Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Strumstick In Folk Music - Review


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No a lot of folk musicians will even of heard of the Strumstick. The one featured here is the 4 string instrument. There's another that only has 3 strings and is even easier to to play. The Strumstick hasn't been embraced by musicians as much as it should be. The 4 string model is played the very same as a guitar. It's mainly used to strum hence the name ''Strumstick'' . The only difference between a 4 string model and a guitar is that the two top strings are not on the strumstick. The A and E strings are left out. You wouldn't think when playing chords on such an instrument with two of the strings missing that the chords played would actually sound right, well they do. The only thing you hear that is missing when strummed is the lack of bass.

The sound itself is much like a mandolin. There are several ways it can be tuned, you could tune it like a mandolin / tenor banjo even. The beauty of this instrument is haw easy it is to play and that's one of the reasons it was developed in the first instance. It's an ideal way to start learning your first stringed instrument or if you found learning the guitar a bit too much and gave up. If you already play guitar then switching to a 4 string Strumstick will be a piece of cake as they say. For example to play a G chords all you need is one finger, the D is made the same as the guitar and so is the A chord and so on.

When playing with a group of musicians such as a session the sound made by the Strumstick will complement the sound made by the other instruments in the group. You'll get some strange looks when you first take the Strumstick into a ''session like'' gathering. Everybody that plays guitar will want to give it a try. It's best to play it with a strap as you'll need to support, whereas playing a guitar you have plenty of space in the body of the instrument for your arm to support the guitar while playing. The widest part of the body of the strumstick is only 6 inches which makes it one of the slimmest stringed musical instruments. If using a capo the same techniques apply as if it was a guitar. I can't see any reason why the easy to play / great sounding Strumstick should not be included into folk music. Have a look at the photo, compared to the guitar it's really small. This small youtube video is only an example of the sound and how easy it is to play.
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