5 Best Shamisen Reviews 2018 – Best Shamisen Brands

Best Shamisen & Best Shamisen Brands

Best Shamisen & Best Shamisen Brands

Shamisen is an old and traditional instrument of the Japanese music. The world literally means three strings which refer to the structure of the instrument. This is a three-stringed instrument that is played with plectrum which is usually known as bachi.

Interested in learning this Japanese musical instrument?

Want to know more about it?

Well, you are at the right place. Today, we have come with very useful information about the Shamisen, its structural design, playability and its top recommended models. Thus, if you are serious about learning this amazing art, this list of reviews is going to be very beneficial for you.

Whether it is your first time or you are an intermediate player, you will find suitable suggestions here. Firstly, you need to understand the basic structure, so that you can decide which one to buy. Moreover, understanding of the structure and playability will make the learning process easier for you.

What are the Best Shamisen to Buy?

2) DIY Shamisen: KABUKI

  • Handcrafted
  • Great Sound
  • Professional
  • Natural Woody Texture

1) Japanese Guitar Shamisen

  • High Quality
  • Great for Beginner
  • Easy to Play
  • Durable
  • Elegant 

3) Shamisen & Sanshin Craft

  • Unique Design
  • Artificial Skin
  • Hexagonal Style Karakui
  • Comfortable Playing

This beautiful instrument comes in various different shapes and the construction also varies depending on the genre in which it is going to be used. For instance, the ones used for the folk songs and puppet plays feature a thicker and longer neck to match the strong music. Similarly, for the kabuki, the Shamisen used has a thin neck that suits the delicate style of the genre and assists in its requirements.

This Plucked string instrument usually follows the constructional design of the guitars including a neck and a body across which the strings are stretched. The design is somehow similar but the Shamisen’s neck is slimmer than that of a guitar.

Body

The body is hollow inside, similar to the drum and the skin covers its front and back side. The skin material depends on the music genre and the skill level of the musicians using it. Initially, the skins were made from the dog’s or cat’s skin but now synthetic materials like plastic and some other are used.

Neck

The neck of Shamisen comprises 3,4 parts that combine to fit together. Most of the models are designed and made in a way that makes their assembly and disassembly easy and trouble-free. The singular rod neck crosses the body of Shamisen and protrudes partially on the other side to hold the strings as an anchor. Strings

The strings originally comprised silk. But many models these days come with the nylon strings which are more durable. Long, hexagonal and thin pegs are used to wind the strings. The traditional Shamisens had ivory-made pegs but now other materials like plastic or wood are used as the manufacturing material of the pegs.

Different types of Shamisen based on construction

Before starting to look for a good model for yourself, you should be aware of the fact that the Shamisen comes in different forms. As mentioned above these variations depend on their usage.

Hosozao

The Japanese word Hosozao literally means ”thin neck”. As the names suggest, it is the smallest type of Shamisen. It features a square shaped small body with a thin neck.

Chuzao

The word is used for ‘middle neck’ in Japanese. As indicated by the name the Shamisen under this category has a slightly thicker neck. This is more suitable for more mellow and broader sound.

Futozao

As the name itself refers, this is a fat-neck instrument. It is usually made of a large size and gives stronger and more powerful sound.

The plectrum required to play the Shamisen also come in a variety of shapes, materials, and sizes and that also depends on the nature of use i.e., the genre in which you want to play. Different materials used include plastic, wood, ivory, and tortoiseshell.

5 Best Shamisen Reviews and the Best Shamisen Brands

There are many known brands that present multiple varieties of Shamisen for different levels of musicians. Keeping your expertise in the mind, you can get the most suitable Shamisen for yourself. Following are some of the widely used and recommended models of Shamisen. We are going to review these in a comprehensive way to highlight their specific features so that you can choose the right one.

1) Japanese Guitar Shamisen 

This Shamisen is particularly designed for the entry-level players. Keeping in mind the needs of beginners, the construction and style are kept simple and it is made to offer easy playability. Simple structure, comfortable play, elegant outlook and attractive colors make it more attention-grabbing and worth trying.

The stem does not divide into 3 pieces, it comes in a single piece. The skin used to cover the front and back body comprises good quality plastic and the strings are made durable for longer use. The strings do not include silk as it gets damaged quickly.

The strings and the complete shamisen is strongly constructed to enhance the durability so that the fresh players can keep on practicing on this instrument for as long as they want. The starters who don’t know the proper handling can also manage to play it easily.

Playing on this one would enhance their skills in a much better and efficient way. It is a nagauta shamisen and is built exclusively for nagauta ensembles. The sweet sound matches well the agile style of traditional nagauta music.

2) DIY Shamisen: KABUKI

Here comes a more interesting and a unique option. The DIY kit comprises all that you may need to build your own instrument as per your requirement. It allows you to decide the design. Moreover, this kit gives you more control over the playability and you can construct it as you like so that you can freely play as per your preferred style.

The entire kit is carefully handcrafted by the expert shamisen artisans in the Tokyo. It clearly exhibits the expertise and skills of the professionals and this makes it a more reliable choice.

Its body comprises synthetic leather which is a more reliable option than the natural leather as the synthetic one can keep the body in a good condition for a long time and can stand the weather changes of humidity and temperature.

The strings, plectrum and other accessories are all included in the package. You won’t find paint in the kit but that is not a big deal. You can enjoy playing with a natural woody texture. A manual guide in the English language is also provided.

3) Shamisen & Sanshin Craft – ASOVIVA Tropication Diorama Trip

It comes in a dark brown color and offers a very classy and elegant look. The simplicity and decency of the design add more to its aesthetic appeal. Use of high-quality manufacturing material and robust construction makes it a strong instrument with which you can practice for a longer time.

It features a solid oak neck, a body made of polyester, make style and a very soothing to the eyes brown cherry finish. The tuning pegs are hexagonal in style and comprise brown striped ebony.

The strings attached deliver a more stable tone as these are stretched multiple times before fitting that takes the performance to another level. To ensure the correct pitch, the labels are attached to the neck, they are used for indicating the accurate positions or Uma.

What makes it special is the fact that it is handcrafted with great attention to detail and exhibits flawless craftsmanship. This is passed through a proper quality check to ensure its seamless construction and smooth functionality.

4) Shamisen & Sanshin Craft – ASOVIVA Tropication Nostalgic Beach

The design following a sunset theme and the gradient orange shade makes this instrument more attractive and gives it a distinctive outlook and makes you fall for its appealing appearance.

Not only it features the stunning looks, the construction is also flawless. Solid structure makes it a robust Shamisen that is best for a long-term usage. The body comprises artificial skin made of polyester while the neck is made up of solid oak. Moreover, the tuning pegs contain good looking black ebony that adds more strength and a pleasant touch. It comes in a Makabe style and contains translucent finish.

Interestingly, note labels are attached for facilitating the accurate positioning to make sure that you play the correct pitch. The especially handcrafted pegs (of high-quality wood) makes them a perfect fit. It is made to meet high standards of quality and its functionality is properly checked before the delivery to make sure that you get the best.

It comes complete with pick and a soft case of black color for carrying the instrument. Thus, it makes the portability easier and you can travel carrying your shamisen without any trouble

5) Traditional 3 Strings Chinese Sanxian Shamisen Guitar

It is a shamisen with a more decent look and simple design. Usually, it is preferred to be used for the old and traditional Chinese music. However, it can also be used for different kinds of modern music based on the speciality of the musician. Those who have the right skills can also use this one to play in a jazz band as a solo instrument.

The size dimensions include 35½ inches length (to the lower edge of the sound box) The sound box the size 7½ x 6 7/8 and have 3¾ inches thickness. It is a versatile 3 stringed instrument and the strings are made up nylon that adds more durability to them and hence prevents them from damage.

The fretless neck bar makes this Shamisen more advanced and you can play multiple different styles with it. This one is a more suitable choice for the professionals and expert musicians. It comes complete with a zipper canvas bag for keeping the instrument safe and clean after the use.

Choosing the Best Shamisen from the Best Shamisen Brands

All the models reviewed above have their own plus points, all are amazing in functionality and performance, but the question is, which one is right for you? Not every model is suitable for you. First, you need to identify your skill level and purpose of learning.

2) DIY Shamisen: KABUKI

  • Handcrafted
  • Great Sound
  • Professional
  • Natural Woody Texture

1) Japanese Guitar Shamisen

  • High Quality
  • Great for Beginner
  • Easy to Play
  • Durable
  • Elegant 

3) Shamisen & Sanshin Craft

  • Unique Design
  • Artificial Skin
  • Hexagonal Style Karakui
  • Comfortable Playing

For the starters, the Japanese GuitarShamisen for Beginners is the most suitable choice. It is exclusively built to meet the newbies need and they can have a better learning experience with it.

If you have already practised on some entry-level model and want to further polish your skills, you can try the DIY Shamisen: KABUKI. It will give you more freedom to play in your own style, and set up your own Shamisen would be an excellent experience for you.

The experts must try their hands on the Shamisen from Shamisen & Sanshin Craft. This versatile instrument would help them to test their skills and they can play it in any style they want.