Hardness:

Signature Bachi (Neoko) べっ甲調 ネオ甲

Hardness level: 8 (but can be flexible as 3 if sanded thinner)

Get closer to your shamisen idols! The Signature Bachi are made in collaboration with the hottest shamisen stars of today. Every star player involved has given us their preferred weight, balance and shape of their favorite bachi, and the maker creates them with synthetic bekko called Neoko. 

Note: Although these bachi have been designed by your favorite players, please know that they were designed to what’s best for their own hands. Individual hand sizes vary, so it’d be worthwhile to check the measurements below and compare it with your own bachi so you have an idea of the size difference. 

Furthermore, Neoko can be sanded to achieve the exact flexibility you desire! Please check out this video to learn how to sand Signature Bachi – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdLdYuoIReo

Bachi Sizes

Masahiro Nitta
Weight: 155g
Length: 170mm
Blade Width: 90mm
Handle Width (Base): 24mm
Handle Height (Base): 25mm
Handle Width (Blade*): 36mm
Handle Height (Blade*): 10mm

Yutaka Oyama
Weight: 108
Length: 165mm
Blade Width: 91mm
Handle Width (Base): 25mm
Handle Width (Blade*): 36mm
Handle Height (Base): 18mm
Handle Height (Blade*): 7.5mm

Big K
Weight: 126
Length: 165mm
Blade Width: 95mm
Handle Width (Base): 25mm
Handle Width (Blade*): 36mm
Handle Height (Base): 18mm
Handle Height (Blade*): 7.5mm

Price:
$300 USD
Size:

Acrylic Bachi (Adjustable Weight) SBA-#重さ変更可能式アクリルバチ

Hardness level: 5

Typically, bachi have weighted handles, but the weight of the bachi varies on the maker, and if pre-owned, varies on the player it was made for. Because every player’s hand and wrist strength are different, not all bachi are weighted the same. This means that for one person, a 120g bachi will feel perfect, but another player’s wrist will tire more quickly.

With the Adjustable Weight Acrylic Bachi, you’re now able to customize the weight distribution to the exact heft and balance best for you! The blade is acrylic (same as most acrylic bachi coming out these days), etched with both Wave (Clear/No-Color) and Sakura (Light Cherry color) designs. Unscrew the handle to find eighteen 5g weights inside, easy to remove and adjust within the individual slots inside the handle.

Bachi Length: 170mm
Handle Base Width: 25mm
Handle Base Depth: 21mm
Blade Width: 94mm

Minimum Weight: 53g
Maximum Weight: 145g

Note: Regular bekko bachi can weigh as much as 190g, but a max of 145g is safe for most people. Higher than that can cause wrist pain if the user doesn’t have proper bachi technique.

Price:
$200 USD

Acrylic Bachi (LED) SBA-LED ライトタイプ

Hardness level: 5

Prepare to dazzle your friends and audiences even more by amping up the Wow Factor with this stunning LED Acrylic Bachi! Made in the same style as the Adjustable Weight Acrylic Bachi, this bachi is loaded with a powerful LED light which can be switched on and adjusted with the press of a button in the handle!

Furthermore, this bachi has four 5g weights which you can add/remove to adjust the overall balance!

The blade is acrylic (same as most acrylic bachi coming out these days), etched with both Wave (Clear/No-Color) and Sakura (Light Cherry color) designs. Switch out blades by removing the screws, separating the handle and simply swap out blades.

Weight: 100g
Bachi Length: 170mm
Handle Base Width: 25mm
Handle Base Depth: 25mm
Blade Width: 94mm

The handle of the LED Acrylic Bachi is slightly thicker than the Adjustable Weight model above. (Extra space is needed to accommodate the light source)

Price:
$200 USD

Takayama Synthetic Bachi 高山製〜先が黄色い撥

Hardness level: 5

Made by Takayama, this Bachi is made with their own synthetic blade. While the material is secret, to me it’s reminiscent of Acrylic. Medium flex with a warm and solid tone!

Size
Length: 170mm
Blade Width: 86mm
Handle Width (Base): 25.5mm
Handle Width (Blade*): 32mm
Handle Height (Base): 25.5mm
Handle Height (Blade*): 9mm

*The feathered edge where blade and handle first connect, (towards middle of handle, not the edge of handle)

Price:
$319 USD

Faux-Bekko Bachi べっ甲調撥 (BA-BC)

Hardness level: 5.
Made by Tokyo Wagakki, this bachi is great for beginners and advanced players alike. It has a similar feel & flex of a natural bekko bachi, but is stronger and will potentially last many more years of hard tsugaru playing! The tortoise will thank you too. Update: the Pantera bachi (shown above) is made from newer material and in my opinion is even closer to natural bekko than this bachi. This bachi is still awesome so we still offer it, but I do prefer the Pantera. :-)

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!

Price:
$269 USD

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.

Price:
$35 USD
Color:

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.

Size Options

9cm x 16.5cm (Regular) – Normal size for Tsugaru style.

7cm x 15cm (Trimmed) – Ideal if you have average size hands but tend to find tsugaru bachi unwieldy.

6cm x 13cm (Small) – Best for kids or small hands.

Price:
$45 USD
Size:

Premium Wooden Bachi (Ezon) エゾ木撥 BA-EZOKI

Enjoy a higher strata of elegance with this Premium Wooden Bachi made by Nitta san’s friends of his Sapporo music group Ezon! The handle has a Marquetry-style inlay which brightens your bachi with an artsy brilliance!

This bachi is available in both Maple and Oak.
Oak is stiffer with a hardness level of 8.
Maple has a bit more flex with a hardness level of 5 (although still durable)

Sizes
Medium: 178mm x 92mm (Similar to Plastic Bachi)
Large: 192mm x 105mm

Price:
$70 USD
Size:
Style:

Acrylic Bachi - Clear アクリル撥-透明 (BA-T)

Hardness level: 9.
Made out of clear acrylic and looks very stylish.

Price:
$275 USD

Acrylic Bachi - Tinted アクリル撥-色 (BA-A)

Hardness level: 9.
Made out of clear acrylic with a colored tint.

Price:
$362 USD
Color:

About Bekkou Bachi

Bekkou bachi are bachi made from tortoise shell, commonly used in Japan. Bekkou is favored for it’s flexibility and tradition. However, production of these bachi is decreasing, due to limited availability (endangerment) of materials. They are still sold in Japan, but thanks to developments in synthetics, newer synthetic bachi (like Pantera or Neoko) are almost identical to real shell. Happy tortoises!