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MIDI OPTIONS

If you are a Stick player who is not satisfied with your midi options, I recommend having a look at The Megatar.  Already a custom built instrument designed around purity of tone and responsive feel, a Megatar set up with Stick tuning and hexaphonic midi output is the answer to a lot of questions that you did not even know you had.

While your at it why not throw in acoustiphonic piezo preamps and bartolini humbuckers. Can't you feel the power!?!

Click here to read more about the GHOST MODULAR PICKUP SYSTEM from Graph Tech.

midi for stick players

 

From Graphtech, the maker of the midi system that I use:

The hexaphonic pickup system featuring unparalleled tracking in an easy-to-install package. The Hexpander MIDI interface features a proprietary harmonic damping system that results in tracking unequaled by any other system on the market today. It provides responsive and accurate triggering, no more dead spots, and no need to slow down your playing so that your system can keep up!

The ghost Hexpander MIDI interface system adds MIDI capability to almost any guitar or bass.  Plug your guitar into pitch-to-MIDI converters by Roland or Axon and enter the MIDI sound universe.  The Hexpander MIDI interface provides responsive and accurate tracking unequaled be any other system on the market today.  Check out how affordable and easy it can be to make MIDI part of your music making.

 

 

 

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Where can I buy Megatar Strings?

 

I buy my strings directly from Kalium Strings.

 

These are the strings gauges that are on almost all Megatar instruments made before February of 2017:

Bass Bottom Tuning (Megatar)

Melody string gauges: .009, .011, .012, .016, .029W, .040W

Bass string gauges: .025W, .035W, .050W, .065W, .085W, .100W

"Inverted-Fifths" Tuning (Chapman Stick)

Melody String gauges: .009, .011, .012, .016, .029W, .040W

Bass String gauges: .095W, .080W, .060W, .030W, .016, .010

 

Always have your intonation checked after changing strings.  If you use a different string gauge you must adjust the intonation.

 

 

 

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How Long Does It Take To Get A Megatar?

Typical delivery time for custom-made instruments is 3-6 months.

There are sometimes instruments in stock, and there are sometimes instruments in progress that can be delivered sooner.  Inquire.

It is one of our goals to be able to deliver high-quality handmade instruments while maintaining a high level of efficiency so you can have your instrument in your hands as soon as possible.  Also true is that good craftsmanship requires patience.

When you place your order you will get an estimated time to completion as a guide.  If all goes well your instrument might arrive sooner.  Sometimes I might need a little more time.

You will be emailed periodic updates of your instrument's progress so you will get to watch it come alive.

 

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Getting Started with the Touch Technique by Stanley Jordan

Getting Started with the Touch Technique

by Stanley Jordan

THE TOUCH STYLE, OR TWO-HANDED TAPPING TECHNIQUE can provide limitless possibilities for exploration on the guitar. The earliest documented guitarist using this approach was Jimmy Webster in the 1950s. It has now begun to enjoy considerable use among guitarists. The essence of tapping is this: By hammering the string against the fretboard with your finger, you can produce a note with one hand. You don't need to pluck or strum, because the impact of the string hitting the fret causes the string to vibrate. Either hand works, and you can even use both hands tapping simultaneously on the fingerboard, performing independent parts.

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What Wood Choices Do You Have?

New collection of guitar woods ready to stack and cure. 

New collection of guitar woods ready to stack and cure. 

Wood Choices:

Every standard Megatar is laminated out of quarter sawn sapele.   Sapele is one of the most commonly used guitar woods for a reason, and in our opinion, sapele represents the best balance of weight, tone, workability, stability, appearance, mojo and cost.  The best classic Megatars such as the so-called "Maxtapper" and "Toneweaver" instruments were made out of sapele.

In addition there are several options designed to make it easy for players to personalize the look and performance of their Megatars.  For more info on neck upgrades, click here.

Click here for more info on full custom builds.

 

Below is a sampling of the woods I normally have in stock:

I also have access to a private collection of tone woods gathered over the course of the last 40 years from all around the West Coast by my buddy "Bearman".  Lots of burl woods, crotches and figured woods, softwoods and hardwoods.  One-of-a-kind and of the finest quality and each piece has a story to go with it.  If you like the idea of including a very special piece of wood into your instrument, contact me for details. 

Here are a couple places to learn more about the characteristics of the different woods:

http://www.wood-database.com/

http://www.warmoth.com/guitar/bodies/options/bodywoodoptions.aspx

 

The wood sample images above were captured mostly from: www.wood-database.com

 

 

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Neck options: "Add Stripes" - "Add Figured Core" - "Full Custom"

All of our neck-through bodies are made up of laminations, or stripes, of solid wood.

The base model Megatar is made up of 8 or 9 strips of a single species of wood:  sapele

For more information on wood choices, click here.

Visual Aid:  All sapele body sample

Visual Aid:  All sapele body sample

In addition, there are several options available that allow you to customize the look and performance of your Megatar:

The "Add Stripes" option improves the stability, stiffness, and clarity of tone by adding several strategically placed strips of denser and more rigid tone woods to the neck.  It also adds a lot to the aesthetic experience, making the most of the neck-through design and allowing you to personalize the look and performance of your Megatar. 

The "Add Figured Core" option offers an easy way to add some serious appeal to the look of your instrument.  It calls for a heavily figured piece of hard maple wood to be used for the central spine of the instrument,  as in the samples below:

The "Full Custom" option allows you to choose the species and arrangement of the neck and body woods.  For more information on wood choices, click here.  All of the instruments pictured on this site so far have been "Full Custom" builds.  

For more information on custom work, click here

 

Sapele with wenge/bubinga stripes and curly maple core.

Sapele with wenge/bubinga stripes and curly maple core.

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Crossed vs. Uncrossed strings

Left: Creepy looking photo of a Crossed String Arrangement, stick style.    Right: Creepy looking photo of an Uncrossed String Arrangement, mirrored 4ths, big strings on the outside tuning, euro-style.

Left: Creepy looking photo of a Crossed String Arrangement, stick style.    Right: Creepy looking photo of an Uncrossed String Arrangement, mirrored 4ths, big strings on the outside tuning, euro-style.

Bottom line: Personal preference.

The uncrossed string arrangement allows each hand full access to all positions on the string set without interference. In the uncrossed arrangement, you place the left hand's string set (normally the bass strings) to the player's left, and you place the right hand's string set (normally the melody/guitar) closer to the player's head.   The left hand plays the bass strings just as on a 6 string bass.  The right hand plays the melody strings from the right, allowing for full access to both string sets.  Good for smaller hands.  Some say better for beginners.  Preferred by many musicians.   Uncrossed Bass Bottom tuning feels natural to standard guitar and bass players because the strings are in all the familiar places.

The crossed string arrangement, where in the normal playing position the musician finds the lowest strings nearest to his head and the highest-pitched strings furthest to his left, is just as common.  This arrangement means that when your left hand is playing bass strings around fret 7, your right hand is blocked from playing melody strings at that same place.  Better for larger hands as your hands will have to reach across the fretboard with fingers more outstretched.  Chapman Stick instruments use predominantly crossed tunings. 

Other considerations and random thoughts on the subject:

FIrst off, what tuning are you using? 

Bass bottom/straight 4ths tuning can be crossed or uncrossed and/or mirrored. 

Most Chapman Stick style tunings are going to to be based on a crossed hands setup.

If you choose crossed hands stick learning materials and techniques can be used.

If you are an existing bass or guitar player who uses some tapping or touch techniques and wants to expand that potential, your probably going to like uncrossed hands.  It will feel more natural to you at first.

If your new to touchstyle and not stick-centric but rather just exploring and enjoying the ride then probably bass bottom/ 4ths tuning will be easier to navigate. While uncrossed hands will be more like what you are used to if you have any experience with bass or guitar playing.

If you are a bass player, you for sure should go with bass bottom/4ths tuning.  As for crossed vs. uncrossed, it’s a matter of personal taste.  Try to experiment with or at least simulate the different string arrangements and see how it feels.  Think about what sort of music you are planning to make with your megatar and imagine how it would best work for your hands?   

If you see the instrument as a monster 12 string bass, then bass bottom tuning with crossed hands gives you what you need.  Like having a bass that goes from a low B on the bass to the upper range of a guitar, and plenty of strings to work with. 

 

 

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Tuning Choices

The ‘Celestial Harp’- a theory that the movement of the stars and planets was related to music

The ‘Celestial Harp’- a theory that the movement of the stars and planets was related to music

We offer a variety of tunings. 

Megatar Tuning

Our standard and recommended tuning is known as "Bass Bottom" tuning or "Straight Fourths" because the bass string set is tuned just like a standard six string bass (BEADGC) while the melody strings are also tuned in fourths with a range similar to that of a standard guitar only slightly lower (C#F#BEAD).  Because of the long neck, these strings cannot be tuned quite as high as a standard guitar without breaking, so they're pitched lower by 1.5 steps (3 frets).  But since Megatar instruments have 25 frets, instead of 22 as in most guitars, you can still play as high as on a guitar. You've just got yourself some extra low melody notes!

This arrangement produces the same notes under the bass strings at fret #2 and the melody strings at fret #12.  Both positions are marked by double dots.   Learning is very accessible with this tuning.  The fretboard is easy to navigate and much of what you may already know from standard guitar or bass transfers quickly because your left hand already knows what it's doing and your right hand catches on right away to the technique and the patterns.  

Additionally there are instructional materials commonly available for two-handed tapping techniques on standard bass and standard guitar, which are applicable to The Megatar with Bass Bottom tuning.  All this makes learning faster with this tuning.  Plus, learning to play the Megatar, will allow you to pick up any bass or guitar and make music.

Stick Tuning

If you have already learned the ‘Inverted-Fifths’ tuning developed by Emmett Chapman for the Chapman Stick, then we will be happy to deliver this tuning, and it will have the Buzz Feiten Intonation System installed so that your playing sounds more ‘in tune’ with itself and other instruments.

Many other tunings are available including bi-melody, dual bass, crafty, dropped, and mirrored tunings, etc. plus all of these in an uncrossed string arrangement if desired. Normally free of charge.  

Additional fees may apply if custom string sets are needed.  

Daniel Schell has a lot of great information on different touch-style tunings.  Find it here.

 

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What about "Fanned Frets?" What is a ToneWeaver?

Shown here is the classic Mobius Megatar 'ToneWeaver' with fanned frets.

Shown here is the classic Mobius Megatar 'ToneWeaver' with fanned frets.

Megatars can be built with Novak fanned frets.

Click on the links below for more information on the origin and concept:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fanned_fret_guitars

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi-scale_fingerboard

http://www.novaxguitars.com/

Megatars equipped with fanned frets also have the Buzz Feiton intonation system, making them one of the only stringed instruments in the world that provides the player with both the superior 'in-tune' play of the Feiten system, and the improved tonal color provided by Ralph Novak's fanned-fret system.

With the Novak system, the frets are installed on a slant, such that the lowest bass strings are as long as possible, like a standard bass, and the highest melody strings have a shorter scale length, moving more toward a standard guitar, for a seamless flow of scale length from low/long, to high/short.  The instrument looks quite dramatic with all the frets slanting.

But doesn't this make it hard to play?

No.

With your Megatar in the vertical playing position, your hands and fingers naturally line up with the arc of the frets.  After a few minutes of getting used to the layout, you won't even notice the difference, and some players find that it feels more natural.  

 

 

 


 

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