Alto Stick™ – 10-string guitar scale tapping instrument

19 May 2016 - Jeff Norem (TX), to Cambria & SE:
Hi Cambria and everyone at Stick Enterprises. I just got my new rosewood Alto Stick and I just can't say enough about how awesome it is. This is another masterpiece that we all always expect from you guys. The new smaller frets give the instrument a lighter, tighter and lower action that seems to make the harmonics project better - it just plays amazingly well. The pickup seems more precise and the wood is every bit as beautiful as I knew it would be. As always, the craftsmanship on this instrument is phenomenal - just amazing workmanship that cannot be found in this world of ours anymore. Thank you all for another perfect instrument. It will be front and center on my next recording project. Love you guys!!!

04 July 11 - Bruce Jacques (Australia), to Stick Enterprises:
Around Christmas I received my dark bamboo Alto Stick. I just wanted to pass on my thanks to you and the team at Stick. It has been fantastic, I love the instrument and my playing is improving. Only my Standard Stick is upset since it is a bit neglected now!

24 Feb 11 - Collin Anderson (Utah), to Stick Enterprises:
Hey Cambria & Emmett, I wanted to let you know that I got my 8-string alto stick today and I'm absolutely loving it! It's very easy to play and the sound is awesome, That red-dyed dark bamboo looked great in pictures, but it's a whole new thing holding it in my hands; I honestly couldn't believe how gorgeous it was when I first got it out of the case. Cambria, you were right about the inlays; they look absolutely fantastic and it is nice to have a more visible reference than what the red on red would have provided. I can't believe I waited as long as I did to buy a stick and now that I have it, it's just so much more fun to play than any of my other guitars and I'm already looking into selling off a couple other guitars so I can buy a Stick Bass at some point this year. Thanks again and you will definitely hear from me again in the future as I expand my instrument collection!

03 August 10 - Ricardo Wurmus (China), to Stick Enterprises:
Hi Emmett, the Alto Stick arrived yesterday and since then I have difficulties putting it out of my hands. The size is very comfortable and opens up new ways of playing the Stick. Jackie fell in love with the beautiful wood and now that the form factor enables her to actually hold the instrument she fancies the idea to learn playing it herself. I'm lacking proper vocabulary to adequately express my appreciation for the craftsmanship that went into my new instrument. Let me just say that I'm truly grateful for the efforts.

Please send my best wishes and expressions of gratitude to everyone of the team. You are working where dreams are turned into tangible matter, and we who have dreams are very happy that you are engaging in this work.

27 August 09 - Marc Mennigmann (Germany), to Stickwire:
After a short love affair of exclusively playing my new Alto I found out, that it perfectly extends the options of my instruments. The Grand was not obsolete, it is only used in other conditions than the Alto. When I play with other musicians, and there is a bassist around I would definitely use the Alto to support the higher registers. If there is no bassist the choice is the Grand.

But this does not describe the full advantage of these two instruments as a couple. There are tunes I would never try to play on the Grand anymore. The Alto is perfect for lyrical, ballad like tunes. It is like the difference between a tenor and an alto or soprano saxophone. All three are saxophones, but "Confirmation" is an alto tune!

Further the Alto is perfect for "topping" all other instruments in a band, because of it's very high, but still very clear registers. A Grand is more basic, fundamental but not as delicate as the Alto. And don't mind the narrow frets of the high registers. The Rails are perfect for this instrument and you will generate sweet high tones with ease.

I would never want to work without the Grand or the Alto. Both instruments are perfect together, and you are always prepared best for any musical situation that might come up.

26 March 09 - Jerry Swan (UK), to Stick Enterprises:
It's now one week since I received my Alto, and I thought I'd write to say how absolutely delighted I am with this wonderful thing. It is without doubt by far the most ergonomic instrument I have ever encountered (even those fingerings that are perhaps initially counter-intuitive to a guitarist soon easily become part of muscle memory).

The inverted fifths in the bass is a real innovation. I'm a mathematician in my day job and the (seemingly maximal) economy of this arrangement is as appealing to the logical part of my brain as the musical possibilities it offers are to the creative part. In your place, I would be extremely proud. Artefacts that have both form and function are sadly rare in this world and you have clearly labored long and hard to create something that is undoubtedly a quantum leap forward for human musicianship.

18 March 09 - Jeff Pearce (Indiana, USA), to Stick Enterprises:
Since my experience with the Alto, my approach is even more toward the "Stick is one big instrument" mode. The harmonics on the "bass" side soar straight into the stratosphere. The higher bass range creates an "audio illusion" - notes double, repeat, leap and fall, sometimes ringing against each other harp like, other times sharply ascending and descending like harpsichord notes. It's almost a shame to designate it an "Alto" Stick. It's a Stick, with some amazing new twists. My next acquisition will be another of these Alto beauties, or it's cousin, the SG12. And the wood choice will most certainly be paduak - what a lovely wood!

14 March 09 - Matt Rogers (Texas, USA), to Stickist.com:
Thanks Greg, we're really having fun with the Grand/Alto duet format. With the range that these two instruments cover and the textures from the Stickup/ACTV2 combination (plus MIDI), it seems unbeatable in arranging material for two Sticks. Having no boundaries is a true joy.

02 January 09 - Matt Rogers (Texas, USA), to Stickist.com:
I have a Grand and an Alto, and the latter is so refreshing to pick up and play after a few songs on the Grand. Plus, I've arranged all of my parts normally played on the Grand for the new Alto. Now I have the choice of playing the material as written, or up a full octave without blinking. Since the Alto is tuned in standard Alto tuning, it's like the inside ten strings of my MR Grand, just up one octave. I've even been experimenting with playing both instruments at the same time (dual melodies, etc.). Since the Grand is on a stand, I can wear the Alto and reach over with the other hand and do a harmony on the Grand. Thanks to Greg for that idea!!

23 August 08 - Glenn Poorman (Michigan, USA), to Stick Enterprises:
I've actually been playing my Alto quite a lot lately. I've always enjoyed it but for the last few weeks, I've been playing it almost exclusively. One thing that's been different is that I've been doing new recordings and so I'm using the instrument in an almost "guitar" role. In other words ... as an ensemble instrument. As I mentioned in an interview I'd done with Greg last year, I find myself reaching for it where I used to reach for finger picked acoustic guitar or rhythm electric guitar. The Alto really sort of cuts through the mix better than those instruments though. Very very nice!

11 June 08 - Matt Rogers (Texas, USA), to Stickist.com:
The sweet, crystalline highs of the Alto take the Stick into unexplored territory. This is what I was looking for and, as usual, a lot more. This instrument simply soars. The Rails were lightning fast, quick flurries of notes were so easy and fluid. The combination of the ACTV2 and the stratospheric range of the tuning provided notes that sometimes sounded whistle-like. The fret spacing is really the only factor I had to adjust to, but that was over in about thirty minutes. The strings were much lighter than what I'm used to, but they have a character all their own that I quite enjoy. The Alto isn't a "kid's model" or "travel Stick". It's got it's own distinct voice, and it's already got me wondering if it was what I've been looking for all along.

This is what it's all about, folks. If you're a player that spends a lot of time grasping for those higher regions of the board, you really should consider the Alto. I found that I've already slipped into another character on this instrument. When the sonic palette is drastically changed, I always seem to be pushed to another creative plane, free of previous repetition suddenly speaking with a different accent.

A whole-hearted thanks to Emmett, Yuta, Grace, and everyone else at SE. You just keep making all my musical dreams come true.

01 March 08 - Glenn Turner (Illinois, USA), to Stickwire:
As for me, I'm primarily a guitar player who enjoys the Stick because it provides me with the ability to play my own accompaniment in real time. Since most of my playing these days is in a band with a good bass player, I tend to avoid the low strings - something that I think is unusual among stickists.

I ordered an Alto because I want to stay in the guitar range, which also will eliminate the need for me to use a bass amp. Now any of my good tube guitar amps should cover the instrument's full range. Yes, I could have strung lighter strings on the bass side of my 10-string, but I really like the idea of a smaller, lighter instrument.

15 Jan 08 - Glenn Poorman (Michigan, USA), to Stickwire:
The Alto naturally has a more sparkly sound on the high end. Really nice.

19 April 07 - Jeff Norem (NV), to Stick Enterprises:
I just wanted to let all of you know that I got my Alto Stick and have been playing it a lot. I am really blown away by the instrument and I feel immediately comfortable with it. The smaller scale seems to allow me a more comprehensive control over the entire range of the instrument - I feel that I am spreading myself less thin, so-to-speak, and that I can really use all of the fretboard all of the time. Also, because I have smaller hands, I can play with much more confident technique all over the instrument and move up and down twice as fast as I can on the grand stick. The closer and higher musical range on both sets of strings pushes me into a higher register that I've always dreamed of on the Stick, so this is a real revelation for me.

The other things I wanted to say are in regards to the PASV-4 pickup and the rail frets. I am (after only a few days) spoiled and absolutely have to have both from now on. I've always liked playing fast, and the rails facilitate my style of playing far better than the rods. It seems that my technique has improved vastly just from playing on the rails. Also, I have always played Sticks with the standard pickup and have been perfectly satisfied, but the PASV-4 pickup gets the original tone of the Stick and about ten other incredible sounds.

I just wanted to say thanks to all of you for producing yet another fantastic, well-crafted, high-quality instrument; for thirty years, I've grown to expect no less from Stick Enterprises - I love you guys. This Alto Stick really is a thing of beauty. I can't wait to play the Alto with drummers, bass players, keyboard players and guitar players without worrying about stepping on toes.

Thanks again. Jeff

01 May 06 - Brian Schubbe (IL), to Stick Enterprises:
I was in love with the idea of the Alto from the second I heard about it. I really felt like I had no choice but to order one, and today Rosewood Alto #5399 w/ACTV2 arrived at my doorstep. Wow! This is the Stick I've been wanting all along. After playing the Stick on and off for almost four years, I had yet to feel comfortable or find what I wanted on the instrument. After playing the Alto for only a couple of hours, I'm finally playing the types of things that I wanted a Stick for in the first place, without really even trying. It was just rushing out of me! I now have: Less strings (my other Stick is a Grand), less frets, less pickups (the Grand has the PASV4), less range and less scale length. I could go on, but you get the idea. The point is, to me this is the most Stick I've ever had. I am so thrilled with this instrument!!! It took a little adjustment to get used to the fret spacing, etc., but that didn't take long at all. Now I can't put it down! The tone is incredible. Thanks Emmett, and all at SE, from one outrageously happy customer!

13 April 06 - Ark Durkee (WI), to Stickwire:
I got to play a couple of the Altos when I visited SE last year, before they were shipped out to their eventual owners. Aside from the sheer addictiveness of the experience, making me crave one for myself someday, I found that the tone was smooth and sweet and pure, not at all significantly different from other Sticks I've played. If there's a tone difference it's purely that it's a higher-pitched instrument overall - in other words, the range changes the tone more than the scale length does, the same way a piccolo has a somewhat different tone than a standard C-flute.

22 March 06 - Greg Howard (VA), to Stickwire:
Bob's Expanded Alto tuning gives you chords that are a little lower in the bass, so it has a little less overlap between the string sets. It's also a true Matched Reciprocal tuning, so his hand position relationships are the same as they would be on any other instrument using that tuning, though the key reference will be shifted by a minor 3rd.

On my version of the tuning, I have the same reference points to the inlays that I have on the Baritone Melody, everything's just an octave higher. This makes the Extended Alto bass strings a minor 3rd higher than his. Since I don't have a Grand Stick anymore, I wanted something that would give me those really high bass chords to accompany the melody. The tactile reference points to the full-scale instrument are really not the same, since you are playing in an area where the frets are generally closer together. So in this sense I'm glad to have the same pitch/inlay relationship, otherwise I'd have a hell of a time knowing where I am from a purely muscle memory standpoint.

The best thing about changing tunings on Emmett's instruments is that it's pretty easy to do. The bass string gauges won't be that different, and the melody will stay the same, so you can just order it one way and see if you like it. You can do a test run , and if the results intrigue you, then a couple of small setup changes to the string height and intonation will be all you need to make it perfect.

27 September 05 - Frank Leurs (Netherlands), to Stickwire:
I just picked up my new alto from Ron (Baggerman). It is, again,,,, a masterpiece in craftmanship (so what's new?) Thanx again. I will play on it next weekend in Worms, Germany!

26 January 05 - Arthur Durkee (MN), to Stickwire:
Greg is playing the new Alto Stick, which is an instrument I think is sublime, and works very well in a duo situation with standard Stick or Grand. Greg picked up the Alto several times for duos during NAMM, and each time I only became more convinced of how well it works as a "chamber music" instrument, especially (but not only) in combination with other Sticks.