Instruments | Chapman Stick | Electric & Electronic

The Chapman Stick is a large instrument with a wide fretboard and eight, 10 or 12 strings. It is played by tapping (or ‘hammering-on’) a string at the desired fret with the finger and holding it down with the sustain of the note.

Since only a single finger of one hand is needed to sound each note, the accomplished player can, using three or four fingers of both hands simultaneously, produce complex passages of music comprising bass, harmony and lead lines all at once.

Chapman’s Vision

The Chapman Stick was the unique vision of guitarist Emmett Chapman. Chapman recounts how, in 1969, his discovery of a novel two-handed tapping method on his guitar enabled him to play multiple, independent lines, each hand perpendicular to the fretboard and approaching the board from opposite sides. Chapman’s search for an instrument that was large enough to accommodate this technique led him to design the Chapman Stick, first distributed in 1974.

There are currently six models of Chapman Stick available:
• Classic 10-string
• Grand 12-string
• Bass 8-string
• NS/Stick 8-string (co-designed by Ned Steinberger)
• Stick XG 8, 10 or 12-string with graphite-carbon-fibre body
• Alto Stick 10-string tuned to the range of a guitar

The Chapman Stick in Performance

The seminal 1987 album Parallel Galaxy by Emmett Chapman naturally makes a fine showcase for his invention. Other players who have embraced this challenging yet versatile instrument include Tony Levin, notable for his work with King Crimson and Peter Gabriel, John Paul Jones and Nick Beggs (of Kajagoogoo fame), who recently toured with John Paul Jones.

Introduction | Electric & Electronic Instruments
Instruments | Electric Steel Guitar | Electric & Electronic

Source: The Illustrated Complete Musical Instruments Handbook, general editor Lucien Jenkins


An extensive music information resource, bringing together the talents and expertise of a wide range of editors and musicologists, including Stanley Sadie, Charles Wilson, Paul Du Noyer, Tony Byworth, Bob Allen, Howard Mandel, Cliff Douse, William Schafer, John Wilson...


Classical, Rock, Blues, Jazz, Country and more. Flame Tree has been making encyclopaedias and guides about music for over 20 years. Now Flame Tree Pro brings together a huge canon of carefully curated information on genres, styles, artists and instruments. It's a perfect tool for study, and entertaining too, a great companion to our music books.

Rock, A Life Story

Rock, A Life Story

The ultimate story of a life of rock music, from the 1950s to the present day.

David Bowie

David Bowie

Fantastic new, unofficial biography covers his life, music, art and movies, with a sweep of incredible photographs.