Tell me (or point me to) about stick bass

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by DaftCat, Jan 9, 2005.

  1. DaftCat


    Jul 26, 2004
    Medicine Hat

    I've heard them and seen pics of them but I've never seen them played. Does anyone know of any videos online demonstrating them?

    Do you use a pick, fingers only or what?

    What does a "starter" stick bass go for?

    I am sure I have questions I don't even know about yet heh.

    Thanks for all helpful replies.
  2. Bard2dbone


    Aug 4, 2002
    Arlington TX
    Fingers only. You tap the notes, no picking or strumming. Think of it as trying to play keys on a stringed instrument.

    Now here's the catch. It's in two different tuning systems. The low strings are in the middle.

    The melody strings go low to high in fourths, like a guitar or bass, and are oriented in the way that will feel 'right side up' to your left hand as you lay it agains the side of the neck....But wait. You won't be playing those strings with your left hand. You will be reaching across them to play the accompaniment(sp?) strings which go low to high in fifths like a cello. And they will feel as if they are placed 'upside down'

    So both hands will tap all their notes. Both hands will extend farther for high note than low And in general it is the most confusing instrument I own. I have had mine for many years and still can't really make use of it in the way it was intended.

    Check out for more information, possibly phrased more coherently, too.

    Or look at the videos of Greg Howard making it look really easy at or

    And you can have mine for a natural finish Cort JPS5 or enough money to buy one.
  3. xush


    Jul 4, 2001
    mobile AL
    If you'll forgive the PR hyperbole, our bassist has a Stick subpage on our site.

    He usually plays it like most Stickists w/ two-handed tapping.
    He also finds it useful for playing basslines with his left hand while playing keyboards with his right.

    It's a pretty cool instrument, I've played his a few times. A little confusing at first, but it comes to you pretty quick.

    On this page, '4 sticks' and 'bellydance' are live recordings where he uses both techniques:
    The video's didn't turn out great, still working on those.
  4. DaftCat


    Jul 26, 2004
    Medicine Hat
    Thanks for the replies. :)

    I'm gonna see if I can check out one at the music shop sometime.
  5. If you are talking about the 8 string Stick Bass as opposed to the 10/12 string variety then the tuning is commonly in 4ths starting at low B for the 34" scale models and Bb for the 36" scale models. It can also be tuned as Bard said but I don't think this is as common on the 8 string version. All that being said I understand that you can have a Stick built with whatever tuning you desire. Here is a link to the Stick site page which details the most used tunings :-
    Stick Tunings. Another good site with an even more complete tuning explanations for tap instruments is :-
    Clic Music

    I hope this helps.
  6. Veej007


    Sep 6, 2004
    More PR!

    Check out this guy (also in the videos above)

    My favorite video is at

    If you do get interested in a stick, check out the information available at the forums, the StickWire mailing list (archives at
    and the StickNews online newsletter (

    Also, I guess you may have meant "Stick Bass" in the general sense, but it's also the name of a specific model made by Stick Enterprises. You might want to think about looking into a 10-string rather than a Stick Bass, which is essentially the same thing but with only eight strings. The 10-strings are infinitely more flexible.