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Stuck on the Stick

'I saw Tony Levin playing a Stick at the 1997 NAMM trade show in Anaheim, and I bought one that year," says Tom Griesgraber. The 12-stringed Stick (popularized by Levin during stints with King Crimson and Peter Gabriel) is played by tapping the strings like piano keys, with bass strings tuned in ascending fifths and melody strings in descending fourths, providing a wide tonal range of sounds.

"It sounds something like electric guitar, electric bass, piano, and synths -- all thrown into a blender," says Griesgraber. "When I started, there was nobody teaching it, really, so I bought the only two books in existence for it. The Stick itself gets amazing reactions. I used to draw small crowds in Guitar Center just by playing a few notes to test amps for it, and I've sold CDs just by pulling it out of the case and not playing a note."

DESERT ISLAND DVDs?

1. Peter Gabriel, Secret World Live ("Probably his best stage setup ever and certainly one of his best bands.")

2. King Crimson, Deja Vroom ("I have a VHS release from the same period which seems to have a better audio mix.")

3. This Is Spinal Tap ("I was surprised to learn recently that some musician friends in Italy had never heard of it.")

4. The Adventures of Indiana Jones (box set) ("I loaned this to a friend months ago -- if you read this, Peter, I want it back.")

5. Bruce Almighty ("I know I should probably pick something meatier for a desert island sojourn, but truth is I've watched this more than a lot of other movies.")

WHAT'S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?

1. Genesis, Three Sides Live ("Interesting period for them, plus it has great guitar work from Daryl Stuermer.")

2. Peter Gabriel, Up ("Amazing production, but then he did spend ten years on it. I heard they tried so many things, they had over a hundred songs that got boiled down to this one album.")

3. The California Guitar Trio, Ten Christmas Songs ("I've given copies to so many friends that I'm afraid to give it out anymore 'cause I'm sure I'll get regifted.")

4. Phil Collins, Face Value ("This is how you know I'm being honest with this list. Despite the overt poppiness, Phil really is a great musician.")

FAVORITE TV SHOWS?

1. 24 ("Jack is too cool -- though serials are a pain in the hindquarters to keep up with when you're on tour for a month at a time.")

2. Star Trek ("I actually have the DVDs. I'm a geek; it's a horrible fate.")

3. That '70s Show ("Only ever watched in syndication, but I'll usually stop on it if I'm channel surfing.")

4. Lost ("I got sucked in.")

5. The Simpsons ("I'm actually a bit burned out on it, but I'll include it because it's just been so good for so long.")

WORST COVER SONGS?

1. "In Your Eyes," Jeffrey Gaines ("Takes a classic Peter Gabriel tune and turns it into something that sounds like a bar band at a coffee shop. There should be laws.")

2. "Landslide," the Dixie Chicks ("Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham just have too strong personalities to replace.")

3. "White Christmas," Elton John ("He got a little too carried away with the vocal inflections on this one.")

BEST KING CRIMSON LINEUP?

"I love this question. I'm gonna say the double trio: Robert Fripp, Adrian Belew, Tony Levin, Bill Bruford, Pat Mastelotto, and Trey Gunn. Just so many great musical personalities, and they're all such good players that they make the over-the-top instrumentation actually work. It was actually the first lineup I saw, on video, and it's the one that pulled me into the band in general. Plus, they have two Stick players."

IF YOU WERE A CHARACTER IN THE WIZARD OF OZ, YOU'D BE...

"...the wizard. I like hiding behind curtains and pushing lots of buttons."

SOMETHING ABOUT YOU FEW WOULD KNOW OR GUESS?

"I can't drive stick shift. Quite the issue while touring Europe."

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'I saw Tony Levin playing a Stick at the 1997 NAMM trade show in Anaheim, and I bought one that year," says Tom Griesgraber. The 12-stringed Stick (popularized by Levin during stints with King Crimson and Peter Gabriel) is played by tapping the strings like piano keys, with bass strings tuned in ascending fifths and melody strings in descending fourths, providing a wide tonal range of sounds.

"It sounds something like electric guitar, electric bass, piano, and synths -- all thrown into a blender," says Griesgraber. "When I started, there was nobody teaching it, really, so I bought the only two books in existence for it. The Stick itself gets amazing reactions. I used to draw small crowds in Guitar Center just by playing a few notes to test amps for it, and I've sold CDs just by pulling it out of the case and not playing a note."

DESERT ISLAND DVDs?

1. Peter Gabriel, Secret World Live ("Probably his best stage setup ever and certainly one of his best bands.")

2. King Crimson, Deja Vroom ("I have a VHS release from the same period which seems to have a better audio mix.")

3. This Is Spinal Tap ("I was surprised to learn recently that some musician friends in Italy had never heard of it.")

4. The Adventures of Indiana Jones (box set) ("I loaned this to a friend months ago -- if you read this, Peter, I want it back.")

5. Bruce Almighty ("I know I should probably pick something meatier for a desert island sojourn, but truth is I've watched this more than a lot of other movies.")

WHAT'S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?

1. Genesis, Three Sides Live ("Interesting period for them, plus it has great guitar work from Daryl Stuermer.")

2. Peter Gabriel, Up ("Amazing production, but then he did spend ten years on it. I heard they tried so many things, they had over a hundred songs that got boiled down to this one album.")

3. The California Guitar Trio, Ten Christmas Songs ("I've given copies to so many friends that I'm afraid to give it out anymore 'cause I'm sure I'll get regifted.")

4. Phil Collins, Face Value ("This is how you know I'm being honest with this list. Despite the overt poppiness, Phil really is a great musician.")

FAVORITE TV SHOWS?

1. 24 ("Jack is too cool -- though serials are a pain in the hindquarters to keep up with when you're on tour for a month at a time.")

2. Star Trek ("I actually have the DVDs. I'm a geek; it's a horrible fate.")

3. That '70s Show ("Only ever watched in syndication, but I'll usually stop on it if I'm channel surfing.")

4. Lost ("I got sucked in.")

5. The Simpsons ("I'm actually a bit burned out on it, but I'll include it because it's just been so good for so long.")

WORST COVER SONGS?

1. "In Your Eyes," Jeffrey Gaines ("Takes a classic Peter Gabriel tune and turns it into something that sounds like a bar band at a coffee shop. There should be laws.")

2. "Landslide," the Dixie Chicks ("Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham just have too strong personalities to replace.")

3. "White Christmas," Elton John ("He got a little too carried away with the vocal inflections on this one.")

BEST KING CRIMSON LINEUP?

"I love this question. I'm gonna say the double trio: Robert Fripp, Adrian Belew, Tony Levin, Bill Bruford, Pat Mastelotto, and Trey Gunn. Just so many great musical personalities, and they're all such good players that they make the over-the-top instrumentation actually work. It was actually the first lineup I saw, on video, and it's the one that pulled me into the band in general. Plus, they have two Stick players."

IF YOU WERE A CHARACTER IN THE WIZARD OF OZ, YOU'D BE...

"...the wizard. I like hiding behind curtains and pushing lots of buttons."

SOMETHING ABOUT YOU FEW WOULD KNOW OR GUESS?

"I can't drive stick shift. Quite the issue while touring Europe."

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