Tutorial: Tuning your sanshin, Part 1

When something gets requested here enough times, we’ll do our best to get it to you. So here it is, our first video tutorial on tuning your sanshin. Be sure to check out our “Tuning Your Sanshin” page for more info. I’ll also have it up for download — at a better quality than streaming it on the web — soon so keep an eye on this entry for an update.

Background on the filming of the video:
This is the first video that I’ve ever taken of myself so I hope to get better as we release more of these (yes, we plan to do more). I’ll have to apologize for the low volume on the dialogue as this was filmed using my MacBook’s built-in iSight camera and microphone. If there’s a good amount of response for this first one, I’ll think about picking up a video camera (or better, borrowing someone’s) or buying an external mic (more likely). Editing was done in iMovie 7.

((Update 1)) The video is available for download over at Revver. Please leave me a comment if you check it out there. Thanks!

((Update 2)) Created a Video Page for easy linkage.

12 thoughts on “Tutorial: Tuning your sanshin, Part 1”

  1. Great job, Richie! Keep up the good work…love your video…looking forward to more…

  2. @Donna: I think your sanshin is weeping from not being played so now is a great time to be making some tun-tun-ten sounds out of it. 😛 I think I kinda got bit by the video bug. At least I can always turn to your videos for inspiration.

  3. I am living in Okinawa, and hope to learn to play the Sanshin, but I am having a difficult time finding anything in English. Can you direct me? Thank you for your wonderful video. =o)

  4. @Veronica: Thank you for the comment. 🙂 There’s a new group/website that just started up but it looks like a great url to bookmark: http://www.sanshin.org/. Feel free to ask me any questions you may have on the sanshin and I’ll do my best to answer them. I’m also starting a spin-off of Karakui.com called Sanshin Shinka (http://richiety.typepad.com/) which will focus on English-language tutorials, news and media for the sanshin. Will be posting more about that soon.

  5. just had 5 days on the island.. i love the sanshin. this was the 1st time ever seeing one. how do make sure i am not getting junk? i will go back soon and wish to buy one to bring back to korea… help… thanks


  6. @Jeff: Thanks for the comment. For one thing, you’ll want to pick your sanshin up from a sanshin shop (as opposed to the touristy stores that sell other things like awamori, snacks, in addition to sanshin). A pretty decent beginner’s sanshin set (usually consisting of the instrument, tuner, pick, strings) can be had for around ¥25,000. Best thing is to try out different sanshin until you find one with a sound to your liking. An important thing to think about is if you’ll want a sanshin with real snakeskin or a synthetic one. (Synthetic ones need less maintenance than real skin ones which can rip if not played regularly or due to a region’s humidity.)

    The one thing that separates expensive sanshin (¥250,000 and up) from cheaper ones is the type of wood used for the sou (neck) with kuruchi (kuroki in Japanese language) from Yaeyama being tops.

    When you get to the sanshin shop and you’re looking at different sanshin you can start off by looking at ones in your price range. When you find one to your liking, try it out, or, have one of the employees test its sound.

    Hope this helps but feel free to contact me if you have any other questions: admin[at]karakui[dot]com.

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