About The Stick

The Chapman Stick is half bass, half guitar, half piano and half mad. The standard Stick has 10 strings, the 5 melody strings are tuned in fourths similar to a guitar. The 5 Bass strings are tuned in fifths (like a cello), but an octave lower. The clever bit is that the bass strings are arranged backwards, so the thickest strings are toward the centre of the board. Precisely why this is clever is not obvious until you actually play one.   

The Pickup is stereo, so bass and melody sides may be amplified and processed separately.

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The Stick is worn nearly upright and played using the Free Hands method, where the fingers of both hands are parallel to the frets and have equal facility. Notes are made not by plucking or strumming but by tapping the string against the fret. Each finger can sound it’s own note (thats the “piano half” of the equation)

My current stick is a Ten String Grand Stick. Grand Sticks usually have 12 strings which gives you greater overlap between the two string groups and more options where to play notes. However I converted it to a TSG for greater spacing and articulation, (e.g. slapping like Kevin Keith).

With the band Run Gizmo Run I exclusively play the Stick using it’s own sounds plus controlling soft synths.

With Genesis Legacy I use Stick to play bass synth on some songs

'Mac Rack'

Apple Macbook Pro

Presonus Firestudio Mobile

Keith McMillen Softstep controller 

Apple Mainstage

Jam Origin Midi Guitar 2 poly pitch to MIDI

Jam Origin Midi Bass mono pitch to MIDI

Uhe DIVA soft synth 

Amplitube 4

Softube Eden WT-400 Amp Emulation   

Darkglass Ultra overdrive/distortion plug-in                   


Chapman Stick®, The Stick®, and Free Hands® are registered trademarks of Stick Enterprises.

For more info on the Stick, different Stick models, the inventor - Emmett Chapman and the many and varied stickists out there,

please visit the official Stick Enterprises website.


images © Rob Arnold


© Alistair 2019.