2020 Update: AvailableAfter 130 years of making shamisen, the workshop 'Tokyo Wagakki' was critically close to ending business due to the Coronavirus. Fortunately, thanks to the support of the entire shamisen community inside and outside of Japan, Tokyo Wagakki received enough donations to stay open! Our deep gratitude to everyone who supported Tokyo Wagakki in their time of need!
Up until now, all of our high-end shamisen models from Tokyo Wagakki (the oldest shamisen workshop in the Tokyo area) have only been tsugaru shamisen, simply because that's the main (but not only) style which the Bachido instructors and myself play. However, Bachido is proudly filled with members who are practicing all styles of shamisen! Whether it be Nagauta, Jiuta, Minyo, or others, they study diligently and want the best gear possible. After all, some people aren't into tsugaru shamisen (or what I affectionately refer to it as, "bang-bang jamisen".) With that, I bring to you our first Minyo shamisen - the Starling!
- Sao: Shitan (Rosewood) – 28mm wide x 33mm thick (Chuzao)
- Mitsuori (three-piece neck)
- Itomaki: Nejiri (spiral). Your choice of white acrylic or black ebony
- Skin: Hibiki (Black/White Synthetic) or Vintage Tone (Natural)
- Dou: Karin – Size 2 (Minyo) (Note: Will NOT fit Bachido Lacquered Doukake)
- Hardware: Azuma Sawari, Rindo, Zagane, and Kamigoma
- Accessories not included
Azuma Sawari Options
The sawari block (which touches the string to create the buzz) is normally made of hard kouki wood, which creates a warm sustained tone. Until now, all of the azuma sawari in our shamisen were also fitted with wood. For the Starling, we’ve decided to incorporate bone, a material which is rarely used in azuma sawari (I believe due to being much harder for the craftsman to shape).
Bone gives a subtley brighter, sharper tone to the sawari’s buzz. I have to reaffirm that it is very subtle and not better/worse than wood. It’s most noticable for the individual player who’s desiring to fine tune their shamisen to their specific tastes. Also, one can’t discount how visually striking it is with the dark wood!
Beefing up the Bling
If there’s one obvious fact when it comes to the zagane (metal fittings in the itomaki holes), it’s that tsugaru shamisen is no stranger to sparkle. Unlike the zagane of more traditional shamisen styles (which are thinner and balanced with smaller shamisen), high-end tsugaru shamisen are outfitted with large, gold zagane that dazzle in the light and makes a statement. (To be clear, one isn’t better than the other 🙂 )
Since we have the opportunity to make magic happen in collaboration with Tokyo Wagakki, we decided to bring the bolder look of tsugaru-style zagane to our minyo shamisen! Be the envy of your minyo circle as the golden glint from your zagane sparkles around the room!
Note: The larger zagane also means the itomaki peg is also slightly larger than standard itomaki for minyo shamisen. However, it’s very subtle and the thinner itomaki handle remains balanced with the overall shape and size of the Starling.
Color Burst Within Darkness
Just like the Raven, the Starling is made with high quality Shitan (rosewood), which the craftsmen at Tokyo Wagakki have masterfully lacquered with dark urushi (non-allergenic) and polished to an divine brilliance. This is a striking feature not seen in any ordinary shamisen. When the background is lighter/whiter, the Starling is pure black. However, when moved to a darker location, the deep browns of the rosewood appears! This feature is incredibly popular in the Raven, so we couldn’t resist adding the same to our only other shitan shamisen.
Just like the tsugaru models from Tokyo Wagakki, the build quality of this minyo shamisen is nothing short of top grade. At last, folks specifically practicing Minyo (or other) styles can rejoice in the level of quality which tsugaru-inclined folks have been enjoying at Bachido for years!
To help you get started with your brand-new Starling Shamisen, I am including several learning materials for free!
- Bachido Shamisen Crash Course
- Premium Shamisen Course: Sakura
- Premium Shamisen Course: Ringo Bushi
- Premium Shamisen Course: Yasaburo Bushi
- Premium Shamisen Course: Tosa no Sunayama
Note: A Bachido membership (free) is required to access the courses. To unlock the courses, please contact Bachido after ordering the Starling Shamisen. Include the full name on your Bachido account, as well as your paypal receipt for the Starling Shamisen. After your account and purchase has been verified, the courses will be unlocked to your account.
Order the Starling Shamisen!(Note: Each shamisen is built per order. Please allow six to eight weeks for construction)
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!
Please order accessories below the Paypal Box.
Get your Accessories!To bring the price as low as possible, all recommended accessories are sold separately. Find them below, and get cases or other accessories in the Bachido Store!. (The Starling Shamisen is shipped from a separate dealer, and can't be combined with other items from the Bachido Store. Sorry!)
2021 Status of Minyo Accessories: While minyo (which simply means "folk song") can technically be played on any shamisen with any accessories, the formal Minyo style requires specific koma, bachi, ito, and yubikake. We're hoping to get minyo-specific items in stock soon (including doukake), but if you're not specifically pursuing formal minyo style, tsugaru koma, yubikake and bachi with nagauta ito will work just fine.
長唄 糸セット (IT-NS) Ito Set (Nagauta)
音緒 (NE-T) Neo
胴ゴムシール (DO-GM) Dou Gomu Shi-ru
譜尺 (SF-1) Fujaku
指掛け (YB-M) Yubikake
べっ甲調撥 (BA-BC) Faux-Bekkou Bachi
木撥 (BA-K) Wooden Bachi
プラスチック撥 (BA-P) Plastic Bachi
竹駒 (KM-T) Bamboo Koma
先骨竹駒 (KM-TB) Bamboo Koma #1 (Bone Tip)
材質: 台部分 – 竹 / 糸道部分– 骨
入骨竹駒舟形 Bamboo Koma #2 (Bone Tip)
半骨竹駒 (KM-HB) Bamboo Koma #1 (Half Bone)
半骨竹駒舟形 Bamboo Koma #2 (Half Bone)
紅木駒 Kouki Koma #1
材質: 台部分 – 紅木 / 糸道部分 – 象牙
半骨紅木駒舟形 Kouki Koma #2
紅木駒 Kouki Koma #1
材質: 台部分 – 紅木 / 糸道部分 – 象牙
半骨紅木駒舟形 Kouki Koma #2
忍び駒 (KM-SNOBI) Shinobi Koma
「静」忍び駒 (KM-SNOBI2) Shinobi Koma - Deluxe
Import TaxPlease be aware 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.
Return PolicyThere is a 90 day return policy (which starts on the first day of shipment) for the Starling Shamisen. All returns are subject to a 15% restocking fee, and shipping costs must be covered by the customer.
We stand behind the quality of our shamisen with the highest standards. The Starling Shamisen is made by the best maker in Japan and skinned with the highest quality skin in Japan. Thus, we will not accept "lack of quality" as a reason for return. Please be certain that you are ready to invest in the Starling Shamisen before purchasing.
The Starling Shamisen must be returned in new condition. Any signs of wear or damage to the instrument, whether from use or during shipping, will void the warranty. If this is the case, we will provide evidence of the fault, and the refund will not be given. If this is the case, the customer must cover shipping costs to have it sent back to his/her address.
We apologize for the strictness of the policy. The shamisen is a fragile instrument, and there's always risk of damage during shipping, which is why we wish to keep returns to a minimum.
DamagesThe Starling Shamisen is fully insured from initial shipment to until final delivery. If the Starling Shamisen is damaged upon arrival, please proceed with the following instructions to receive compensation/replacement.
1. Contact us within 48 hours of receipt notifying us of the damage.
2. Send us at least three photos: one photo of the full product, a close-up (or several) of the damage, and a photo of the package.
3. We may ask you to fill a “damage claims form” at your local post office for reimbursement purposes.
4. In most circumstances, we will pay shipping costs for your replacement. In special cases, we may ask that you pay shipping costs.
The skin of the Starling Shamisen is guaranteed up to 6 months (starting from initial shipment). We will only request shipping costs to be covered by the customer. If the skin ruptures before then, please proceed with the following instructions to receive skin replacement.
1. Contact us within 48 hours of receipt notifying us of the ruptured skin.
2. Send us at least two photos: one photo of the full dou (body), and a close-up (or several) of the tear in the skin.
3. When we confirm the your Starling Shamisen is covered for skin replacement, we will tell you the address of where to send the Starling Shamisen dou (body) for skin replacement, and will request a specified payment to cover costs of return shipping.
4. Please watch this video to learn how to remove the dou (body) from the Starling Shamisen Watch how to remove the dou.
5. When the dou is separated from the shamisen, please pack it tightly in a box, filled with lots of protective packaging to prevent potential damage to the dou during shipping.
6. Send it to the address we provide. Once it arrives, it will be reskinned as soon as possible, and then sent back to your address.
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.