Mutant Guitars: The Chapman Stick

This Mutant Guitar series would be void and incomplete without mention of Emmett Chapman and his creation: the "Stick". Few would argue that the Chapman Stick is the definitive Mutant Guitar of the last century and, indeed, our time. The Stick exemplifies the Mutant Guitar credo of "functionally unusual" instruments derived from the guitar's family tree. To say that Emmett Chapman went off the "beaten path" is an understatement. He paved a new road that is now traveled by a loyal cult following. Noted stick players include King Crimson's Tony Levin and the group Third Door Down.


While players such as Eddie Van Halen, Stanley Jordan and Michael Hedges are noted for their signature fingerboard tapping techniques on conventional guitars, the stick is optimized for those very techniques and more. Additionally, it was developed in prototype form as far back as the 1960's. The Stick embodies the range of both the guitar and the bass guitar. It is effectively a fretted piano. The wide polyphonic possibilities of the Stick make it a true "thinking musician's" instrument. When it comes to niche instrument's that stand the test of time and provide a viable small business for its entrepreneur, Mr. Chapman has succeeded where many others have failed. To Mr. Chapman, I tip my hat.

For more info on Sticks, visit

Repair shop folly of the month:


"Where should I install the plug jack on my Bajo Sexto? The cutaway seems like the right place!!"

Doctor Bow (aka Jonathan Wilson) is an experimental guitar noodler who also doubles as a professional guitar technician, designer, luthier, teacher, composer, and assistant manager of Cassells Music in San Fernando, CA. His designs include the "Guillermo Roberto" bajo quinto line and, most notably, the "TogaMan" GuitarViol (bow-able guitar).

Jonathan endorses Earvana compensated nuts and installs them on his TogaMan GuitarViols as a standard feature.

Jonathan Wilson