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Mr. T

Questions about shamisens

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First off, sorry if this topic is in the wrong place, I wasn't sure where to put it. Anyways, I'm kinda interested in getting a shamisen, and I'm just curious if there's anything I should know before getting one. Even if you don't know much about the instrument itself, any tips for good instrument related websites would be very appreciated.

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It's basically a guitar/banjo. So you're looking to have a good build quality, body and strings. Other than that, nothing much. All I know is that there is a very small difference between an authentic Japanese shamisen and its Chinese relative. I believe it's a difference in materials though. Modern shamisens probably do not use skins of animals like the old school ones used to. I wouldn't know what they would use. You probably want one where you can tune it with fair ease as well as being able to maintain pitch. For violas or violins, they use rosin powder to adjust the pegs to their liking. As for the pick you use, just get something functional. No reason to ball out for some made from super high tech stuff or expensive ivory (yes, they exist).

If you're just starting to learn to play one, you might as well start with a cheap one and then later upgrade to a high quality one. I think the bigger question is finding a reliable dealer.

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Thanks so much for all the help! My main concern is the fact that if I get one, it'll likely have to be off of the internet. I'm not too keen the the idea of buying an instrument without first being able to play/see it. That said, there are some very reasonably priced ones on ebay right now (less than 200 bucks), and I wonder if I might be able to get some opinions from you guys? I think I may send an email to the seller to see what he says about the instrument.

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I see the problem. The shamisens that show up on eBay look like they're generally made by unknown people/companies and are imported from Japan, so it's not like you can just read the reviews for a particular manufacturer and make an educated guess as to the quality of the instrument.

Only other thing I can think of off the top of my head is to try to find some people who actually play the instrument and see what they have to say. Have you checked around for websites, message boards, online communities, etc. devoted to the shamisen?

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