The first and only complete copy of a jinashi shakuhachi for sale
Handcrafted by me from my bamboo eco-composite material
Video of the Bell Shakuhachi 1.8 D
The Bell Shakuhachi 1.8 D
- My bamboo eco-composite material is lighter than ABS/100% plastic and it won’t crack or split from changes in weather like other shakuhachi
- One solid piece, so there’s no center joint or seams to worry about breaking
- Free beginner’s shakuhachi course
Click to enlarge
I can highly recommend the Bell Shakuhachi for any player starting out on the long and windy shakuhachi journey or for anyone who needs a sturdy shakuhachi to travel with or have lying around in the house so you can pick it up and play at when-ever you happen to pass by it without worrying about it cracking. I am really happy we now have this decent priced alternative to a bamboo shakuhachi!
I’m absolutely blown away by the Bell. It feels good through and through and plays amazingly well. I highly recommend the Bell to anyone. They will be amazed.
I often play outside in poor weather with extreme temperatures and I have had shakuhachi crack, damaged, or stolen in the past. So it’s also great to have a rugged, go anywhere, worry free shakuhachi that looks and feels like a jinashi shakuhachi.
I have a collection of shakuhachi from the most well known and respected makers in Japan and the US, both jinashi and jiari shakuhachi. The combination of look and feel, playability, tone, fullness of tone, and tuning on your Bell is unmatched, not to mention the price. It is an incredible instrument, as high quality as any top end shakuhachi. In fact, 3 weeks ago I played a new shakuhachi by one of the best Japanese makers that was for sale for more than $5,000, and from what I recall the tone of your Bell is on the same level as that one, but the tuning and playability of your Bell are even better.
I would highly, highly recommend your Bell to anyone who plays shakuhachi. For professionals, it not only makes the perfect all weather/environment travel flute due to being composite bamboo and not prone to cracking, but it plays and sounds absolutely amazing. Everyone should have one in their collection! For beginners, there is no better shakuhachi. Before today, a beginner would have to pay hundreds of dollars for a shakuhachi that could do only half of what your Bell can do, or thousands of dollars for one of a similar level of quality. Amazing work! I love it!
I am a Komuso in Osaka, Japan. Jerry in Nara let me borrow one of your Bell shakuhachi. I played it and liked it…a lot! I showed it to my Sensei who is VERY particular about Shakuhachi. He was impressed with your work. Not only the look but the sound. So much so he had me take my lesson for the day on the Bell shauhachi instead of mine. He said “This [The Bell] will help you learn more. You can improve with this flute. I recommend this flute [the Bell] for sessions with modern instruments as well as honkouku.”
Congrats on a job well done.
I received the Bell today and oh my God, it sounds incredible. I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy the experience of playing a Jinashi flute until I received the Bell. I have been playing a Jiari flute that was supplied to me by a shakuhachi teacher in San Diego, which sounds incredible, breathy, loud and powerful. But even though the Bell is the “cheaper” shakuhachi, it is more in-tune than the Jiari, it is easier to play, more enjoyable, and it is MINE. Not to mention that it is absolutely beautiful on the outside.
I can also play it at any volume I desire, and it has this natural, mystical sound that sucks me into the experience of playing it. I just have to say, it went above and beyond all expectations and I am so blessed to have this in my possession. You did an absolutely amazing job, and this Shakuhachi will be my new companion, and I have no doubt that it can last a lifetime. Thank you so much.
I received the Bell Shakuhachi. You have done a fine job! I love the aesthetic of the root end and the subtle coloration. The blowing is easy and the sound is true. You were right that I love the Ro! What I am happiest about is that you are perfecting the Bell, and making it available at an affordable price for your students… which makes it easy for both students to acquire a quality jinashi shakuhachi and makes it easier for you as teacher, knowing exactly what sound the Bell is capable of making. You have done a wonderful thing!
Your work for these past ten years to create a composite jinashi replica will make life much easier for shakuhachi students of the future. Thank you, again, Jon, for your dedication, your art, and your generosity of spirit. All the best.
“How is the Bell made and how is it different from other plastic and wooden shakuhachi? How does it compare to the original or bamboo?
The Bell is the first and only available copy of a jinashi natural bamboo shakuhachi while other plastic/ABS and wooden shakuhachi out there are copies of jiari shakuhachi. This is significant because jinashi have mostly natural bamboo bores while jiari have man-made, plastered smooth bores. I also crafted the Bell with other design aspects from studying older jinashi shakuhachi, namely a more shallow utaguchi blowing edge, which I talk about in more detail further down in this FAQ.
As seen above, every visible detail of the original bamboo is faithfully copied. The Bell shakuhachi is also made out of a more eco-friendly, bamboo composite material and actually looks like bamboo. It’s lighter than 100% plastic shakuhachi and it’s better for the environment. Additionally, it won’t crack or split from changes in the weather like other shakuhachi. I produce each Bell shakuhachi using molds which I also craft. These molds are a complete copy the original bamboo jinashi shakuhachi that I crafted. 3D printing cannot currently match this high level of definition. The result is an unparalleled copy of a natural bamboo bore, as seen above.
So, how does it compare to bamboo? With no small amount of work, bamboo can make lovely and unique homes for air. Our breath dances and sings within them, making the sounds we hear. With the Chinese dizi bamboo flute, for example, the dancing singing air also causes a thin sheet of paper adhered over a hole to buzz like a kazoo. If we made this paper just a bit thicker, however, it would no longer buzz. This also means that a shakuhachi is far too thick for the dancing singing air to cause it to buzz. While bamboo may not buzz to contribute to the sound, it makes for a nice home for the dancing singing air, our breath.
If a piece of bamboo can be copied, like with the Bell, the air will inhabit the same space, it will have the same shape, and it will sing with the same voice. Some believe there are mystical vibrations or spiritual qualities inherent in bamboo. There’s nothing wrong with preferring bamboo and there’s much to love about it. But the air, the breath, that’s the soul of a shakuhachi.
“Why is the utaguchi edge shallow?”
As seen above, the Bell shakuhachi has a similar utaguchi edge depth to antique jinashi shakuhachi. Many shakuhachi these days tend to have quite deeply-cut edges, especially contemporary jiari style shakuhachi. Some hobbyist made “shakuhachi” have edges which are actually too deep to even be functional for basic playing of shakuhachi music.
The shallow edges of the past produce what some find to be a more mellow or “sweeter” sound and some feel that they bring out more of the unique tone-color of a shakuhachi. But perhaps more objectively, they have a different feel or “action” when performing various head movements, which in turn results in a different sound/response. These head movements include yuri vibrato and of course all meri and kari or down-and-up head movements. The action or feeling of a shallow utaguchi edge has been described as more responsive, intimate, and expressive.
“How should I care for my Bell shakuhachi?”
All you have to do is periodically clean the inside as you would with any shakuhachi. Avoid leaving the Bell in temperatures exceeding 120° F / 49° C. You can clean the outside with mild soap and a smooth non-abrasive cloth.
“Why did you make the Bell?”
I made the Bell because quality bamboo jinashi shakuhachi are extremely rare and expensive, especially 1.8’s. Even if one can be found, most people can’t afford them. As a teacher, I naturally wanted everyone to have a high quality shakuhachi for the most affordable price possible. The solution was to copy a jinashi shakuhachi I made, inside and out, and make replicas. This would be the only way that many people would ever play a high quality 1.8 jinashi shakuhachi, simply due to their rarity.
For instance, it took me over a decade just to find a piece of madaké bamboo with the ideal dimensions for the Bell project. I harvested hundreds of pieces of madaké bamboo and sourced some pieces harvested by others as well. They have to be painstakingly dug up by the roots which is very hard labor. They then have to be heated over hot coals very carefully, lovingly dried in the sun for a month, and then further dried in storage for years. After all of this, a piece could prove to be unsuitable once the inside is opened up and the preliminary work is done on the finger holes. At this rate, $3,000 begins to look like a bargain I believe, even if most of us cannot afford it.
Meanwhile, relatively simple concert flutes made from silver and other precious metals can reach up to $100k. We don’t have to do math to imagine what the true monetary value of a quality jinashi shakuhachi should be; since they’re far more difficult to make and each one is a one-of-a-kind. The price would be absurd, so, they’re invaluable. They should ideally only be passed-on to worthy practitioners; not just anyone who’s willing to pay such as art collectors. However, this would only serve to stifle the practice of shakuhachi. The only solution is to copy such rare works so that many people can enjoy them at a reasonable price.
“When did you copy your first jinashi shakuhachi inside and out?”
I began experimenting with copying bamboo jinashi shakuhachi back in 2007. In 2012 I was the first person to copy a jinashi shakuhachi inside and out, and in 2013 I released the first iteration of the Bell. I then decided to discontinue sales in order to make a more ideal bamboo jinashi shakuhachi for the project, to perfect my process, and to develop my bamboo eco-composite material. In November of 2018 I finally released the current Bell shakuhachi. My process continues to evolve as I refine my methods. I hope to eventually offer Bells which are copies of different lengths/keys and perhaps with varying bore-to-length ratios, i.e., “wide bores”.
Countries the Bell shakuhachi calls home
Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, China, Cyprus, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Romania, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, UK, USA.