World English Dictionary
shamisen or samisen (ˈʃæmɪˌsɛn, ˈsæmɪˌsɛn)
a Japanese plucked stringed instrument with a long neck, an unfretted fingerboard, and a rectangular soundbox
[Japanese, from Chinese san-hsien, from san three + hsien string]
samisen or samisen
[Japanese, from Chinese san-hsien, from san three + hsien string]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Encyclopedia Britannica


long-necked, fretless Japanese lute. The instrument has a small, square body with a catskin front and back, three twisted-silk strings, and a curved-back pegbox with side pegs. It is played with a large plectrum; different types of plectrums produce distinct tone colours for specific types of music.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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