Shamisen or the shamisen is a Japanese guitar or lute featuring 3 strings and the freedom of playing around on a neck that does not feature any frets.

Sounding cool in general especially the Tsugaru variant which is the fattest and loudest of 3 variants also offers adjustable string buzzing and the option to strike a string and further strike through onto the skinned surface of the body for a way cool percussive sound or in short a shamisen offers a couple of far out playing options.

Shamisen are almost completely made of hard wood and somewhat like a banjo the body is skinned with leather or synthetic materials on both sides.

On top of all that one usually plays with a spectacular (ice scraper look alike) plectrum.

Of course electric shamisen are out there too.

One of the traditional Japanese instruments also popular in current times (along with Shakuhachi flutes, Koto zithers and Taiko drums) the Shamisen story goes back about five hundred years and is continued by contemporary artists covering a very wide range of playing styles and even general music genres from old beautiful tunes to Babymetal covers.

Somewhere I guess one could say around the center of that colorful range is one of my favorite shamisen tunes . . .

Certainly a lot of inspiration for contemporary shamisen songs also comes out of taxi rides . . . :)

See all other spectacular POSTS too and as for my own journey towards becoming a cool shamisen player I already want to sincerely thank especially the following people for several reasons . . . Kyle Abbott, Kevin Kmetz, Kyoko Senga, Masahiro and Hiroshi Nitta, Yuriko and Shirley, Erez Ashkenazi, Karl Hedlund, Grant Reimer, Aki Takahashi, Luke Abbott, all other Abbotts and last but not least all the friendly Bachido members who make up a good part of a growing international shamisen community.

Some Links




Shamikami & Shamisendemon aka Kevin Kmetz (Youtube)
Masahiro Nitta (Youtube) Nitta Oyako
Yoshida Brothers (alternate english site)
Mike Penny (Youtube)


Shamisen Berlin (Germany)
Shamisen on Ebay (COM UK DE AT)


Jelena Petrowna Fischer
Rage Against the Machine
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu
Nine Inch Nails
The Abbott Brothers
The New First Line Band
Lungau Big Band