.How I met the Chapman Stick and how I fell in love with it
The first time I met The Stick "in person" was back in the 1983. July 6th, actually.
I remember that day very clearly.
The clock into the rail station premises says 5:30am when I and two friends arrive
in Prato, a small city in Tuscany. A little bit early as the show is scheduled for the
9 pm, but we are determined to enjoy our first Peter Gabriel's live show from the
very front row. No other option considered. No way!
Maybe it was too early indeed, as the venue, a mid size stadium, was obviously
totally desert. No sign of life under the little light of a summer dawn.
So it was a child's trick to gain furtively the entrance when, after almost 30 min,
the first truck, with a very showy purple livery and the logo of a famous audio
service,cross the main gate that, as if by magic, was opening behind our shoulders.
"That's a very good start" we thought.
By the way, the concert ticket that we bought days before the show, mine at least,
is still showing its integrity to prove that all this is true! ;-)
Anyway, to make a long story short, nobody asked us who we were, so we spent
the whole day with the crew, helping them setting up the stage, sharing the catering
service and, around 5pm, we had the pleasure to see the sound check just in front
of the stage. A very short chat with Mr. Peter Gabriel himself included into the
"package"!!! A dream come true.
That very day the original, strange and amazing Emmett Chapman's brainchild,
hit my eyes, ears and mind. "What the hell is that?!?!?!?"
Obviously I had already heard that sound during the countless listen of the whole
discography filed under the Peter Gabriel and King Crimson tag. But now that
sound have a shape!!! And it's a marvelous shape!
Well, I had to wait for more than two decades to put my hands on my own first Stick.
Till then, a lot of strange experimentation with low-tuned and octave-pitched tapping
guitars playing, made their attempts to emulate the bassy-groovy licks that come to
life under Tony Levin's fingers.
Yes, because that is the way the Stick has to sound in my mind. A sort of very
intricate and rhythmic bass oriented lick generator. Hope all the purists out there
won't hate me for this statement. But guys....!
And that kind of "sweet hate" was what I gained during my first intro-lesson with
Virginia Splendore. "This is not the way it has to be played", she said. God bless her.
I remember the day when she rent me, for a whole month, one of her instruments,
an old ironwood stick with the original stickup and the classic standard tuning. Gosh!
I spent endless days playing and recording it into my recording studio. Some licks
recorded with that old stick are present into The River.
Fast forward till The River days, to share with you my personal way to use this
amazing instrument. First of all the tuning. Due to my bass-oriented view, I chose a
10 strings Dual Bass Reciprocal 36"  option.
1 - C 2 - G 3 - D 4 - A 5 - E 6  - B 7 - F# 8 - C# 9 - G# 10 - D#
The timber is rosewood, the pickup is a ACTV-2 Block with rails fret and linear
glowing markers. Unfortunately when I bought my stick the Fret Rods option wasn't
available anymore. I would have preferred that kind of fret shape for my personal
taste. I use a lot of slide legato and the more rounded top of the old style fret would
help. Even if the smooth and organic sound of the original Stickup is an option I'll
look at for my next Stick, the ACTV-2 pickup gives you a more defined and rich
of transient sound. Both worlds have they own pros, and would be great to have a
mix of them into a single pickup block. Mr. Chapman... any future plans about that??
On the preamp side, I usually use a mono valve preamp-eq-compressor combo
(Mill Media STT 1). I work in mono so that both the sides of the fretboard are
mixed together into the mono pre input. The eq is set to cut a bit of high frequencies.
Then the sound is processed by adding a lot of compression/limiter. This help me to
achieve the less dynamic range sound that I need, but keeping alive all the attack /
transient characteristics. Sometime, I push the gain in the pre section when a more
crunch-on-the-edge sound is required. Then the signal goes into the converter,
usually an Apogee AD8000 unit, before it feeds the Pro Tools DAW input. All the
delay or modulation efxs (I use a lot of it) are a mix session deal.
I used the Stick in 5 out 11 songs for The River. Mostly as bass alternative score,
but it is not rare for me to use it as melodic mid-low range work of counterpoint.
If you would like to listen for the stick parts these are the songs: Black Stare, One
Love, Regrets, What Do You Feel Now?, Fly High.
Next step? An SB8 is on top of the wish list, so we are just the beginning of the
Stick path! About my new CD (Next Station), I'm already working on it and the
Stick will play one of the main role.

Stay tuned!!!
Happy music to all of you!

Marco De Angelis
December  2014
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/marco.deangelis.1962
Black Stare videoclip http://youtu.be/2uKabcfR6Ow
Websites www.marcodeangelis.com

Grazie Marco per aver condiviso la tua storia d'amore.
Buona fortuna con il CD "Next Station".

.* El  autor del articulo se reserva el derecho de autorización de ser publicado en cualquier  otro medio