Category Archives: DIY

DIY Shamisen Bachi (for Tsugaru Shamisen)

Plastic, DIY (left to right)

Note: This is more of a report, not a DIY guide. Chung is currently a piano technician apprentice.

A few months ago, I experimented on making a Shamisen bachi myself. Due to the minimum tools I had at the piano shop (technically it wouldn’t even qualify as a shop, but we did restore pianos in there), the process was quite painful. For example, I had to saw a piece of hardwood at an angle by hand without a stationary clamp. The faux bekko is another tricky material to work with, when I have access so few tools. The shop does have a hand drill and a small belt sander; the belt sander is an incredible tool, when it’s all you’ve got, it becomes very versatile.

I have showed this DIY bachi to friends online, they are all quite impressed. Then I was advised to practice with it and see if the material held up with the striking. After making this DIY bachi, I actually got a bekko bachi, which I prefer… just better shaped anyway. Still, I’d prefer my DIY bachi so much more than the plastic one. At the time writing this post, the material is still strong.

Since it was quite a hassle to make this bachi, I don’t feel like making anymore until I have access to more tools.

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Dilemma of Digital Instruments

In my DIY Taiko project, I design and build practice drum with construction material. The purpose is to provide affordable, effective and portable alternatives for taiko learning. I would like to help people to improve their skills, hence the appreciation of the art. Kenny Endo often quotes his teacher’s saying, “practice hard, in order to enjoy”. The body need so much time and work to reach a proper form to strike a pleasurable sound, as taiko is capable of many colors, the limit is on the player.

Taiko are big and difficult to transport. From that perspective, a digital version of a taiko is perfect. However, I don’t see how people can learn taiko with it. How could people learn if the drum doesn’t sound bad? How would people learn to feel the vibration of the drum head? A digital taiko would be great for some aspect, but it shouldn’t replace real taiko for performance; just like the grand piano! From a composer’s point of view, amplified or digital instruments are instruments of their own, and therefore should be exploit in their own way.

I don’t agree that digital taiko can replace real drum for ensemble performance. It could be used in an ensemble where real taiko is not the main instrument, perhaps in band?

Chung Wan Choi