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 New guy Q. Capo's, pull offs, open tunings? 
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Post New guy Q. Capo's, pull offs, open tunings?
I've had my mind glued on stick instruments since some musical friends told me about them 2 months ago. Downloaded like 100 youtube vids and cant get it out of my head !. When I can afford one which shouldn't be too far off (touch wood) Im looking at a 12 string grand or hopefully a 12 string Railboard if its out.

Also been playing my 7 string guitar exclusively in the "stick position" for the last month using open c minor so that i can utilize the open strings which leads me to the question of utilizing open strings (pull offs) with a stick instrument.

Seems that some players Ive watched on youtube utilize a capo that presumably allow an open string "pull off" effect.

I just wanted to ask who has experimented with capo's, pull off's and if they alter their tunings to suit such as partial or full open style tunings.

Cheers Riv


Sun Jul 23, 2017 7:09 pm
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Post Re: New guy Q. Capo's, pull offs, open tunings?
There are no "open" strings on Stick. Every note is either tapped or pulled off. All strings are muted between the nut and first fret for good reason. Pull offs happen all the time and are one of the prime techniques on the instrument. And hammer-ons (tapping) is the foremost technique of course. Pull-offs are always done from one fretted note to another fretted note, even if it's done between two hands 10 frets apart, but never to an "open" string at the bridge. It's not a guitar and the types of open drone notes, chromatisism between open and fretted strings and similar guitar tricks of the trade and much more can all be done in other ways because you're working with two hands independently on two different groups of strings. You will find the 4ths/5ths tuning is the whole secret sauce of the Stick and the intervals and voicings of modal tunings liked DADGAD etc. frequently used as alternate tunings on a guitar are easy to cop on a Stick in standard Stick tuning - often with one finger.

It's a musically and stylistically neutral and symmetrical grid which is easy to navigate in any style. For the most part you can check your guitar techniques and chops at the door because Stick has techniques and mental road maps all its own.

Bob Culbertson has been known to employ a capo on the bass side in certain keys on occasion so it's not unheard of - but not having the open strings mechanically muted requires tremendous control and selective hand muting technique to keep 10 or 12 open strings and their overtones from randomly flapping about in very unmusical ways and is not what most of us mere mortals want to add to our "to do" list while attempting to cleanly articulate bass, chords and melody lines simultaneously on this instrument.

You can give it a shot though.


Sun Jul 23, 2017 11:52 pm
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Post Re: New guy Q. Capo's, pull offs, open tunings?
Captain Strings wrote:
There are no "open" strings on Stick. Every note is either tapped or pulled off. All strings are muted between the nut and first fret for good reason. Pull offs happen all the time and are one of the prime techniques on the instrument. And hammer-ons (tapping) is the foremost technique of course. Pull-offs are always done from one fretted note to another fretted note, even if it's done between two hands 10 frets apart, but never to an "open" string at the bridge. It's not a guitar and the types of open drone notes, chromatisism between open and fretted strings and similar guitar tricks of the trade and much more can all be done in other ways because you're working with two hands independently on two different groups of strings. You will find the 4ths/5ths tuning is the whole secret sauce of the Stick and the intervals and voicings of modal tunings liked DADGAD etc. frequently used as alternate tunings on a guitar are easy to cop on a Stick in standard Stick tuning - often with one finger.

It's a musically and stylistically neutral and symmetrical grid which is easy to navigate in any style. For the most part you can check your guitar techniques and chops at the door because Stick has techniques and mental road maps all its own.

Bob Culbertson has been known to employ a capo on the bass side in certain keys on occasion so it's not unheard of - but not having the open strings mechanically muted requires tremendous control and selective hand muting technique to keep 10 or 12 open strings and their overtones from randomly flapping about in very unmusical ways and is not what most of us mere mortals want to add to our "to do" list while attempting to cleanly articulate bass, chords and melody lines simultaneously on this instrument.

You can give it a shot though.
now that is what I call a "perfect explanation" :)


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Mon Jul 24, 2017 4:03 am
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Post Re: New guy Q. Capo's, pull offs, open tunings?
bachdois wrote:
Captain Strings wrote:
There are no "open" strings on Stick. Every note is either tapped or pulled off. All strings are muted between the nut and first fret for good reason. Pull offs happen all the time and are one of the prime techniques on the instrument. And hammer-ons (tapping) is the foremost technique of course. Pull-offs are always done from one fretted note to another fretted note, even if it's done between two hands 10 frets apart, but never to an "open" string at the bridge. It's not a guitar and the types of open drone notes, chromatisism between open and fretted strings and similar guitar tricks of the trade and much more can all be done in other ways because you're working with two hands independently on two different groups of strings. You will find the 4ths/5ths tuning is the whole secret sauce of the Stick and the intervals and voicings of modal tunings liked DADGAD etc. frequently used as alternate tunings on a guitar are easy to cop on a Stick in standard Stick tuning - often with one finger.

It's a musically and stylistically neutral and symmetrical grid which is easy to navigate in any style. For the most part you can check your guitar techniques and chops at the door because Stick has techniques and mental road maps all its own.

Bob Culbertson has been known to employ a capo on the bass side in certain keys on occasion so it's not unheard of - but not having the open strings mechanically muted requires tremendous control and selective hand muting technique to keep 10 or 12 open strings and their overtones from randomly flapping about in very unmusical ways and is not what most of us mere mortals want to add to our "to do" list while attempting to cleanly articulate bass, chords and melody lines simultaneously on this instrument.

You can give it a shot though.
now that is what I call a "perfect explanation" :)


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...+1, yes, a perfect explanation, indeed...


Tue Jul 25, 2017 3:54 pm
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Post Re: New guy Q. Capo's, pull offs, open tunings?
Captain Strings wrote:

For the most part you can check your guitar techniques and chops at the door because Stick has techniques and mental road maps all its own. .



+1 to the entire post but I wanted to focus in on this one statement above....SO true for me when I started playing - There are times when my bass guitar skills are an aid but, more often than not, they are a hindrance.... The biggest mental hurdle is realizing Stick and "tapper-family" instruments are their own thing


Wed Jul 26, 2017 6:50 am
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Post Re: New guy Q. Capo's, pull offs, open tunings?
Captain Strings wrote:
There are no "open" strings on Stick. Every note is either tapped or pulled off. All strings are muted between the nut and first fret for good reason. Pull offs happen all the time and are one of the prime techniques on the instrument. And hammer-ons (tapping) is the foremost technique of course. Pull-offs are always done from one fretted note to another fretted note, even if it's done between two hands 10 frets apart, but never to an "open" string at the bridge. It's not a guitar and the types of open drone notes, chromatisism between open and fretted strings and similar guitar tricks of the trade and much more can all be done in other ways because you're working with two hands independently on two different groups of strings. You will find the 4ths/5ths tuning is the whole secret sauce of the Stick and the intervals and voicings of modal tunings liked DADGAD etc. frequently used as alternate tunings on a guitar are easy to cop on a Stick in standard Stick tuning - often with one finger.

It's a musically and stylistically neutral and symmetrical grid which is easy to navigate in any style. For the most part you can check your guitar techniques and chops at the door because Stick has techniques and mental road maps all its own.

Bob Culbertson has been known to employ a capo on the bass side in certain keys on occasion so it's not unheard of - but not having the open strings mechanically muted requires tremendous control and selective hand muting technique to keep 10 or 12 open strings and their overtones from randomly flapping about in very unmusical ways and is not what most of us mere mortals want to add to our "to do" list while attempting to cleanly articulate bass, chords and melody lines simultaneously on this instrument.

You can give it a shot though.



Fantastic reply . Thankyou


Wed Oct 25, 2017 2:15 pm
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Post Re: New guy Q. Capo's, pull offs, open tunings?
Right on klothos and of course Captain Strings, I don't know that there is much I can add after that, but since Stick players loooooooveelovedove to talk about the Stick, I would like to prelude this with:

Don't let anyone tell you what you cannot do on a Chapman Stick

It's not made that way. It's, as Michael so eloquently stated, stylistically neutral. This statement will mean so much more when you have the instrument in your hand. Mind you, I'm not selling Sticks, but I'm a fan. A fan of the technique, the community and the family that has toiled so long and hard to create a new way to create music.

Taken in that light, capo? Sure, why not. Emmett himself welcomes new ways to find use for the instrument as the Stick was LITERALLY created to find new ways to make music. Sometimes we (or just me) lose sight of that. What other players may share is that it will be less gratifying than playing open strings on a guitar and I would tend to agree with them. The first thing I do on a guitar when I pick one up is play huge, fun open string chords and think, my, that's lovely.

You can emulate that effect though. I would recommend that. We call it fingerSticking. You'll see players use the upper registers of the left hand to emulate an open string which the right hand can play melodies against. It is a technique that is unique to the Stick (or other derivative instruments that employ tapping as a means of putting a string into motion).

Glad to hear that you have enjoyed learning about the instrument, I still do too. I have also found that my appreciation is made anew speaking with players that are discovering new ways to use the instrument, ones that I would never have conceived.

Great question, looking forward to more discussion.

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Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:05 pm
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Post Re: New guy Q. Capo's, pull offs, open tunings?
earthgene wrote:
Right on klothos and of course Captain Strings, I don't know that there is much I can add after that, but since Stick players loooooooveelovedove to talk about the Stick, I would like to prelude this with:

Don't let anyone tell you what you cannot do on a Chapman Stick

It's not made that way. It's, as Michael so eloquently stated, stylistically neutral. This statement will mean so much more when you have the instrument in your hand. Mind you, I'm not selling Sticks, but I'm a fan. A fan of the technique, the community and the family that has toiled so long and hard to create a new way to create music.

Taken in that light, capo? Sure, why not. Emmett himself welcomes new ways to find use for the instrument as the Stick was LITERALLY created to find new ways to make music. Sometimes we (or just me) lose sight of that. What other players may share is that it will be less gratifying than playing open strings on a guitar and I would tend to agree with them. The first thing I do on a guitar when I pick one up is play huge, fun open string chords and think, my, that's lovely.

You can emulate that effect though. I would recommend that. We call it fingerSticking. You'll see players use the upper registers of the left hand to emulate an open string which the right hand can play melodies against. It is a technique that is unique to the Stick (or other derivative instruments that employ tapping as a means of putting a string into motion).

Glad to hear that you have enjoyed learning about the instrument, I still do too. I have also found that my appreciation is made anew speaking with players that are discovering new ways to use the instrument, ones that I would never have conceived.

Great question, looking forward to more discussion.


I like this statement a lot, Gene. Well said.

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Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:25 pm
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Post Re: New guy Q. Capo's, pull offs, open tunings?
Of course, one of the other things an altered tuning on a guitar does is to push your brain into other directions it might not go on its own. So in that regard, its probably worth experimenting. That said, I use several different guitar tunings on a regular basis but have never tried altering the tuning on my Stick. I keep threatening though.

Regarding the capo, I'm pretty sure Bob had to cut his capo as the full guitar capo didn't really work. You couldn't really capo the lowest bass string and the capo doesn't really fit right just trying to cover the remaining strings. So off came the end of it.

If you didn't want to do surgery on a good capo, you could try a banjo capo. I have one that I use on my guitar when I want to only capo four out of six strings. It's an idea I stole from Andy McKee. He used a banjo capo to cover strings 3-6 when he recorded the very lovely tune "Rylynn".


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Post Re: New guy Q. Capo's, pull offs, open tunings?
Yes, I have sometimes played around with a capo on my Sticks. Here's a video of an improvisation with the capo on the first fret of the Bass side, covering five of the six strings. I did not change the fifths tuning, extended fifths chords is something I like to do on many instruments.


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