StrumstickThe Strumstick was developed by Bob McNally in 1981, starting as a variation on the design of his Backpacker Guitar (1980). Seeking to make an instrument that would be very accessible to non-musicians, he made a small three-stringed instrument on the principles of the appalachian dulcimer called “The Stringed Pennywhistle.” This name was meant to suggest a stringed equivalent to the Irish tinwhistle, rather than meaning a wind instrument with strings on it. Like the dulcimer, it combined diatonic fretting with strings tuned to a drone, but it was held like a guitar for ease of playing. The body was a reduced size interpretation of the Backpacker Guitar.

The success of the little Stringed Pennywhistle (~950 made) inspired the making of an even simpler instrument, with one string, which was the original Strumstick (it was a mere 1/2” wide, over most of it’s 28” length.) The single string was as simple as you could get, and fun for playing melodies, but had no possibility for harmony or real rhythmic strumming.