So I waffled for a long while on if I should spend the money on this ebay shime. Given that March is my birthmonth and given this seller only makes shime and had feed back like:
"Excllent quality, perfect sound. Seller was really went out of his way for us."
"I've played a handful of shime drums over last 4 yrs and this drum sounds great"
"Beautiful drum, arrived on time, gift recipient burst into tears of joy on recpt"
"a drum from the gods! Incredible workmanship and excellent followup."
And it goes on like that. He had nothing negative and many people mentioned the drum itself.
And unlike most of my other instrument purchases, I might actually perform on a shime in the next year, it seemed worth taking the gamble. I paid $460 total, which is a bit more than I normally pay for an instrument, since I have a habit.
Before she shipped it, she sent me email saying, "your drum was tied performance tight tonight. If it is at all thuddy when it gets to you it is probably cold. Wam each side for about 1 minute with a hair dryer and it will tighten right up."
Before it arrived I talked to Juni who said, "oh yah, I've seen shime on ebay, but they look wrong." So I went back and looked at the auction, and sure enough, it has 8, not 10 holes, though as far as I can tell, that doesn't really matter. No one seems to have an opinion on 8 holed shime or a good reason why 10 holes is important.
When it arrived, I noticed that the body has the grain going in the wrong direction and there was only one line of stitching. Holding it up to the light, you can see the body is thin, having the wrong shape. There's also a seam, so I'm pretty sure the body is bent laminate.
It was also so thuddy. So I let it warm up (I didn't try the hair dryer) and it was still thuddy. So I angsted a bit and decided to try a solo retie (which I'd never done.) Now, the thing you have to understand is usually tying a shime requires two people pulling with all there might with their feet braced against the drum. It works up a sweat. A solo tie, you're supposed to stand in the drum and pull with your legs. Well, I felt a bit picarious ontop, so I decided to kneel on the shime instead and do the best I could. (Mark later pointed out that the laminate drum body might not take standing quite as well as a real shime.) And I got it retied (well only half, since I didn't have the agebachi, a tool used to tighten the first half of the tie.) And it was less thuddy, but still thuddy, so I tried again, doing a much better job this time, and it started to sound almost decent.
But at this point I'd been so disappointed and so waffling about returning it that I wasn't sure if it was actually better or I was just convincing myself.
So on Tuesday I brought it to the dojo to compare. And lo, it was higher pitched than most of the other shime (partly because it's new.) Juni and Mark both tested it out. Juni really like the drum, I think because of the pitch and response of the new heads. Mark pointed out that the body construction meant the drum had no sustain of the pitch, which once he said it, I could completely hear it. Mark asked the price, but made no indication as to if the price was reasonable for what I got.
I might use it as way to learn drum making, since I now had predictable heads and replacing a shime body is trivial as a retie. That way I can make a body design and test it out for sound without sacrificing hide.
I bought it a $30 snare bag, so my total is about $500 for shime and bag.
Anyway, that's my boring story about my shime.
Summary: It's going to be a great practice drum. It has the qualities I need to improve my shime playing. I still don't know if I got a good deal though. A Pearl shime is about $700 and is much closer to a performance quality shime. If I'd know ahead of time that I could only really consider it a practice drum, I think I would have waited for a better deal. Though Juni really liked the drum, so I should take comfort from that.