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Who here plays the Chapman Stick?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Fire-Starter, Dec 12, 2006.

  1. Fire-Starter

    Fire-Starter Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2002
    Any of you guys here plays the ChapmanStick??? I am checking out this guy now name Michael Kollwitz, but
    my first experience of hearing this STICK was in Sanfran, Ca, on Fishermans Warf in 1987, the guy who played it looked like he was homeless, and was selling his songs on tape, I remember than how the sound of it just mellowed me out. couple of questions for you...

    1: Could you not do the same thing pretty much on a 7+ string bass?

    2: Since I have never played one, it seems more like a guitar, Would it be safe to assume if you play guitar, it would be a lateral move to the Stick?

    If you guys have pics of yours and clips, I would really like to check them out.

  2. Bard2dbone


    Aug 4, 2002
    Arlington TX
    Was he a little old black guy? Was one of his CD's called 'Colors Of The Sky'? I've seen him. He did look homeless. I bought both his CD's and he let me play his Stick and gave me pointers to try on mine.

    They didn't work. I still suck at it.
  3. Fire-Starter

    Fire-Starter Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2002
    Yup he sure was, and I cant remember the tapes I had, since I have since lost them, but he was always down at the Warf, and people would just sit around and listen to this guy play:cool: He was a very kind person as well, do you know if he is still around? I mean this was in the latter 80"s......
  4. Bard2dbone


    Aug 4, 2002
    Arlington TX
    When I saw him, he was playing at an outdoor arts festival in Ft Worth. That was about 1990 or 1991. I think he was living in New Mexico, but I don't remember if there was a reason to think that or if time has just attached two unconnected things in my head.

    I'm not old enough to be this senile.

    I mentioned this to my wife while I was typing just now and she says he was from Northern California, so maybe I'm senile and it's the same guy. Was his name Danny something?
  5. Bard2dbone


    Aug 4, 2002
    Arlington TX
    Back to the original post:

    1. No.


    2. No.

    It has ten strings in two different tuning systems. The low strings are in the middle of the neck. The high strings are on the edges.

    Now it gets really wierd: the melody side is tuned in fourths, like a guitar and go low to high 'right side up' so that the high string sits against your left hand.

    The accompaniment strings are in fifths, like a cello, and are oriented 'upside down', so that the high string is toward your neck.

    And the string spacing is ungodly tight, like a guitar.
  6. Fire-Starter

    Fire-Starter Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2002

    :eek: My desire to play just took a SERIOUS hit. Back to my bass:bassist:
  7. hawaiianbass


    Jul 23, 2006
    Laramie, Wyo
    They also make bass Sticks. I'm not sure what the tuning for those are but I think they are just eight strings. I could be wrong though.

  8. I used to play a 12-string Warr, set up like a Stick. It was a lot of fun for me, but the practical application for it went away, and so did the Warr. It's really not much like playing a bass or guitar--a lot more like playing the piano, except with another dimension (depth). There's a steep learning curve: skills as a bassist are not exactly transferrable. Much handier are a set of good ears and an open mind. I found that it was much more practical to tune it in 4ths, even on the bass side that a lot of people tune in 5ths (if you tune it in 5ths, certain intervals get really hard).

    There are 8 string sticks, set up like a traditional instrument (strung low to high), and also 8 string sticks set up stick-style (melody and bass sections). There's a version of the former (I think 10-string, though) in the classifieds right now.
  9. Bard2dbone


    Aug 4, 2002
    Arlington TX
    I've had mine a long time and still suck at it. It's gotten to where I pull it out and try to play it a little bit about twice a year. I've mostly decided that the string spacing is as much a problem as keeping the tuning straight in my head.

    I keep deciding to sell it and then trying to play it again.
  10. Fire-Starter

    Fire-Starter Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2002
    any pics of it?
  11. Petary791


    Feb 20, 2005
    Michigan, USA
    Mine will be here in late February. I can't wait!

    The playability really wasn't that hard for me. It's real easy to press down, and I didn't find the strings to be to close together. YMMV.
  12. I would LOVE to get a Stick. I love the sound of it and tapping came very naturally to me on bass. So I figure if I get a Stick with less strings (I know they come in some variety), maybe the spacing won't be too bad and I'll get used to it. The tuning however may give me some trouble, but I'm sure I could figure it out.
    Bottom line, I want one bad. On top of just being an awesome sounding instrument, you look so badass playing one. It's such a cool looking instrument, just look at it:
    Hooray for Tony for getting me into the Stick.
  13. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    There is a very nice NS Stick for sale in the classifieds right now. It's essentially an eight string bass with super low action and split pickups rather than the goofy reciprocal tuning thing that the "normal" Sticks use. I've played an NS Stick a few times and they are really a blast. I've also played a Grand Stick once or twice.. it's like relearning long division.

    Awesome instruments though.
  14. Yeah, I bought his CD's too. He was really good. That was like 5 years ago.

    - Dave
  15. Warr Tapper

    Warr Tapper Banned

    Sep 17, 2006
    I played the 8 string stick (SB8), for a few years, then switched to Warr. Not too difficult at all, playing bass lines. Tuned in 4ths B-Bb. The Warr is much easier, not as awkward and has WAAYYYY better tone, and looks. The only thing about the stick that is better is their website.
  16. rpmartino


    Jan 12, 2007
    Hi guys,

    Just thought I'd pop in to say hi, since I'm a Stick player. You can check out audio/video at my links below.

    The guy at Fisherman's Warf in SanFran is Daniel Kane, I chatted with him briefly the one time I happened to be there, nice guy with a smooth style.

    I tune my Stick a bit uncoventionally, in mirrored 4ths. The "upside down" 4ths I think offer some advantages in chordal and other accompaniment techniques, and surpirisingly it wasn't all that weird to get used to compared to a regular bass.

    I did have an NS/Stick for a while which is a nice instrument, but I really wanted to explore solo compositions which I find difficult on "one zone" instruments (although I've discovered guys like Jean Baudin in recently who can do it well). Having the two sets of strings with overlapping pitch range really opens up nice possibilities, and I don't feel like my hands are running into each other when they are playing in the same pitch range like on the 8 string tapping instruments.

  17. evilgus

    evilgus Supporting Member

    Feb 27, 2006
    Sydney, Australia
    Hi folks,

    I've had a 10-string Stick for a bit over 6 months now and I don't consider it to be too impossible. It's not easy, of course, just requires time and effort. IMHO, the results are well worth it, it's a great challenge and you can play things simply not possible on any other instrument! (Well, maybe a Warr guitar!) Because of the long scale, low string tension and pickups, tapping sounds much better than on a bass, not muddy at all. Unless you are a poor player or have your Stick setup badly. :p

    I've been playing bass for 16 years - that has helped a bit, but the techniques and skills required are a little different. You definitely need to strengthen your left hand to play bass lines on it's own, plus learn solo-ing skills with your right hand. I definitely suck at that part! Two-handed bass on the bass side is great though, I'm mainly doing that for the moment. Heaps of fun!

    Yeh, string spacing does feel pretty tight on a regular 10-string Stick, but it doesn't take long before you get used to it. Makes for very fast runs when you want them! You can also get 10 strings on a Grand size body, if you really want wider spacing, or have big fingers. :)

    There's also so many Stick tunings, it's very daunting for new players. I considered a fourths tuning, like Rob, but decided to stick with fifths on the bass side, as I really do enjoy coming up with bass lines that are far different to normal bass. Besides, I'm a huge Tony Levin fan, so it's much easier to learn his songs, hehehe.



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