Anyone play a Chapman Stick?

Discussion in 'The Small Company Luthiers' started by charley, Apr 17, 2005.


  1. charley

    charley Supporting Member

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    Been contemplating getting one of these for a while. I'll probably get a 10 string hardwood, but might go with a graphite one. Just wondering if anyone else has seen and/or played one of these? What do you think?
    Check out www.stick.com
     
  2. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    Have you seen the 8-string for sale in the emporium? I don't play one but the thought had crossed my mind. I thought better of it. One lifetime, one instrument for me seems like the smartest plan.

    Good luck finding one that fits your needs.

    Dave
     
  3. charley

    charley Supporting Member

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    Thanks for the tip. I think i want to go with a 10 string though. I'm just not sure if i want a wood one or a graphite one. They seem like a real pain to tune, so the graphite would probably minimize weather related tuning issues.
     
  4. Bryan T

    Bryan T Guitar Owner Silver Supporting Member

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    Have you had the chance to play one? A friend of mine has one and I was able to borrow it for about six weeks. The technique to play it is pretty strange, due both to the ergonomics and the tuning system. Personally, I think it would be better if the bass strings were tuned in fourths and oriented the way a bass is. I also think the bass strings should be on the opposite side of the neck so that the bass strings would be easier to play with the left hand. My biggest complaint with the instrument was the tone. I grew tired of the attack of the notes very quickly, though a lot of players get around that by using volume swells or synth rigs.

    I highly suggest that you try one before you buy it. I'm glad that I had the opportunity to, as I would have been disappointed if I'd spent the $1500 on a new one.

    Bryan
     
  5. Neill

    Neill Member

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    I agree. I wish I didn't but I do.
     
  6. move

    move Member

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    a former roomate of mine had a hardwood 12 string and a graphite 10 string.

    i could get used to the tuning system but not the lack of dynamic range.

    surprising to me, i thought the graphite sounded much better thant the wood.
     
  7. Amitar

    Amitar Member

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    Wow. I just assumed the bass strings would be oriented for left hand playing.
     
  8. mtndog

    mtndog Gold Supporting Member

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    I had an early one. It was wooden and very cool looking. They are definitely a huge commitment to practice and dedication if you actually want to play even halfway well. I sought one out after hearing a fairly good player in San Francisco doing some really nice jazz stuff along with a flute player. To my great surprise I found one available where I live ( Anchorage!). The novelty wore off fairly soon for me. I still admire folks who can make music on them, I just could justify the time away from my goals with the guitar.
     
  9. Bryan T

    Bryan T Guitar Owner Silver Supporting Member

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    If you use your left hand for playing the bass strings, then you have to reach across the five treble strings to get to the lowest string. Then you have to reach across the five treble strings and the lowest bass string to get to the next highest bass string. In my opinion, it is an awkward system.

    Bryan
     
  10. reentune

    reentune Supporting Member

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    I had a graphite one.
    As stated previously, Stick is a big commitment.
    Give up all other instruments unless you're ungodly talented and have lots of free time.
    Resale isn't too good either, so buy used and as cheap as possible.
    There are definitely people out there desparate to get rid of them.
    They are really cool, but I was glad to see mine go.
    The novelty can wear off fast, so be sure you can cope with the purchase.
    Good luck.
    Also, it's recommended that you have a guitar amp AND a bass amp. Another thing to keep in mind.
     
  11. Motorhed

    Motorhed Member

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    i want to see michael angelo play one of those things, with what he can do with playing upside down, he could probably kick ass with a stick.


    i've been curious to try one since i first saw them, but dont want the commitment of it so i've never bought one. i'm sticking to guitar for now.


    are there anymore videos on the net of people playing them? there's the 2 on the stick site, but thats all i've seen.
     
  12. iDavid

    iDavid Member

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    I've had three.

    two 10 strings and a 8 string Stickbass

    I'm going to be sellling the 8 string on ebay, I didn't get any takers here

    the 8 strings is 400 times easier to play than the 10 string!!!!

    I just decided to spend more time on fretless :dude
     
  13. Powerfibers

    Powerfibers Member

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    I have had two "touch style" instruments. I had a 12 string Grand Stcik and an 8 string ADG-8 touch guitar. The ADG (Austin Douglas), a subsidiary of Warr Guitars, was better in every aspect. No belt hook or neck strap, no backwards bass tuning, just straight across low to high. It sounded fantastic, and I am still kicking myself for getting rid of it. A moment of weakness, I guess.

    I would highly recommend the Warr and ADG products. I found the ADG-8 to be a real hoot. The learning curve was not so bad, and I made good use of it for covering bass tones on recordings and such. It was not so metallic.

    With both the ADG and Stick, I found it easier to work out new material as opposed to using it in old settings. They are really unique instruments. Lots of fun,

    Bob M.
     
  14. Dr. Jimmy

    Dr. Jimmy Member

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    Fun instruments to play, little bit of a learning curve.....
     
  15. Chrome Dinette

    Chrome Dinette Silver Supporting Member

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    A lot of folks seem to like the Warr Guitars over the Sticks. Trey Gunn and Colin Marston come to mind. I have seen. Marston up close and he plucks and strums as well as taps.

    If you want a low cost entry into this sort of thing, check out www.krappyguitars.com
     
  16. GovernorSilver

    GovernorSilver Member

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    Holy 9yr-old thread bump!

    Wonder if the OP ever got a Stick.
     
  17. Chrome Dinette

    Chrome Dinette Silver Supporting Member

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    Oh geez, I didn't notice the date.
     
  18. sleep

    sleep Supporting Member

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    Still fun to talk about even if the thread's old.

    I've had a couple regular sticks, an NS stick, and a grand stick.

    If I were to get one again, I'd probably go for the NS stick. You could play it like a regular bass (and it sounded great) or as a touch guitar.

    Ultimately, though, I always find the treble strings to be lacking in character, thin sounding.

    I didn't find it particularly hard to learn.
     
  19. rgsss14

    rgsss14 Gold Supporting Member

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    Yes!

    I have a hardwood Chapman Stick Grand, and a Warr prototype (called "Raptor", from around Y2K, with passive pups).

    About 10 years ago, there was a guy here in St. Louis giving lessons. My bandmate took lessons from him, and I took some from my bandmate. I just couldn't keep it up, timewise. As someone else said, it's a big commitment to learn how to play it right, but any guitarist can goof off on one and come up with some serendipitous noise. My friend still plays and writes on his.

    .... and for listening, I highly recommend Trey Gunn's album "The Third Star".... he primarily plays the Warr on that but if I remember there are a couple of tunes with The Stick. Lots of tonal difference but both are cool.

    Hope the OP got one.
     
  20. GovernorSilver

    GovernorSilver Member

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    Just funnin'....

    In answer to one of the old comments, none of the Stick models are harder to tune than the others. A graphite one, by all reports, is not "easier to tune" than a wooden one, unless you have one of the really old ironwood Sticks that have no truss rod.

    Regarding dynamics, you've got to get used to practicing playing soft notes with a loud amp, and get your dynamics that way. A Warr Guitar is not going to be better in this regard. BTW, there are peeps out there who tried Warr Guitars and opted to buy/keep their Chapman Sticks. It's kind of a Fender vs. Gibson thing.

    As far as tone, yes, it sounds like a Clavinet, though you can get a fair amount of tonal variation if the Stick has the PASV-4 pickup option, particularly the ability to dial in different tones for the bass and treble sides. I see Greg Howard made a recent video demoing virtually all the Stick pickup options - I dig the out-of-phase tones:



    Regarding the reverse-5ths tuning on the bass side, the advantage of the tuning is you can play bass and chords (shell voicings) with one hand. Pianists typically play just the 3rd and 7th of a chord with the left hand (shell voicing) because there's a bass player to handle the bass. I think Emmett Chapman was influenced by this. The tradeoff is that melodic lines in the bass range and walking bass require a lot more position shifting.

    I had a ironwood (bought used) and a Grand Stick, both with the standard Stick pickup. I sold both of them because I was barely playing them - was playing more and more viola, as well as piano. I can't rule out getting another Stick in the future though, especially with a PASV-4. The new Railboard model looks cool, but I'd want the 4 pickups and the phase switch of the PASV-4 vs. the Railboard's pickup module. I do agree that, just like the guitar, this instrument gives back what you put into it. You could pursue virtuosity on it, but a lot of Stick owners are happy using it as a writing instrument. Some use it just to accompany themselves while they sing.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2014

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