Chapman Stick

From Allan Holdsworth Information Center
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The Innocent Abroad (Musician 1984)

On his chordal accompaniments, Allan has been striving for a more "orchestral" sound, using layers of delays to get shimmering, pulsating textures from his sophisticated fingerings. "For my rhythm sound, I’ve designed a setup where all the signal processing is driven from one master board; I put each effect into one fader." His digital delays are two ADA STD-1s, two AMS units and a Yamaha E1010. The whole rhythm setup is run through a Yamaha PG-1 instrument pre-amp, some P2200 power amps and S412 speakers. The mixers are a Yamaha M406 and a M516. Allan also has an Ovation ‘83 Collector’s Series acoustic and a Chapman Stick.

Reaching For The Uncommon Chord


The stick is a slightly different story with me because it's something that I am interested in a lot. I have the utmost respect for Emmett Chapman, and I think it's a great instrument. He helped me a lot because I didn't want to play the stick in its normal form - that is with five bass string in fifths. I really didn't want to be a one man band - if I was a piano player or whatever, I really wouldn't be into the one man band thing. So I didn't want to use the stick as both a bass and something else.

I experimented with a stick which had been loaned to me, and I decided I'd really like to play one that was tuned in fifths - because I'd been experimenting playing with a guitar tuned in fifths. I talked to Emmett about it, and he told me he thought the instrument could work like that - so he made me one where the half usually tuned in fourths was tuned in fifths, and the other half was tuned like a guitar. So between Emmett and me, we applied our logic to come up with a particular tuning. I feel I'm not detracting from my work on the guitar when I play the stick because I'm learning the same things I would playing the guitar, unlike my playing on a pedal steel or the violin. I'm going to try real hard on this instrument.

Allan Holdsworth ( 2000)

TCG: I must ask you about your involvement with the Chapman Stick.

AH: Emmett (Chapman) built me some custom Sticks that didn’t have bass strings. There were two sets of strings, one tuned in 4ths and the other set in 5ths. It was like two guitars on one neck. He also loaned me a 3/4 size Stick that I wish I still had. I still own a regular size Stick with no bass strings. I like the instrument because of the string length. When yo do the tapping thing in the guitar the sound seems puny because the string is so short. I don’t really play the Stick much anymore or acoustic guitar for that matter, after the Synthaxe entered the scene.