The Chapman Stick is an instrument you don’t see every day…unless you’re Robert Culbertson, who has put in an enormous amount of practice to become the Chapman Stick Maestro he is today! In the video below, Robert covers the Beatle’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and it sounds absolutely incredible.
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The Chapman Stick is a beautiful sounding instrument with a large pitch range. The instrument was created by Emmett Chapman in the early 1970s. It’s a member of the guitar family and has between 10 and 12 strings which can be played fingerstyle or strummed.
The time needed to master this instrument is significant, as you can probably tell by the worn look of Robert’s fretboard. However, the instrument has a beautiful tone and is extremely flexible regarding the different ways in which you can play it.
Robert Culbertson, often known as Bob, started playing the guitar back in 1968 where he played mainly Bluegrass music using a fingerstyle technique. Bob formed multiple bands before becoming a guitar teacher in San Jose, California. Bob and Jim Bruno, Bob’s guitar teacher, joined forces to create the Stickband only one month after Bob first picked up a Chapman Stick.
He quickly picked up the instrument and alongside Jim and various other musicians they performed in the late ’70s and ’80s around the bay area. Some of Bob’s brilliant musical creations have been featured on “Guitar Player Magazine”.
Bob completed a 7-year tour of the US with the main aim to bring the Chapman Stick to the limelight. During this time he transposed music from Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Albeniz, Terriega, Segovia, and others. With the help from Emmett Chapman and luthier, Craig Anderson, Bob was able to create the first all-acoustic finger tapping version of the Chapman Stick. Bob now travels talking and playing the Stick at seminars around the world.