The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #30258   Message #389153
Posted By: reggie miles
03-Feb-01 - 11:05 AM
Thread Name: washtub bass
Subject: RE: washtub bass
In the post that disappeared above I told some background about why the idea of a bass drum worked soooooo much better than a steel tub to give a similar but much superior result. The sensitivity of a drum head allows the player to use less physical effort therefore it is more easily played and produces volume and tone that just can't be coaxed from the bottom of a steel tub. It is as visually strong an element, if not more so, to witness in a performance, as it is played in the same way one would play any other tub type bass. You just get a whole heck of a lot more boing for your plunk using a bass drum body instead of a steel washtub. How do I know this? I've performed with those who play with traditionally designed tubs, (steel washtubs). I have also worked with some very fine upright bassists but none can hold a candle to my friend Dr. James Rhythm. He's the first and only guy I've ever seen or heard use a bass drum body tub-style bass. He used a small diameter, (about 24 inches), rock&roll kick bass drum for ease of mobility. He used only one head on the body. The bottom was open, as a steel tub would be open on one end. In just about every other way his tub design was standard except when it came to putting a hole through the center of the drum head so as to attach the string. For this he reinforced the head by gluing leather patches on either side. The patches were about three inches in diameter. This reinfocing gave the head enough strength to resist tearing while playing. As I mentioned earlier, the force needed to play his design was not nearly what is needed in a traditionally constucted tub. Dr. James Rhythm played in a similar fashion to Fritz Richmond. They both work their stick hands up and down the stick or fret the stick as well as pull it to achieve the desired results.

The good Dr. J. and I had a chance to perform together about 18 years ago in New Orleans during the Mardi Gras/Jazz and Hertiage Fest season. I was invited to join up with his band Washboard Jackson and His Hot Damn Jug Band. We played some wonderful shows including the Jazz Fest that year. Oh how I wax on.....

There you go tubbists. For what it's worth, in 18 years of singing his praises, I have yet to convince another tub player to develope a design similar to what my friend Dr. James Rhythm had. I guess I'll have to do it myself........and so he did. reg