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How to Reskin a Shamisen: A Step-by-Step Guide

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How to Reskin a Shamisen: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Reskin a Shamisen

How to Reskin a Shamisen: A Step-by-Step Guide



The shamisen is a traditional Japanese musical instrument that has been around for centuries. It has a long neck, a rectangular body, and a skin head that produces a unique, resonant sound. Over time, the skin head can start to deteriorate and lose its tension, leading to a loss of sound quality. In this article, we will show you how to give your shamisen a new lease of life by reskinning it.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

Before you get started, make sure you have all the supplies you need. You’ll need a new skin head, some glue, and a few tools like a knife, scissors, and a rubber band. Don’t forget to grab a drink of your choice – you’re going to need it for the next step.

Step 2: Removing the Old Skin

Time to get your hands dirty! First, remove the strings from the neck of the shamisen. Then, use a knife to carefully cut around the edges of the skin head. Be careful not to damage the body of the shamisen or yourself – that would be a shame after all this effort. Once you’ve cut all the way around, gently lift the old skin off the head.

Step 3: Preparing the New Skin

Take the new skin and place it over the head of the shamisen. Make sure it’s centered and has an even amount of overlap around the edges. Then, use a rubber band to hold it in place.

Step 4: Glue Time

Now comes the fun part – glue! Apply a thin layer of glue to the head, making sure to cover all areas. Then, carefully smooth out the new skin, removing any air pockets. Repeat this process until the entire head is covered.

Step 5: Let it Dry

At this point, you’re probably thinking “I’m done, right?” Wrong! You need to let the glue dry completely before moving on to the next step. So grab a cup of tea, sit back, and enjoy some well-deserved rest.

Step 6: Trimming the Overlap

Once the glue is dry, it’s time to trim the overlap. Use scissors to cut the excess skin from around the edges, leaving about 1/4 inch of overlap. Make sure you’re cutting straight and even, or your shamisen will look like it’s been through a war.

Step 7: Tension Time

Now, it’s time to tension the skin. Start by tying the strings to the tailpiece. Then, use a tuning wrench to tighten the strings one by one, working your way from the center of the head to the edges. Keep tightening until the skin is stretched tight and the head is flat.

Step 8: Finishing Touches

Finally, use the tuning wrench to tune the strings to the desired pitch. Congratulations, you’ve successfully reskinned your shamisen! Now it’s time to enjoy the sweet sound of success.


Reskinning a shamisen may seem like a daunting task, but with this step-by-step guide, you can do it with confidence. Just remember to be patient, work carefully, and have a sense of humor. Who knows, you might even enjoy the process!

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