Other Guitars

NGD part 2 - the fun begins


Well the Phantom 9 got here and is getting a new guard routed for my currently favored pickups... normal output Gibson bucker in bridge, 2 Duncan Stratbuckers ... not sure yet if bladebucker or polebucker... it appears to be routed enough for all this. Master tone and volume and not keeping that P Bass bridge cover.


Holy Moly! How do you play one of those, Birdman? I have enough trouble with 6 strings! Honestly, give me the rundown, it's got my interest.

The only weird and whacky thing that I own is a Chapman Stick (10 strings), that was gifted to me. But it's an entirely different animal, with the bass strings in the middle, and the lighter guage progressing in both directions from the middle. It's held vertically and played only by tapping, and I've never really gotten the hang of it (yet!).

I see YouTube videos of master stickers, and they can sound amazing. The original owner thought that I would have better luck with learning to play it than he did. Wrong! Every time I get frustrated with it, it goes back in the closest for a couple of years, just like his experience with it. One of these days........!


I remember the Chapman stick .. .never saw one tho. I give credit to people to try new things even if they don't catch on. At first they said solid body electrics were a short lived fad.

I like 12s but always reverse the octave strings so you get more lo end either flat or fingerpicking. But if you just want the hi-end ringing sound with out all the lower end mayhem, plus fewer tuning issues, these really do provide that. Can thumb pick the lower notes better w/o out the doubled sound. Even tho it's toxic 25.5" scale, this is mainly 7th fret and below chords so I guess I can live with it. But will be a month before it's really ready to go.


Can't help you with your obscure Vox curiosity shop, Birdman, but the virtues of a 9-string do make sense.

As for the Stick, I was fortunate to watch inventor Emmett Chapman play it, literally for hours, at SummerNAMM in Chicago, 1985. He had a small and very unfancy booth around the outside perimeter - NAMM visitors and trade-show-goers of all stripes will recognize the kind of booth: blue tablecloths over a couple of cafeteria tables, held on with some frilly elastic banding, plain white screen backdrop, goods on the tables, a strip of carpet, and a vinyl sign hung behind, showing creases from having been rolled up.

Chapman was hardly a showstopper, but he generally had a small cluster of the curious gathered round. I was mesmerized. The music just flowed, never seeming to repeat, surging out of his apparently completely musical consciousness, in textures and contrapuntal polyrhythms and juxtapositions I'd never heard (and haven't since). Basslines, rhythm bits, melodies - they all merged and crossed and separated. It was like musical fractals, based on some deep logic, endlessly emerging, ever different.

The only other stringed musician who similarly impressed me with an ability to fully realize music so completely in solo performance - like being present at the birth of a contrapuntal Bach fugue improvised by Johann himself, alone in the kirche on a Thursday night, stealing time away from his chaotic family to ascend - was one Johnny Baier, of all things a tenor banjo player (who kicked two octaves of bass pedals), who I was able to watch for hours in the Sternwheel Lounge of the American Queen as it made its way from Louisville to Memphis.

It struck me that Chapman had had to invent the Stick, because it was the only way the music he heard in his head was going to get out. (His pre-Stick musical background is pretty imposing.) I'd already heard of the Stick - probably via Tony Levin's King Crimsonizing a couple of years earlier. And I've heard a lot of Stick since. But no one plays it the way Chapman did. In the hands of most players, it's amazing but you can hear where it came from. In Chapman's, it was like hearing not just sounds, but musical syntax, from another planet.

If you tire of frustrating on that one, Wade, maybe we could work something out. I'd love to take a run at it.

As I look back on it, that was an amazing NAMM show for me. It was the year the Kurzweil 250 was introduced - by two tuxedoed players in a small sound-proofed igloo of a room, where they emulated everything from jazz bands to orchestras. No one had ever heard or witnessed anything like it. I also met Hartley Peavey and Leo Fender, hung out with Leslie West at the St Louis Music pavilion, and bought a Graphic Fuzz from Mike Matthews at the Electro-Harmonix booth - a so-Matthews-appropriate set of ordinary SS Kresges glass display cases with the wares on shelves inside, everything available for cash-n-carry. He dropped mustard and sauce on his shirt from his hot dog while making change.

I guess we know we've put some years on when we wax nostalgic about trade shows past.

Sorry. Carry on.




Never made to NAMM but the stories I heard and pix I have seen are pretty cool. Right, Lesie West was shilling for St. Louis / Electra stuff for a while.

But in about a month I can show this 9 string to you all again as completed with better frets, and upgraded electronics.


Cool guitar, I went to NAMM in 2007 WOW it was so big, had a great time.


Well it's off for a new guard so you can see how it was routed -- also new frets coming. Gonna be killer, done up in Birdman style

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