吹禅 – Sound bites

Sound bites…

As far back as I can remember, I have never had a new musical instrument. New as in brand new, not pre-owned. I always purchased used stuff, I never had the money to do otherwise. I was into recycling, and used stuff way before it was fashionable and “in”. Loved pawn shops, back in the day. Hard to find now…and there is eBay. But Yeah, I have been before my time on several things, that is how I roll, sort of weird, on my own beat and sometimes ahead of even myself. 🙂
Ok re-reading this, I recall my acoustic guitar was purchased new. I was starting a solo career and needed a good “axe”. Oh well, but the general point of this is the same, so read on…
I was close to buying a new Shakuhachi when I first started lessons. Hmmm , now thinking on it I did purchase, two brand new Shakuhachi’s before I took lessons. However they were El Cheapo brand. Not really considered instruments by my Sensei. He gave me a plastic one to practice with rather than use mine. So that pretty much says it all, ne!
Ok, I digress…
Hmmm, oh yeah, so I was going to painfully buy a new Shakuhachi. Recommended maker is called by my Sensei one of the top makers in Japan, if not the top. I was somewhat resigned to making this purchase. I was expecting to shell out $1,000 about for a cheap student model from this maker. Now $1,000 is not really off base for a good instrument, you pay in that range for a Yumi. However was not expecting to pay that for a student model to start with…
Handmade is expensive, for a reason. It is just that much harder when you do not have money to shell out for something that is not going to make you money back, like a tool for work.
Well as it turns out I happened across a Shakuhachi in the recycled shop here. I took a chance and purchased it. I figured it would be better than the Plastic I was using, and I could return, my Kyudo Sempai’s bamboo Shakuhachi. So I purchased this Shakuhachi.
As it turns out sensei had heard of the maker, when I showed him the flute. He said it was a shockingly good buy. New it would have been in the same price range as what I planned on buying, but this was older, a $1,000 old money is worth less now. Or something like that. Hmmm If it cost $1000 then it would cost, $2,000 now. Ok I think that is it…whatever Still, it is a student level model, but good quality one. So yeah, I scored with my Flute! Yatta!
What I have learned is, this is a good Shakuhachi I have now for playing solo or with traditional instruments. It is tuned to the “old” scale. It is difficult to play with modern instruments, the player (mostly) and the shakuhachi have to be of higher skill than me. After some consulting with my Sensei, a Shakuhachi tuned to modern scale would be more versatile for what I have in mind musically, he says. A standard level not student or Pro. The old traditional Shakuhachi pieces, the recycled store Shakuhachi is fine., great in fact. It is a good instrument and playing traditional songs no problem…until I achieve more discerning ear and want to change up.
When I was a kid, when I wanted something musical, or most things really, as the eldest, I had to work, save, something to raise the money. My youngest brother, also turned musician, with me being long gone, and one less mouth to feed, my mother helped him buy his equipment. He always had better gear than me. When he passed away, I got his music gear. Two of his Basses I still have and use. One I am planing on selling to purchase a replacement. The other I will keep and use until, I can not.
So, yeah the point is here that my brother got help starting with his music career, I did not and always, mostly had recycled stuff.
My mother passed away recently. I was surprised to learn I was to get a small bit of money. I am not wired to be just crazy with money or wasteful. I set aside a small amount to upgrade some music stuff I have had for years, or /and wanted. The rest went into the house fund, (food, bills, living stuff) and bit for LZ to use as she wanted. I got a couple of things I wanted, portable, battery operated, Bass amp. I have wanted one like this for a while. I purchased a small plug-in a couple of years back, but this one is way cool and versatile. I also picked up a thing called the “beat buddy” . Basically a programmable electronic drummer. I am thinking, solo act or near solo again. Maybe some street musician stuff with shakuhachi and drums, and a bass track.
Ok, so yeah, I got “deals” as in floor model (used), on this stuff. There was still a little money left over, on my budget. I am thinking after tossing around the new bass, or new keyboard idea. Shakuhachi came to the forefront, maybe add a little more to that fund…make an investment in quality. You do not lose when you go with quality…people or things.
A brand new Shakuhachi, made by one of the top makers in Japan, named Kono Gyokusui. More likely someone who is a family member carrying on the family business.

I was given, before a DVD of the family making Shakuhachis. A documentary. It is only in Japanese. ONe of the people who came to visit the ‘Old Man” and get or test a flute was some famous Player. I have seen his pictures. I can not place the name right now. Anyway, the Otosan has 2 sons he trained and they all work together at a home shop.

Hmmmm, an investment in myself…A final departing gift from my Mum…


My Sensei says he is sure I can find what I need in the 2,000 range and he will help me select one from his friend the Master Builder. ( I saw one sold on ebay for $2500.00 . An old one that had been repaired.)
I can choose the one I like, no pressure to buy, if not a selection on hand, come again to see the next batch. Hmmmm. More than I had planned on spending.
I checked with a few makers in the states, from them it will cost about 500.00 less, maybe. Not really much of a saving considering the fine points I get from the going local purchase, more so from a personal friend introduction. Writing this down help me clarify the comparison, the real value in shopping local.
I have been given a recital date for my student performance on the Shakuhachi. My sensei has a combination show planned with another Sensei who teaches the Koto. The show and closed luncheon party will be in Feb. 
The next month will be my 2 year anniversary of Shakuhachi study. I have plans to go another pilgrimage to a Zen Komuso temple. It is also about this time my Sensei plans on taking me to see the Shakuhachi maker. This is not just a quick let’s go to the shop and buy a Shakuhachi thing. This takes time to arrange and to buy. Custom/semi-custom made in the States, would take about six months to make, and I would not get to hear it, feel it, connect. Sort of mail order brideish, but with a guarantee.
Thinking more on it now, it will be not just a store purchase, but an experience into the old school way of shopping from a craftsman. I was told, several would be selected for me to try based on my criterion. Then my Wife, my Sensei, and myself would go to the home/shop have tea and play/listen to them all then choose, or not. There was always new ones being made. There was no rush , no pressure.

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