The Chapman Stick is a unique instrument in many ways. It is a totally new idea at a time when there arn't very many in the field of stringed musical instruments. It was invented by Emmett Chapman and has a surprising (though largely unknown) following. Its invention waited for the developement of modern electronics. There are clubs that meet regularly to practice and encourage each other.
The Chapman Stick has a long fingerboard, no acoustic body at all, and depends entirely on electronics for its' acoustic volume. They are strung with 8, 10, or 12 strings divided evenly between bass and treble voices, with the heaviest (lowest pitch) strings towards the center of the width of the fingerboard. The instrument has a large belt-hook built on the back side and a loose shoulder strap that holds it in a position like the saxaphone.
But the real trick of this instrument is that it is neither plucked nor bowed. The strings are set very close to the fingerboard and are sounded by the gentle "hammer" force of the player's finger-tip as it drives the string against the desired fret. Since fretting and hammering are produced by the same fingertips, both hands can play simultaneously as you can on the piano. Since very little physical effort is needed to play it there are musical gymnastics that can be done that were never before possible. Click here for video samples of the instrument in performance. (Use your browser's 'BACK' button to return to this site)Back to Misfits