How to build a washtub bass pt. 3 – playing

You’ve got the materials. You’ve put them together. So how do you PLAY a washtub bass? Here, in the last of three installments, the Viper shows you how. A transcript follows the video.

The bass you see being put together here will make its public debut on Friday night, May 7, in the very capable hands of Riley Broach. Riley, along with John Peacock and the Viper, will be playing with The Viper and His Second String as part of a four-band jug-music show at the Coffee House, below Redeemer Lutheran Church on 631 N. 19th St. in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Also featured are Larry Penn’s Washboard Band (featuring Dave Fox), Peter Lee, and the Grumpystiltskyn Jug Band.) The show starts at 8:00 p.m. It’s a Food Pantry Benefit, and so a donation of $4 and two cans of food is requested.


Now, to play the washtub bass.

PLACEMENT: When I’m at home, I just put it straight down on the floor. But if I want a little more volume, I’ll put a book under it. Today, we’re using Charles Schultz, The Complete Peanuts, volume 1.

STANCE: Then the notch that you carved in the stick will go on the back rim. Your weak foot will go behind the tub, behind the stick. And your strong foot will go on the rim of the opposite side, where the book is, to hold it down when you play.

PLUCKING: To play, you pull it tight enough to make the string taut. And if you pull the staff back to make the string tighter, the note will go up. And if you move it more towards the middle, you’ll get a lower note. And then when you put it all together, it will sound like this.

[“Seven Nation Army” follows, featuring Irene Jerving on washtub bass drum]

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