Skin Replacement

It is said that 80% of the shamisen's sound quality is determined by the skin. A professional skin replacement is a significant way for bringing out the wide range of tones that comes from a shamisen. Thus, if your shamisen is not sounding as vibrant as it used to, or if it's ruptured, it may be time for a new skin.

Watch how to properly care for the skin.

Why does a skin rupture?

Professional Reskinning Options

Hibiki (Advanced Synthetic Skin)

Exclusively at Bachido, Hibiki is the most advanced synthetic shamisen skin on the market. After extensively searching for new shamisen skin materials, Kyle Abbott finally discovered Hibiki in 2018 and loved it so much, he uses it for his own personal shamisen.

Hibiki™ Synthetic Skin
Shamisen Style

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Vintage Tone™ (Natural)

Vintage Tone™ is natural goat skin specially prepared for shamisen. Unlike goat skin used for doumbeks and bongos, Vintage Tone™ is developed by master craftsmen who once made the highest quality traditional shamisen skin (before the recent switch to goat skin). The result:

Read more about Vintage Tone™ in the Bachido Blog!

Professional Vintage Tone Skinning available by Kyle Abbott in California and Taichi Yanaka in Japan

Read: What to do after your paypal transaction.

Vintage Tone™ (Tsugaru)

Natural Goat Skin

Shamisen Style

(Your order will be processed by PayPal)

What to do after your paypal transaction.

Contact Bachido: If there are any special instructions or questions you have, please tell Kyle at store (at) bachido (dot) com, and he will make sure your requests are fulfilled, and will provide the address to send your shamisen!

Remove Dou (body) from Sao (neck): To reskin your shamisen, only the Dou (body) is needed. Please remove the Dou from the Sao (neck) by gently but firmly tapping the bottom spike against the floor. The body is held to the neck with friction, so a firm tap is the traditional way to separate the two.

How to separate the Dou and Sao

Pack your Dou: Fill a box halfway with packaging foam, place your Dou in the box, and tight pack the remaining gaps with more foam or cushioning. For safety, please include your mailing address and contact information inside the box before you seal it with tape.

Ship your Dou: After shipping the package with your preffered carrier, please tell us the tracking number, so we can prepare for the arrival of your package.

Please allow two weeks for the reskinning job to be completed. Upon completion, your Dou will be sent to your provided address, and we will send the tracking number to your email address.
Enjoy your new tone! When your dou is delivered, reattach it to the neck, put on the strings and have fun!

I really like the look of the Hibiki skin, and the way the koma and strings stand out against the black. The texture of the skin is like canvas, slightly coarser than other synthetic skins I’ve had. I don’t know how the surface will hold up to long term playing, but I’ve put in a number of hours so far, and there is no sign of any wear at all yet. Because it’s a new material, we don’t yet know how it compares in durability to other synthetics, but it is almost certainly going to last longer than a short-lived natural skin.

The sound of the Hibiki is warmer than other synthetics that I’ve used. I’ve never like the sound quality of synthetic skins, and only used them because they held up to temperature and weather changes. In the past I tried to mute annoying overtones by strategically placing duct tape at various points on the underside of the skin the way I have seen some bodhran players do, but it never really worked. I don’t hear those same annoying, ringing overtones with the Hibiki.

I’m really happy with the Hibiki, and have been playing this shamisen exclusively since Kyle re-skinned it because I like the sound, and I am able to leave it out, ready to play whenever I feel like it. I finally dug my other, much more expensive shamisen out of its various protective layers today so that I could compare the sound of the two to finish this review. That much nicer instrument, with fresher strings, and a new natural skin (also put on by Kyle) does sound better, but I have a feeling that it’s going to be getting a lot less play now that I have the Hibiki skinned shamisen at the ready to play whenever I get the urge.