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Two Strumstick fans, sisters Lilian and Audrey, sent us a very funny video on making a DIY Strumstick. Don't try this at home folks, only trained professionals like Audrey and Lilian can do things like this.
I wouldn't even try it myself!  Click Here!
And see plans here!  (But watch the video first! )

Quick Information About the Strumstick

You’ll sound good right from the start and you can play songs the first day. The Strumstick feels good to play, you’ll pick it up again and again. We designed the Strumstick for people who don't play any music, and are sure they can't play any music. There are no wrong notes; there are just the notes of a simple scale. Since there are no wrong notes, there are no mistakes; you can have fun making sounds without worrying about "getting it right". When you begin, you fret the 1st string with one finger, and strum all three strings with a pick. Anywhere you fret the 1st string sounds good, and the other two strings make a background chord automatically! The G (Standard) Strumstick is $169, is make of Padouk, Spruce, and Maple, is about 29" long, 4" wide, and weighs about 11 oz.
The Strumstick is perfect for children: It’s fun, easy, rugged, and kids can make music with it right from the start. The Strumstick opens the musical door. Ages 3-5, some adult supervision and guidance recommended. Ages 6-96 a child-like spirit is useful but not mandatory. About half of our customers are new to music. We get lots of comments about how easy it is, and how much fun people are having. Full instructions and songs are included, and an instruction CD. We also provide instructions and songs online at this site, in the Instructions Area.

If you already play another instrument:
The Strumstick is a fast creative tool for composition, or just for relaxation... it will return you to the simple joy of playing that got you into music in the first place.

If you want to learn to play guitar: Starting with the strumstick can get you there faster than any other way. Its like training wheels for guitar! (We can show you how)

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The Strumstick® Information Page

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Detailed Information About the Strumstick

With the Strumstick you sound OK at the beginning, you have fun, and don't feel frustrated as a beginner. With the Strumstick, you find yourself saying, "hey, I can do this." Here is why that is true. Most musical instruments are not made to be learned by beginners, they are make to be performed on by experts. Most instruments have the notes needed for all 12 keys, but are therefore complicated. We decided to make the Strumstick play in just one key, to have no wrong notes, so that learning is easy.

The frets (the metal pieces that go across the fretboard and determine the notes you can play) are spaced to give you the notes of a major scale (plus an extra note that is really handy to have.) The other two strings make a background (a drone) which harmonizes with whatever you play on the fretted string. It makes chords automatically!

The Strumstick is tuned G D G'. You can fret any of the strings, and you can even fret several strings at once to make fuller chords. Usually people start with fretting the first string, and progress to the others after a while.

The Strumstick only plays in one key (or scale), instead of all 12 keys like guitar. That is why there are no "wrong" notes on the Strumstick. Wrong notes are notes outside the key you are playing in. All those wrong notes make guitar versatile, and hard. Having just "Right" notes makes Strumstick easy, (but more limited than guitar). Fortunately, you can play a whole lot of music with the notes the Strumstick has.

Many many songs can be played on the Strumstick, whether in a major or minor key. Blues and Jazz use notes from outside the major scale, and are trickier on the Strumstick for that reason, but not impossible. By retuning, or using a different Strumstick model, you can pitch a song in various keys if you need different keys to sing to.

The general idea with the Strumstick is "baby steps". One finger, one string, it doesn't matter where you put it, easy! Next step, you start to organize where you put your finger, but it's still one finger, one string. Later you get fancier with the rhythms that your strumming hand can do, you can finger more than one string, but only after you are comfortable with the earlier, easier things. Baby steps and soon you are running.

The included instruction book and CD really help you along; they tell you what to do to get started, discuss possible problems, and encourage you to relax and experiment and "Enjoy the Noise" (in fact, that is what we call the CD). Later the instructions explain (and demonstrate) the various things you can do to gradually increase the complexity of your playing, at your own pace. The CD gives you actual notes to tune to, and tells you how to tune the Strumstick just with itself. We have received many comments on how thorough and easy our instructions are.

Elsewhere on the Information page is an explanation of how the instructions and songs work (click for About Instructions and Songs)

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About Instructions and Songs

The Strumstick comes with full instructions and songs. You get an instruction booklet, an instruction CD, and a pick. The booklet and CD work together to explain and illustrate basic and advanced playing of the Strumstick. Instructions and songs are also available online, see the Instructions Page

Emphasis is placed on getting Complete Beginners started. The beginner section is in "first do this, then do this, and next do this" tutorial form. Besides demonstrating what the beginning things sound like, the instruction CD provides lots of encouragement, and also more advanced playing. The CD also gives you notes to tune the Standard Strumstick (G, D, G') with, and examples and demonstrations of more advanced topics.

The more advanced techniques are not in tutorial form, but are explained as separate items that you then add to your playing as you like. Fancy strumming, making up interesting rhythms, adding extra notes (ornaments), and more are explained and demonstrated.

The instructions include playing songs, and adding chords to songs. I don't recommend that you start with songs, keep it simple to start. Of course, some people like to start at the harder end of the book first, what's a teacher to do? The songs are written out with words and fret numbers (this is all exlained in the instructions).

For online instructions see the Instructions Page.

Tricks and techniques which may be of limited interest to beginners but very useful to more advanced players may be found in "Tricks and Techniques" (Instructions page) . Alternative tunings, Modifications, Electrifying your Strumstick and other such topics can be found there

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Why you can succeed with the Strumstick even after failing on other instruments

There is a reason people give up when they are learning an instrument. It does not have anything to do with "talent", it has to do with "fun". Talent applies more to the expert end of things than the beginning. Instruments that do not give enough fun for the work people put into them are the reason people quit.

People mostly learn for fun, they are not trying to be a professional; if it isn't fun, people stop. FUN means: a feeling of achievement, experiencing that you are progressing toward what you want to be able to play, joy over the music you are actually making, pride in having developed a skill you can share with others, and more.

Most instruments do not become "fun" (in those various senses) until many months after you start. Therefore PERSISTENCE comes into play. Persistence is the ability to keep doing something that is not fun now in hopes that it eventually will be. People have varying levels of persistence; the difference between those who succeed with guitar and those who don't has a lot more to do with persistence and determination than it does with TALENT.

The Strumstick avoids the whole problem, by being FUN right from the start. The sounds you are making are pleasant to the ear. That is all the difference in the world. Instead of feeling like " I am never going to get this," you feel like "hey, that's not bad, I think I can do this." In the first 5 minutes, you will see yourself make progress, you will hear some basic musical sounds happening, and you will see that the Strumstick is a gentle teacher. You see that you can work at your own pace. You will have fun right from the start; quitting does not even become an issue.

 

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Quick Information
Detailed Information
FAQs
About Instructions and Songs
Why You Can Succeed

History of the Strumstick
Guitar Magazine Review of Strumstick

Strumstick® is a registered trademark of McNally Instruments. A genuine McNally Strumstick is signed by Bob McNally and numbered, viewable through the soundhole. Accept no imitations!
Some Testimonials!

"The Sound!"
Your Strumsticks totally has "The Sound". It's the sound I have been looking for for years. Sometimes late at night they will play an old old recording. Among the hiss and crackle and faint voice will be "The Sound". A twangy strange full stringy ringing sound. An old sound. A beautiful sound. A sound not heard since the 1800s. Kinda like a banjo but not. Kinda like a Sitar but not.  It's....its.....The Sound! Your Strumstick has THE SOUND! 
What is that sound????? You are a genius!!
Thank you.[Runs off to find $150 somewhere so he can have The Sound]
Mr. Doolie

I just bought your standard strumstick in Seattle. I love it! It's the neatest thing I have ever played.Thank you for bringing so much joy into my life.
Sincerely,
Kevin

The Strumstick is beautiful!  It's my Christmas present from my wife, but I'm having to fight for playing time with the rest of the family.  Everyone is playing their version of Jungle bells.
 Thanks and Merry Christmas to you all!
 Jeff Wewers

Hello all at McNally!
 i just bought one of your strumsticks here in seattle at dusty strings and just wanted to let you guys know that i am really surprised at how great this little instrument is. it sounds great and looks great too! ive been playing guitar for 17 years now and this has reignited my passion for making music. keep up the good work and again thanks for the great craftsmanship.

-steve lucas

Hello!
The Strumstick I ordered from you on October 24 arrived here on PEI on November 4, in perfect shape and even in tune!  I've been playing with it every spare moment I have...and even when I should be doing something else!!  I love that you put a pick right in the strings so you can start playing immediately - very nice touch.

A long-time guitar player, I had tried a Strumstick at the Long and McQuade store in Charlottetown, PEI and was intrigued.  I found your website and there found so much great information about your products, so I ordered right away.  You've created a beautiful instrument and I know I will have many hours of enjoyment with it in the years to come.

Best wishes and thanks for such a great buying experience.

Thelma Phillips
Prince Edward Island, Canada

When I turned 60 I started looking for something to do that would take me twenty years to do.  Through a series of unlikely events I stumbled across the StrumStick and your pre-guitar philosophy.
 
I had never aspired to play the guitar, or any musical instrument, because a music teacher in Elementary school told me that I had no musical ability.
 
In October 2008, I purchased a StrumStick and began to "enjoy the noise".  After two months playing the StrumStick I bought my first guitar.  Your philosophy of playing every day while keeping frustration at bay has propelled me forward.  Five minutes a day is a magical goal. The combination of the StrumStick as an invention, and your pre-guitar philosophy, has been a precious gift to me.  I recently gave my StrumStick to my girlfriend with the admonition to "enjoy the noise". 
 I am in the process of having a custom guitar built that you might find interesting:
http://lichtyguitars.com/2010/09/18/a-patchwork-guitar/
Since you are the reason that I play today, you have a piece of the patchwork-parlor guitar project.
 Very Kind Regards,
 W W (Bill) Miller

Are you kidding me -  this is the COOLEST thing I've ever played; ridiculously fun!
 
I've got to get another to give as a Christmas gift (or maybe two ) 
Do you offer coupons for return customers?
 
Thanks again for bringing music to the "musically challenged". 
 
Sandy D.

Evelyn,
My Testimonial: Just Received the Strumstick!  As you have read in my emails, this was a gift for my wife......She is ecstatic about it!!
It amazes us how much sound comes out of such a small instrument!  It is worth EVERY penny and more!
Thanks so much for getting our order so quickly.  What a wonderful instrument.  I will be ordering a pickup for it soon.
God Bless
Barry Alton
Oak Ridge, Tennessee

I've been enjoying my Strumstick for a couple of years now. My guitars are pretty jealous by now. Thanks.
 -- Chris McKenna

Evelyn,
 
I just received my Grand Strumstick today and I could not be more pleased with it.  I have tried a failed to play stringed instruments before, but I found myself playing tunes on the Strumstick within a few minutes of taking it out of the box.  It truly is a joy to play, and I am certain that it will bring my wife and me years of enjoyment.  Besides it's ease of playability and beautiful tone, it is one of the most well-made instruments that I have ever encountered.  Thank you and Bob for selling your wonderful product at such a reasonable price.  I'm going to tell all of my friends and family about the Strumstick.
 
Sincerely,
 
Jeff Gibbs
Warren, Pennsylvania  

 

Dear Bob,
I received a Strumstick for a gift from my husband at Christmas and have been enjoying playing it very much. I also purchased the book and have worked through the songs in this book. My husband is a banjo player and enjoys playing at informal music jams and I am currently learning the various chords so I can join in the jams also. I love to sing and this instrument is the perfect simple instrument for me to use to accompany my singing.
 
This past week, we attended the American Association for Nude Recreation's annual North American convention at Sun Meadow Resort in Worley Idaho. I brought my Strumstick so I could participate in the three music jams and thoroughly enjoyed playing along with the other instruments and singing. I was definitely the conversation piece at all of the jams as no one had seen this instrument before. I would guess that I had close to 100 questions asking what it was and how it was played. I gave out your website and would not be surprised if you receive some inquiries in the near future.
 
Thanks for this great little portable instrument making it so easy for a non musician like me to join in music jams.
Sincerely,
Donna Mollan


In case you'd like another testimonial: I bought an alto Strumstick as a sort of portable mountain dulcimer so I could practice songs while traveling. It's been great for that, but it's also been fun on its own, with its beautiful banjo-like tone. --Bilby Wake
----

And a story, just for you.... 

When I travel with the Strumstick, I have a small suitcase, a computer bag, and the Strumstick. I put the stick in the computer bag to walk on the plane, but when I walk around, I sling it over my back. That means I have _three_ things to carry instead of the two I've carried for years. On my second trip with it, I had to get a boarding pass, and set it next to that machine while I printed it. Then I went through security and started trying to find dinner. 

Fifteen or twenty minutes later, I realized - I was only carrying _two_ things. I ran back out to the unsecured area where the boarding pass machines were, and two policemen were standing about five feet away from it. I said, "I'll bet you're waiting for me," and went to take it. "Don't move, sir." They checked out my license, wrote my name in a notebook, and asked me what it was. I think they were worried it was a gun or other weapon. I described it as "a sort of portable guitar" and they let me reclaim it. 

With the moon and stars logo, it might have been very natural to name this instrument "the Nightstick." I was very glad you hadn't. If you had, I'd probably be writing you from the airport detention center:)

[I've had it on the plane ten or twelve times now, on three different airlines. The only time I was worried about it was when the baggage rack was almost empty.] Best wishes,  Bill (Bilby) Wake

Please feel free to quote me and use my email and name in any way to promote your amazing innovation.  I just received my two Strumsticks today which was lightning fast turnaround from the time I ordered them online.  Your customer Wow-factor is a 10 out of 10!  

Please tell Bob how impressed I am with these simple yet intelligent pieces of art.  They are beauties!  I am an avid guitar player and music lover so I fell in love with their simple beauty and comforting sound.  Bob's idea of making these instruments easy for even the musically challenged demonstrates Bob's love for music and people. 
Bob's has achieved his amazing goal of sharing the gift of making music with everyone! Bravo!! 

As soon as I had my first Strumstick out of the box it became apparent that I would have a hard time putting it down Everyone in my office wanted to have a try so I reluctanly handed it over to one and then another.  Everyone had the same reaction at first, "What is it?"  "Cool!"  "Can I play it?"  In honor of Bob's generous spirit I passed it around but I couldn't wait to get home to have it all to myself.  

Few things bring as much joy to the masses as being able to appreciate and share beautiful music.  Music feeds the soul, stirs the spirit and brings people together in one universal language.  In my opinion Bob McNally should receive a Nobel Peace Prize Award for this innovation!

I know I will be ordering from your company again and again.  I'm sure I will have some experiences to share with you and Bob as I intend on using my Strumstick in open mics around the NY/NJ area and I will be a loyal unpaid spokesperson as a result.

Thank you!
Until we speak again (I will be busy with my Strumsticks)

In God We Trust
John  P. Bruton, New Milford, NJ