The Stick

Chapman Stick

What the hell is that?!

It's a Chapman Stick.

OK... What is it?

It's a touchboard instrument. You tap the fretboard with both hands simultaneously - the left hand plays the Bass strings while the right hands plays the melody strings.

Like a piano?

Sort of. But with strings.

Is is a guitar or a Bass?

Neither. It's kind of a mutant descendent of the electric guitar.

Who's idea was it?

A fellow by the name of Emmett Chapman, who owns and runs Stick Enterprises.

How many strings has it got?

Mine has ten, but they also make a twelve string (the Grand Stick) and an eight string 'Stick Bass' amongst other things.

How is it tuned?

Mine is tuned 'Matched Reciprocal' - the Bass side goes C - G -D - A - E (lowest to highest) and the melody side goes E -A - D - G - C (lowest to highest) but there are loads of other tuning options.

What does it sound like?

At the moment, mine sounds like a club-fisted Bass player beating a badly out of tune guitar to death with a really badly out of tune guitar, but Rome wasn't burned in a day... you should go here and watch the videos of it being played by a master.

I've never heard of them... are they a new thing?

Not really.... The two handed tapping idea was developed by Emmett Chapman in the late 60s/early 70s and the first production model was released in 1974 (the same year as me!)

Who else plays them?

Lots of people, like Tony Levin, Greg Howard, Nick Beggs, Ollie Collins, Carrie Melbourne and many more.

Where can I find out more?

You could check out the manufacturer's site and the stickist forum for starters.

Didn't you used to have a cat called Chapman?

Yes. She was lovely.

My current cat is called Spartacus. She's lovely too.