Shamisen Trouble

Somebody at work was asking what they might be able to buy in Japan for £100-200 as a birthday gift. Gagetry of various types was suggested, but I chipped in the idea that for that money they could get a reasonable shamisen. At least, that’s what some friends bought me for my birthday once and I’ve always counted it as one of my prized possessions. It’s a wonder of wooden engineering: collapsible into a small case a bit bigger than a shoebox, and wonderfully made. Kumi doesn’t like Japanese stuff lying about, so the days when it was propped up casually next to the Bang & Olufsen are long gone.

It’s been shut away in its box for at least a year or so, and it occured to me that I’d not given it a pluck for a while. So, while Kumi was at Tescos I took the box out of the cupboard and – horror! It’s warped!

The neck must have got damp at some point, or maybe it was always a bit on the cheap side, but the damage is done. Will I never be able to play 12-bar blues on its three dulcet-sounding immitation catgut strings again?

The top section has warped out by about 2mm. It doesn’t fit!

So too with the bottom half.

Axel demonstrating some plectrum technique… You can also see cat’s nipples on the drum skin in this photo.

The tuning pegs look OK though.