Emmett Chapman invented a new way to make music in 1969. He called it “Free Hands”, and it incorporated a new approach to playing that focused on the tapping of strings to generate sound. In 1974, he began teaching it to new Stick players and guitarists interested in this new style, and I came into it in 1975. The “Stickband was born in 1976.
My first stick was number 153, which means it was the 53rd Stick sold on the market (Emmett started the numbers at 100). It was a ten-string instrument and the neck/body was a little thinner than my second Stick, which was number 377. Although I actually wrote my song ‘377′ on my 1st Stick (153), I still named the song ‘377′ because by the time we where playing the song in the band, I had already moved to my second Stick (377).
Today, I do not own either of those instruments (if anyone reading this actually owns 153 or 377 it would cool to hear from you). My current stick is number 5002 and is the one shown in photographs throughout the site; you can see the number stamped into the headstock at the very top of the instrument. 5002 also has an additional midi pickup on the lead/right hand side. I don’t actually use midi much in live performance, but it is cool to have the option if I want it and comes in handy for recording.
The Stick is such a versatile instrument and like any other instrument, anyone can put in the effort to learn to play it. There are now Stick players that come from all kinds of musical backgrounds and styles – Rock, Jazz, Classical, Folk – players in bands and soloists. There are also now many variations on the instrument – 8, 10, 12, string instruments -multiple options for the thousand of players who pursue their musical goals on the Stick.