Experimental luthier

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The Chapman Stick was developed in the early '70s by Emmett Chapman 10 string Chapman Stick.jpg
The Chapman Stick was developed in the early '70s by Emmett Chapman

Experimental luthiers are luthiers who take part in alternative stringed instrument manufacturing (such as the guitar or violin) or create original string instruments altogether.


Plucked instruments

In the experimental rock and free jazz scenes, some guitarists modified their instruments in the manner of John Cage's prepared piano. Keith Rowe and Fred Frith became known[ when? ] for playing these prepared guitars. The latter also crafted experimental table string instruments.[ citation needed ] In the early 1980s, Glenn Branca started building his own electric string instruments, called "mallet guitars," based on the harmonic canons of Harry Partch. Around the same time, Hans Reichel built several 3rd bridge guitars before he invented his daxophone, which he is known for. Bradford Reed developed his Pencilina in the mid-1980s. The Whamola, based on the Washtub bass, was developed in the nineties and became famous largely because it was used by Les Claypool.

In recent years, multiscale or fanned frets guitars and basses have started to emerge, as manufactured by Novax Guitars, Ormsby Guitars, and others. These instruments are supposed to offer an advantage over the classical fixed-scale guitars and basses by providing more freedom in setting the tension of each string at the design and manufacturing phases. This may produce a more uniform tension of the strings, and timbre and tonal characteristics differing from the usual fixed-scale instruments.

In the 1980s, Canadian luthier Linda Manzer created the Pikasso guitar, a 42-string guitar with three necks. [1] It was popularized by jazz guitarist Pat Metheny, who used it on the song "Into the Dream" and on several albums. Its name is ostensibly derived from its likeness in appearance to the cubist works of Pablo Picasso.

The Gittler guitar is an experimental designed guitar created[ when? ] by Allan Gittler (1928–2003), who proposed that "sentimental" design references to acoustic guitars are unnecessary in an electronically amplified guitar, and designed his instrument with the objective of reducing the electric guitar to the most minimal functional form possible. He made 60 guitars in New York from the mid-1970s to early 1980s.

In 2003, the Tritare was created by Samuel Gaudet and Claude Gauthier in Canada.[ further explanation needed ]

In 2006, Yuri Landman built his Moodswinger for the band Liars and afterward made a large series of alternative string instruments, such as the Moonlander for Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo, the Springtime for Blood Red Shoes, and the Tafelberg drum guitar for The Dodos and others.

Micachu made a few string instruments of which one is called the "Chu." One of the strings of the Chu carries a large series of small rings and sounds like a snare drum when plucked.

Les Luthiers builds home made absurd comedic instruments and plays them in their presentations.

Bowed instruments

The bazantar, invented by musician Mark Deutsch, is a five-string double bass with 29 sympathetic and 4 drone strings and has a melodic range of five octaves.

The Japanese multiinstrumentalist and experimental musical instrument builder Yuichi Onoue developed a hurdy-gurdy, similar to a fretless violin but with only two strings, called the kaisatsuko, and a deeply scalloped electric guitar for microtonal playing techniques. [2]


The most well-known example of a multistringed tapped instrument is probably[ according to whom? ] the Chapman Stick, developed in the early 1970s by Emmett Chapman.[ citation needed ] The Warr Guitar and the Kelstone (from Belgium) are alternative instruments that also function on the same playing technique; that is, tapping on the strings with both hands.[ citation needed ] The Chapman Stick is tuned in perfect fourths and perfect fifths.

See also

Related Research Articles

The bass guitar, electric bass, or simply bass, is the lowest-pitched member of the guitar family. It is a plucked string instrument similar in appearance and construction to an electric or an acoustic guitar, but with a longer neck and scale length, and typically four to six strings or courses. Since the mid-1950s, the bass guitar has largely replaced the double bass in popular music.

Chapman Stick Stringed instrument of the guitar family

The Chapman Stick is an electric musical instrument devised by Emmett Chapman in the early 1970s. A member of the guitar family, the Chapman Stick usually has ten or twelve individually tuned strings and is used to play bass lines, melody lines, chords, or textures. Designed as a fully polyphonic chordal instrument, it can also cover several of these musical parts simultaneously.

The fingerboard is an important component of most stringed instruments. It is a thin, long strip of material, usually wood, that is laminated to the front of the neck of an instrument. The strings run over the fingerboard, between the nut and bridge. To play the instrument, a musician presses strings down to the fingerboard to change the vibrating length, changing the pitch. This is called stopping the strings. Depending on the instrument and the style of music, the musician may pluck, strum or bow one or more strings with the hand that is not fretting the notes. On some instruments, notes can be sounded by the fretting hand alone, such as with hammer ons, an electric guitar technique.

An electric violin is a violin equipped with an electronic output of its sound. The term most properly refers to an instrument intentionally made to be electrified with built-in pickups, usually with a solid body. It can also refer to a violin fitted with an electric pickup of some type, although "amplified violin" or "electro-acoustic violin" are more accurate in that case.

Prepared guitar

A prepared guitar is a guitar that has had its timbre altered by placing various objects on or between the instrument's strings, including other extended techniques. This practice is sometimes called tabletop guitar, because many prepared guitarists do not hold the instrument in the usual manner, but instead place the guitar on a table to manipulate it.

The long-string instrument is a musical instrument in which the string is of such a length that the fundamental transverse wave is below what a person can hear as a tone (±20 Hz). If the tension and the length result in sounds with such a frequency, the tone becomes a beating frequency that ranges from a short reverb to longer echo sounds. Besides the beating frequency, the string also gives higher pitched natural overtones. Since the length is that long, this has an effect on the attack tone. The attack tone shoots through the string in a longitudinal wave and generates the typical science-fiction laser-gun sound as heard in Star Wars. The sound is also similar to that occurring in upper electricity cables for trains.

Harp guitar

The harp guitar is a guitar-based stringed instrument generally defined as a "guitar, in any of its accepted forms, with any number of additional unstopped strings that can accommodate individual plucking." The word "harp" is used in reference to its harp-like unstopped open strings. A harp guitar must have at least one unfretted string lying off the main fretboard, typically played as an open string.

An extended-range bass is an electric bass guitar with a wider frequency range than a standard-tuned four-string bass guitar.

Outline of guitars Overview of and topical guide to guitars

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to guitars:


The Whamola is a bass instrument used in funk-jazz styles of music. The name is a portmanteau of whammy bar and viola.

Classical guitar strings are strings manufactured for use on classical guitars. While steel-string acoustic guitar strings and electric guitar strings are made of metal, modern classical guitar strings are made of nylon and nylon wound with wire, which produces a different sound to the metal strings. Classical guitar strings were originally made with animal intestine and silk wound with animal intestine up until World War II, when war restrictions led Albert Augustine Ltd. to develop nylon strings. Nylon guitar strings were put into production in 1948. Strings made from fluorocarbon polymers have since been developed and are the main alternative to nylon strings.

Experimental musical instrument

An experimental musical instrument is a musical instrument that modifies or extends an existing instrument or class of instruments, or defines or creates a new class of instrument. Some are created through simple modifications, such as cracked drum cymbals or metal objects inserted between piano strings in a prepared piano. Some experimental instruments are created from household items like a homemade mute for brass instruments such as bathtub plugs. Other experimental instruments are created from electronic spare parts, or by mixing acoustic instruments with electric components.

Yuri Landman

Yuri Landman is a Dutch inventor of musical instruments and musician who has made several experimental electric string instruments for a number of artists including Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth, Liars, Jad Fair of Half Japanese, Liam Finn, and Laura-Mary Carter. Besides his musical activities he is also a graphic novel artist.


The Moodswinger is a twelve-string electric zither with an additional third bridge designed by Yuri Landman. The rod which functions as the third bridge divides the strings into two sections to cause an overtone multiphonic sound. One of the copies of the instrument is part of the collection of the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona.

The Megatar is a stringed musical instrument designed to be played using a two-handed tapping technique. It is manufactured by the American company Mobius Megatar.

Bradford Reed

Bradford Reed is an American multi-instrumentalist, experimental luthier, and member of the avant-garde band King Missile III. In the 1980s he invented the pencilina, a custom made string instrument.

3rd bridge

The 3rd bridge is an extended playing technique used on the electric guitar and other string instruments that allows a musician to produce distinctive timbres and overtones that are unavailable on a conventional string instrument with two bridges. The timbre created with this technique is close to that of gamelan instruments like the bonang and similar Indonesian types of pitched gongs.

A third bridge can be devised by inserting a rigid preparation object between the strings and the body or neck of the instrument, effectively diving the string into distinct vibrating segments.

The kaisatsuko is a mechanical experimental musical instrument invented by Yuichi Onoue of Tokyo, Japan.

Springtime (guitar) experimental electric guitar created by Yuri Landman

The Springtime is an experimental electric guitar with seven strings and three outputs. The instrument was created in 2008 by Dutch luthier Yuri Landman for guitar player Laura-Mary Carter of Blood Red Shoes.

Home Swinger Musical instrument

A Home Swinger is a musical instrument created by Yuri Landman. The instrument has 12 strings, an electronic pickup and a movable rod to alter the pitch of the instrument.


  1. "Meet the Luthier Who Built a Harp Guitar With 42 Strings, Two Sound Holes and Four Necks". She Shreds Magazine. 2016-08-11. Retrieved 2019-04-26.
  2. Yuichi Onoue's Kaisatsuko on hypercustom.com Archived 2015-11-08 at the Wayback Machine