A Brief History of the Stick
I created a new stringed instrument to embody all the advantages of the
tapping method I had been playing on guitar. I needed an all-fingerboard
instrument, an expanded playing surface of strings and frets with the
room and the range to explore two-handed playing to its full extent. At
the same time I reduced the design to the essentials, solely for this
Emmett and Yuta Chapman
A member of the guitar and bass family, The Stick introduced a full
two-handed piano technique applied directly onto the strings. It has
a longer natural sustain than guitar, and yet is extremely percussive,
the "drumming" of fingers executing sharp, staccato rhythms.
It also has a strong and distinctive bass voice. And so, the techniques
of four major instruments - guitar, piano, bass and drums - are all
brought together on this single Touchboard® instrument.
The technique came before the instrument, a sudden discovery while
playing my guitar in 1969. No known guitarist, bassist, or fingerboard
player had ever before used a basic three and four fingered technique
in each hand simultaneously to play independent lines, scales and
chords. It was unique, yet basic and logical - both hands aligned
parallel to the frets and perpendicular to the strings, the fingers of
each hand fitting sequentially into selected fret spaces at any point
along the board.
This is the common orientation of a fingering hand, more or less at
right angles to the neck, and has from antiquity been the manner in
which pickers, pluckers and strummers of stringed instruments
finger-stopped their notes, usually with the left hand. I dedicated
this fingering role to both hands, each addressing the board from
opposite sides, and I began to perform, teach, and demonstrate this
new method, as well as inventing and manufacturing a new instrument
to fully realize its potential.
By 1970 I was playing L.A. clubs with jazz guitarist Barney Kessel,
using this light-touch method of independent hands to play simultaneous
bass, chords and melody on my modified guitar. Later that year I built
a bodiless version out of an ebony board and called it
"The Electric Stick". Refinements of the instrument and the
method then evolved together, with my first production run of Sticks
in 1974, as well as my first nationally televised Stick performance
on "What's My Line" that year.
Stick Enterprises was founded in 1974 to manufacture and distribute the
Stick. Since then we have added many new features and created a variety of
related tapping instruments, including 8, 10, and 12 string models, an
8-string NS/Stick bass guitar, and related accessories.
Emmett Chapman, President,
Stick Enterprises, Inc.
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