2020 Update: Available

After 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!

The Starling

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!

フルサイズ (11 pics)


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!

Special Bonus!

To help you get started with your brand-new Starling Shamisen, I am including several learning materials for free!

Order the Starling Shamisen!

(Note: Each shamisen is built per order. Please allow six to eight weeks for construction)

Important: Please read before purchase.

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!

Accessories NOT included
Please order accessories below the Paypal Box.

Starling Shamisen

(Azuma Sawari: Bone)
$ 1850 USD

Skin Type
Itomaki Type

(Your order will be processed by PayPal)

Starling Shamisen

(Azuma Sawari: Wood)
$ 1750 USD

Skin Type
Itomaki Type

(Your order will be processed by PayPal)

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)


$24 USD

音緒 (NE-T) Neo


$65 USD

胴ゴムシール (DO-GM) Dou Gomu Shi-ru


$10 USD

譜尺 (SF-1) Fujaku


$10 USD

指掛け (YB-M) Yubikake (Machine Knit)


$15 USD


べっ甲調撥 (BA-BC) Faux-Bekko Bachi

超オススメ品! 初心者にも上級者にもバッチリ。本物のべっ甲とかわらない使い心地と柔軟性、長時間のハードな津軽弾きにも十分耐えるので安心してご使用いただけます。亀にもうれしいニュースですよね!

$269 USD

木撥 (BA-K) Wooden Bachi


$45 USD

プラスチック撥 (BA-P) Plastic Bachi


$35 USD


竹駒 (KM-T) Bamboo Koma

音の質: 比較的ソフトでやさしい
材質: 雌竹
高さ: 8mm

$50 USD

先骨竹駒 (KM-TB) Bamboo Koma #1 (Bone Tip)

音の質: 澄んだ歯切れのよい音がします。竹駒にくらべて、先端の骨部分がシャープなサウンドを生み出します。
材質: 台部分 – 竹 / 糸道部分– 骨
高さ: 8mm

$50 USD

入骨竹駒舟形 Bamboo Koma #2 (Bone Tip)

$47 USD

半骨竹駒 (KM-HB) Bamboo Koma #1 (Half Bone)

$50 USD

半骨竹駒舟形 Bamboo Koma #2 (Half Bone)

$55 USD

忍び駒 (KM-SNOBI) Shinobi Koma

音の質: 消音(意図的に)
材質: プラスチック
高さ: 7mm

$14 USD

「静」忍び駒 (KM-SNOBI2) Shinobi Koma - Deluxe

1) 津軽奏法独特の前撥うしろ撥ができます
2) 叩き奏法での撥音が軽減できます
3) 消音時の音量も調節できます

音の質: 消音(意図的に)
材質: プラスチックとアルミ材
高さ: 調節可能

$65 USD

Import Tax

Please 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 Policy

There 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.


The 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.

Skin Replacement

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.

Read more about Care and Handling here!