The Beginner's Shamisen


At Bachido, we know that shamisen are very expensive instruments to learn. Though some people know shamisen is for them upon hearing the first snap of the string, it's difficult for most of us to spend $1000 on an instrument without trying it first. It's been my dream for years to find a source for affordable shamisen so people can start their three-stringed journey with greater ease. And at last, we've done it! I present to you, the Beginner's Shamisen.

Hibiki: Advanced Synthetic Skin available! Rugged and waterproof for carrying on adventures, yet responsive with a resonant tone fit for the stage! Order a Beginner's Shamisen with Hibiki: Advanced Synthetic Skin below, and play it anywhere you go! View image gallery (10 pics)

Specifications

Helpful Videos

Assemble the Beginners Shamisen (Click)
Making the Sawari Effect (Click)

Kyle’s Opinion

Having tested it out myself, I am very happy with the quality of this shamisen. The clear and resonant tone almost surprised me, it’s so nice! The tone gave me great satisfaction, which is something I wasn’t expecting from a shamisen of this price. Unlike other beginner level shamisen, this one sounds like… like a real instrument! Also, the itomaki are made from real wood and the shamisen sparkles with a luscious lacquer, making this a beautiful instrument to admire as you play it. This is a shamisen that sounds great and looks beautiful. If you are ready to start learning, this is the instrument for you. You may pick this shamisen up as a beginner, but you will cherish it for many years to come.

Special Bonus!

To help you get started with your new Beginner’s Shamisen, I am including several learning materials for free!

Testimonials

“I’ve been wanting to learn the shamisen for years, and thanks to Bachido, now I’m starting to! I’m really impressed with the quality and sound of this instrument. The videos and Kyle’s book have made learning how to play easy and fun!” – Kristen

“Just ordered one on the weekend cant wait to learn playing it!!” – Christian

“Oh my gosh, I can finally afford one. I just have to wait til after that holidays. YAY!”" – Gizmondo

Accessories NOT Included

Please note that the maker of the Beginner’s Shamisen does not carry accessories (strings, etc), and so they must be ordered separately (available below the order boxes).

Why can’t accessories be combined with the shamisen?

It is because accessories are provided by a separate supplier. In an effort to lower shipping costs, we tried combining accessories with the Beginner’s Shamisen before, but the overall shipping costs became higher than two separate shipments. Thus, it’s actually cheaper for the customer if the accessories and shamisen are shipped separately. Thank you for understanding!

2022 Update: Refreshed Shamisen

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).

Order your Beginner's Shamisen!

(Please allow two weeks for fulfillment)

Important: Please read before purchase.

After you place your Paypal order...

Please email me (Kyle Abbott!) your phone number to 'store (at) bachido (dot) com', because my partners in Japan require it for shipping/customs. Thank you!

Accessories NOT included
Required items are the Beginners Shamisen Accessory Set, one Bachi, and one Koma. If you do not already own these items, please order them below the Paypal Boxes.

Beginner's Shamisen

(Hibiki: Advanced Synthetic Skin)

$ 500 USD

Hibiki Color Option

Shipping method: EMS Airmail
USA/International: $90
(Your order will be processed by PayPal)

Get your Accessories!

Outfit your shamisen with these recommended accessories. For the best shamisen experience, please order one of the Bachi, one of the Koma and the Beginner's Shamisen Accessory Set below. Find even more at the Bachido Store!

Accessory Set

Beginner Shamisen Accessory Set 初心者用三味線小物セット (NS_SET)

This Accessory Set includes everything you need to get the most from your Beginner’s Shamisen. (Nagauta/Hosozao Size)

  • Fujaku (Position Mark Strip)
  • Yubikake (Friction Reducer) – Color: Our choice please!
  • Neo (Tailpiece) – Purple
  • Doukake (Arm Guard) – Purple
  • Dou Gomu “(Rubber Knee Pad)”
  • Ichi no ito (3) (First String)
  • Ni no Ito (2) (Second String)
  • San no Ito (5) (Third String)
  • Pitch Pipe

Bachi and Koma are sold separately. Please choose them below.

Note: The size of the Beginner’s Shamisen is ‘Hosozao’, (generally known as ‘Nagauta Shamisen’) and these accessories are specifically meant for this kind of shamisen. . Please be aware, these items are NOT meant for Tsugaru/Futozao Shamisen.

Price:
$140 USD

Bachi

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:
$326 USD
Size:
Hardness:

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:
$377 USD

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:

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:
$43 USD
Color:

Koma

Bamboo Koma 竹駒 (KM-T)

Sound quality:
Soft and warm.

Material:
Madake (bamboo)

Height:
8mm

Price:
$50 USD

Bamboo Koma #1 (Bone Tip) 先骨竹駒 (KM-TB)

Sound quality:
Clean and crisp. Bone tip brings a sharper tone, compared to the Bamboo Koma

Material:
Base – Bamboo
Saddle – Bone

Height:
8mm

Price:
$50 USD

Susudake Bamboo Koma (Half Bone) すす竹駒半骨

I must admit, this is my absolute favorite koma. It’s both great sounding and a gorgeous work of art. This koma is made from susudake (soot bamboo) and half bone top is expertly carved with three waves (or some might see fangs) curving downward. All of the bamboo/wood koma on Bachido sound great, but I particularly like this one for both it’s style and sound.

Height:
8mm

Price:
$62 USD

Bamboo Koma #2 (Bone Tip) 入骨竹駒舟形

This bamboo base of this koma is called “Boat Shape”. The base is slightly thicker while the middle is cut away. Personally, I don’t find a huge difference between the Boat Shape base and the standard base. You’ll probably hear a slight difference in tone between the two, but I don’t think one is “better” than the other. Furthermore, when comparing the sound quality of two koma, it’s important to consider the tightness and age of the shamisen skin, as some koma may sound better on fresher or older skins than others.

Sound quality:
Clean and crisp. Bone tip brings a sharper tone, compared to the Bamboo Koma

Material:
Base – Bamboo
Saddle – Bone

Height:
8mm

Price:
$47 USD

Bamboo Koma #1 (Half Bone) 半骨竹駒 (KM-HB)

Sound quality:
Sharper and harder compared to ‘Bamboo Koma (Bone Tip)’

Material:
Base – Bamboo
Saddle – Bone

Height:
8mm

Price:
$50 USD

Bamboo Koma #2 (Half Bone) 半骨竹駒舟形

This bamboo base of this koma is called “Boat Shape”. The base is slightly thicker while the middle is cut away. Personally, I don’t find a huge difference between the Boat Shape base and the standard base. You’ll probably hear a slight difference in tone between the two, but I don’t think one is “better” than the other. Furthermore, when comparing the sound quality of two koma, it’s important to consider the tightness and age of the shamisen skin, as some koma may sound better on fresher or older skins than others.

Sound quality:
Sharper and harder compared to ‘Bamboo Koma (Bone Tip)’

Material:
Base – Bamboo
Saddle – Bone

Height:
8mm

Price:
$55 USD

Kouki Koma #1 紅木駒

Sound quality:
The bone tip makes the tone crisper overall. However, I’ve noticed that the kouki base makes the tone mellower than the “Bamboo Koma (Half Bone)” This is rather surprising as kouki is much harder than bamboo. Note that results will vary depending on the age and quality of your shamisen skin.

Material:
Base – Kouki
Tip – Bone

Height:
8mm

Price:
$50 USD

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.

Sound quality:
Muted (intentionally)

Material:
Plastic

Height:
7mm

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.

Price:
$14 USD

By Purchasing the Beginner's Shamisen, you hereby understand that...

Bachido is NOT responsible for covering import tax, and must be covered by the customer. Because import tax varies depending on the country, please check your country's import tax and make sure you will be able to cover the cost of the tax as well as the items you are purchasing from Bachido. There Are No Refunds/Returns: As a service to shamisen enthusiasts, we take special measures to keep the price low as possible, and thus we're able to provide affordable shamisen for the public. These measures required for us to provide affordable Beginner's Shamisen means we are unable to accept returns nor issue refunds.

Skin May Break in Shipping: The skin on Beginner's Shamisen is a natural material, and thus is naturally affected by environmental change. Durable skin is used on the Beginner's Shamisen, but there's always a risk of the skin rupturing during shipping, or upon arrival in your country. We cannot guarantee the longevity of the skin, nor are we held responsible if the skin does break.

Note: This case happens very rarely, but please understand that it's a natural risk when shipping shamisen, and a factor we are not responsible for.

Please read before purchasing the Beginner's Shamisen.

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.

Read more about Care and Handling here!