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The Stick Thread

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[attachment=118516:P9141105.JPG]

Meet my new Chapman 10-string Stick, which arrived safely on Thursday. It's rosewood with deep matched reciprocal tuning, medium gauge strings, ACTV-2 pickup, black tuners, and turquoise dot inlays.

Tuning goes like this - Melody (right to left) Bb, F down a 4th, C down a 4th, G down a 4th, D down a 4th. Bass (right to left) Bb, F up a 5th, C up a 5th, G up a 5th (same note as the melody open G), D up a 5th. I've only been playing through a small amp so far, but still sounds cool. There will need to be a lot of practising before it gets a public outing!

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[quote name='peterjam' timestamp='1347828344' post='1805594']
[attachment=118516:P9141105.JPG]

Meet my new Chapman 10-string Stick, which arrived safely on Thursday. It's rosewood with deep matched reciprocal tuning, medium gauge strings, ACTV-2 pickup, black tuners, and turquoise dot inlays.

Tuning goes like this - Melody (right to left) Bb, F down a 4th, C down a 4th, G down a 4th, D down a 4th. Bass (right to left) Bb, F up a 5th, C up a 5th, G up a 5th (same note as the melody open G), D up a 5th. I've only been playing through a small amp so far, but still sounds cool. There will need to be a lot of practising before it gets a public outing!
[/quote]

How are you getting on with it so far?

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Ex-Chapman stick player here, I used to have two! I gave up about 5 years ago as I was just struggling with them too much. I still have the best one, and I don't think I'll ever part with it. It looks pretty cool as I had SIMS put some LEDs on it years ago (for practical reasons - dark fret markers on Paduak is not the best combo}.

Edited by Angel

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Apologies for not replying to this thread before - I've been busy between gigging and a holiday.

I've bought a couple of e-books, (The Sticktionary, Stick e-Lessons and the Big Book of Polychords - all by Chris Crain), and I'm working my way through them very slowly. I think the way to approach this instrument is not to look at it as a different bass, but as a means to play as much or as little music as you want. I play bass in a blues band which already has two guitar players, so I need to think very carefully about what and when to play so that the Stick doesn't muddy up the overall sound.

I understand that Tony Levin will sometimes only plug in and play the 'bass' side of his Stick, so it's like you can apply this instrument to any situation, but you should think about context - you don't switch all your foot pedals on at the same time, so you don't need to be playing bass and melody all the time.

The fact that it comes with a stereo cable is leading me down the 'melody amp' road - Fender Mustang or Line 6 Spider IV? GAS kicks in again!

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[quote name='peterjam' timestamp='1350984540' post='1845759']
I understand that Tony Levin will sometimes only plug in and play the 'bass' side of his Stick, so it's like you can apply this instrument to any situation, but you should think about context - you don't switch all your foot pedals on at the same time, so you don't need to be playing bass and melody all the time.

The fact that it comes with a stereo cable is leading me down the 'melody amp' road - Fender Mustang or Line 6 Spider IV? GAS kicks in again!
[/quote]
That's not quite right - Levin would just use a two-to-one adaptor & run his Stick into a single amp & play a lot of two handed bass parts. If you just plug in the bass side you're losing access to a lot of low notes on the melody strings which are also useful for bass parts.
This is how he tends to play Stick with Peter Gabriel as most of his Stick playing is just for bass lines. When he tours with "Stickmen" he runs his Stick stereo into two amps & uses a shitload of pedals.

Playing through two amps can be pretty strange, especially if there's a lot of space between them. A lot of people use a small mixer to set up different bass & melody sounds & then run into a single full range amplifier.

Finally got the money together to order the Stick of my dreams & I've decided not to bother! I know what I'm like - it'll spend 99% of the time in it's case & that's a lot of money for something to dick around on once every six months.

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I'm quite interested in purchasing a stick, but have no idea where to start!
How much are they? I guess about £1500 and up. I've not seen many secondhand, which suggests that availability is poor in the s/h market.

I'm loosely familiar with the models, but don't know what features and tunings would best suit an absolute beginner.

The only factor that really deters me is the possible need to be some kind of theory wizard to really get into the instrument. I'm not and never will be deeply into the theory side of music. I've got about 20 years' bass playing under my belt. Is the transition a difficult one?

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I am useless on theory, but that didn't particularly cause a problem. Personally I don't think that bass or guitar skills are particularly useful when learning the stick. It's more akin to keyboard playing really - pressing notes, each hand doing it's own thing, one for bass notes one for melody. I found that the best way 'in' was to learn the basic chord shapes, major minor etc, and then a bunch of bass root notes to hang them on. I learned pieces by doing bass side chord/arpeggios, and then played the melody over the top.

Hmmmn, all this talk of Chapman sticks makes me want to get mine out again!

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I've posted this in the Bass section, but found out about this thread later, so a replay:

[font=Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, Calibri, Geneva, sans-serif][size=3]I have had a relapse in my 80's sins.[/size][/font]
[font=Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, Calibri, Geneva, sans-serif][size=3]During the 80's and early 90's we had a band playing "instrumental progressive music", mostly around Western Germany, as the country was called back then. A long lost friend from that era has knocked on the door to my memory and made itself present in my head for a while. Well, here it is:[/size][/font]


[font=Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, Calibri, Geneva, sans-serif][size=3]A 10 string Chapman Stick, but this time MIDI equipped...[/size][/font]


[font=Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, Calibri, Geneva, sans-serif][size=3]...as you can see here. Now it is like PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE to get in decent shape.[/size][/font]


[font=Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, Calibri, Geneva, sans-serif][size=3]Here is a pic from "back in the days", 29 years and kilos (almost) ago. I sold my old Stick some 15 years ago and have regretted it ever since. What have I gotten myself into...?[/size][/font]

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Now I've been noodling around a few weeks with the Stick and started to feel, well not exactly like home, but at least on the right continent. When I got the instrument it had baritone tuning. That won't say too much to the average bass chatter, but it means the melody side is tuned a quart lower than the usual classic tuning. I also tuned down the melody side one whole step to get better access and not let the hands "collide". Suits me fine. That means the instrument is tuned (on the first fret with marker - three frets above the nut)
Melody strings falling: 1-A, 2-E, 3-B, 4-F#, 5-C#
Bass strings rising: 6-D, 7-A, 8-E, 9-B, 10-F#.
This tuning gives a good symmetry: five frets up on the melody side (the next fret with marker) gives the same notes as the bass side, making orientation easy.
The lower tuned melody side makes the instrument "hold together" sonically, with both sides overlapping each other in a nice way, maybe more suited for a bass player's approach than from a guitar player's point of view.
But what do I know? I'm just learning to crawl again... :gas:

Edited by bassmayhem

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Mine is still sitting dormant, probably about 6 years of not touching it now. I'm keeping it, but it's a bit depressing that I have forgotten absolutely everything.

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Angel, I would love it if you could put some photos of the SIM mod up.

I've been playing the Stick since 1990, though lately it isn't getting ugh playtime: hopefully that will change soon, with a new musical project on the horizon!
In the years, I've put together quite a collection... I also have an old ironwood, but it was on holiday when I took the photo!
Here they are for the Stick-o-philes :D


Graphite 36" grand, shedua grand, purpleheart grand 1/4 fretless, bubinga 10, polycarbonate 10 and polycarbonate Grid (MIDI only)

Edited by Shedua511

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[quote name='Shedua511' timestamp='1398086979' post='2430247']
Angel, I would love it if you could put some photos of the SIM mod up.

I've been playing the Stick since 1990, though lately it isn't getting ugh playtime: hopefully that will change soon, with a new musical project on the horizon!
In the years, I've put together quite a collection... I also have an old ironwood, but it was on holiday when I took the photo!
Here they are for the Stick-o-philes :D


Graphite 36" grand, shedua grand, purpleheart grand 1/4 fretless, bubinga 10, polycarbonate 10 and polycarbonate Grid (MIDI only)
[/quote]

Wow, what a great collection.

Don't suppose you want to part with one ?

I'm looking for one at the moment.

How do the different models compare ?

I've been offered 3 different ones so far, one is a very modern one, but slightly out of my price range. The other 2 are a lot older, and don't have the metal bridge arrangement.

:)

Edited by ambient

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At the moment I'm not looking to sell, but I will keep it in mind.

If I can offer some advice, I wouldn't worry about the lack of the metal bridge: unless you intend to tune it differently, you'll be fine.
After all, 5ths/4ths tuning is the standard (pretty much all instructional material is in that tuning) and light gauge strings + Stickup are the Stick sound we all refer too. To be perfectly honest, I use medium gauge on my main Stick and I tune it one whole tone lower, but the Tony Levin/Bob Culbertson/Nick Beggs sound is light gauge, standard tuning, Stickup.
What you really need is an adjustable truss rod, that would be a deal breaker for me. Very low action and straight neck are essential.
It an be retrofit on old ironwood and polycarbonate Sticks, but hen you would have to ship it to Emmett and back... a modern Stick would probably cost about the same.
Make sure you also check out the new Railboard, model: it's cheaper that wooden and graphite Sticks and is really nice. Emmett himself only plays a Railboard nowadays.

If you need some advice on a specific instrument, feel free to PM me.

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[quote name='Shedua511' timestamp='1398103034' post='2430518']
At the moment I'm not looking to sell, but I will keep it in mind.

If I can offer some advice, I wouldn't worry about the lack of the metal bridge: unless you intend to tune it differently, you'll be fine.
After all, 5ths/4ths tuning is the standard (pretty much all instructional material is in that tuning) and light gauge strings + Stickup are the Stick sound we all refer too. To be perfectly honest, I use medium gauge on my main Stick and I tune it one whole tone lower, but the Tony Levin/Bob Culbertson/Nick Beggs sound is light gauge, standard tuning, Stickup.
What you really need is an adjustable truss rod, that would be a deal breaker for me. Very low action and straight neck are essential.
It an be retrofit on old ironwood and polycarbonate Sticks, but hen you would have to ship it to Emmett and back... a modern Stick would probably cost about the same.
Make sure you also check out the new Railboard, model: it's cheaper that wooden and graphite Sticks and is really nice. Emmett himself only plays a Railboard nowadays.

If you need some advice on a specific instrument, feel free to PM me.
[/quote]

That's very kind, thanks :) .

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[quote name='Shedua511' timestamp='1398103034' post='2430518']
...but the Tony Levin/Bob Culbertson/Nick Beggs sound is light gauge, standard tuning, Stickup.
[/quote]

Tony Levin actually uses a custom tuning, not standard. I was talking to him about it at a Stickmen concert last year.

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[quote name='ambient' timestamp='1398616946' post='2435766']
Well as if yesterday, this amazing instrument is now mine 😊
[/quote]Wow!!! Congratulations, that's a wonderful instrument!!!

[quote name='RhysP' timestamp='1398628013' post='2436005']
Tony Levin actually uses a custom tuning, not standard. I was talking to him about it at a Stickmen concert last year.
[/quote] Very interesting, I was sure of the opposite. Live and learn as always :)
Did he explain what he uses?

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[quote name='Shedua511' timestamp='1398628715' post='2436020']
Very interesting, I was sure of the opposite. Live and learn as always :)
Did he explain what he uses?
[/quote]

He did, but he lost me a bit as he was talking in terms of individual strings & not "Matched Reciprocal", "Baritone Melody" or whatever.

(To be honest I was so awestruck at being in a little club in Cardiff talking to Tony Levin I couldn't really get my head around it). :)

I've just sold my 12 string Grand that I bought last October - really couldn't get on with the extra neck width & narrower string spacing compared with my old 10 string.

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[quote name='RhysP' timestamp='1398629167' post='2436026']
He did, but he lost me a bit as he was talking in terms of individual strings & not "Matched Reciprocal", "Baritone Melody" or whatever.

(To be honest I was so awestruck at being in a little club in Cardiff talking to Tony Levin I couldn't really get my head around it). :)

I've just sold my 12 string Grand that I bought last October - really couldn't get on with the extra neck width & narrower string spacing compared with my old 10 string.
[/quote]

This suggests that he might use different tunings on different songs ?

[url="http://www.elephant-talk.com/wiki/Interview_with_Tony_Levin_on_America_Online_chat"]http://www.elephant-talk.com/wiki/Interview_with_Tony_Levin_on_America_Online_chat[/url]

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[quote name='ambient' timestamp='1398693075' post='2436594']
This suggests that he might use different tunings on different songs ?

[url="http://www.elephant-talk.com/wiki/Interview_with_Tony_Levin_on_America_Online_chat"]http://www.elephant-...ica_Online_chat[/url]
[/quote]

All he says in that interview is that "normal" tuning is bass in 5ths, melody in 4ths, which is standard across all the various Stick tunings.
He gives no indication of what the open strings are tuned to, which is where the tuning he told me about differed from the usual stick tunings.
He tunes one string down a semitone for "Elephant Talk".

Also, that piece you've linked to is from 1998, he may well have changed his set-up a few times since then.

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I saw TL live with Crimson ProjeKct recently: I'm pretty sure his bass side is standard tuning, perhaps the melody side is lower. He does indeed detune for elephant talk (lazy bastard :D )
The beauty of standard tuning, or at least keeping the same interval between string sets (I'm tuned a whole step lower on both string sets) is that the dots have musical meaning. If you play on the lowest string on dot 1, you'll have the same note four octaves up two dots up on the highest melody string! The interval from dot to dot is a fourth on the same string and it goes on like this. On the bass side, go up one dot on the adjacent string and it's an octave up. Do that on the melody side and you hit a unison.
Makes much more sense musically than the dots on bass and guitar, wich are only position based.

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Mine's in baritone melody at the moment, I'm probably going to switch to standard.

I've only played it for about 10 minutes so far, it's actually easier than I expected. The bass strings, although they go from high to low, are tuned the same as my basses top 5 strings E-C, so that's not really a problem knowing what the notes are.

The melody side is C#, F#, B, E, A.

Again, in the very short time I've had to play with it, the top 3 strings are easy to remember, and find my way around. I have to keep reminding myself about the C# and F#, which way around they are :) .

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4½ years later...

By a virtue of a some good fortune, I now have a 10 string stick from 2003 in very good condition.

Sounds great, and I'm beginning to get a bit of a feel for it, but the left/right hand independence is taking time, and my right hand needs to become acquainted with the chord shapes.

Another issue is that my approach is that of a bassist. I tend to want to play more complex lines than my skill allows! Watching a lot of players on YouTube reveals that they often underpin their Melody strings with bass chords or single/pedal tones. My inclination is to play a bass line and try to harmonise with that using the Melody strings!

Many players (not Tony Levin!) seem to want to be solo Stickists... Some covers I've seen, although extremely competent seem intent on incorporating as many elements of the song as possible; vocal melodies and guitar melodies are common. The tune is instantly recognizable, but it wouldn't work in a band context, as you'd sideline half of the band!

I've found it best working with material where there's a lot of space to fill.. solo acoustic guitar, for example. That's when you can really stretch yourself.

Any hints and tips anyone has, no matter how minor would be greatly appreciated!

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