The Chapman Stick was developed by Emmett Chapman in the early 70’s. I think it can best be described as a hybrid guitar/bass instrument. Instead of using one hand to fret the note and the other hand to pluck the string, you use one hand to tap the string at the fret. This means that you now can use both hands to play independent part, like a piano.
I remembered reading about it in Downbeat magazine when they first came out and even seeing someone play one at Sam Ash Guitars at 48th Street, NYC but the thought of actually playing one was well outside my ambitions at the time. Sometime around 2010, I read an article by Stickist Steve Adelson about the instrument and immediately saw the possibilities it offered for my own music.
There are several different configurations of the Chapman Stick. The original Chapman Stick design (which Stick Enterprises refers to as “The Stick”) is ten strings with the bass/treble sides each having five strings. The Grand Stick expands the original concepts to 12 strings, extending the instruments range in both directions. There’s a Stick Bass, a eight string version whose range is mainly in the (you guessed it) bass register. There’s an Alto Stick as well as the Chapman Stick Guitar (also referred to by Stick Enterprises as SG12) Go to the Stick Enterprises web site for more details (http://stick.com/instruments/).
After experimenting with different configurations, I am now playing a Chapman Stick Guitar in what is referred to as Dual Guitar tuning. It makes the Stick Guitar the equivalent to a double neck guitar played on one wide fretboard. Playing it is like being a one man guitar duet. Cool!
Here is a video of me playing a couple of choruses of Stormy Monday on the Chapman Stick Guitar:
Here I’m doing a couple of choruses of the blues standard “Nobody Knows You When Your Down And Out”.
If you want to learn more about the Chapman Stick, go to http://www.stick.com/.
March 3rd, 2018 –
I’m starting a new playlist on the RoyMusicUSA YouTube channel called Stick Theory (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLogHrynqXOvSmeQXOw_SAW0etIHHKV8mX). The playlist will feature feature solo Chapman Stick Guitar videos performed at the ManRoy studios here at Casa de RoyMusicUSA (okay, it’s my living room). Below is my cove of Dark Star by The Grateful Dead.
Dark Star (Grateful Dead Cover) on the Chapman Stick Guitar
April 29, 2018 –
My cover of Jimi Hendrix’s Little Wing on the Chapman Stick Guitar. I would like to imagine that Hendrix, with his sense of exploration, would be interested in checking out the Chapman Stick. The possibilities of what he could have done with it just boggle my mind.
Little Wing (Jimi Hendrix Cover) on the Chapman Stick Guitar