The shamisen or samisen (三味線), also sangen (三絃) — both words mean "three strings" — is a three-stringed traditional Japanese musical instrument derived from the Chinese instrument sanxian. It is played with a plectrum called a bachi.
The Japanese pronunciation is usually "shamisen" but sometimes "jamisen" when used as a suffix (e.g., Tsugaru-jamisen). (In western Japan, and often in Edo-period sources, it is sometimes "samisen.")
The construction of the shamisen varies in shape, depending on the genre in which it is used. The instrument used to accompany kabuki has a thin neck, facilitating the agile and virtuosic requirements of that genre. The instrument used to accompany puppet plays and folk songs has a longer and thicker neck to match the more robust music of those genres....LESS