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How to tune your sanshin

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On this page you can find a quick guide to set the Uma in the right way and to tune your Sanshin. These ones are the very first two things you have to learn before you start playing.. Setting the Uma is very important to get the best sound and also a wrong position could damage the body or the skin of your instrument. Tuning the sanshin is easy but very important to get the best result from your performances.

STEP 1: With two fingers, as shown in the picture, lift all the three strings together. Make sure you pull the strings just enough to place the Uma underneath. Don't pull them too much or you may damage the strings.

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STEP 2: Once you lift the strings slide gently the Uma underneath the three lines. Bamboo Uma is the only Uma which has a back and front face, you can easily understand the difference between the two faces and set it in the right way .All other Umas have no difference in faces.

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STEP 3: Slide gently the Uma as shown in the picture, untill about one third of the box. The right place has to be three fingers from the end of the box itself. Make sure that the Uma is right perpendicular to the Sanshin and the surfaces are even one to the other one. It will prevent your Uma from drops and damage of the skin or the box of your three line instrument.

Once you have placed the Uma we are ready to tune your Sanshin.

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Sanshin has three strings. Female string is the smallest one and it is tight on the Last Karakui, the one on the top right. The middle line is set on the single Karakui on the upper side of the instrument while the Male string, the biggest one is set on the first Karakui (picture n.3). Usually the first string you want to tune is the Female string. It depends on what kind of songs you want to play what tune you are going to use. Also your kind of voice will make you choose the right tune for you. We tune our Sanshin in C for the Female string F for the Inner string and C for the Male string, just one octave lower than the female one. At the bottom end of this page you can find a table you can use to tune your sanshin in different ways from C F C.

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The easiest way to tune your Sanshin is using a Tuner. Pitching the single string look at the Tuner screen. It will show you what note your string is playing at that moment and you will see a range of that single note. Now you have to get the C on top of the screen as you are tuning the Female string and the line on the tuner has to be right in the middle. This means that your string is tuned in C. If the line is on the right you want to turn your Karakui to get a lower tone. Otherwise if the line is on the left side of the screen you want to twist your karakui to get a higher sound. Try to find the right tension untill the line on the Tuner screen will be right in the middle.

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Tune the Female string at first. Please remeber this string has been tight to the Upper Karakui. Once your Female string is tuned, tune the In string (tight on the single Karakui, picture n.2). At last tune the Male string as shown in the first picture. Once you have done, check again your tuning as a different tension on the instrument body might slightly change your previous work. If nevessary do it again a third time.

Male String

In string

Female String

E

A

E

Eb

G#

Eb

D

G

D

C#

F#

C#

C

F

C

B

E

B

Bb

Eb

Bb

A

D

A

Now you are ready to play! On the left you can find a table can be useful to change the key of your tuning, using a different key from C F C. Remeber there is not just one way to tune your sanshin. The right way to tune your instrument depends on your voice or on the songs you want to play!

Whatch now our video on YouTube!