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View Full Version : Strumstick: Has anyone ever seen one of these before?



mds725
09-04-2010, 09:53 AM
Someone recently showed me a photo of this instrument, called a "no wrong note strumstick," in a Hammacher Schlemmer catalog.

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=15812&d=1283629770

Here's the description from the catalog: "Requiring no prior musical training, this is the 29 inches long, three-stringed instrument immediately playable by beginners. It uses the unique, diatonic fretting of an Appalachian dulcimer, tuned in a drone relationship such that there are no wrong notes. A major scale is played by simply fretting just one string and strumming like a guitar. The pitch range is 2 1/2 octaves and the sound is similar to a banjo and mandolin. The included instructional DVD guides players step-by-step through two- and three-string melodies, as well as folk classics such as Will the Circle Be Unbroken and This Land is Your Land. Handmade in the U.S., the body and neck are African padouk hardwood, the soundboard is spruce, and the back is maple."

And here's the link to the strumstick page of the online catalog: http://www.hammacher.com/Product/78682?promo=search

Has anyone ever seen one of these before or know anything about them?

DaveVisi
09-04-2010, 10:22 AM
Oh yeah, they've been around for years. The trademarked term "Strumstick" belongs to the inventor Bob McNally. I have one of them. Used to have two until a fellow UU'er bought one from me a few months ago.

They're fretted like a mountain dulcimer and can play most mountain dulcimer tablature with a little translating in your head (top to bottom instead of bottom to top) I played one for a while until DAD (Dulcimer Acquisition Disease) took over and I bought a full size mountain dulcimer.

Bob's website is: www.strumstick.com

Boomer
09-04-2010, 10:48 AM
I've never seen one, but theres all kind of videos on YouTube. I think I'd like to get one of those. Very neat.

the52blues
09-04-2010, 10:57 AM
Here's a version I bought a while ago. The guy that made these called it a canjo...looks more like a panjo to me...same idea - tuned and strung like a dulcimer

http://i975.photobucket.com/albums/ae232/the52blues/Instruments/canjo1.jpg

It's not as warped as it looks in this photo...

ukeeku
09-04-2010, 05:35 PM
When I went to Summer NAMM this year I talked with McNally. really fun guy. I was able to play the strumstick, But I really liked the Ukuleles that he makes. Same look and stuff with the small body, but they have steel strings.
http://www.strumstick.com/html_pages/Ukelele%20Strumstick.htm
I am hoping that I will have an opertunity to review one soon. I will keep this post up-to-date on that if it ever happens.
As a uke it sounds really small, but awesome with a pickup

Jake DPR
09-04-2010, 05:50 PM
well, now I need one. Thanks guys....

mds725
09-04-2010, 07:13 PM
Thanks to everyone for the strumstick education. It seems like an interesting instrument. The big question now is whether to get (1) a standard strumstick in G-D-G tuning, (2) a grand strumstick in D-A-D tuning, (3) an alto strumstick in C-G-C tuning, (4) a steel string chromatic (ukulele) strumstick in G-C-E-A tuning, or (5) a chromatic (baritone ukulele?) strumstick in D-G-B-E tuning. Hmmmm.....


I am hoping that I will have an opertunity to review one soon. I will keep this post up-to-date on that if it ever happens. As a uke it sounds really small, but awesome with a pickup
Thanks! That would be cool.

mds725
09-04-2010, 07:51 PM
When I went to Summer NAMM this year I talked with McNally. really fun guy. I was able to play the strumstick, But I really liked the Ukuleles that he makes. Same look and stuff with the small body, but they have steel strings.
http://www.strumstick.com/html_pages/Ukelele%20Strumstick.htm

Thanks for the link. There's a 4-string chromatic (ukulele) strumstick with GCEA tuning, and a 4-string chromatic strumstick with DGBE tuning (sort of a baritone ukulele strumstick). http://www.strumstick.com/html_pages/Chromatic%20Strumstick4Str.htm

I couldn't find a video of the ukulele strumstick, but here's a video of the DGBE chromatic strumstick.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WZFs_eB6hE

This would sound cool in a cover of "Norwegian Wood."

Ahnko Honu
09-04-2010, 07:55 PM
AKA Stick Dulcimer, they sound great, and look easy to make, may try my hand at making one with all the inspiration on this thread. ;)

JamieFromOntario
09-05-2010, 01:38 AM
There's an instrument/kit maker by the name of MusicMakers (harpkit.com) that makes something called the Strumbly which is basically the same as what is shown in the H/S catalog. I've bought kits from them before and was very happy with the quality and service.

http://www.harpkit.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=MK&Category_Code=strumbly




BlueGrassUkes Cedar/Walnut Tenor
Kala Acacia Tenor
Ohana Sopranino

countrybumpkin
09-05-2010, 07:01 AM
A few years ago I was introduced to Mr. Mackey who has been teaching students in Washington how to make these. Pretty cool.

http://www.crossroads-music.com/AndyMackie/AndyMackie.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTZ1VUO5_xM&feature=fvwk

DaveVisi
09-05-2010, 01:16 PM
Thanks to everyone for the strumstick education. It seems like an interesting instrument. The big question now is whether to get (1) a standard strumstick in G-D-G tuning, (2) a grand strumstick in D-A-D tuning, (3) an alto strumstick in C-G-C tuning, (4) a steel string chromatic (ukulele) strumstick in G-C-E-A tuning, or (5) a chromatic (baritone ukulele?) strumstick in D-G-B-E tuning. Hmmmm.....


Thanks! That would be cool.
Wow, tough choice. I liked the Grand better than the Standard as it more closely matched dulcimer music. The lower tone added to the richness of the sound. It's pretty quiet by Uke or Guitar standards so any little bit helps.

If you want to emulate a guitar, I'd go for the Grand Chromatic. If you want to explore the wide world of diatonic tuning, go for your favorite size in non-chromatic mode. If you want to stick with Ukulele tuning and playing, then there's really only one choice.

If I were you, I'd break out of a single instrument rut and go for something different than what you're used to. It'll broaden your music horizons plus even the standard ones are just so darn fun to play!

Sparkee
09-08-2010, 04:58 PM
If I were you, I'd break out of a single instrument rut and go for something different than what you're used to. It'll broaden your music horizons plus even the standard ones are just so darn fun to play!

Thanks, I took this advice. I was shopping for another uke to carry with me when I'm travelling for work until I read this thread. I should get my Standard Strumstick in a week or two. :) They look like they're a lot of fun.

ricdoug
09-08-2010, 07:13 PM
Here it is in a guitar:

http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product/Martin-SteelString-Backpacker-Acoustic-Guitar?sku=512392

http://img3.musiciansfriend.com/dbase/pics/products/8/0/9/427809.jpg

...and in an acoustic/electric model:

http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product/Martin-SteelString-Backpacker-AcousticElectric-Guitar?sku=512394

http://img3.musiciansfriend.com/dbase/pics/products/8/1/1/427811.jpg

mm stan
09-08-2010, 11:30 PM
I believe it is where Martin got it's idea for the backpacker guitar and uke...

Skitzic
09-09-2010, 03:17 AM
I believe it is where Martin got it's idea for the backpacker guitar and uke...

I thought McNally designed the Martin backpacker?

paulbsa
02-17-2012, 10:51 AM
[QUOTE=mds725;460786]Thanks to everyone for the strumstick education. It seems like an interesting instrument. The big question now is whether to get (1) a standard strumstick in G-D-G tuning, (2) a grand strumstick in D-A-D tuning, (3) an alto strumstick in C-G-C tuning, (4) a steel string chromatic (ukulele) strumstick in G-C-E-A tuning, or (5) a chromatic (baritone ukulele?) strumstick in D-G-B-E tuning. Hmmmm.....

I just picked up what I'm going to call a 3 string chromatic, alto, strum stick today built by a local dulcimer and mandolin builder. Hope to get some pictures up tonight, but it sounds great. Poplar body with a walnut back, tuned CGC, but with chromatic placed frets, not standard dulcimer spacing. He sells them for about $75. I'll get measurements on it tonight, but I would compare it to a soprano uke. I wasn't looking to buy one, but when I saw it in this local music shop, it just spoke to me, and I couldn't leave without it.

Hippie Dribble
02-17-2012, 02:38 PM
not wanting to throw him in hot water, but member frankiej plays these and builds his own, and he plays them with awesomeness and panache...made me fall in love with them instantly too. here's a sample from his youtube channel...


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TD0BHk4sJ2o&context=C3770141ADOEgsToPDskJtfkmcvi8-4MCx9nvqOxS0