I heard of Chapman Stick before and, in fact, it is on the list of instruments I would like to own one day and learn to play in the the future. So, thanks, Disc Makers, for reminding me about Chapman’s Stick in the form of such a passionate article.
Article by Stephen Wise, who writes instrument and gear reviews for Music After 50, where this review first appeared.
Moving a new, alternative instrument into the mainstream is a truly arduous task. Most attempts, in fact, will fail. It is not surprising that in over 35 years on the market that the Chapman Stick® is not yet a household name. It took the saxophone over 100 years to achieve that mark. Yet, The Stick® has made steady gains. No one who has seen it, it seems, ever forgets it! (Watch Rob Martino and then Kevin Keith play the Stick®.) Those who play it become disciples.
Another trait that The Stick® shares with the saxophone is that it is a modern instrument, developed from the ground up to be easily played using a logical technique. I know all of these things because I have been a Stick® owner for over 30 years. Although I have learned to play more than a dozen instruments over the years, if you came to me today and told me that I could only have one instrument for the rest of my life, I would keep my Stick®!
The Stick® was first marketed by Emmett Chapman in 1974, the culmination of his experiments in “touch playing” of fretted instruments in the guitar family. As a jazz guitarist, limited to six strings and five fingers, Emmett began to envy the freedom and space that keyboard musicians enjoyed, but still wanted to have the degree of nuance that only fingers on strings can deliver. In a flash of inspiration, he up-ended his guitar, reached around the neck with both hands, and began tapping out riffs.
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