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Chapman Stick

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The Chapman Stick is a musical instrument devised by Emmett Chapman in the early 1970s. He set out to create an instrument designed for the tapping technique and the first production model of the Chapman Stick was shipped in 1974.

Superficially, it looks like a wide version of the fretboard of an electric guitar with 8, 10 or 12 strings mounted on it, but it is longer than a guitar. Unlike the electric guitar, it is usually played by tapping or fretting the strings, rather than plucking them. Instead of one hand fretting and the other hand plucking, both hands sound notes by touching the strings to the frets. For this reason, it can sound many more notes at once than most other stringed instruments, making it more comparable to a keyboard instrument than to other stringed instruments. This arrangement lends itself to playing multiple lines at once and many Stick players have mastered performing bass, chords and melody lines simultaneously.

Contents

Construction

Over the years, Chapman Sticks have been made out of many materials. The first ones were made from super hardwoods, most from Ironwood, but some from Ebony and other exotic woods, through the early 1980s. The next group, chronologically, were made from a polycarbonate resin similar to Plexiglass through the early 1990s. Today, they are made from many hardwoods (including padauk, purple heart, Indian rosewood, tarara, maple and mahogany), as well as graphite epoxy and other even more high-tech composites.

Musicians using the Chapman Stick

Chapman Sticks have been used on many popular music recordings, particularly to play the bass parts. Popular artists who have used the Chapman Stick on their recordings and live performances include Peter Gabriel, King Crimson (in both instances played by Tony Levin), Kittyhawk (with multiple Stick players), Kajagoogoo, John Paul Jones, Pink Floyd, Blue Man Group, Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe (one of the reformations of the group Yes), Bruce Cockburn, Greg Howard on the Dave Matthews Band album Before These Crowded Streets, John Myung of Dream Theater and Aaron Wolf of Darktown Saints. Recordings that have been influential on many Stick players, because the Stick plays such a prominent role, include the 1981 King Crimson CD Discipline and Emmett Chapman's 1987 CD Parallel Galaxy.

The Chapman Stick also made an appearance in David Lynch's film, Dune.

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