Emmett Chapman


Emmett Chapman, inventor of the Chapman Stick, died at his home on November 1. He was 85 and had battled cancer.

An innovative jazz guitarist, Chapman played a long-scale nine-string guitar with a lever he called the “wild string” that created different tuning intervals. In 1969, he began using the “free hands” two-handed tapping method, and to better implement the style, created a 10-string instrument that hung on the player more vertically and had a fretboard that extended nearly to the end of its narrow body. Dubbed the Stick, its five bass strings and five melody strings were situated with the lowest in the middle of the fretboard.

In 1974, Chapman and his wife, Jutta, founded Stick Enterprises to manufacture the instrument, eventually producing more than 6,000 of them. It is now being run by his daughter, Grace, who has been its quality-control manager for more than a decade.

Chapman is survived by Jutta, their two daughters, and a brother.

This article originally appeared in VG’s February 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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