Emmett Chapman

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Emmett Chapman
Emmett chapman 1969.jpg
Emmett Chapman in 1969
Background information
Born (1936-09-28) September 28, 1936 (age 79)
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter, inventor, luthier
Instruments Guitar, Chapman stick
Years active 1969–present
Notable instruments
Chapman Stick
External video
Oral History, Emmett Chapman talks about his development of the Chapman stick and the "free-hands" tapping method. Interview date March 2, 2011, NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Oral History Library

Emmett Chapman (born September 28, 1936) is a jazz musician best known as the inventor of the Chapman Stick and maker of Chapman Stick family of instruments.[1]

Originally a guitarist, Chapman began recording and performing beginning in the late 1960s. He played with several different popular artists, including jazz guitarist Barney Kessell and popular singer/songwriter Tim Buckley, before taking his own band on the road.

In 1969, Chapman modified his homemade nine-string "Freedom Guitar" to accommodate his "Free Hands" tapping method. While some guitarists had done two-handed tapping with the fingers of the right hand parallel to the strings, Chapman's method had the fingers of both hands perpendicular to the strings. This culminated in the creation of the Electric Stick, which he later named the Chapman Stick. He founded his company, Stick Enterprises in 1974, and has made more than 6,000 instruments since then. Chapman holds 14 patents for various aspects of the Chapman Stick. During the 1970s, Chapman toured extensively to promote his music and the instrument.

In 1985, Chapman released a solo album titled Parallel Galaxy. This included Chapman playing with drummer Bruce Gary of The Knack and without, and with harmonica and vocal accompaniment. According to Chapman, his musical style is influenced by jazz guitarist John McLaughlin. One track from the album, Back Yard, was used in the "Alan Smithee" version of the 1984 film Dune. An aesthetically modified Chapman Stick was used as the baliset musical instrument, described in the novel, and is shown in performance by Patrick Stewart in the Director's Cut of the film.

In 1987, Chapman released a performance video titled Hands Across The Board. These days Chapman still performs, though not as much, and primarily in the Los Angeles area, where he lives. He also continues to head up Stick Enterprises, the company that makes Chapman Sticks.


  1. ^ Underwood, Lee (October 1, 2002). Blue melody: Tim Buckley remembered. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 170–. ISBN 9780879307189. Retrieved March 26, 2012. 

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