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About The Stick

Stickist Alistair looking quizzically at out of frame drummer

My current stick is a Ten String Grand Stick. Grand Sticks are wider and 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 Everclare I exclusively played the Stick using it’s own sounds plus controlling soft synths.

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

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.

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.

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)

Stickist on stage with guitarist in background, blue wash background with white rays through smoke.

One for the Geeks: 

Early attempt to play synth with the Stick

A cheeky interlude testing if the synth rig integrates into the live Stick rig. There is no GK/hex/midi pickup here. Software is doing realtime polyphonic pitch to MIDI! Jam Origin Midi Guitar 2, Apple Mainstage 3.

The sequence is triggered by the off key note you hear at the start and sustained by the CTL pedal on the GT8. As you can hear later I can reach the trigger note with the first chord of the chorus, and it will track the key change (not shown)

I should probably have tuned up first but I was too excited to show Dave what I had done!

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Stick Pedalboard

The Beast - mega pedal board player's view, under blue stage lighting

Retired in favour of Mac Rack

bass side signal chain

  • Radial Tonebone v2 DI,switcher, preamp
  • Valnøtt II Brassmaster clone
  • EBS Octabass octaver
  • Mutron III envelope filter
  • EBS MultiComp compressor
  • Hookers Green Bass Machine overdrive
  • “Seaweed” Cog 66 mini overdrive
  • ADA PBF Flanger
  • Akai Intelliphase phaser
  • Douglas Y2K (clone of well known Finnish distortion)
  • Line 6 M5 Delays etc
  • Ernie Ball Volume pedal

melody side signal chain

  • Radial Tonebone v2DI, switcher, preamp
  • Vein Tap Dark Triad overdrive
  • Ultimate Drive distortion
  • EHX Lester-K Rotary Simulator
  • Line 6 M5 Delays etc
  • Ernie Ball Volume pedals


  • Rane SP-13 Stick Preamp
  • Peterson Strobostomp tuner
  • Gigrig G2 pedal loop switcher
  • Remote Loopy 2 
  • Eden Amp footswitch 
  • Generator modular power supply 

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