The shakuhachi seems to be an instrument that inspires acquisitiveness. From what I’ve seen among other players, they tend to have multiple instruments. In some cases, this is more or less necessary; there are pieces that are supposed to be played on instruments of different lengths.
A different length shakuhachi has different tones; not exactly like western keys, but since shakuhachi music is scored using a sort of tablature, and you play the same fingerings for a piece on a flute of any length, this means that the same piece of music on a different length flute is effectively in a different key.
So far, I have purchased four shakuhachis.
From bottom to top:
- This is the first flute I bought, a 1.8 jiari by Jem Klein. It’s a bit heavier than I would like, but I very much like the feel and the sound of this instrument.
- This is Jon Kypros’s Bell shakuhachi. It’s a 1.8 copy of a jinashi flute, and I very much like it. It’s very inexpensive, and would be the ideal flute for a beginner. If it had existed when I started playing, I certainly would have gotten this first.
- This 1.8 jiari is the second flute I bought; it’s a student model by Motny Levenson. I bought it used on eBay; I wasn’t looking for a second flute, but I got this at a nice price so I couldn’t turn it down. It’s lighter than the Jem Klein, and narrower, and I haven’t really gotten comfortable with it.
- Finally, this is a 2.2 jinashi by Jose Vargas. I wanted a longer flute, but it’s a bit long for me to play with my limited skills. The right-hand position is a bit hard for me to get used to. (I should probably have gotten a 2.0 to start with longer flutes.)
Right now, the two flutes I play are the Jem Klein and the Bell. I find that I can play well enough with both of them. The narrower bore of the Monty Levenson is a bit problematic for me right now, and, as I said above, the length and finger position of the Jose Vargas is not within my current skills.
Note that since I don’t really play the Monty Levenson shakuhachi, I’d be willing to sell it to anyone in the UK (where I live) for a reasonable price. If anyone is interested, get in touch.