Tuning Your Sanshin

The general tuning for the Sanshin is called Honchoshi.

The common tuning is CFC.

Top String C, Middle String F, and Bottom String F.

You Can Purchase a Sanshin Tuner here


However it is ideal to adjust the tuning to match your singing tone. 

Other common tunings are B E B and A#D#A#.

See the video for a BEB Tuning, and another interesting video on the basics of the Sanshin.


  The uma is the bridge that holds up the gen (strings) of the sanshin. Usually made of bamboo, uma are quite fragile and just as necessary to keep spares of as strings. 

Setting up the uma is pretty simple. Thread the uma under the strings where the sou and chiiga meet, and as you lift the strings up, move the uma down towards the end of the sanshin. It’s important to lift the uma up as you move it over the body of the sanshin so you don’t scratch up the snakeskin. 

Then you’ll want to set the uma so that it’s two to three fingers away from the itokake. Set it too close to the middle and you’ll lose sound quality. Also, most uma are shaped slanting one way, and look somewhat like a right triangle; you want to make sure that the straight side is facing the itokake.

sanshin sanshino play the sanshin okinawan sanshin play sanshin ryukyu language ryukyu ryukyu okinawa           shamisen shamisen okinawa shamise sanshin sanhin okinawa sansihin                                                                                                                                                                                     sanshin                                                   

Sanshin parts*
 * Special Thanks To Simple Sanshin Source for Info

bachi, tsume  - The nail like piece used to play the sanshin. 

chiiga  - The square-like wooden body of the sanshin. 

chiru/jiru/gen  - Strings used with the sanshin. 

itokake  - A round threaded piece placed at the end of the sanshin to the hold the gen to the sanshin. 

karakui  - Pegs used to tune the sanshin. 

sou  - The long piece of wood that makes up the neck of the sanshin.

tiigaa  - The decorative cloth that’s wrapped around the body of the of the sanshin. 

uma  - The bridge used to hole up the strings on the drum. 


chindami  - The sanshin’s tuning. 

kunkunshi  - Music sheets used for the sanshin. 

miijiru  - Literally translated as “Female string,” it’s the thinnest and highest pitched string on the sanshin. 

nakajiru - “Middle string.” 

ten  - The “head” part of the sanshin. 

utaguchi - The bar below box-like cutout in the head of the sanshin where the gen are set. 

uujiru - Literally translated as “male string,” it’s the thickest and lowest sounding string on the sanshin.

Names of the notes

On the low string:
 = “ai”  = “otsu”  = “rou” 

On the middle string:
 = “shi”  = “jou”  = “chuu”  = “shaku” 

On the high string:
 = “kou”  = “go”  = “roku”  = “shichi”


Proper Sanshin Posture

Proper posture is very important when playing the Sanshin. Here are some posture tips:

1. Back Straight, Head up

2. Chest out and shoulders rolled back slightly

3. Sanshin neck (sao) or top tuning peg, at near       shoulder height on same side.

4. Sanshin spaced about 10cm 4-5 Inches from


5. The wrist of the strumming hand should be relaxed and placed at about the ten or eleven o'

 clock position on top of the Dou (Sanshin body)

6. The hand holding the neck should be relaxed,  and should not grip the neck. The neck should be simply set on top of the hand in between the thumb and the forefinger.

See Photo:

  Lets Learn Asadoya Yunta