Chapman stick - linked tablature

• May 14, 2021 - 04:26

A few years ago someone uploaded a file in this thread:

I have attached the file to this post.

The user has not replied to my post in that thread about how they accomplished this task. The real trick that I have not been able to discover (even from examining this file) is that the bass strings on a Chapman Stick are numbered from 6-10 (on a 10-string instrument) and their pitch goes from the lowest on string 6, in 5ths, to the highest on string 10 - the reverse of both guitars & most fretted instruments. The "melody" strings on a Stick, are tuned from the lowest string 5 to the highest string 1 in 4ths, exactly like a guitar. Getting the notation and linked tablature to work for the "melody" strings is no problem. Getting things to behave for those "upside-down" bass strings is the "secret sauce".

While this attached file seems to work perfectly, I have not been able to duplicate this behavior. I would just blindly use it as a template, but unfortunately it is set up for a 12-string Stick, and Sticks are built with 8, 10 or 12 strings. Also, their are probably a dozen different tunings that are in common use, so I really would like to understand how this file was created so I can duplicate its functionality.

ANY help would be GREATLY appreciated.


PS - Note that the first two parts in this file are not linked (the two with the curly brackets). The parts with the square brackets are linked. Note that I'm also uploading a copy of this file into which I've entered note values for the "open" strings for one of the standard 6-string tunings that the original creator specified for this instrument. You'll see that for the bass-side strings, as the pitch increases, the string on which the tablature is notated moves to the string that is the next-lowest in it's position relative to the center of the instrument. I've also attached a photo of a Chapman Stick so this isn't quite so confusing.

Stick Bass inverted standard.mscz

Stick Tab Demo.mscz



In reply to by Shoichi

Thanks. I went through that before, and it seemed that the order of the strings entered had no effect. In fact, if you note the file that @wolfgan uploaded, the notes in the Edit Notes dialog are listed from highest to lowest, top-to-bottom, yet it works fine. So...I'm still a little confused. But...

I just played with this again, and now it appears that if I enter the notes for each string ordered from lowest-to-highest, top-to-bottom, that this is reflected in the tablature display, so I'm a step closer to solving this.

sorry I didnt answer before
I made the file extra for the thread, (I dont reverse the notation because for me the hig notes schould be on the upper side in notation and tabs)
what I did sorry if i dont use the right english
if you go to the bass side tablature:
Eigenschaften Notenzeile:
erweiterte Stileigenschaften:
Umgedreht (reversed the fist on the left side

In reply to by wolfgan

Ah!!! The magic setting!!

Thanks, @wolfgan!! That clears that up, though I discovered that you can do without that setting by entering the string note values into the Edit Strings dialog in the order in which you want them to display. I also discovered part of my problem (that I didn't mention above) was caused by entering the wrong note values in the standard notation - I was entering everything an octave higher than they should have been. Once I got that corrected and got the Edit Strings to work, I am good to go!

Hi. It's nice to see a new thread on this topic. As I'm thinking about transcribing some things I've worked on (including my arrangement of the intro and first verse of Gentle Giant's "Experience") and possibly starting to teach Stick as well, a good working Musescore template would be very helpful. I'll have to play around with what's posted a bit (and, at a minimum, adapt the template to my 10-string Stick in standard tuning), but hope to learn how to modify for any specific instrument/tuning. Thanks a lot and best wishes!

This is all excellent and I've used this to transcribe a couple of simple parts as an exercise but the Stick tab used in the guide above uses a guitar and bass pair of linked staves to lay out the music. You therefore have 4 actual staves onscreen -- treble (T) with linked tab (TT) and bass (B) with linked tab (BT). These are two instruments. That means you can have, top to bottom, any of:
T TT B BT or TT T B BT or B BT TT T or T TT BT B (what I use) but NOT T B TT BT or any other combination that places T and B together without splitting TT and BT. Is there a way to do this because I can't find it.

While trying to find it I have gotten puzzled by the Instrument panel in that I cannnot, for instance, change an nlinked staff tab to be linked without removing the unlinked one or change the clef of a staff (eg guitar from treble to bass) once I've added the instrument. Also I can't remove all instruments from the score during setup if I want to remove a guitar staff and add a bass one instead. All very trivial but counter-intuitive.

I would post a picture of what I want but, as I only have MuseScore and it can't do what I want I'llleave you to imagine it.

In reply to by arcoddath

Yeah. That's a problem I never solved. Sorry. But I note @wolfgan's suggestion which is probably the best we can do short of getting the developers to look into giving us some options for this circumstance. However I think that is probably unlikely given the Chapman Stick is probably going to need another 50 years to find wide acceptance despite how easy it is to play compared to other solo instruments like piano. Actually, my vote would be full support for StaffTab notation which some have succeeded in implementing in Sibelius and/or Finale using custom plug-ins IIRC. StaffTab I believe is really the future for Chapman Stick players, as it has full support for both "conventional" notation that indicates fingering plus tablature in a single system.

In reply to by Steve Sawyer

Yes, StaffTab support would be good (though I am instinctively wary about its copyrighted status) but a simple 2-stave 10/12 string tablature grid would also be useful as a parallel to a grand staff as wel as feeling simpler to implement (I tried a StaffTab add-in for Lilypond but wasn't able to get chords to work satisfactorily). Producing Stick-style chord diagrams is very easy, I'm glad to say.

I'll see if @Wolfgan's suggestion works out and report back.

In reply to by arcoddath

I don't think there is any cause to be concerned about the the trademark. If you make any reference to StaffTab™ just add the ™ symbol. If any doubt you can send an email to Greg Howard (look at the lessons page on and ask. I'm sure it's just a matter of acknowledgement.

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