bnr sanshin

Virtuoso Japanese Series

Price: $250

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The sixth title in the Virtuoso Japanese Series and symbol of Okinawan music, the long-awaited Sanshin has arrived as a Kontakt instrument software library.

The sanshin, more than any other instrument, symbolizes Okinawan and Yaeyama music. The three-string instrument has had a tremendous influence on the rustic and earthy folk songs of Yaeyama and Ryukyu as well as on eisa folk dancing, pop music, and even rock.

Sonica Instruments has successfully sampled all the distinctive warmth of the sanshin’s cozy tones, creating a comprehensive Kontakt library.

Besides capturing the raw sounds with absolute fidelity, we spent considerable time researching the sanshin and enhancing the library to allow performers to personalize the instrument to their taste.

You will feel the breezes of Okinawa and Yaeyama the moment you hear this library.

Official Artist : Tetsuhiro Daiku
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Photography : Kaito Sonoda

Main Features

  • The library features samples from two sanshin models with different tone characteristics: a modern genuine snakeskin model with bright, transparent tones, and a vintage genuine snakeskin model with very deep and rich tones
  • Contains a wide assortment of finger-whistling sounds essential for enlivening performances of Okinawan music
  • Comes with nine picking styles, as well as finger-slide noises and string-muting noise
  • Alternate picking function lets the performer play a succession of alternating downstrokes and upstrokes
  • String mode mechanism specifies the string to be played to bring out the instrument's full range of expressiveness just like a real sanshin
  •  In addition to three preset tunings — standard tuning (hon choshi), second-string raised tuning (ni-age choshi), and third-string lowered tuning (san-sage choshi), the instrument's key  can be freely transposed
  • Tuning mechanism allows for relative volume adjustments and fine-tuning of each string
  • Three plectrum types are available — fingernail, water buffalo plectrum, and guitar pick — with control over the picking impact component.
  • The string character selector offers three types of strings: Thick, Normal, and Thin
  •  String mode controls the three strings independently to recreate authentic sanshin playing styles
  • Keyboard legato function provides instant execution of hammer-ons, pull-offs, and trills
  •  257 sanshin accompaniment phrases recorded as MIDI grooves taken from 72 melodies based on traditional songs and folk tunes from Okinawa and Yaeyama
  • Grooves are key-assignable for performance and can be dragged and dropped directly from the browser into a DAW and used as MIDI data
  • All samples recorded in 24-bit / 96 kHz high resolution for vivid, powerful sounds
  • Create your own mixes with the multi-microphone samples and a dedicated mixer with individual controls for Direct, Overhead, Room, and Stereo Mix
  • Compatible with Kontakt Player / Kontakt Full Ver. 5.7.3 or newer
  • NKS ready
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About the performers
Official artist
ov06 daiku s Tetsuhiro Daiku

Born in Arakawa, Ishigaki, Tetsuhiro Daiku continues to bring the world closer together through his frequent performances in Okinawa, other parts of Japan, and countries around the world.

He has carved out a place as a preeminent performer of Yaeyama folk music, with a diverse repertoire of traditional island songs drawn from across the Yaeyama District. His intimate performances of island music captivate the hearts of many. Tetsuhiro Daiku also runs Yaeyama folk musica schools throughout Japan, as he passionately champions Okinawan and Yaeyama folk music education and appreciation. He is easily the most active musician in Okinawa today.

Official site

Performer for the Sanshin recordings
ov007 kajiku s Atsushi Kajiku

Atsushi Kajiku is the tourism ambassador for Japan's southernmost town, Taketomicho. He was born on the island of Hatomajima, with a circumference of four kilometers located in the Yaeyama District of Okinawa, in the town of Taketomicho with a population of 50. Not only is he a sanshin artist performing on a multitude of stages and events, he is also tireless promoter of Okinawan culture and tourism through events and media across Japan. He is the main personality on the Okinawan-related radio programs Okinawa Colors on date fm (FM Sendai) and Ryukyu Limited: The Super Kariyushi Express on Kawasaki FM. Atsushi Kajiku is  a multitalented entertainer, even singing the national anthem at an interleague game between the Rakuten Golden Eagles and the Yomiuri Giants of the Nippon Professional Baseball league.

Features samples from two sanshin models: modern and vintage

Sanshin contains samples from two sanshin models with different sound tendencies. The vintage model is over 50 years old and features a mellow but deep and rich tone that is perfect for performing classic songs. The modern model is a recently produced specimen with bright, very versatile tones suitable for many music styles.

Large collection of finger-whistling sounds

Finger whistling is an essential element of Okinawan music, making an appearance in nearly any eisa or kachashi folk dance. The library includes a large assortment of these finger-whistling sounds with various lengths and variations. The pitch and length of each sound is adjustable so you can incorporate the ideal cheery accompaniment for your musical composition.

Nine picking styles, plus finger-slide noises and string-muting noises

To recreate the sanshin’s kaleidoscope of expressions, we included finger-slide noises and muting noises for each string in addition to multiple articulations.

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Downstroke, upstroke, vibrato, staccato, mute, trill, hammer-on, pull-off, tapping

Slide noises
Six types

Mute / touch noises
Three types

Alternate picking function for playing a succession of alternating downstrokes and upstrokes

The library’s alternate picking function lets you perform alternate strokes with key-on for downstrokes and key-off for upstrokes. This function works with all articulations and is activated while pressing on the sustain pedal, letting you insert alternate picking at any moment. You can easily reproduce tremolo picking with continuous keystrokes while holding down the sustain pedal.

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String mode mechanism lets you play a specific string

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Sanshin performances are centered on single-note phrases. To recreate this playing style, Sanshin has a string mode mechanism that lets you select and play a specific string. In this mode, each string behaves like an independent instrument.

While performing, the string to be played can be instantly selected with key switches. This mode lets you move precisely between the three strings, just as you would on the real instrument.

String monitor
The string monitor displays in real time which string is sounding and whether it is open or fingered. The monitor gives the following indicators:
dt1 05 b• Pitch of the open string
• The selected string
• String fingering (Red: Open, Green: Fingered)

Three preset tunings (chindami) and key transpositions

Sanshin comes with three common sanshin tunings: standard tuning (hon choshi), second-string raised tuning (ni-age choshi), and third-string lowered tuning (san-sage choshi). After changing the tuning, the pitches remain arranged chromatically on the keyboard, but the open-string pitches change, thereby recreating the distinct sound of each tuning. The instrument’s key can be transposed from -7 to +4 in semitone increments.

Tuning mechanism allows for relative volume adjustments and fine-tuning of each string
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In addition to adjusting the relative volume of each string, you can fine tune each string in cent increments over a range of ±100 cents.

Instrument Editor controls the character of the instrument’s sound

The Instrument Editor gives you a choice of plectrums and string gauges to find the ideal sound for your song or musical style. There are three plectrum types available — fingernail, water buffalo plectrum, and guitar pick — and three string gauges — Thick, Normal, and Thin. You can also adjust the picking impact (attack) component and the volume of the string-touch noise.

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Keyboard legato function provides instant execution of articulations specific to stringed instruments

Sanshin gives you access to hammer-ons and pull-offs, articulations specific to stringed instruments, as well as hajiki trills, a type of tapping specific to the sanshin. When using the keyboard legato function, the library will automatically switch articulations when playing legato on a MIDI keyboard. Because no key switches are needed, these articulations can be executed more evenly.
The legato mode can be enabled or disabled in real time with a key switch.

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Two play modes and two pitch bend modes

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The two play modes let you select the most appropriate behavior of the instrument for your purposes. Single gives the most realistic sanshin performance, and Poly allows you to play chordal music.

There are also two pitch bend modes. Solo applies the pitch bend to just the string being played, and All applies the pitch bend to all strings.

257 MIDI phrases based on traditional songs and folk tunes from Okinawa and Yaeyama

The library contains 257 sanshin accompaniment patterns recorded as MIDI grooves, taken from 72 melodies based on well-known traditional songs and folk tunes from Okinawa and Yaeyama.
The grooves can be dragged and dropped directly from the Kontakt browser window into a DAW and used as MIDI data or they can be assigned to a MIDI keyboard for performing.

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Uncompromising recordings of talented performances

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Atsushi Kajiku played the sanshin for the recording sessions, bringing out every nuance and expression the instrument is capable of.
More than eight microphones of various types and colorless mic preamps were used in the recording sessions. The library successfully recreates the sanshin’s vivid and powerful sound thanks to the meticulous microphone setup and the detailed 24-bit / 96 kHz high-resolution recordings.
The samples were captured with three stereo microphone positions — Direct, Overhead, and Room — plus a Stereo Mix. Full mixing control is available, with individual Volume, Pan, Reverb Send, and EQ adjustments for each channel. The parallel output bus sends the microphone channels to individual DAW tracks for finer mixing sessions.
The library comes with 30 convolution reverbs, including two impulse responses from a Noh theater renowned among musicians for its acoustics. The convolution reverbs permit high-quality in-instrument sound creation.

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NKS ready
Sanshin is NKS compatible so it can be used with Kontakt Player, Kontakt Full (Ver. 5.7.3 or newer), and KOMPLETE KONTROL.

When Sanshin is linked with a KOMPLETE KONTROL keyboard or other NKS-compatible hardware, you can quickly preview tones and make full use of the hardware’s knobs and controllers.


Native Instruments Kontakt 5.7.3 or newer
Kontakt Player compatible
NKS ready
Operating system requirements
Mac OS X 10.10 or newer
Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10
Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon 64 X2
A minimum of 4 GB of RAM (16 GB is recommended) is needed on both Mac and Windows systems.

Data size
~28.29GB in NCW format (equivalent to 56.56GB in wav format)

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