Koma (Bridge)

The most necessary accessory to the shamisen, besides the shamisen itself. The koma is a bridge which, like all stringed instruments, transfers vibrations from the string to the skin, producing sound which you can hear.

Watch how to insert the koma.

Plastic Koma (basic) プラスチック駒 (KM-PR)

Plastic… it was all the rage in the 70s. Does it make good koma? Well…

Sound quality:
Hollow. “Has the tone of olden shamisen” – Masahiro

Material:
Plastic. Be careful, this koma breaks easily.
String notches are small, so it may cut into the strings.

Height:
8mm

Acceptable if it’s all you can afford, but upgrading later is recommended to bring out the most sound quality from your shamisen.

Price:
$36 USD

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 top 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
Saddle – Bone

Height:
8mm

Price:
$70 USD

Kouki Koma #2 半骨紅木駒舟形

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:
The bone top 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
Saddle – Bone

Height:
8mm

Price:
$62 USD

Neogoma- Faux Bekkou 音緒駒-べっ甲調

The Neogoma is a thin piece that sits on the edge of the dou and is secured by the strings between the dou and the Neo. It’s purpose is for the strings to rest on a hard surface which theoretically benefits the vibration of the strings (whereas strings resting on the soft skin can dampen the vibration, albeit not very noticeably). Some say it makes the sawari clearer, but does it make any noticeable difference? Well, I do find it makes the tone a bit warmer, but not hugely different. Most shamisen superstars don’t even use it. That said, it still looks pretty cool!

Note: The Neogoma is NOT a Koma. It can only be used in addition to a Koma (like a Bamboo Koma, for example) in order to modify the overall tone. To be clear, if you use the Neogoma without a Koma, your shamisen won’t make a sound (but the neighbors might be happier).

Price:
$20 USD

Shinobi Koma

Because the feeling of the Shinobi Koma is different from a normal koma, using it as your primary koma isn't advised. However it's very convinient to keep one in your case, because there will always be times when you want to play shamisen while others are asleep.

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

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.

Sound quality:
Muted (intentionally)

Material:
Plastic and Aluminum

Height:
Adjustable

Price:
$65 USD

Shinobi Koma - Kobashiki こば式忍び駒 (KM-SNOBI3)

This is the best Shinobi Koma available. Far superior on many levels:

1) The Kobashiki Shinobi Koma 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) The Kobashiki Shibobi Koma reduces the percussive volume as well as the volume from the strings, providing a satisfying and balanced low-volume experience.
3) The koma is made from Take (bamboo)
4) The height of the koma can be adjusted.
5) The amount of volume suppresion can easily be adjusted at the touch of a dial.
6) It is light and can be installed easily.

Sound quality: Muted (intentionally)

Material: Koma: Take (Bamboo) Bachigawa: Plastic and Aluminum

Height: Adjustable

Price:
$203 USD