I’ve been asked many times about a little percussion accessory I created around 2012 to give my hand percussion contraption easy access to a ride cymbal without having to pick up a stick. I call it the Slap Stick. Simply put, it’s a stick I put on the threaded cymbal mount/post of a ride cymbal, under the nut. The stick extends the length from the center of the cymbal to the edge. The nut pushes the Slap Stick down a little to give a resistance spring. Then, I can simply move one hand from my djembe, cajon, etc, and slap the stick (hence the name) on the ride cymbal without having to fumble around to pick up a stick.
Below you will find the basic instructions on how to make your own. If you decide to do this, please leave a comment letting me know how it went.
Also, if you are the crafty type and decide to make any modifications to improve the design, please leave a comment with what mods you made and how they turned out.
Here is what you’ll need to make a 15″ Slap Stick:
- 1/4″ round wooden dowel, about 45″
- Wood glue
- Light gauge wire (like the kind you use to make jewelry)
- Small hand saw
- Aluminum foil
- Cut 2 sections of dowel 15″ long.
- Cut 1 section of dowel 9 1/2″ long.
- Cut 1 section of dowel 3 1/2″ long.
- Cut a length of wire about 15″ long.
Twist an end of the wire to the end of one of the 15″ dowel pieces about an inch from the end. (Image 1)
- Place the 3 1/2″ piece of dowel next to the 15″ piece making the ends flush.
- Wrap the 2 dowels with the wire in figure-8 pattern, going around one, between the two, and around the other. Go around 2 or 3 times, just enough to hold them together.
- Place the other 15″ dowel on the other side of the short dowel.
- Wrap the 3 dowels together with the wire in the figure-8 pattern around each dowel, between, around, between, around and back the other way. Go around 5 or 8 times.
- Tuck the end of the wire in between 2 of the dowels.
Wrap the dowels in the figure-8 pattern about 1 inch from the end of the short dowel (image 2).
Place the 9 1/2″ dowel between the 2 15″ dowels, leaving a gap between the 2 center dowels (image 3), making the 9 1/2″ dowel flush at the end with the 2 outer dowels.
- Wrap the 3 dowels with the wire in the same figure-8 pattern, about 1″ from each end of the center dowel.
- Place the Slap Stick on a length of aluminum foil, press down gently to make the 3 sections of dowel flat.
- Squeeze wood glue on each of the wire joints you have wrapped. Put enough glue so that it joins all the dowels, but not so much that it will dry with a large bump.
- Spread the glue a little with your finger on both sides of the Slap Stick.
- Let the glue dry overnight.
Place the Slap Stick on a ride cymbal by putting the stand mount through the gap we left. you can try putting a cymbal felt under the Slap Stick or without a felt. You’ll have to tinker with it a little to get it the way you want. The angle and pitch of the cymbal post will effect how the Slap Stick moves and reacts.
I wrap a rubber band around the center dowel (image 4) and stretch the rubber band back to the cymbal post. This creates a little more bouncy resistance and helps keep the Slap Stick in place a little better.
You can see the Slap Stick in action in this video of my old band The Lotus Fire performing at the Ringling Art Museum. Jump to the 2 minute marker for a decent view of me switching to use the Slap Stick for the chorus of the tune.
I have been meaning to experiment with different methods of keeping the stick in a more fixed position with wing nuts or rubber gaskets or other such devices. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.