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Thread: Where to Buy A Shamisen?

  1. #1
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    Default Where to Buy A Shamisen?

    I was hanging out in Little Tokyo near downtown Los Angeles over the weekend and was lucky to listen to a duo playing shamisen. Just WOW. I mean, I thought it sounded good in Kubo & The Two Strings lol.

    I really would like to have one now. Unfortunately, it's turning out to be a rather difficult instrument to find in my area much less the U.S. I was wondering if anyone knows of stores in the greater Los Angeles area that carries them? I do my best to avoid buying instruments site unseen but if that's the only way, that is fine. But then the problem is that these instruments also do not come cheap. A beginner shamisen is $400 without any gear and before shipping (Bachido store run by an American in Japan). There's always fleaBay but even then I'm looking at $500-$600 for what I think are legitimate instruments and these are used.

    Having worked in Torrance where there is a huge Japanese community, I was surprised to find nothing on the internet as far as stores or otherwise. Also tried the Japanese cultural center in downtown LA. I may just contact the duo themselves (have their business card) to ask.

    I know the Okinawa instrument is called a Sanshin and I believe is tuned differently. I think I'd like to stick with a Shamisen for now.

    Any advice greatly appreciated.
    KAMAKA HF-3 | KOALOHA KTM-00-R | KANILEA K-1 C SF | KOALOHA KCM-00
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  2. #2
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    Apr 2015
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    Default

    Try McCabe's in Santa Monica. They have a one day workshop scheduled for July 9. So, I think they either sell them or could tell you where to buy one.

  3. #3
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    rance, thank you for the heads up!

    I just talked to them and they do not carry anything related to shamisen, but it is great to know they have a workshop! I may very well attend the next one coming up in July.
    KAMAKA HF-3 | KOALOHA KTM-00-R | KANILEA K-1 C SF | KOALOHA KCM-00
    UKE NATION IN UKE WE TRUST

  4. #4
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    Default

    You might try contacting Japan Foundation Los Angeles - they do a lot of arts and culture events and would probably be able to point you in the right direction. Another lead might be Bunka-do - as far as I know they don't sell instruments, but they've been around forever and are well connected in the Japanese music community.

    And you should check out the McCabe's workshop! I spend a lot of time there and while I haven't done the workshop, I've heard rave reviews of it, and I'm sure the workshop people can point you toward a shamisen dealer.

  5. #5
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    Default

    Amazon sells them.
    If everybody wanted peace instead of another TV, then there would be peace.
    -John Lennon-

  6. #6
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    Default

    Thanks everyone. I got very lucky and found a one off used one off ebay from a great seller in Hawaii.

    Yes, Amazon sells them as well as sellers on ebay but most if not all are from Japan. I don't mind that but obviously shipping from Hawaii was much better - got it in a few days. Also, I would caution against some of those items. For starters, many are sanshin and not shamisen. Many also have ripped skins which often times are more expensive to repair than getting a new instrument.

    I'm very happy with the shamisen so far. It's quite different from the guitar and ukulele. There is a small but active community on the internet too.
    KAMAKA HF-3 | KOALOHA KTM-00-R | KANILEA K-1 C SF | KOALOHA KCM-00
    UKE NATION IN UKE WE TRUST

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
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    I just ordered one from a woman who makes them in Thailand! Have you found any way to learn how to play it?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Florida Space Coast
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    Default

    LOL, was just going to say that they pop up on ebay once in a while.


    Quote Originally Posted by the.ronin View Post
    Thanks everyone. I got very lucky and found a one off used one off ebay from a great seller in Hawaii.

    Yes, Amazon sells them as well as sellers on ebay but most if not all are from Japan. I don't mind that but obviously shipping from Hawaii was much better - got it in a few days. Also, I would caution against some of those items. For starters, many are sanshin and not shamisen. Many also have ripped skins which often times are more expensive to repair than getting a new instrument.

    I'm very happy with the shamisen so far. It's quite different from the guitar and ukulele. There is a small but active community on the internet too.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
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    West Los Angeles, California
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by the.ronin View Post
    I was hanging out in Little Tokyo near downtown Los Angeles over the weekend and was lucky to listen to a duo playing shamisen. Just WOW. I mean, I thought it sounded good in Kubo & The Two Strings lol.

    I really would like to have one now. Unfortunately, it's turning out to be a rather difficult instrument to find in my area much less the U.S. I was wondering if anyone knows of stores in the greater Los Angeles area that carries them? I do my best to avoid buying instruments site unseen but if that's the only way, that is fine. But then the problem is that these instruments also do not come cheap. A beginner shamisen is $400 without any gear and before shipping (Bachido store run by an American in Japan). There's always fleaBay but even then I'm looking at $500-$600 for what I think are legitimate instruments and these are used.

    Having worked in Torrance where there is a huge Japanese community, I was surprised to find nothing on the internet as far as stores or otherwise. Also tried the Japanese cultural center in downtown LA. I may just contact the duo themselves (have their business card) to ask.

    I know the Okinawa instrument is called a Sanshin and I believe is tuned differently. I think I'd like to stick with a Shamisen for now.

    Any advice greatly appreciated.
    Hey Ronin,

    Friend Shirley Kazuyo Muramoto sent me this text:

    Try Kyle Abbott at http://www.bachido.com Kyle even makes shamisen. He is based in Santa Cruz. I don't know who would sell shamisen in the SoCal area. Can you try contacting a minyo group, like Minyo Station? Maybe they know...http://www.minyostation.com/

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