Tag Archives: washtub bass

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.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFqWUXJjK3Q

TRANSCRIPT

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]

How to build a washtub bass pt. 2 – construction

So you’ve already carefully jotted down the materials you would need to build a washtub bass. Now in this, the second of three installments, the Viper shows you how to put the parts together. 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.


youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsBkwBTQMv8

TRANSCRIPT

Now to build the washtub bass.

WASHTUB: We’re going to start with the washtub. We’ll be removing the handles, which you can do with a bolt cutter, if you have one, [or a] hacksaw — sometimes, if they’re soft enough, even just a pair of pliers. Drill a hold in the bottom and then put in the hardware assembly.

OUTSIDE HARDWARE: Eye bolt, lock washer, fender washer.

INSIDE HARDWARE: And in the inside: fender washer, lock washer, lock nut. Then you want to make sure you tighten it, quite tight. (This ended up being just about perfect. The bolt doesn’t extend past the nut, which is good if you want to carry stuff in the tub: it won’t scratch as much.) And then we’re done with our tub.

STAFF: Now we’re going to work on the staff. First, we’re going to cut a notch across the bottom. That will fit into the rim of the tub, and that’ll allow it to rest on the rim without slipping while you’re playing. Then we’re going to drill a hole through 48″ up for the string to go through. I’ll go a little bit more than this. But you don’t want to go too deep, because you don’t want this to touch the bottom of the tub, which will rattle. So just about 1/4 of an inch, enough to keep the thing from slipping. Now we’re going to measure 48″ up the staff. And mark it: that’s where we’re going to drill the hole.

[NOTE: One correction to this. Rather than drill the string hole 48″ up the staff, I’d recommend going a few inches higher (like to 52″) so that the string itself, when taut, will measure 48″ from staff to eye bolt (it’s the hypotenuse — use your knowledge of right triangles!).]

And when you do the drilling, you just want to make sure that the hole is going through perpendicular to the way that the notch is cut — in other words, the hole should be facing the center of the tub. You’re going to drill the hole big enough for your rope to go through.

STRING: Now that we’ve got the hole drilled, we’re just going to feed one end of the clothesline through that, and then tie a knot on the other side. And then cut off about 6 feet. And we’ll run that through the eye bolt — double back, like that. And then we essentially want to adjust the length until it’s basically taut when the string is almost straight up and down. When it’s straight up and down, that’s the lowest note you’re going to be able to hit. Then we’re going to take our clamp. Clamp this, and screw these back on. Eventually, we’ll cut this. But for now, I’m going to leave it until I have a chance to test out the bass: make sure I like the tautness of the string, and the length and everything. And the nice thing about the clamp, rather than tying it, is it makes it  much easier to make small adjustments while you’re figuring out what work.

PLUNGER: And then the last thing we need to do is to build a riser to allow the sound out to come out of the instrument. So we’re going to cut a notch in the top of the plunger. And that’s going to go under the rim.

And that’s how you build a washtub bass.

How to build a washtub bass pt. 1 – materials

So. Who you do know wants to build a washtub bass? In this, the first of three installments to show you how, the Viper details the materials you’ll need, all of which can be picked up at your local hardware store. 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.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bq_OvpmV6I8

TRANSCRIPT

Today, we’re going to be building a washtub bass. I’m following almost word for word the instructions by Barefoot Larry Collins that you can find at jugmusic.com.

WASHTUB: To build a bass, you need a few basic materials. The first, and most important, is, of course, the washtub. This is a “hot-dipped” tub. The galvanized ones are cheaper and you can find those at Home Depot. This, you have to go to a hardware store, but it’s a little bit stronger. We’re going to be taking off the handles and drilling a hole through the bottom. The size is a #3 washtub. This one holds 17 gallons and it’s 24″ across the mouth. The other important detail is you need to make sure the washtub you get has a rim on the back, here, because that’s where the staff is going to rest. (We’re going to cut a notch in the staff and put it there.)

STAFF: The staff should be a piece of hardwood — like a handle from a tool — at least four feet long. Hardwood is stronger than pine. This is a 60″ eye-hoe handle — also from Ace Hardware — 1 and 3/4″ round-eye, Bulldog brand. We’re going to be carving a notch in the bottom, and we’re going to be drilling a hole in the top where the string will go through. Your hand will rest above that, and you want something nice to grip. You know it’s hardwood if it has a grain.

STRING: The string that you’ll pluck can be many things. This is the most basic one: it’s a 3/16″ clothesline — cotton clothesline. Larry Collins recommends parachute cord as slightly better. I haven’t made that jump yet, but that would probably be the next upgrade I would make.

HARDWARE: The next thing is the hardware assembly. (And I’m going to come up here to show you this.) What we have here is an eye bolt: 3/8″ cast. That’s where the string is going to attach, and this is on the outside of the tub. It should have a nut that comes with it. Then the next thing you’ll want is a lock washer, just to hold it together; Fender washer, which will distribute the strain on the tub a little better. That’ll go on the outside of the tub. On the inside, a second Fender washer, second lock washer, and a lock nut. The string itself will clamp on using the 1/8″ clamp set, “for use with wire rope.” This looks like this. And, you know, that unscrews, and the rope will go through, and it’ll be pulled together.

PLUNGER: And the final item you’ll want is just a basic plunger that we’ll cut a notch in. This will sit on the ground, and the bottom rim of the tub will sit in it, and that will hold it slightly off the ground to let the sound out.

And next, we’ll actually put this thing together.