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Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?

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GUEST,Washtub wannabe 20 Dec 03 - 12:48 AM
JohnInKansas 20 Dec 03 - 05:05 AM
greg stephens 20 Dec 03 - 08:01 AM
cobber 20 Dec 03 - 08:10 AM
kendall 20 Dec 03 - 08:38 AM
Sorcha 20 Dec 03 - 12:13 PM
Bill D 20 Dec 03 - 01:07 PM
kendall 20 Dec 03 - 01:19 PM
kendall 20 Dec 03 - 01:24 PM
GUEST,Paco Loco 20 Dec 03 - 01:34 PM
Sorcha 20 Dec 03 - 01:50 PM
Mark Clark 20 Dec 03 - 04:30 PM
Little Robyn 20 Dec 03 - 04:38 PM
RWilhelm 20 Dec 03 - 05:20 PM
Jeep man 20 Dec 03 - 06:34 PM
Sorcha 20 Dec 03 - 07:00 PM
GUEST,Washtube wannabe 20 Dec 03 - 07:13 PM
Cap't Bob 20 Dec 03 - 10:35 PM
johnross 20 Dec 03 - 10:59 PM
greg stephens 21 Dec 03 - 01:14 AM
cobber 21 Dec 03 - 01:24 AM
Charley Noble 21 Dec 03 - 02:42 PM
Bill D 21 Dec 03 - 03:03 PM
s&r 21 Dec 03 - 06:52 PM
johnross 21 Dec 03 - 07:17 PM
Charley Noble 21 Dec 03 - 08:00 PM
JohnInKansas 22 Dec 03 - 06:22 AM
fogie 22 Dec 03 - 12:13 PM
PoppaGator 22 Dec 03 - 01:07 PM
The Fooles Troupe 22 Dec 03 - 08:24 PM
JohnInKansas 22 Dec 03 - 08:32 PM
JohnInKansas 22 Dec 03 - 09:51 PM
Charley Noble 23 Dec 03 - 07:38 AM
The Fooles Troupe 23 Dec 03 - 10:49 AM
GUEST,terry 28 Aug 07 - 11:33 PM
Sorcha 29 Aug 07 - 12:19 AM
Sorcha 29 Aug 07 - 12:21 AM
Jack Campin 29 Aug 07 - 04:19 AM
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Gern 29 Aug 07 - 11:15 AM
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GUEST,Scott Leeper "world's best washtub bass pla 25 Mar 08 - 01:47 AM
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Subject: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST,Washtub wannabe
Date: 20 Dec 03 - 12:48 AM

What kind of string should I use for my washtub bass? Your choice of tub? Length of broom handle?


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 20 Dec 03 - 05:05 AM

The traditional, and still one of the best choices for a broom-handle bass, is what's called "binder twine." This is a (usually) sisal twine, about 1/8 inch diameter, formerly used to tie hay or straw bales together. Still used in farm country as a general purpose (read cheap) twine, but the few people who make square bales now use wire for that.

If you want reasonable "acoustic" volume, you need a string that's relatively heavy (weight, not necessarily strength) so something like a light braided clothesline rope is usually more appropriate than "skinny string." You'd like it to be elastic enough that you can stretch it a little to change pitch, but the monofilament fish line sometimes used stretches a little too much for my taste - and doesn't necessarily return when you let off the pull. With a typical broom-handle rig, you can't really change the length much - you have to rely on just changing the tension to get pitch modulation.

Too heavy a string, or trying for too much "tuning range" risks pulling the bottom out of your tub. Been there, done that, bought the tacos and ate the tea shirt.

I'd recommend looking for a light, braided, cotton or nylon twine if you're planning on recreational (and musical) use for your tub. The string isn't really all that critical as long as it gets a sound that satisfies your needs.

If you want to get into the competition for loudest/biggest/fanciest etc., then you'd maybe want to look at things like weedwhacker line or aircraft cable and such. I use lawnmower "starter cord" on my "super double (two tub) bass" but it has a finger board, and the string is pulled to a tuned tension at about 80 to 100 lb. Not something you can do very easily with a broom handle.

John


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: greg stephens
Date: 20 Dec 03 - 08:01 AM

well, i'm in England and the instrument of choice here is the tea-chest bass. I understand you have to use washtubs in America because all the teachests got wet in Boston harbour. Anyway, I imagine the technolgy is much the same, washtub or tea-chest.
I've always found that the stuff sold for washing lines in ironmongers or similar householdy sort of shops does the trick. I've tried heavier sisal string and it didnt seem so good, though it looks hairier and more ethnic.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: cobber
Date: 20 Dec 03 - 08:10 AM

It was mostly tea chests when I had a go too. Wash tubs were most common in the old photos but they were really hard to find. I found a string in an old music shop's sale bin once. It was an old catgut double bass string. I know it was probably cheating but it sounded great.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: kendall
Date: 20 Dec 03 - 08:38 AM

I've never heard a washtub bass played with any accuracy at all. Many people try, but they are clueless. They are like Boron thumpers.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Sorcha
Date: 20 Dec 03 - 12:13 PM

Well, now deceased Herb could play a damn melody on his; he used leather 'wang'.....like a super long bootlace.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Bill D
Date: 20 Dec 03 - 01:07 PM

here is Jim Bunch, known on Mudcat as Gutbucketeer...he might have some suggestions, but likely similar to what Mark has said...


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: kendall
Date: 20 Dec 03 - 01:19 PM

Maybe I'm just biased 'cause I prefer real instruments.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: kendall
Date: 20 Dec 03 - 01:24 PM

The first and only time I have heard the tea chest bass was in Jamaica. A trio called "Ken and the cane cutters" were performing at the hotel. I was very taken with them.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST,Paco Loco
Date: 20 Dec 03 - 01:34 PM

Washtub Jerry told me he uses a Porche clutch cable.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Sorcha
Date: 20 Dec 03 - 01:50 PM

OUCH! Even with a glove on!


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 20 Dec 03 - 04:30 PM

I remember making a washtub bass more than 40 years ago. I used an actual double bass string, LaBella I think. It was a white colored wound string, nylon as I remember. I can't remember which string it was, probably A but I just don't remember. It worked great with good volume and tone production. The broom handle was just however long replacement broom handles are at the hardware store. I think you'll want to fasten the string so it goes over a notch in the top of the broomstick before heading down to the washtub. That way you can tension it using the broomstick alone or by sliding your noting hand down the broomstick to produce the higher tones.

I too have heard these played right in tune.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Little Robyn
Date: 20 Dec 03 - 04:38 PM

An old bloke in NZ many years ago made himself a one string kerosene tin fiddle and strung it with a bowden cable (from a bicycle).
I used to have a tea-chest bass with a broom handle but I forget what I strung it with - probably nylon chord, because that was available.
Robyn


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: RWilhelm
Date: 20 Dec 03 - 05:20 PM

My wife's been at it for ten years now and just wore out her first tub. She's also a standup bass player, so she began with a gut bass string, using the "fretting" method, sliding the hand up and down the stick. She now uses braided cotton twine, about 3/16" and changes notes by pulling the stick back and forth; I beleive that way is more common now. She has tried nylon twine but found it stretched too much. For volume, be sure to put a piece of two-by-four or something under the rim to let the sound out. If you can play on a hollow wooden porch, even better.

As for tonal accuracy, it's not concert quality but it sounds pretty good to me.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Jeep man
Date: 20 Dec 03 - 06:34 PM

What is the best way to attach the string to the tub? Jeep


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Sorcha
Date: 20 Dec 03 - 07:00 PM

Eye bolt, with nut on the inside.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST,Washtube wannabe
Date: 20 Dec 03 - 07:13 PM

...way cool, folks! Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Cap't Bob
Date: 20 Dec 03 - 10:35 PM

I built a modified washtub base a couple of years ago that is much easier to play than the traditional one using a broom handle. The one I built has a lever to control the tension on the string. The plans from Dennis Havlena's webpage:

http://www.ehhs.cmich.edu/~dhavlena/bass.htm

Another one you may be interested is somewhat like a traditional base. It has 4 strings and has a washtub as the resinator:

http://www.ehhs.cmich.edu/~dhavlena/db.htm

The string Dennis recommends is made of dacron. Seems to work quite well.

Cap't Bob


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: johnross
Date: 20 Dec 03 - 10:59 PM

The No. 2 Wheeling Washtub is the Martin Guitar of washtub basses. There is a brand of washtub called "Martin," but it doesn't sound as good as a Wheeling.

And when you're not playing it, it's a great place to ice down the beer.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: greg stephens
Date: 21 Dec 03 - 01:14 AM

I've played with a three good teachest bass players and they all got notes well in tune with what was going on. Excellent solid support for the other instruments, both rhythmically and melodically.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: cobber
Date: 21 Dec 03 - 01:24 AM

We had a guy here in Australia who played in a country band with Dennis Reeves. He used to knock me out because he was so accurate with his playing and he didn't just play root notes. There were some pretty fancy runs in there. A good musician will shine through on anything and some people will be happy with close enough. It's all in how seriously you take it.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 21 Dec 03 - 02:42 PM

One of our sea music bandmembers plays a washtub base. We're always amused as Norris describes the process of washtub selection, walking into the hardware store, selecting a washtub, placing it over his head, and singing a few verses of "Blood-Red Roses" to access its tonal quality. You can imagine the excitment generated in the store! Apparently, not all washtubs sound alike and you may need to test 5 or 6 of them. Note, it is not necessary nor especially desirable to first fill the wahtub with water.

Norris generally places an inch thick book under one corner of the washtub when he is performing, and he can run a full scale of notes.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble
Roll & Go


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Bill D
Date: 21 Dec 03 - 03:03 PM

people play fiddles and fretless banjos accurately by just knowing where to place fingers...learning the 'right' tension on a well set up tub bass is just practice.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: s&r
Date: 21 Dec 03 - 06:52 PM

We always used window sash cord, from most ironmongers - didn't fray, wore well and sonded quite punchy.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: johnross
Date: 21 Dec 03 - 07:17 PM

Has anybody ever tried to bow a washtub bass string?


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 21 Dec 03 - 08:00 PM

Johnross-

Bowing sounds culturally excessive to me but I'll consult with Norris.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 22 Dec 03 - 06:22 AM

Bowing works quite nicely on my "supertub" double-tub-double-bass gutbucket, but it is a "fingerboard" arrangement. Response with a bow is probably about 3dB below what comes out of my standard standup bass.

Modulating string tension to get the pitch while bowing would be a little past just the "walking and chewing gum" level as a coordination exercise on more typical instruments.

You don't generally use nearly as much string tension on a gutbucket as on a "real" standup bass, so the response is a little "muted," even with my 80-120 pound string tension, compared to what you get from normal "string-whanging;" but it's certainly viable on mine if you don't need maximum volume.

On a typical broom handle bucket, you likely will not have sufficient string tension for the bow to get much action on the string. A longer, and heavier, string - at higher tension - would get you there; but you do run some risk of pulling the bottom out of the tub before you get to where it will work very well. Most typical buckets would probably need a cello or bass bow to "bear down" hard enough to get useful string response, all though you could possibly "proof the concept" with a fiddle bow.

I've seen one gutbucket that used a rather small monofilament fishline with a built in pickup and amp, that worked reasonably well with a fiddle bow; although it seemed it was so much work that the owner didn't resort to the bow except for a few "select" numbers.

John


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: fogie
Date: 22 Dec 03 - 12:13 PM

Seems to me that you've all overlooked the tuning capabilities of the MANGLE, which you could feed the string through and wind!


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 22 Dec 03 - 01:07 PM

Granted, there is a lot of weak, toneless tub-thumping out there, produced by players who approach the tub strictly as a percussion instrument and don't even try to play notes (or who don't have the ear to discern the difference). However, a *good* player can pick just about anything on a washtub that could be played on any acoustic bass. For proof, you might give a listen to the work of one Fritz Richmond, who recorded several Vanguard albums in the mid-60s as a member of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band. (Most if not all are available on CD.)

I developed a decent level of expertise myself back in the old days, using white woven natural-fiber rope about a quarter inch in diameter. We used to call it "clothesline rope," which is an even more obsolete term now than it was then, but the same product is also known as "sash cord," and was already recommended earlier in this thread.

A couple of years ago, I tried to rig myself up a new washtub bass and start playing again. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of buying yellow nylon "rope," a newer product that has become more readily available than the old-style white cotton rope. I got very frustrated at my inability to play any notes at all -- I was only able to produce the worst kind of toneless thumping that has always given the instrument a bad name.

So, I learned that decent gutbucket playing requires the right equipment (especially the string) as well as a reasoably skilled player.

For someone with the right kind of musical intuition, the washtub bass can be played nearly as easily as the kazoo, and the output can be just as musical and as complex as *any* bass figure you can imitate, improvise, or "hear" in any way in your mind's ear.

PS: It's not as easy as you might think to have your bass double as a beer cooler when not in service. Once you drill that hole in the bottom for the eyebolt, you can forget about holding water. Also, with the bolt and all installed, the tub won't sit flat on a floor or deck (although I suppose you could set the tub in sand, mud., etc., easily enough)

The alternative is to remove the bolt/string/stick assembly and duct-tape the hole shut, and then reinstall it when you're finished drinking and ready to play. Way too much trouble for me -- especially since you're likely to want to start playing before you're done drinking!


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 22 Dec 03 - 08:24 PM

I take it the hole is normally in the centre of the base, not near the sides?

Robin


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 22 Dec 03 - 08:32 PM

fogie -

Actually, I use an electric fence stretcher (tension ratchet) to get the string up to pitch on my fingerboard bass. You'd have to crank a mangle pretty fast to do good runs.

Several people have suggested filling my bottom tub with beer, and drinking it "down to pitch." I'm sure that eventually I'd reach a point where people might think it's sounding better; but I haven't tried it ... yet.

John


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 22 Dec 03 - 09:51 PM

Robin

At its simplest, the instrument is just a tub, bucket, trash can, or any other "container" turned upside down, with a hole in the middle of the bottom. Run a string through the hole, and tie a knot on the inside of the tub to keep it from pulling through. Fasten the other end of the string to a stick - typically a broom handle, and adjust the length of the string so that you can pull it tight by "swinging" the stick sideways.

For a more durable string connection, an eyebolt (#8 or #10 - .08 to .12 inch shank diameter) with washers and nuts on both sides of the tub surface will let you tie on so that you don't chafe the string. Use "fender washers" if available, and some add rubber fender washers to keep the bolt from rattling, and the hole won't leak if you want to cool the beer.

You want the string connected to the middle of the largest surface available, so that the motion induced moves as much air as possible.

You can put the bottom of the stick on the ground beside the "bucket," but most feel you get better action with the stick notched to sit on the rim. (You do get more "leverage" if the bottom of the stick is closer to the string attachment to the tub.) Put one foot on the rim to hold the tub down, haul back on the stick, and whack the string. Play with it until it sounds good - which can happen because you've figured out how to make music, or just because you've gotten used to the noise it makes.

One of the first "improvements" is to get rid of the inevitable "rattles." Take the handles off (or if you used granny's good tub, duct tape them securely and hope she doesn't notice the hole). You may find rivets or even seam gaps in an old tub that need a little "hammer adjustment," or a dab of solder, to tighten them up - but that's getting into "fussy mode."

Many will recommend putting a board under one edge of the tub "to let the sound out." Whether this helps or not depends on your individual tub, it's personality, and how you play it. (Some think a bigger amp makes their guitar sound prettier too. Judgment required.)

One of the main "acoustical faults" of the typical tub is that the concentric ribs in the tub bottom make it a little less than an ideal diaphragm. It's a little too flexible. As you advance in your playing you may want to put a heel on the surface, to stiffen it so that you can get a little more range in string tension. Later, you may want to add a "pressure plate" in the form of a small wood block so that your soggy shoe soles don't muffle the response.

The first generation progression is often to try to figure out a way to get "better control" of the string tension. ("Better control" usually means higher tension, but not always.) A variety of cranks, levers, wheels, and such appear in people's designs, usually in the form of something hung on the top of the stick. When this "mechanism" grows enough to get cumbersome, there's often a move to fasten the stick to the tub to make it easier to use the new "devices." Most such improvements tend to be something that suits an individual's perception of what fits his/her individual style, so one should be wary of accepting them as "generally suitable" for your personal instrument. Such modifications also move somewhat away from the joy of building and playing a simple "found" instrument.

The real test of your creativity comes when you take your gutbucket out in public to play. In any reasonably large group (at any festival), there will always be someone who will want to run and get his own bucket, and very nearly always will be determined to "prove" that his is better than yours. It's rather a mixed blessing that, unlike other "obnoxious" instruments like ... (can we leave off several common ones, and mention spoons maybe without offending) it's virually impossible for two gutbuckets to play together in the same group, if one of them is trying to "prove" something. If you're creative enough to avoid such encounters, it's a fun instrument - in appropriate circumstances.

John


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 23 Dec 03 - 07:38 AM

Very nicely done, John.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 23 Dec 03 - 10:49 AM

Thanks John

I've played one before - a tea-chest style many years before, but don't remember the details of construction well enough. Except that it had no bolt - just the string thru the hole. Always good to check with an expert...

I've got a couple of good quality tea-chests sitting in the garage at the moment, and enough other junk to put them together.

Robin


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST,terry
Date: 28 Aug 07 - 11:33 PM

I used to play the gutbucket about thirty years ago and have recently joined a new band (same banjo player). My problem is that the string (A gut string from an upright bass) is the same string I used back then. It's actually not in too bad a shape but I am trying to find another string to replace it. I would prefer the same type but have been unable to find a source that would sell me just one string and the price for a set isway to high. anybody out there who has any information please let me know. It would be lousy to get back on stage and have the string break.
                                             thanks


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Sorcha
Date: 29 Aug 07 - 12:19 AM

You might try Southwest Strings if you are in the US.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Sorcha
Date: 29 Aug 07 - 12:21 AM

Yup, they sell singles. Click on the Strings tab top, just to the right of center. Then click on a brand to see the offers.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 29 Aug 07 - 04:19 AM

Does strimmer line work? Seems to be the string of choice for the tromba marina.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Sorcha
Date: 29 Aug 07 - 08:54 AM

My friend Herb used a piece of whang....rawhide I think. Maybe just a LONG heavy bootlace type of leather. I think strimmer line would be too lightweight.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Gern
Date: 29 Aug 07 - 11:15 AM

Parachute cord works well for me.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Bobert
Date: 29 Aug 07 - 06:38 PM

Yeah, Bill recommended ya' check out Gutbucketeer, who plays in my band on occasion...

He uses a bicycle shifter cable...

Bobert


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Ned Ludd
Date: 29 Aug 07 - 06:54 PM

My Tea chest uses an old extending dog lead and a standard English broom handle. The string is tied with a knot through a washer at the tea chest end and just a notch at the top! I can get a full octave and am only out of tune when drunk!


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Rowan
Date: 30 Aug 07 - 01:25 AM

When I played teachest bass (more than 30 years ago) I used an old bow string I had left over from my archery days. It was one I'd made myself (for a 55lb recurve, using dacron) so the loops at the ends were properly served and all I had to do to attach it at the bottom end was use a wooden toggle inside the teachest and make sure it didn't chafe against the teachest's soundboard. It sounded fine but I couldn't be bothered with the hassle of trying to fit it into the Corolla so I gave it away and took up lagerphone (initially) and then concertina. My brother converted a teachest into a very upmarket-looking bass and used a string from a double bass; it sounded fine too.

Although I'd heard of washtub basses (as equivalents to teachest basses in style and context) they were mostly described by (and as associated with) North Americans; I've not seen any in Oz.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 30 Aug 07 - 01:31 AM

I suspect Rowan, that they were not as readily available in Australia (on the recycled market) - most people who had one without holes kept them, either as a useful item, or as a reminder of their ancestors. The rusted ones were scrapped.

I haven't seen them in hardware stores for ages - most little corner such stores died thanks to the huge Hardware barns.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Bert
Date: 30 Aug 07 - 01:34 AM

Come on Gutbucketeer, where are you? We need to learn from the best.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 30 Aug 07 - 01:08 PM

With the advent of Google since the start of this thread, it's possible to add some links...

Washtub bass (Wikipedia)

The Washtub Bass Page

Build a Yates Style Washtub Bass

Build a washtub bass from Tradition Music, Home of Barefoot Larry's Hillbilly Slap Strings and The Tradition String Band

Build a simple washtub bass, or Build a real, 4-string upright bass using an upright washtub

etc. (Google "washtub bass" search results)

(I was originally googling just to find washtubs...)

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GutBucketeer
Date: 30 Aug 07 - 09:05 PM

I just noticed this thread. If you search you can find other threads with past recommendations. However, for the last year or so I've been using a $3.00 bicycle dérailleur cable. It works even better than a stand up bass string, costs a lot less, and lasts a lot longer. You can hear samples on my group, Snakehead Run's myspace page www.myspace.com/dennyandmarkblues (created before I joined and we had a name).

JAB


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST,Scott Leeper "world's best washtub bass pla
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 01:47 AM

Weedeater string is the only way to go. It does't hurt your fingers and is by far the best sounding {size .095} is best. Too short is ok but too long and you will get too much wavering sound. My bass is electrified and specialized so I can play at loud volumes. I play by pulling the stick back and forth - no fretting {fretting kills the ring of the string}
I proclaim myself the best living washtub player in the world because I have not heard anyone play one better. I would love to give up my throne to one greater. If you wish for proof then see me play at myspace.com/benmillerband and see our gig calender. Then you can come to a show.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Megan L
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 04:43 AM

Kendall dear beuy perhaps ye should consider takin up permenant residence in this cellar ah keep hearin aboot theres a lightnin storm on the way :)


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Big Mick
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 10:05 AM

Dear Scott Leeper,

Enjoy your delusion. The day you are in the same room with Jim Bunch, you will no longer be able to have sex or play the gut bucket. You will have witnessed the coming of the God of the Gutbucket. In fact, I would advise you to avoid him at all costs.

***chuckle***

Mick


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 05:32 PM

There are plenty of old jokes about guitar players maintaining that "I could do that" when hearing/seeing just about any other guitar player's virtuoso performance. I'm not one of those guys ~ I am very aware of my limitations as well as my strengths as a guitar picker.

However, even though it's been a long time since I had a washtub bass of my own, I AM that kind of washtub player. I've never witnessed another player without feeling I could do as well or better myself.

Once, at the Arkansas Folk Festival in the spring of '73, I had the opportunity to sit in on washtub with a six- or seven-piece combo fronted by the great Jimmie Driftwood. His regular player was so mediocre that I was probably a bit too obvious, sitting down front and giving body english, faces, maybe even humming aloud to the bass parts that I was feeling but not hearing. Jimmie called me up to put me on the spot, liked what he heard, let me stay through the entire set, gave me solos on every number, and announced "now, there's a real picker!" i got a standing O ~ one of my greatest moments as an on-again off-again stage jumper.

Now, I know that Jim is a gen-u-wine picker, too, and wouldn't claim to be any better than him ~ but no worse, either. The plain sorry fact is that the vast majority of those who perform on this homespun apparatus really treat is as nothing more than a percussion instrument, thump-thumping along with no sense of melody, or of the bass's role as the rhythmic and harmonic foundation of an ensemble.

About 8-10 years ago, after many years off, I tried to make myself a new gutbucket, but was very disappointed in my sudden inability to play more than a 2-3 half-step range of notes. The problem was the string: in the old days, I got very good results from the kind of white cotton rope then commonly sold as clothesline; decades later, the same stuff was no longer available and the synthetic/plastic line I bought was totally unsuitable. Either too much stretchability, I guess, or maybe not enough. So I certainly understand the subject of this thread ~ the right string can make all the difference.

I'm sure Mr Scott Leeper is a pretty good player, and may well be demonstrably better than anyone he's encountered ~ yet. But none of us should be too quick to proclaim oneself "world's best."

Also, I have my doubts about his endoresement of weedeater line, which seems a bit thin to me. Of course, he has amplification built into his washtub; things might sound different in a purely acoustic setup. Kinda like how those ultra-light guitar strings work so well and stretch so easy on an electric guitar, but are useless on an acoustic wooden box.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Arkie
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 08:40 PM

Back in the 1960s there were two guys, navy, I suspect on stage at Ramblin' Conrads. One played guitar and the other a washtub bass. I thought he was an exceptional player and providing real accompaniment for the guitar. I thought he said he used an upright bass string. I have often wondered what the future held for those two young men.

PoppaGator, you were being kind to say that the tub player at the 1973 Arkansas Folk Festival was mediocre. It wasn't me, but was a friend of mine and I think the tub was the only instrument he ever played. He gave up the tub, as a music instrument not all that many years after you saw him. Washtub Jerry has been through town a few times. He has played tub with Johnny Gimble and some other musicians of note.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 09:26 PM

Hah! It never occurred to me that the washtub "non-player" I witnessed so many years ago, or even anyone who knows him, would read my post. Had I known, I might have held my virtual tongue. Just as well, I suppose; it's a pretty good story.

Well, let's consider another aspect of playing this instrument: do you need gloves? If you don't play regularly enough to build up calluses, probably so.

The tub has never been my first instrument, but back in the old days when I had one of my own and played it on occasion, I didn't bother with gloves. The left hand wasn't a factor, because I adjusted pitch primarily by loosening/tightening the string tension rather than by "fretting" the string against the broomhandle "fingerboard." And the right hand didn't sustain much damage, probably due to the relative softness of that oldfashioned white cotton clothesline. If I were to start up again using a metal cable. I'd sure as shooting wear a pair of gardening gloves, at least for a while. Even through a protective glove, you'd probably start building up a bit of callus and eventually be better able to play barehanded without drawing blood.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST,RIP Fritz!
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 10:19 PM

Google "Fritz Richmond" (Jim Kweskin & The Jug Band) for some interesting reads. Quite the guy...

I'm too ill with a cold to be more helpful with links, sorry, but for Jug Band fans, Fritz was the washtub bass - and jug - Man.

He's also mentioned well in Eric Von Schmidts' "Baby Let Me Follow You Down", of which there are some threads around here.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: leftydee
Date: 26 Mar 08 - 12:44 PM

I use commercial weed-whacker string. It's about 1/4" dia. and very loud and stretchy. I've tried leather, sisal and cord with poorer results. Be sure you buy round w-w string, some is square and grooved and will destroy gloves not to mention hands. It's good to see Cap't Bob here again! I built a trash can bass from Dennis Havlena plans too and it's incredibly easy to control. Try it, you'll like it! How's it goin' Cap't?


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST,Winger
Date: 26 Mar 08 - 01:04 PM

I believe the string of choice for some UK skiffle tea-chest players was GPO (General Post Office) telephone wire. A glove, I beieve, was part of the dress code.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GutBucketeer
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 01:17 AM

Mick. Thank you kindly.

For samples I just uploaded 2 new songs from Wednesday Night. I was helping Steve Capozzola out at a local Songwriters Jam. He is an amazing song writer.

Go Here: www.myspace.com/gutbucketeer

For some recent videos of my playing go here: www.youtube.com/gutbucketeer


I still find weedwacker string to be too stretchy to provide any control, or range. If you want to spend the money on a real bass string get the thomastik-infeld super flexible (woven steel core) g string. Other bass strings break too quickly. If you don't then use a bicycle dérailleur cable (not a brake cable).

I don't play with gloves, and have never had a problem, but I use a cross brace across the bottom. This makes the pole more upright and reduces stress on the fingers.

After all that, I just want to stress, that there is no right or wrong answer here. Experiment with things until you find something that works for you. And, don't listen to anyone that says that the tub is limited to just playing the 1 and the 5, or beating the string like its some sort of percussion instrument.

JAB


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GutBucketeer
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 01:46 AM

The Ben Miller band that Scot Leeper is in is pretty darn good. They certainly play out a lot. It's hard to tell about Scott's bass playing because there is just too much going on in their recordings. He does lay down a good foundation though. And he's much better than the washtub bass in the Juggernaut Jug Band (when its used).

Anywho. Washtub bass players are so few and far between its hard to judge or compare with others, and why should you. It's not a competition. My goal is to play good bass and enjoy doing it.

Another great player is the Billy Milroy the tea chest bass player with Austrailia's Old Spice boys. He's awesome Check out a youtube video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKdhECF0-BU

JAB


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 04:08 AM

In England the best player for many years has been Rob in the Please Yerself Skiffle Band. Although they are post ironic in their take on skiffle. The first time I saw them they went straight from Kitty Wells 'I Want to be a Cowboy's Sweetheart' to Tom Robinson's 'Grey Cortina'. Eclectic isn't the word.

Rob, I have noticed, uses washing line; but binds his hand with insulation tape of some kind.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GutBucketeer
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 11:23 AM

WLD:

Is this who you are talking about?

http://www.myspace.com/pleaseyselfskiffleband

They're fun, and He is Good!

It seems that there are a number of players that are at least at Scot Leeper's level :-)

JAB


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Jul 08 - 12:44 PM

Out of all of these strings, which would provide the loudest tones in an acoustic setting? In the venue I may be playing at soon it will be loud and I would like to know how to be able to be heard but have no room for an amp and pickup. Thanks


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Aug 08 - 10:04 PM

It doesn't look like anyone's posted here in a couple of years, but just in case someones still interested in what kind of string to use on their Washtub Bass (Gut Bucket) - on mine I use parachute cord, works nicely, gives just enough to sound great. The stick on mine comes from a post hole digger, much better than a broom handle.
JD


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: SPB-Cooperator
Date: 25 Aug 08 - 04:04 AM

Has there ever been any research and/or threads on the use of improvised instruments US, UK and other countries, whether they were played more at home or whether there are documented instances in community music.

I know of the foofoo (or fufu) bands on sailing vessels where the crews would make instruments out of anyuthing playable they could get there hands on.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 25 Aug 08 - 07:19 AM

The best book on improvised instruments anywhere that I've seen is Laurence Picken's "Folk Music Instruments of Turkey". There may be something similar for another culture but if so I haven't seen it.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 25 Aug 08 - 07:24 AM

"the foofoo (or fufu) bands on sailing vessels"

... but have you heard of the Foofoo bird?


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST,Nmbigbird
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 08:00 PM

I've played the electric washtub bass now for twenty years and the best string is cotton string 5 strands together...I've played every kind of music and been in bands...Never fails...


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: The Villan
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 02:03 AM

Here is a local Lincolnshire trio.

http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.channel&contributorid=3744539


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST,CONGAKEV
Date: 05 Feb 10 - 01:05 PM

Recently built a washtub bass for our band. We're the house band at a place on the south shore of Lake Erie called the Sand Bar, known as "The Bar Stoolz".

I went to several of the websites about building one, and wanted to keep it as simple as possible. Found a nice Washtub at Tractor Supply Company and a wheel barrow handle, much like a post hole digger handle. Bought some heavy gauge weed whacker string, drilled a diagonal hole at the top of the handle, drilled a 5/16 hole in the center of the bottom of the washtub, used same size eyebolt, nuts and washers on both sides, and added washers of neoprene and home made washers of pot scrubbing pads to nullify any rattle. Tied knots on both ends, and added some pipe insulation pieces on the bottom to keep from scuffing up the floor.

We are experimenting with different kinds of amplification. We haven't played it in public yet, so we will see what happens. Luckily, our guitar player owns the bar, so don't we not have to worry too much about how it sounds, plus whatever beer we do fill it with will most likely be on the house. It's all good! Results of it's maiden outing will be posted on http://www.youtube.com/congakev sometime after 2-13-2010. Stay Tuned and keep on thumpin.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: RWilhelm
Date: 05 Feb 10 - 02:18 PM

If you've never played a full night with the tub, bring an extra string and prepare for the worst.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GutBucketeer
Date: 05 Feb 10 - 03:16 PM

I use a woven core G string for a standup bass and get GREAT tone. I also can play for literally hours (I've played 4 hour gigs no problem).

Check out some of the recordings and tone at:

http://www.youtube.com/gutbucketeer

I've also used a bike derailleur cable with great success.

JAB


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 06 Feb 10 - 01:31 PM

Someone up above said:

If you've never played a full night with the tub, bring an extra string and prepare for the worst.

When I got the first "starter cord" to build my super-tub I was concerned about wearing out strings, so I bought a 500 foot reel of cord for spares.

Before I used it enough to find out how long it would last, I discovered that the original cord (I think it was 3/8 inch diameter) was too heavy, so I went back and got a 500 foot reel of the lighter weight starter cord (about 5/16 inch diameter).

I put the first string on sometime, as I recall, in 1993. The same string is still on it, and it's been played by "anybody who wants to try it" at least yearly at the Walnut Valley Festival every year since, as well as at several other festivals and jams in Washington, Oregon, and Kansas.

At festivals I don't bother taking it in out of the rain, and it has sat unattended in the back yard through a couple of winters - and a summer or two, although when I could make room for it I've kept it in a leaky storage shed.

That cord is much to "strong" for a tension-modulated gutbucket, but mine is "fingered" and a heavy string helps get both tone and volume.

As mentioned quite a ways up above, I use an electric fence stretcher to tension it to around 60 lb tension, which would be tough to get with a broom handle.

The "clothesline" or window sash cord is approximately the same weight, but strength is lower and samples I've tried for other uses literally "come apart" at very low tension when wet, especially after you've worn off some of the surface "wax."

For a "stretch" gutbucket rather than a fingered one, parachute cord would likely give you the string weight you need for decent loudness/volume, and also has a bit of built-in stretch (to reduce opening shock on the tender parts) that would help get the pitch control. My starter cord intentionally has virtually no stretch.

(Your mileage is supposed to vary, because you're smart enough to make your design match what you use to build it.)

John


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GutBucketeer
Date: 07 Feb 10 - 05:49 PM

John in Kansas has a great idea of pre-stretching the strings. Even for a tub that you pull back on, I've found you don't want a lot of stretch. I can hit a lot of notes by changing tension on a regular bass string or metal bike derailer cable. Both have almost no stretch. On the other hand when i've tried weedwacker line there is too much stretch between the notes, and as a result very little precision.

Bottom line, is just like john says. You have to adjust the design to your playing style in order to get the best results for YOU.

JAB


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 07 Feb 10 - 11:16 PM

I haven't put together a good spec for my jug bass, but since I've blathered quite a bit about it perhaps some pictures accidentally posted in our WVA memoirs might be of interested.

First, of course, is Why I Built It.

And some Other Views

A Rather Rare "sort of" Full View

John


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Feb 10 - 03:59 AM

Where can I get a #2Wheeling Washtub? I only have a Home Depot and Lowes. All they carry are washtubs made in China. I made a bass out of one and the sound is not all that great. Also is an oblong tub good for this.I am new to this and would appreciate any advise.
Thanks.
Funnybones.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 22 Feb 10 - 05:22 AM

GUEST: Funnybones

Without knowing the details of what you put together and how you tried to play it, the tentative guess would be that the poor sound had more to do with the design, construction, and the player than with the tub you used.

Putting a different name on it doesn't do much to change the musical qualities of a tub.

My super tub (double bass dual tubs - see the first post above yours) is made out of tubs from Lowes, and is the best sounding jug bass ever made. (One or two other people have agreed, and I threatened the rest until they left.)

A first suggestion would be to read all of this thread. If you put "washtub" in the Filter box on the main page here, and 1 or 2 years in the "how far" box and hit refresh, you should get at least a dozen other threads here that you can also read. Next you can Google "washtub bass" and "jug bass" and "tea chest bass" and read all of them. Don't forget to do separate searches for text/articles and for images so you get some good pictures of what others have done.

Be careful though about believing "juggers" when they talk about how marvelous their instrument sounds since they're all liars (except for me).

For anyone here to comment specifically on your tub we would need to know at least which one of the 7,429,344 traditional designs you used when you put yours together.

John


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST,Jim V - Flanders NJ
Date: 28 Feb 10 - 08:14 PM

I use an old synthetic gut D string from my stand up bass. It is attached to eyebolt connected to an aircraft aluminum resonator bar inside a standard metal tub. The top is connected to another eyebolt connected to a gas pipe neck (T and U joints at top and bottom). It is rigged so I can play the double bass - one hand (and shoulder) for the washtub the other hand to play the jug.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GutBucketeer
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 12:33 AM

John: That thing is better than a puppy in attracting a crowd. Like Bees to Honey.

Of course, I HAVE THE Best sounding washtub in the world :-)

I'd love to hear your some time though.

JAB


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 02:23 AM

GutBucketeer -

Well I have heard you play on a couple of clips, and I'll give you credit for having a lot better act than I do. I don't have the ear to play mine all that well, but LiK picked out some shots to show ya what I was out to attract. See the "Why I Built It" link about 5 posts up (07 Feb 10 - 11:16 PM).

Another year: 2007 at WVA

I don't go for drawing a big crowd.

John


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GutBucketeer
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 11:32 PM

But you draw a QUALITY Crowd :-)
I love your design, but I do have a question though. Why do you have the neck set so it leans so far back?

JAB


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 03 Mar 10 - 02:04 AM

The neck was made from a 2x4 cut at a slant to approximate the width, thickness, and taper of the standup 3/4 bass in the living room. It was also rolled around on a belt sander to "crown" the finger surface, although the ~15 years of playing has made a pretty good groove that doesn't seem to affect playability much. Fingerboard dimensions were modified a bit - taking the rough 1 1/2 inch thickness of the 2 x 4 "as is" as sufficient for the single string.

The angle approximates the position observed when a standard bass (our no-name or a friend's Kay) was being played by real bass players. The rather heavy base, with wheels for getting it around the campgrounds, made it a bit awkward to "tilt for comfort" so I made a rough try at making it sit in a "playable" position. A few experienced standup players did actualy tilt it back a little further, but they were husky young fellers who liked to dance around a bit with their playing.

Analysis, to the extent you can call it that, indicated best sound would be with the string anchored to the center of the tub bottom, unless some sort of bridge system was used; and I was a little too lazy to fuss with that.

With the string at the middle of the tub, getting acceptable string height off the fingerboard dictated where the bottom of the neck needed to be, and much lesser tilt would have made the player lean to reach over the tub - okay for the high notes down close to the tub but not very comfortable at the top of the neck. A more straight-up neck might have been okay with a foot up on the base or on top of the tub, but with two tubs stacked up the top of the tubs was a bit of a stretch, and I went with "casual comfort" for the position.

The open string length, incidentally, is very close to the nut to bridge length on a standard 3/4 standup bass of the kind seen most often in bluegrass/country etc. bands; but I usually find the "tuning nut" moved down about 3 or 4 inches to get a pitch that matches the 2d lowest string on a regular bass. Trying to get the pitch with the full length string with just tension on the cord I used will pull the bottom out of the tub. Tension can be varied to swap between low and second string for tonic pitch, but it runs pretty close to being as much as the tub can take when the players start "trimming the tuning."

The whole purpose of the experiment was to see if I could make something that sounded as much as possible like a "real bass" - both in tone and range, rather than to achieve a distinctive "tub sound." That's probably not quite what you want to do for a gutbucket performance instrument, since the characteristic "buckety" sound (whichever of the several you choose) is part of the performance art.

John


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST,Scott Leeper
Date: 03 Mar 10 - 03:02 AM

Hello friends, it's been 2 years since my last entry : I still stand by weed eater string for electric or acoustic. As for my comment about being the world's best - well that was a bit of tounge in cheek that I should not have typed {and was way off the subject}. Anyway it did get some diologue going about who might be good players - maybe I should have just asked who are some good players. I don't get to see other players much as I play so many gigs and yes it is NOT a contest. I firmly believe that nothing in life other than sports is a competition - we all have unique gifts


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GutBucketeer
Date: 06 Mar 10 - 08:33 PM

Scott: You are good and I love your band!!! The folks that actually "get" how to play the tub and can make sweet music with it are few and far between. It's great that you are in the circle:-)

JAB


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Allan C.
Date: 07 Mar 10 - 06:32 AM

It seems to me that one of the most easily missed details of putting together a washtub bass is that of creating some means for the sound to get out. I saw one bass in which a gaping hole had been roughly cut in the side. Another was simply propped up with one of those bricks that had a crocheted covering - it probably was a doorstop in its previous incarnation. Whatever means is used, a bass just won't ever live up to its potential unless that mass of air inside it, which is set in motion by the transference of vibration from the string, is allowed to move out to where it can be picked up by ears.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 07 Mar 10 - 11:06 PM

Allan C

The design used makes some difference with respect to whether "the sound needs to get out."

If you want a "resonance" from the tub, the volume of the tub divided by the total cross section "area of holes" in the shell around the volume determines the pitch at which the air resonates.

If you open up the entire bottom, you don't have a significant air resonance so all you get is the pitch at which the top surface "clangs." IF the flat disk of the tub was stiff enough, the disk itself might resonate, which would be nice; but the circular "ribs" usually pressed into the washtub bottom make it too flexible to "ring," so it's best to use it as a diaphragm - like the cone in a speaker - to drive the air outside.

If the entire tub is closed, and if the air resonance is at a pleasant pitch, the vibration of the air inside makes the "skin" of the entire tub push the air on the outside. It's the vibration of the shell of the tub that pushes (acoustic) vibrations into the air so your audience can hear them.

If you look at the air volume in a standard (stand-up) bass and the total area of the holes (usually F-holes) you'll see that it isn't airborne sound coming out of the inside, but the "push" by the skin (mostly the top plate) on the air already on the outside that makes the bull fiddle "boom."

Flowing air, as you would get by relying on air coming in and out of the tub, dissipates it's energy very rapidly; and it's much more "efficient" to have a large metal or wood surface vibrating to push acoustic energy across a broad surface into the air.

For some extremely simple-minded constructions, you might get a little more noise with a wide-open side on the drum, but for a tub design capable of "musical notes" the holes can't be all that large without spoiling the tone.

John


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 08:51 AM

Check out this bass washtub :-

Lost T-shirts of Atlantis

Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 10:21 AM

GtD -

Looks a little like a guy at WVA last year

Another couple of views:

Second pic

Fuzzy pic

Without implying disrespect, some "real juggers" might consider using "real strings" with tuners (about $200? worth of parts) on a jug bass sort of "cheating" on the whole concept. Might as well make the whole thing out of wood (which, of course, has been done in a variety of ways).

The first principle is that it must be fun to make.

The only other principle is that you must hope that it will make a pleasant sound.

If you come up a bit short on #2, it's still ok to play it; but you have to be a little more careful about not excessively offending other players.

John


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST,Big Ard
Date: 29 Dec 10 - 11:22 PM

I have tried gut D strings and G strings from a string bass. The D is a bit mellower. I prefer the G for the wider pitch range as it stretches more. Both are easy on the fingers.

I use the traditional construction of the washtub bass and find it quite acceptable for a simple and fun folk instrument. I formerly played symphony bass.

When you buy a tub, try out several by banging on the bottom with the butt of your hand. You will find that some have a better sound than others.

Most important: have fun!


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GutBucketeer
Date: 30 Dec 10 - 09:52 PM

Wow - I've never tried real gut strings. Do they have the same mass and volume of steel strings? You can hear how a woven core G string sounes in some of my Youtube videos. Here are some from the recent Christmas Show:

http://www.youtube.com/user/Gutbucketeer?feature=mhum#g/c/8C6426685A254A8E


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: reggie miles
Date: 01 Jan 11 - 06:48 AM

There are few players that can truly do justice to washtub bass playing. It's a tough instrument to manage and even tougher to master. It's physically very demanding and the tub itself makes the task challenging.

I've always liked my friend Jim Sherpa's design concept. It takes the work out of playing a tub bass and improved both the volume and tonal capabilities far beyond anything that any metal washtub player or even any upright bassist has been able to produce. Jim simply replaced the tub with a small diameter bass drum.

It was far easier to carry because it didn't weigh as much as a steel tub and was also smaller in size than what most tub players usually use. Jim's design still included a stick that rested on the edge of the drum body, as in most washtub bass designs. Jim also passed a string through the center of the plastic drum head, in the same way as most steel tubs used by players. When he played, he also put a wedge under one edge of the drum, to more easily allow sound created within the body to escape and he rested his foot on top, just like most tub players do, to counter the pulling he did on the stick to change the tension on the string.

The huge difference was in tonal capability and volume that the drum's head could produce. A steel tub is unable to do the same work, as the very resonant drum head. Nor could a steel tub offer the same results. The drum head is extremely responsive by comparison and that made the physical chore of playing almost nonexistent.

So, while Jim played in a similar fashion to most tub players, using a stick, a string and the standard washtub technique of stretching the string by applying outward pulling or tugging pressure to the stick to change notes, as well as fretting the stick, his break from the traditional steel tub made all the difference in the quality of sound his design was able to produce. While I'm certain there's validity in using traditional methods to building and to playing washtub bass, I believe that the root of this non-conventional music making is in it's innovative approach and techniques. In that aspect, Jim's unique original approach to the design of his drum bass was in keeping with those who pioneered this music.

If the good Dr. wasn't an entire continent away, in the upper right corner, I'd be begging him to play with me. The guy is a musical genius.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST,Nervous Paulvis Eggsley
Date: 01 Mar 11 - 07:36 PM

http://www.youtube.com/nervouspaulvis
The Best Tea-Chest / Wash-Tub Bass in the World - probably
Bass Ek Instinct1 - How To Make a Tea Chest Bass - Wash Tub Bass sound really good
and more…
If this works


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 01 Mar 11 - 10:33 PM

JiK's comments "If you look at the air volume in a standard (stand-up) bass and the total area of the holes (usually F-holes) you'll see that it isn't airborne sound coming out of the inside, but the "push" by the skin (mostly the top plate) on the air already on the outside that makes the bull fiddle "boom.""

The reason for the 'f holes' is not to 'let the sound out', but to make the area around the bridge more 'flexible' without breaking the top plate. This is to incite the vibrations in the top plate and match the impedances in the various areas of the instrument, to allow maximum transfer of energy to the internal air volume. The flexibility of the top plate - and if you study the internal construction differences between 'guitars/banjo/mandolin family' and 'viol/violin family' instruments and sometimes the back plate (some instrument have a 'coupling rod' to introduce energy to the back plate) then resonate and drive the external air like a loudspeaker cone. The two families of instruments are different, one mainly intended for plucking and the other for bowing. Actually it's a little more complicated than that for the 'double bass' (can be bowed OR plucked easily), but more on that for another time.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 01 Mar 11 - 10:36 PM

Actually there's also Helmholtz calculations to be taken into account too with the internal space inside such instruments, that also relate to why the 'f holes' must not present too low an impedance (be too big in area) to the air flow too - but I'll stop now before people accuse me of ranting on about things they don't believe in or understand ... :-P

:-)


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST,Nervous Paulvis Eggsley
Date: 01 Mar 11 - 11:20 PM

And, it does work, Hot Dang!!

Well Hi Y'all,

I've just spent an enjoyable hour reading through this thread and hoping to find at least one person still connected in 2011, so, Hi ya Reggie and here be my two-penneth worth.

And yes, you're right Reggie, using a small drum for the box and the drum skin for the resonator is much more responsive and sounds much better than a tin tub or wooden box lid, but well, it's not really a tea/tub bass, as the point about making something from scratch is lost by the use of a professionally made instrument in the first place, ie: the drum, even an old broken down drum was still professionally made in a musical instrument factory.

For that matter, any instrument that has more than one string is obviously not a real tea/tub bass, and even a tub/chest box affair that can ONLY be fretted instead of pulling on the stick to change notes is not in, my opinion, the real thing either, tho close this kind of contraption would be more correctly referred to a bass diddly bow.

I've been making Tea-Chest/Wash-Tub/ or Bush (as they're known in Oz) Basses (or Inbindi's as they're called in parts of Africa or Ek-Tara's in India) for over 30 years and have experimented with all types of tubs, chests, strings, sticks and acoustic and electronic amplification methods, including the aforementioned drum-bass.

And as you'll see by following the links in the above message - www.youtube.com/nervouspaulvis - I have built what (IMNSHO) is probably, the best wash tub / tea chest bass in the world.

It took me six weeks to make in a guitar building workshop in Goa, India - www.jungleguitars.com - under the watchful eye of UK luthier Chris Teacher.

And get this folks: It is a truly bee-ooo-tee-full, fully luthier'd, all teak body, with jack-fruit wood - and faux guitar neck - stick, concert quality, Ek-Tara (One-String) Bass.

The string I use is 8-knots to the inch, 3-ply (8/3) - 1.5mm (0.06") diameter, high-twist nylon, fishing net string, with a breaking strain of around 60Kg (130lb).

In the UK, I use a similar gauge 1.5mm builder's cord (used for plumb-lines and for lining up when brick-laying) which has a nylon core and a cotton/synthetic braiding - like a very thin sash cord.

These thin yet extremely strong strings afford a player a much greater range of notes than the more traditional piece of old rope, sisal or GPO string. - I reckon I can go across 1.5 - 2 octaves - and is much cheaper than using regular bass strings or even old bicycle cables - ouch!! - and far easier on the fingers with a much better finger grip and feel than any kind of shiny plastic lawn strimmer or fishing line.

It still causes blisters though, so until the calluses grow it's a good idea to wrap a couple of fingers with gaffa (duct) tape or even better, just apply some super glue to your fingers - let it dry before closing your own or shaking anyone else's hand though!! - which has amazing protective qualities yet washes off with warm soapy water.

There is enough elasticity in this string to allow it to return to the hand after plucking and enough tension and sustain to allow notes to be actually bent, although this is best heard when amplified.

To this end, I have attached a double-headed stick-on piezo-electric, passive pick-up similar to those sold in most music stores for amping up acoustic guitars or violins etc but these are easy enough to make yourself too.

These can be plugged straight into most guitar/bass amps and even into a mic input if you're careful, to give a pretty good LOUD sound but when I've played pro-gigs a sound man (or girl) usually plugs me into something I think is called a DI box which can produce a fantastic full deep almost double bass sound.

I have also used these pick-ups on the stick too, which produces a totally different much higher tonal quality but is still effective and can even on rare occassions negate the need for the actual box/tub altogether - go see my Tub-Less Tea-Chest at my Bass-Ek Instinct #4 page - http://www.youtube.com/nervouspaulvis#p/u/2/9F6Pd827Fk0 - and accord me the title of genius (-:

And of course there are any number of effects that can be applied to a live sound with a couple of guitar pedals, flange, override, reverb etc and even more that can be digitally added to a recording.

But the secret in getting the acoustic sound out of the box/tub itself is simply to turn the darn thing upside down!!

Or more correctly, the right way up!!

Wha?

Yes really, that great big hole at the top of your box is where most of the sound comes out - dur!! - and it's just plain wrong to muffle it by placing it face-down on the ground.

That's like putting the sound-hole on the back of a guitar!!

And I can already hear you saying but what about the resonator? If the lid/bottom of the box/tub is touching the floor, the sound will be muffled to start with.

Well yes of course, but the answer to that, is that instead of using the lid/bottom of the box/tub, you use the sides as a resonator.

All you need to do, is to simply drill a couple of small holes about an inch apart, about half-way up each side of the box - it's good idea to reinforce these sides by gluing a small piece of wood/metal to each side - inside and out - before drilling the holes - and then looping a series of cross-strings through these holes, using the same 1.5 mm cord, so you are basically tying the opposite sides of the box/tub to each other, with all the strings overlapping each other somewhere near the actual centre of the cube/spheriod.

Tie these loops up as tight as you can - I use a sliding parcel knot and then twist a stick into the outside loops for added tension - preferably until the sides bow inward slightly, but certainly tight enough to create a definite ring when any of these string are plucked on their own.

And then… and then simply tie or loop the bottom end of the stick-string through the middle of all these strings where they overlap each other and voila!!

Instead of just a single flat plate, you now have a 4-sided (in the case of a square tea-chest) or circular (in the case of a wash-tub) resonator!!

Measure the string to the stick and tie it so that under normal tension, the stick has a forced angle of about 45º against the upright, but make sure there's enough "give" in the string to be able to pull the stick upright and back.

I usually screw a guitar strap tab, or small screw-hook, onto the end of the stick and tie a small loop in the end of the string for easy attachment.

The string will stretch a bit but can be easily shortened by cutting it - ha ha - or by simply tying extra knots along it's length. I always like to have one knot about half way up the string which I can grab with my finger tips to give a little extra pull or even let it hit the stick to produce a rockabilly slap effect.

The tub/box is now placed the right way up, with the bottom on the ground and the hole at the top, and you can hear the full unadulterated sound coming right up into your ears - yee-haw!!

If the tub/box is big enough you can stand upright with a foot right inside it to keep it in place (mind the cross-strings when you're getting in and out though) or if it's too small - like my luthier'd beauty - screw, stick or strap it to a standing board, and now you don't have to keep your knee bent for hours at a time.

It's always best to lay a blanket or mat on the ground to place your tub on as it helps to keep it steady and muffles any hard scratching and bumping and I put a small sheepskin mat on the inside too, to again muffle any unwanted sound but also to keep my foot warm and comfy.

If the stick is long enough it can balance on the ground outside the box/tub but you get much better control (and a lower tone) with a short stick balanced in some kind of holder on the corner/edge of the box - I often use the upturned plastic screw-on lid off of a jar of peanut butter or something, screwed into the frame with a lump of blu-tac inside to stop the stick from scraping on the screw.

I don't know about being the best player, I don't really enjoy playing bass rhythms - all that 1-dudda-5, 1-dudda-5 stuff gets pretty boring for me - So I prefer to play strictly on the beat, mostly at double time and my preferred styles are hot rockin' country-blues, wild-ass rockabilly with a psycho twist and what was called at one time, Progressive Skiffle.

Although I was roped into playing with a dub-rhythm reggae-funk band last year and apparently can also put down a solid roots blue-beat bass line on the thing too.

I've played my bass with a number of bands, most notably the sadly now defunct Blo-Weevils and some of our best recordings can be heard at my - www.myspace.com/nervouspaul - page.

I'd love to be playing more gigs though, so if any bands out there need a solid tub-thumper with lead singer aspirations, do give me a call - paulvis@fastmail.fm - and while we're at it, if Scott Leeper would care to give up a few of his gigs in favour of me then he'd surely get a chance to see at least one other fairly good (tho I say so myself) player playing.

But if I can't play with anyone else I also, now dig this if'n you're still listening…

I also, use my Bass as part of my One-Mad-Man-Banned set-up and ceptin' maybe Jessie Fuller, have developed the only known method of playing bass, guitar and drums at the same time.

I hold the neck of my guitar between the string and the stick of my bass and play the bass string against the chorded guitar strings while manoeuvring the bass stick with the guitar neck.

Yeah Man!!

All this whilst playing harmonica/kazoo (I'm looking for the right size jug) and working the pedals of a bass drum and hi-hat, with an egg shaker attached to my plucking wrist, temple bells around one ankle and a tambourine around the other.

There are better examples available tho I'm not sure where, but an early venture into this type of One-Man-Bandmadness can be viewed at my Bass-Ek Instinct #5 page - http://www.youtube.com/nervouspaulvis#p/u/1/NgKb5CdgLdY -

So maybe not the best One-String Bass (to give it it's correct generic term) Player of all time but surely one of the most enlightened, original and creative.

What do you think?


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 02 Mar 11 - 05:57 AM

Paulvis: 3 words to describe your performancee:
A-
Maz-
Ing

RtS


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 02 Mar 11 - 08:21 PM

NPE "the secret in getting the acoustic sound out of the box/tub itself"

Well actually the two secrets... no, wait...

Among the many secrets .... :-)

But it is still a stroke of Genius to redesign the 'instrument' in that manner.

And it no longer works 'in the original way' as you have cleverly changed the underlying design principles of a 'cheap and nasty folk instrument' ... :-)

By mounting the bottom of the string in such a fashion as you describe, you cause all four orthagonal faces (and it will work the same way if you do the same trick with a circular wash tub, but the physics of a 'throbbing coinoid' are slightly different, but close enough for it work adequately in the same fashion) to pulse in the same outward/inward direction simultaneously. This tends to reinforce the outgoing energy pulse into a single 'circular' outwardly radiating one, thereby reducing the negative effects that happen with 'end around effect' robbing outgoing energy.

Very clever indeed.

Robin


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 02 Mar 11 - 08:30 PM

"Yes really, that great big hole at the top of your box is where most of the sound comes out - dur!! - and it's just plain wrong to muffle it by placing it face-down on the ground.

That's like putting the sound-hole on the back of a guitar!!

And I can already hear you saying but what about the resonator? If the lid/bottom of the box/tub is touching the floor, the sound will be muffled to start with."

Actually your acoustic analysis is faulty, but what you have produced works well, but not for the reasons you think it does! :-)

The 4 vertical walls of the box are pushing out the sound, the 'top vent' (open lid) is actually working antiphase with them, thus reducing the effect, but being well over 4 times the surface area (from a 'standard tea-chest, I guess about 5 time the surface area), are giving substantially more acoustic output, the reduction due to the antiphase effect also varies with frequency, thus giving you the 'sound envelope'.... :-)

"Serendipitous Genius" is still genius, because you tried something different and made it work!


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: reggie miles
Date: 03 Mar 11 - 12:55 AM

Wow! Some deep experimentation and some surprising results for sure. It all sounds far more technical than I ever thought it could be. Thanks for sharing all of that with us NPE.

I'm still really impressed by the simplicity of my friend Jim's concept to work with the more resonant drum. The principle is still the same, passing a string through a resonant surface. By using a drum, instead of a tub, he simply used a surface that was far more resonant. The fact that the sound was forced downward to escape through the open opposite downward facing part of the body, as well as emanating from the top of the drum head gave him incredible volume. He had more volume than he ever needed. He could have easily out volumed the entire band if he wished to do so. Having the open back of the drum facing downward probably helped to mute the volume level somewhat but he had no need for greater acoustic volume while playing along with all of the other acoustic instruments in the jug band.

So, via his design, he was able to vastly increase the volume output and create far better tonality. The quality of the tone that he could produce was far superior to anything that I've ever heard coming from any other similar one string bass. And isn't that the idea, to be able to take nonconventional items to create a vastly superior acoustic instrument? He did just that. Yet, because his design functioned in a similar fashion to other tub basses and since he played it in a very similar fashion, it lost none of it's charm in the context of the jug band he played with.

What he did was advance the acoustic concept of a single string bass into the next level, without the need to rely upon electric pickups, sound effects or amplifiers. Yes, he could easily lay a microphone under it to amplify it, if he was on a big stage with other amplified instruments and it still sounded incredible.

In addition, his choice to use a drum made the instrument soooooo much easier to play. It was like night and day. You didn't have to physically beat yourself up to play his drum bass. To make it work only required a fraction of the energy that a tub's steel bottom needed. The sensitivity of the drum head was such that you didn't have to exert the kind of pressure on it that other, less resonant, surfaces demanded.

His concept was such a simple design alteration, yet it produced vastly superior results. It was lightweight and compact. And yet, his idea did hold with tradition in it's design, function and execution of playing approach. In every way, Dr. James was able to create a superior bass.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 03 Mar 11 - 02:43 AM

"Having the open back of the drum facing downward probably helped to mute the volume level somewhat"

Sorry, but it doesn't quite work like that ...

The most expensive loudspeaker boxes were once designed to be totally air tight (no air leaks) and of massive internal volume to get the resonant frequency as low as possible. So why the 'vents' (openings), you ask? They are called 'tuning ports' for a reason.

If you cannot make the massive internal volume (cause you want smaller boxes!), then you have to make it smaller! This means that the resonant frequency is higher, leading to a fall off in response at the lower bass end of the range. So you measure the path length of the 'tube' that leads to the external hole, so you can add a length to the exiting sound path so that the sound is delayed and then exits in phase at the lower frequencies you wish to reinforce.

You can also 'load' the inside with a material that helps absorb some of the sound, adding some impedance to the exiting air.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 03 Mar 11 - 02:50 AM

Consider the part of the box that resonates when you pluck the string the 'driver' ...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudspeaker_enclosure#Closed-box_enclosures
QUOTE
The primary role of the enclosure is to prevent sound waves generated by the rearward-facing surface of the diaphragm of an open driver interacting with sound waves generated at the front of the driver. Because the forward- and rearward-generated sound is out of phase with each other, any interaction between the two in the listening space creates a distortion of the original signal...
UNQUOTE

The tea chest with its lid lifted off the floor is nearer to this
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bass_reflex
QUOTE
A Bass reflex system (also known as a ported, vented box or reflex port) is a type of loudspeaker enclosure that uses the sound from the rear side of the diaphragm to increase the efficiency of the system at low frequencies as compared to a typical closed box loudspeaker or an infinite baffle mounting.

A reflex port is the distinctive feature of a very popular enclosure variety. The design approach enhances the reproduction of the lowest frequencies generated by the woofer. The port generally consists of one or more tubes mounted in the front (baffle) or rear face of the enclosure. Depending on the exact relationship between driver parameters, the enclosure volume (and filling if any), and the tube cross-section and length, the low frequency limit or efficiency can be substantially improved over the performance of a similarly sized sealed box enclosure.

Though helpful with extending bass performance, bass reflex cabinets can have poor transient response compared to sealed enclosures at frequencies near the lower limit of performance. Proper adjustment of the cabinet and port size, and matching with driver characteristics can reduce much of this problem.

Achieving a balanced bass reproduction from a sealed box is simpler than properly aligning the components of a bass reflex system, and requires less effort expended in corrections to quality control variations of the components.
UNQUOTE


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 03 Mar 11 - 02:57 AM

Again see previous post for 'driver' meaning in this context ...

Raison d'être for a speaker enclosure

http://www.silcom.com/~aludwig/Loudspeaker_construction.html

QUOTE
A primary function of a speaker enclosure is to keep the sound coming from the back of a driver cone from going into the room. The sound from the back of a driver is 180 degrees out of phase with the sound from the front. For bass frequencies the sound from the back would cancel the sound from the front, destroying the low frequency performance. At higher frequencies where the wavelength is smaller than the driver diameter, the situation is more complex. The sound may add, cancel, or something in between. The sound from the back is also delayed in time by a fraction of a millisecond, which can interfere with the stereo imaging (see discussion on source location). Preventing all sound from the backs of all drivers from going into the room is by far the cleanest way to obviate these problems.
UNQUOTE

With an 'instrument' as distinct from a 'sound reproducer (loudspeaker) cabinet', you are actually relying on various aspects of the 'tone and timbre' of the instrument deriving from some of these effects that you normally want to avoid when designing a loudspeaker cabinet. Any good luthier should be able to explain...


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: reggie miles
Date: 03 Mar 11 - 12:21 PM

Yes, I'm certain that there's a specific methodology to apply to the design of something meant to reproduce bass tones from a loudspeaker and that applying these scientific principles will help to gain the best possible results from a speaker enclosure. I'll even agree that the application of such concepts of design can ultimately work to better create a single string acoustic bass instrument.

I don't believe that my friend Jim was considering the creation of the "ultimate" musical instrument for reproducing bass tones with his concept. I think he was simply more interested in making a "better" single string bass and in that, he succeeded with grand results.

I couldn't tell if the sound emanating from the top of his drum's resonating surface (head) was being cancelled out by the frequencies of the sound coming from within the body of the drum as he played. Though, they may have. No matter, his design had more acoustic volume than any string bass I've ever heard.

The tonal capabilities he could achieve were as precise as any bass I've ever heard. Of course, that part might also be due to Jim's ability to play. The quality of the tonal response far exceeded any other acoustic tub bass or tea chest bass I've ever heard played and I've heard a few.

I know that he had a wedge lifting the far edge of the drum body. This, I always assumed, was to allow the sound to more easily escape and perhaps also make it ergonomically easier to set his foot on the far edge as a counter balance to the pressure he exerted on the stick and string. Jim is slight in stature.

If I read the previous technical description correctly, that lifted edge then acted as a kind of a port for the sound to escape. Depending upon a specific formula for a bass reflex enclosure, sound being created by the two surfaces of the top and bottom of the resonating surface, the head, could have interfered with one another and lessened the resulting output. The intricacies in the exploration of such analysis to make proper determinations in this pursuit are certainly worthy to study and perfect. However, in this kind of an endeavor, making a more functional and better sounding one string acoustic bass, I don't know that such scholarly work needed to be applied to the idea in order to gain a vastly superior result. I believe a little common sense was all that was required.

While sound cancellation might well have been present in the results of his design, I perceived no such lack as I played along side Jim. I found his drum bass to be extraordinarily powerful.

Again, the difference in results seems to be due to the difference inherent in the materials being used. Making a piece of steel, wood or plywood vibrate takes far more energy and produces far less results than what can be gained by making a thin plastic membrane (a drum head) vibrate.

It's obvious that a steel tub (washtub bass) or wooden box (tea chest bass) will offer adequate results for players but for those who want more and find innovation a pleasing exploration, you'll find that the type of resonating membrane makes all the difference in creating a better instrument. Want more volume, better tonal characteristics and more ergonomic ease while playing?


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 03 Mar 11 - 08:07 PM

"While sound cancellation might well have been present in the results of his design, I perceived no such lack as I played along side Jim. I found his drum bass to be extraordinarily powerful"

Well the more flexible membrane (drum head) rather than a sheet of plywood would be far more efficient as a resonator (less internal energy loss), as the plywood in a 'tea chest' would not be high quality wood, and the glue would not have been optimized for its acoustic properties :-)

A small 'port' will do no great harm, but a very big one may ...

Thanks for taking me seriously, mate, I was not making it all up ...



This time...

Oh no, did I say that in my 'outside my head' voice?


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST,Nervous Paulvis
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 04:00 AM

To RTS: Three words back mate: "I ThanK You"
But hey t'would be nice to know whereabouts you do your skiffling.
And especially if'n you know of any bands anywhere that might need use of my tubbing (lead singing) skills.
But other wise thanx agi'n - yeehaw!!


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: NervousPaulvis
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 04:46 AM

And to Mr Foolestroup:

Or issit Mrs, Ms, Miss, Dr, Rev, or any other combination of salutations?

I can see that I shall have to be even more pedantically exact than I usually am, while addressing your good self, or bad self, or whatever…

So thank you for correcting my over egotistical English and of course the correct opening to that sentence should have read:

"My" secret in getting the acoustic sound out of the box…

OK?

Thank you too for acknowledging my genies-tic stroke and too the in-depth analysis of exactly why it works, I didn't read your f-hole explanation until just after I posted my own thesis and kinda wished I'd known about you first so I could have double-checked my assumptions before posting it.

But no matter, 'tween the two of us, I think we have laid bare this particular secret.

But now would you also please explain just how my "Magic Stick" aka the Tubless Washtub Bass, works.

Cause if you think the "string-thing" is a stroke of genius then this, when played, virtually INVISIBLE bass must be bordering on outright insanity hahahaa -(:

As for the "cheap & nasty folk instrument" bit - I didn't say that, and nor do I buy it really, as the traditions of these kind of instruments stretch back thousands of years across many cultures, and a well-made Indian Ek-tara or better still the Korean instrument that no-body can tell me the name of, are very far from cheap or nasty.

But yeah I thought of first cross-stringing all the sides together and then turning the thing upright - and then just amping the stick haha!! - before I was aware of any of these ethnic instruments.

And I already knew there was a difference between four orthagonal resonators and a throbbing coinoid but didn't know how to say it - so thanx 4 that 2.

The fact that things are pulsing in and out at the same time is an interesting revelation, do other instruments work this way or just T-tub's?

And I even think I get what you mean about end-around effect robbing energy if that's about not having the resonator at the end of the instrument, or touching a player's foot or something - yeah?

As for the anti-phase/sound envelope thing, I think you're trying to say that if I put a lid back over the top of the box (playing the string through a small specially cut vent hole with rubber flap seals if you wish) would technically produce a louder sound as the anti-phase effect (currently 20%) would be cut to a fraction.

But - Surely you wouldn't be able to hear it cause the sound would be trapped inside the box?

I mean I dig on that f-hole page you made the point about the sound coming from the outside but that's where the bridge is - on my t-boxes the bridge is of course right inside at the centre of the cubio-spheroid and well it sure sounds louder from the top than from any of the sides, though if I put it on a hard wood floor the whole house shakes.

I dunno, maybe I didn't quite get you - but I started off by simply cutting small then larger and larger holes in the top of my basses and found that there is a kind of trade-off between anti-phase and sound hole projection (OK I didn't know it was called that at the time but I do now) and 5:1 is about the best ratio I got.

Except the time I cut circular holes in all four sides of one of my boxes and glued a piece of goat skin across each one - effectively creating four drums, Reggie!! - and strung these together with the cross-strings, which sounded fantastic (I guess it extended the 5:1 ratio even further as the sides had a larger area, when the skins were stretched than the top) and though I was tempted to put a similar skin across my luthiered beauty I decided to just stick with the strings and the wood for safety's sake.

And it's just about perfect, even if I do say so myself.

Wow! physics lessons at fifty heh heh

And an A+ for my project, gee-whizz thanx teacher.

"Serendipitous Genius" eh?

Aw, I bet you say that to all the Serendipitous Geniuses…

But well I dunno, I did know it was going to work, it wasn't accidental or fortuitous, I just knew that five sides plus one open would do the job better than one side closed - it was maths really 1 over 5 or 5 over 1 - simples!! -(:

Cheers, Robin yeah?

My surname's Eagle!!

Bird's of a feather eh?


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: NervousPaulvis
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 05:08 AM

And so, now to Mr Miles,

Hi ya Reggie, the results weren't really that surprising, once I had the ideas, I kind of knew they were all going to work - see above - it was the little things like smoothing out the clicks and clacks and applying reinforcements and stuff that took the experimentation.

As for being more technical, well again, not really reggie, tying those strings together takes a lot less technical know-how and ability than it does to skin a drum.

I'm not trying to be rude to you or your friend who's case you so earnestly make but only to try to let you see that:

Although you are right on every count in re: drum head basses producing a better sound, wider range of notes, easier portability, more exact touch and feel and an overall nicer betterness than trying to plonk on a piece of wood or metal.

It's just that:


1) Jim's not the first to use a drumhead / skin combo,
* I did it myself many years ago - and also put my cross strings through the sides of the drum as well, so I could play it with a double-resonator ie: strings & skin together yee-haw!! or either way up ie: a double-double-single-string bass - (:

* Studio Stu has been getting paid lotsa $$$ for playing his own drum head bass for many years on the NY jazz circuit.

* The original Inbindi (Earth drum) was made by African tribes-people by stretching an animal skin across a hardened hollow - ie: making a drum - and attaching a "string" to the centre of the skin and the other end to a tree branch so they could "Play the Earth" daddi-o (and how does that work please Robin?).

* An Indian Ek-tara (One-String) is often made by stretching a goat skin across a hollowed out portion of coconut tree-trunk, a thin wire is attached to the skin and a slightly pliant bamboo stick which is also attached to the outside of the trunk. This instrument is held on the lap and played sitting down to produce a high pitched drone similar that from a sitar.

* You can cut a hole in your bass and attach a piece of skin to use for the resonator like I did with my four-drum cross-string bass - see above - which does as good a job as a real drum but because they are tensioned by the cross-strings, the skin(s) don't need to be pre-tensioned like on a drum.

2) My real point though is that to my way of thinking, as a "Player", unless you first make your own drum-head or bass box yourself, or fan-dangle it from a non musical piece of something else like a tea-chest or washtub, it just ain't the real thing!!

So OK this is a personal opinion but I think other players - maybe even Jim - might share with me.

Now even though I love the sound and portability of my little tom-tom bass, I can't escape the knowledge that the majority of the instrument was made by the Trixon Drum Making Company of Germany and my input into making the instrument was merely a bastardisation of somebody else's art.

Maybe I'm being a bit too purist but I only use this bass as part of a novelty act in my show, just to show what's possible and yeah let people see how easy it is to get started if they've got an unwanted drum head floating about.

Or want to go and buy one.

But that's my point on this, it's like turning a saxophone into a kazoo!!

The greatest kazoo in the world - perhaps but…

There's just something slightly, effete is the best word I can think of, and to me that word seems to fit people like Studio Stu and the whole jazz world too - about using a professionally produced instrument to produce a what was it Robin? "cheap and nasty folk instrument".

Well I don't quite go with that - tho there have been a lot of cheap and nasty basses made, most of the good ones are good and a hand made instrument made by the hands of the player is just so inherently different and from an artist's point of view should be more personally satisfying and from an artistic point of view more ENTERTAINING!! yeah? than plucking on a Premier™ Box.

So with all respect to your friend and the sound he gets, to my mind there will always be something lacking and a true gutbucketeer (if I may borrow your nom-de-plume sir - and hope you may re-join this discussion soon) would and should, I think, look to create an instrument that bears their own full personal stamp.

So sure, go ahead and make one Jim, a hand-made drum-head bass is a thing of beauty and wonderment but also blooming hard to make.

But, my cross-stringing technique which I outlined in my earlier message kind of creates a virtual drum-skin in it's own right - issat right Robin? - certainly when used with skinned holes as per my 4-drum/cross hair bass.

This technique produces just those kind of snappy notes, and gives the player a sophisticated technical touch as exact as that produced with someone else's drum-skins.

It can be used to make any style or size of bass - I've made one with a dixie-cup and lollipop stick and I want to make one using a gasometer or grain silo - whoo-hoo!!

Which makes it even more portable than carrying a drum-head!!

With the Magic Stick™ there's not even a box to carry!!

That all said, there's a lot to be said for helping to produce cheap and easy starter models and the drum-head bass is a good starter no doubt, but that to my mind is all it ever will be, a pointer in the right direction, irrespective of how technically superior it may be.

I have though designed a prototype of a professionally made one-string bass (The STICK-IN-A-BOX™) to help young children learn the rudiments of gut-thumping (and sound) - far easier than forcing piano, violin or guitar lessons on em methinx.

It would be made from rigid and moulded plastics and use the 4-drum cross-string method of resonation and have a built-in active pick-up, wired into a small MIDI voice controller, loudspeaker and headphone/line-out port - with a MIDI-out on the pro-model.

So it can be set to produce different instrument voices - guitar, piano, trumpet etc and fun voices - telephone, spaceship, moo-cow, duck-quack etc etc… - toned to wherever they pull the stick and hit the string.

This could in fact be made into a serious professional instrument.

So if there's any skiffle-crazy venture capitalists out there who'd like to help me make this become a reality - preferably with Robin's help if you're interested? - I need about £25-50K of seed capital and then, and then…

hahahaha

"Wash Tub's Take Over The World" hahaha -(:

Or somebody just gissa paying/playing job!!

Gee-Whiz, I didn't realise there'd been such a gut-bucket revival while I've been sunning myself out here with the hippies.

But I'm heading west soon, UK, Europe, USA maybe…

So if'n anybody out there knows of a regularly gigging (and getting paid for it) done-gone-groovy jug/blues/skiffle band, who might be needing a certified One String Super-Star with'n the nicestest, bestestest, coolestest, most incredibly amazingly wonderful god-durned Gut-Bucket Bass in the World!!- probably…

Then do please pass my details onto them pronto - paulvis@fastmail.fm - or their's onto me.

Or here of course at this here mudcat thing, which I guess I'd best sign up to as a member, if'n this here old rickety dial-up internet connection I'm having to use out here in the wilds of Goa, will let me get through.

Hmm, I think that's happened, already.

Ok dokie, that'll do for now, I'll leave all that technical wrangling as to the why's and wherefore's etc to the rest of you'se all.

But I sure would like some more feedback in re: Bass-Ek Instincts and a gig or a job or an investor would be nice too.

In the meantime, I'm gonna have me a damn good pluck on my Magic Stick™.

Hahaha…

See y'all

Paulvis - yee-haw!!


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: NervousPaulvis
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 07:08 AM

BTW - EVERYBODY should go and check out the contraptions at http://tubotonia.freehomepage.com/


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 08:42 AM

It's "Foolestroupe" with an 'e' Google 'Fooles Troupe Home Page'...


I'm no real expert, but I do get occasional 'flashes of inspiration' ...

I haven't really thought about your 'Magic Stick' - God knows, at my age, I have enough trouble with mine ... :-P

But with your Magic Stick™ you seem to have created an instrument similar to the Shamisen, or similar construction. If the 'string' has sufficient tension, it can create an appreciable degree of sound, even without any attachment of a resonator. There's a North American Indian instrument of a hunting bow and a gourd, but you can get quite a degree of volume out of just plucking the bow.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I did actually many years ago, study one of our tea chests rather intently, and put a lot of thought into it, but I never did anything physical with it (ooo, er ...)...

I did think about doing what you did with the string mounting point. I also thought about whether one should use the exact center of the panels for the mounting point, or somewhere else. It probably should be between there and the points where you get a 'node point' of an overtone of the full length of the height of the side. One even thought about 'The Golden Ratio', and all that esoteric nonsense ...

Then I said stuff it! At Bass frequencies, we are talking wavelengths of meters! (200 Hz -> ~ 1.72 m) and the damn box is only about a meter or so high! So the best place would then be of course, right in the middle, where you instinctively placed it! Would give the most 'throb' for the least 'thump', most efficient, and least 'energy loss' ... :-)

As to your question of putting the lid back on the top, and cutting a hole, etc, I don't really have the experience to say much. I'm not sure that it would do much though. Maybe sealing the whole box and attaching the lid to the bottom where the top panel is excited using the traditional construction method might do something, but I think the slight leakage or having an edge lifted may do more in transferring the energy efficiently - if bass ports get too large, they don't have enough 'impedance' to do the loading sufficiently, I suspect.

One thing from loudspeaker design I thought you might want to play with is if you stuff the box full of the sound deadener filling, but I suspect that since you are not using a 'loudspeaker driver' with maybe hundreds of watts of power, but just a plucked string, is that that idea robs lots of power to stop internal reflections, and that is not what you want in a hand plucked instrument!

I think your cross string design is about as far as you can go in that line. The ply sides are not really all that great.

The drum head, is of course a different matter, as it is thinner and DESIGNED to vibrate efficiently... so there is less energy loss compare with the ply.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 06 Mar 11 - 03:19 AM

NP, I'm in Ascot UK but by popular request the Washboard of Mass Destruction and the Voice that Talent Forgot only perform in my padded cell!

RtS


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST,Bill
Date: 10 Mar 11 - 12:21 AM

I am making my first washtub bass. Of course, the type of line you use would vary somewhat. Still, can anyone recommend the approximate length of the string from tub to top of stick? Thanks.

P.S. Where can I get a Wheeling No 2 tub?


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: reggie miles
Date: 10 Mar 11 - 02:53 PM

Hey GUEST Bill, I think that the length of the string and/or stick might simply be a personal preference but there may actually be a formula to achieve the best results. I would think that you could simply start by holding the stick in as upright a position as possible when mounted on the edge of your tub and then measure down to where it meets the center of your tub's face. If you want to get technical, the length of the string would then become part of a simple mathematical formula called the Pythagorean theorem, (A squared + B squared = C squared).

Below is a link to a simple image that I sketched indicating the A,B and C that you'd plug into the above formula. Keep in mind that this is just a starting place to work from and your actual measurements may vary to work best with your purposes and individual approach to playing.


http://i50.photobucket.com/albums/f344/nobro/Washtub%20bass/55bd4169.jpg


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: reggie miles
Date: 10 Mar 11 - 03:27 PM

Paulvis,

Wow! I had no idea that so many others were also exploring a similar drum bass path with their musical pursuits, or, that the idea had such history. Perhaps Jim was not the author of the idea but he created his own wonderful slant on it.

Jim has been performing in upstate NY for the last several decades. We met in New Orleans about 30 years ago.

I agree, that if one does possess the necessary knowledge, skills, tools and time to handcraft a musical instrument from scratch, that it's a very sweet and most definitely a very worthwhile exploration. However, not all possess such means to that end.

You might be misunderstanding one aspect of my friend Jim's drum bass. I think that the idea, in Jim's case, was to make his instrument as inexpensively as possible. When we met, he was playing in a jug band on the street in The French Quarter. He lived a meager lifestyle, in one of the poorer parts of town. I know for a fact that he didn't run out to a music store to purchase some highfalutin brand new drum for big $$$ to create his drum bass. Like me, and my own endeavors to create my resophonic guitars out of recycled garage sale junk, Jim was a junker too. He loved haunting the local thrift stores, garage sales and swap meets looking for old 78rpm records and other cool junk. He reused an 'old' used R&R kick drum for his bass. He probably found it at one of those garage sales, or at some thrift store along the way.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: BanjoRay
Date: 11 Mar 11 - 08:22 AM

Has anybody checked out Janice Birchfield yet? I think her playing with the Roane Mountain Hilltoppers is about as good as it gets. The music starts about 2 minutes in.
Cheers
Ray


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST,GLUEST BILL IN L.A.
Date: 11 Mar 11 - 08:40 PM

Thanks a lot, Reggie. Helpful diagram. For my build, I have a no.2 tub and a stick right now is a bit long, I'd say. It is 5.5 feet from rim of tub to point where the string enters. In fact, I have an A bass string and it seems on the short side for this length stick. I may have to cut it off. Any lineal

Next question: How does one fasten a metal wound string tot the top of the stick? Any comments are most welcome. Bill


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: BanjoRay
Date: 11 Mar 11 - 08:58 PM

I'd try a clove hitch - great for tying a string to a bar. Cut a groove round the stick near the top. Take the end of the string in your left hand and make a 2 inch counter clockwise loop in it (right over left). Now make another nearer the end of the string. Place the second loop under the first loop and pass both loops over the stick and round the groove. Tighten it up and you've got a clove hitch. To keep it secure, maybe add a hitch or two.
I'm sure there's a web site with diagrams somewhere!
Cheers
Ray


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST,Bill in L.A.
Date: 14 Mar 11 - 05:49 PM

Ray. Thanks for your knot suggestion. You triggerd anothe idea for m:e--I bought a real small brass boat cleat to tie the cord off. It works. Now, in the case of a real Bass string (A, G, etc) what top fastening system might you or others suggest? My A string requires a lot of tension to get it going. Right now, I'm having a great time riffing with Cliff Stuart and His San Francisco Boys (last heard of them playing in The Borough Lounge in Queens, about 1951).


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: NervousPaulvis
Date: 16 Mar 11 - 01:50 AM

Hi Bill,

I know they're a long read - but my posts above, tell you EVERYTHING you need to know about building and playing a tea/wash - chest/tub - one-string bass.

1. First of all using a "real" professionally wound double bass string, is not only over-egging the pudding, in my opinion somewhat like using professionally made drum-heads / skins for the resonator.

But for different reasons; a real bass string cannot be easily pulled to the tension needed to produce the correct tones and will put an immense strain on your bass box not to mention your arm and shoulder muscles too.

The TC/WT/One String Bass is not in the same instrument category as a double bass and the components of one do not naturally apply to the other.

By far and away the best kind of string to use is an extremely THIN one - 1.5 - 2mm - 1/16th inch cotton braided, high twist nylon builders cord is the D'Addiaro of T-Box strings and gives as good if not better resonance, is easier on the fingers and the instrument and is much much much cheaper than using a double bass string - you can also cut it to any length you require.

2. How long is a piece of string? - Well if you follow Reggie's model and tie from the box to the top of the "upright" stick, you will have no tension in the string and be unable to play any notes until you have pulled the stick so far back it'll fall off the box..

So first tie the string to the bass box (or cross-strings) and measure the string from this point to the stick - NOT the other way around!!

You then need to move the top of the stick foward from the perpendicular to at least 30º for a thick string.
And with a thinner string, you should bend the stick right over, until the top of the stick is directly above the centre of the box (usually 45º) and then measure your string to this length. so the stick is the hypotenuse of the triangle NOT the string as it is in Reggie's model.

Then tie/loop/hook the string to the stick and then when you pull the stick back towards the upright, the string will come under tension and you can start playing notes.

NB: The string will keep stretching for a while but you can tie knots along it's length to keep it in "tune".

It's always good to tie one knot in the middle of the string for better finger-work and stick slapping.


3. How long is a piece of stick? - Well the longer the stick = the longer the string = the lower the tone.

The best size for a stick is one that reaches just above the top of your head when placed in it's playing hole on the bass box (or on the ground if you're an ultra-traditionalist) and pulled upright - so if you're a shrimp use a short-stick and if you're a long-fellow use a long one.


4. How to connect string to stick? - oh come on now were you never a kid - cowboys & indians, Robin Hood, bows & arrows??

OK, you just cut a notch in the stick and tie a loop in the string - ez-pz!!

A less awkward and more secure method is to screw a screw-hook (nail, widget, guitar strap holder whatever - brass boat cleat - excellent choice) into the top of the stick and loop your string over this.

5. You didn't ask and I forgot to mention it previously but the best way to hold the stick in place is to screw a small round-headed screw into the bottom of the stick to act as the pivot - this gives a better feel and more control of the stick's movement.

Also you should attach an upturned jar lid, bottle top, or even the heel of a shoe to the bass-box for the stick to rest inside whilst playing - it's best to line these playing-holes with something like blu-tack, or a piece of leather to deaden any scratching between the bottom of the stick and the surface of the bass.

There now what else? Oh yeah, to get the best best sound out of your bass, try my radical method and turn your tub upside down (right way up for washing) and tie four or more cross-string loops across the middle, tighten these up to full tension and tie your playing string to where these strings meet and you'll achieve far better resonance than from a nickle-ass or tinplate bottom.

And the sound will then come out of the hole at the top, instead of being trapped inside. - Dah-DAAHHH!!

Go see how to do this at - http://s239.photobucket.com/albums/ff28/paulvis/?action=view¤t=T-Boxes1-23.jpg - where I have updated Reggie's somewhat misleading diagram and added some self-explanatory notes.

You can see me build and play these at youtube.com/nervouspaulvis

Now you won't produce such a loud acoustic sound with the cross-strings on a metal tub as you would with a wooden tea-chest but the sound is there and if you attach a stick-on piezo pick-up (about $15) to the side of the box (use blu-tak to deaden any snap.crackles or pops)) and plug it into an amp you'll definitely appreciate the better tonal quality of the cross strings.

And even more so if you have access to a DI box to plug your lead into before going to the amp, or better still a friendly neighbourhood sound-engineer can bring tones out of a well strung and properly amp'd up TC/WT Bass that will absolutely astound you - I guarantee it.

Of course a metal tub would be strong enough for you to use both methods of stringing so you could play it upright or downside according to your needs at the time - a double-single bass - you'd definitely get different tones from each method so would be almost like having an effects pedal.

One last point, to get a better acoustic sound, you can actually cut one or two small (fist-sized) sound-holes in the sides (or even bottom) of a metal tub without detrimentally affecting the resonance and so do away with the need for a clumsy girt wedge at the bottom.

Better again if you cover these holes with a skin and do the 4-drum/cross-string method outlined in my previous posts.

But seriously, do try the cross-strings, you will be amazed!!

----------------------------------------------------------


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: NervousPaulvis
Date: 16 Mar 11 - 04:05 AM

And Hi again Reggie,

Like I said I'm not knocking the achievements of your friend - tho t'would be interesting to hear his take on these discussions - and I'm sure his discovery of the drum-bass concept was just as much a "stroke of genius" as was mine - tho my cross-string idea seems to be a first and for that reason has to be counted as even more geniusistic.

It's not even mentioned in the Inbindi Family Tree pic from inbindi.com which I've put up at - http://s239.photobucket.com/albums/ff28/paulvis/?action=view¤t=T-Chestfamily_tree_small.jpg - for yours and other's elucidation.

Of course you're right to suggest that not many people are going to rush off to a luthier's workshop to order, or build a hand-built Strad-Box like mine.

But that project came to fruition only after 30 years of me making all different kinds of these things from scratch, wooden boxes, metal tubs, plastic buckets, broom handles, different strings and a sharp knife.

Not really beyond the means of anyone, certainly not someone who can knock up a drum-head bass.

My point about drum basses is that whether they are made from new, old, junked or partly destroyed drum heads, they were at one time professionally made pieces of musical kit, designed and built in a factory and were sold at least one time to somebody for lottsa $$$ - as too of course are double bass strings - in re: my points to Bill above.

Now even though I do possess THE BEST TEA-CHEST BASS IN THE WORLD!! - probably.

I'm still experimenting and thinking up new designs - and want to try out other types from around the world too.

The Indonesian instrument I mentioned in a previous post is called a Dan-Bau and imposes a precise degree of Zen concentration to the art of single-string thumping to produce tones bordering on the celestial.

I want, but can't afford, a Whamola™ Stick - so if there's any generous patrons out there with $500 bucks to spare - just pop along to - www.whamolalab.com - and do the needful - cheers!!

So now, having sort of mastered the art of playing these kind of single string instruments I'm inherently intrigued by the possibilities of the so many different stick/box/string/combinations available to a player and really I just want to play them ALL!!

I would expect the majority of other tub-thumpers to share this urge of forever striving for better and/or different ways to create an ever wider range of sounds and tones.

So I dig that Jim's drum-head is a real cool part of the world of tub-thumping but there's so much more to it too.

So happy tub-thumping and keep experimenting and exploring.

Yee-Haw


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST,Bill in L.A.
Date: 16 Mar 11 - 02:43 PM

Reggie. Thanks for your thoughtful comments and suggestions for one who is just starting out. I will have to go to your links and digest all these fruitful tips. BTW, I'm a sailor so I just put a small brass cleat at the top of the stick, which allows easy adjustment of the line length. Also, I'm experimenting with 3/16" stayset Sampson non-stretchable line. Being slippery, it is easy on the fingers and has absolutely no stretch whatsoever. This is the line that is used in place of twisted stainless rigging cables. I'd be interested to know if anyone has a comment on this line. It was much better than the 1/8" nylon/polyester combo that I first tried. You can get this line at any sailing store (chandlery). Bill in L.A.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: NervousPaulvis
Date: 16 Mar 11 - 07:53 PM

Well Hello Sailor -(:

You might think I'm trying to slip you a line or even string you along - lol

But take my word for it - or at least try it for yourself - your string does need to stretch a bit.

You'll most likely do yourself, or your instrument, an injury by using a too thick, too strong string.

3/16th's - yee-gods that's almost 5mm - ouch!!

Remember:

"The thinner the twine - the greater the twang"

esp, when used with the cross-strings and amp system.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 04:39 PM

Interesting idea, screwing a round-headed screw into the bottom of the stick and fastening a recessed gizmo (liker a bottlecap) to the washtub/soundbox in which to rest the stick.

The way I handled it, back when I had a washtub bass years ago, was to cut a V-shaped notch into the bottom of the stick and rest it on the lip of the inverted tub. The kind of real galvanized washtub you could buy at a hardware store (or salvage), at least back then, always had a ridge around the bottom which nicely accommodated a notched rake-handle or whatever you were using as the "neck" of your homemade bass.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: reggie miles
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 12:38 AM

Nervous, "over-egging the pudding?"

While a tub, a piece of rope, or a broom stick might not be very costly items, the manufacturing process used to create them took an enormous initial financial investment to fashion the industrial machines that create them today.

There is nothing inherently wrong with using things that were "professionally" made to craft a homemade or DIY instrument. Most every player of a one string bass that I know about used something in their construction of that instrument that was made "professionally" by some manufacturing company. Whether the string or rope, the tub, the stick, the tea chest, the drum, the wire or the hardware to hold it all together, it was all "professionally" made by some manufacturing company, and you can count on the fact that it wasn't originally crafted for use as a one string bass. Using such items is exactly the idea that those who pioneered this musical folk art, of crafting your own makeshift homemade musical instruments from miscellany, had in mind.

Few makers of a one string bass, if any, would take on the task of manufacturing their own tub, drum or tea chest box for such an endeavor. Though, I think that a wooden box might be the simplest of the three ideas to craft, even that requires time, skill and tools that few might possess to complete such a project. Why craft something that you can find already made. Even less would consider making, from scratch, their own rope, broomstick, or any of the miscellaneous hardware needed to complete such a project. We've relied upon industries of all kinds to manufacture such items for many years.

There was a time, many years ago, when industry's production of such items was not common and as such, we each relied on individual craftsmen skilled in specific disciplines to fulfill our needs for those specialized items. We also relied heavily on our own ability to craft what we needed or desired.

Though, I have friends who still cling to those old ways of building their own log houses, making their own furniture, crafting their own hardware, in their own blacksmith shop, creating their own wagons, to be pulled by their own draft horses, that they've raised themselves, raising their own farm animals, growing their own food... I know of none that are so dedicated to those tasks that they also only use their own hand made tools to accomplish all of that they endeavor to do. The manufacturing of tools and products is not an bad thing. Neither is taking those already manufactured items and using them to make our own musical instruments.

Fashioning a drum body from a hand hewed tree, felled with your own ax that you created yourself from (?) and then covering it with the skin of an animal that you hunted and killed with your own self-created weapon (bow and arrow or whatever) and then skinned with your own self-made knife and tanned yourself, using wholly self supplied know-how and means, is nearly a lost art and craft, that few, if any, possess these days. In these post industrial revolution times, where manufacturing processes have become arts and crafts of such precision, that they enabled us to place men on the moon and allow people all across the world to exchange ideas via desktop and hand held electronic devices, the creation of musical items, out of the remnants of unwanted junk is, very nearly, also a lost art. It shouldn't be discouraged, or thought less of, simply because we no longer possess the skills, tools or knowledge, that we once did, to create and supply our own needs.

Part of the charm of these handmade, homemade or handcrafted instruments is that they can be created out of such common and sometimes used or discarded items. One man's trash becomes another man's treasured musical and artistic expression, to the delight of all who experience it thumping out a bass line, strumming a chord or scratching a rhythm.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: NervousPaulvis
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 03:15 AM

Hi PoppaG, thanks for the good word inre: my screw-head and bottle cap idea for T-Stick holding.

It's advantage over the V-wedge on tub-lip method is that the stick is a lot more sensitive and light to move and can be moved in any direction too.

And the screw-head - I use a 1/2" O-ring now- stands up to a lot more punishment than the V-wedge.

And as I said before, it helps to use the cross-strings system and not invert the tub.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: NervousPaulvis
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 04:16 AM

And Reggie, I don't see the need for all your curfuffle about not wanting to return to the stone-age etc… most of which is pretty obvious but it has nothing to do with the points I was making.

Which is simply, that using an old musical instrument may give a better sound but in my opinion using an old or new anything that isn't a musical instrument gives a better feeling.

And that old drum heads are not soooo easy to find, and new ones are prohibitively expensive, compared to stuff like old or even new boxes, buckets, garbage cans, wash tubs and tea chests etc…

I think what was nagging me about your original post and which caused me to reply in the first place was your implication that a drum-head bass was the be-all and end-all and that nothing else could/would ever do so well and that people might be put off trying to make one if they couldn't find an old drum to use.

And I wanted to say that you can get as good a sound as a drum-skin by using the cross-strings method on any old box, requiring a similar level of technical dexterity to put it together.

And also, that I, as a player, on a personal level, get a far greater intrinsic enjoyment from producing sounds from objects that no matter whether they were made in a factory, workshop or garden shed, were not originally made as a musical instrument.

The same thing applies to using professional double bass strings, which was where my OEggnTHP comment was actually aimed, - and try finding ONE of those, second-hand in a junk shop - they are not designed for a One-String Bass and a One-String Bass is not designed to need them, so using them in my opinion is an unnecessary and in terms of the rest of the instrument, extremely expensive, affection.

Same thing when the drum skin breaks, a trip to the music store, to pay top $$$ for a professionally made piece of brand-new MUSICAL kit.

So yeah, unless you got a spare drum, skins and bass strings lying around handy or a local store with a good cheap supply of used items, or you're in a band and you steal the other player's kit - which is totally allowed BTW - to me it's Over-Egging the pudding!!

Which ain't bad, just a bit unnecessary. Like my Strad-Box.

But I said all along that this was my personal player's opinion and invited other players to comment.

But you're not a player, most of your postings were bass'd(sic) on assumptions of what your friend thinks and does, you don't even know how to string the thing properly, nor even connect the string to a stick - your diagram was bass'd(sic) on guesswork and all you've done with your last post is try to belittle my input by suggesting I am advocating some extreme Luddite viewpoint and that I would consider the use of any professionally made item an affront to the art of Bass-Making.

Which ain't what I said at all.

In fact I think it would be really great to be able to go into my local music shop and pick a brand-new Gretsch/Fender/Gibson/Martin etc… T-Bass off the shelf, I'd love one!!

Please!!

And like I said before, if there's anyone out there with the seed money, I've already got the plans ready for the Electric-MIDI-T-Box Synthesiser Sequencer Sampler Thingy


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: reggie miles
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 07:13 AM

"you don't even know how to string the thing properly, nor even connect the string to a stick "

It seems that you misread my post above. I didn't offer a description of how to "string the thing properly, nor even connect the string to a stick" because I've seen enough players and playing styles to know that seldom are two ever exactly alike. Hence, why I said what I did.

"Keep in mind that this is just a starting place to work from and your actual measurements may vary to work best with your purposes and individual approach to playing."

The reason that I've touted my friend's approach is because I've heard plenty of others and nothing that I've heard has been even close to his. Period. By that, I'm not saying that other one string bass players were bad. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I've seen some wild and freaky thumpers that were absolutely astonishing in their efforts. I haven't seen them all and in all likelihood, I won't get that opportunity. I'm merely saying that even via their best efforts on a variety of different types and approaches to one string bass builds, none has been able to equal what my friend could do with his. If and when I do hear one better, you can bet that I'll be happy to post about it.

Now, please understand, that this is just my opinion. Hey, the next guy might think that he sucks and that I'm a tone deaf mutant. We all have our own ideas regarding what we like and why.

I understand what you're getting at, regarding the use of something that might be more costly than what you're willing to invest in for such a project. I can imagine that new drum heads might be pricey items to purchase. I wouldn't go that route. As for me, I seldom purchase new items and prefer to shop at garage sales, junk stores and swap meets. I've had an old bass drum in the basement for years that I've been threatening to turn into a drum bass. At the moment, I have lots of other more pressing projects but I'll get around to it.

I don't know how many drum heads that my friend might have gone through in his experimentation to create what he did. Being curious about that aspect of his concept, I did asked him how he managed to keep the tugging on his string from pulling through the head and he explained how he managed that part to me. I will restate that because of the sensitivity of the plastic drum head, there is no need to apply even a fraction of the pressure needed to play an average steel tub bass. So, I never saw him lose a head at any time when we played together. Back then, he primarily played in an acoustic jug band configuration.

Hey, speaking of digital dreams, my friend, who plays spoons, managed to attach a pickup to one of his spoons and pumped it into a digital effect processor and looper. I liked the way he could alter the sound to make his spoons sound like anything within the sound bank from birds chirping to you name it. A wah pedal became a tonal shifter so he could play melodies as well. I've been wanting to take some of my pursuits into that same realm. The best of luck to you in your digital designs.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: NervousPaulvis
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 05:26 PM

Sorry Reggie, you're right, it was Banjo Ray who suggested the Clove Hitch and groove, whereas I advocate the fixed loop and screw-hook.

What you got wrong was assigning the string as the hypotenuse in your Pythagorus formula as this wouldn't put any tension on the string and therefore make it un=playable.

Your picture should actually look like this: http://s239.photobucket.com/albums/ff28/paulvis/?action=view¤t=T-Boxes1-23.jpg

Hmm not posted links before so I don't know if that will work.

And again I agree that your friend's drum-head bass is going to sound a lot better than most of the traditional upside-down bass boxes, such as you've heard other people play, thumping away with the string tied to the floor of the box/tub.

They're probably not bad players they're just not playing very good basses.

But you ain't heard me and mine yet and I maintain that my radical cross-string design will give a drum skin a fair old run for it's money and is by it's very nature a more accessible, easier, cheaper, more Tea-Chesty-Traditional way of achieving this kind of sound, and without having to source and cannibalise another musical instrument.

Enough talking though, you have to compare for yourself, so go and listen to the kind of sounds I'm talking about at my Bass-Ek Instinct video-clips on how to make a Tea-Chest Bass sound really good:
http://www.youtube.com/nervouspaulvis#p/u/5/ZjYmwFXCnCk

And you can hear me playing the thing on a proper studio recording - with added percussive pieces tied to my wrist and ankles - at

www.myspace.com/bloweevils/music

Pretty darn sensitive I think you'll agree but as you can hear we play at quite a lick compared to most jug bands - raw jump boogie blooze indeed - and I think this style of playing would take it's toll on most drum skins even if reinforced with leather patches etc, far quicker than it does on the cross-strings.

It isn't always playing them that can tear the skin either, I lost a skin to my harp player's size 11 boot once, not at a gig thank goodness, but should that ever happen to your friend, for whatever reason, where be your drum-head bass player then?

Off stage searching for a roll of gaffa tape and then heading to the music shop…

Me, I just carry a roll of string in my pocket and should a cross-string break (maybe once in two years) I can get it fixed and playing again before the end of the song.

I love the digital spoons idea though, brilliant, I've had bird's chirping, telephones ringing and helicopters flying out of my T-Box before now but the wah-wah peddle to get tone shifting for melodies is pure - what did Foolstroupe Robin say?

Serendipitous Genius.

Yeah Man


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: NervousPaulvis
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 10:16 PM

Hi y'all,

Just a note to say I have totally changed my philosophy concerning Tea-Chest Basses and when you go to check out the score at http://www.balloonbass.com you'll understand why.

The Balloon Bass!!

Wot a Fantastic Idea!!

No more heavy boxes or unwieldy sticks to bother with, just a bag of balloons and a ball of string - whoop de woo!!

Look out (musical) world

The revolution is on it's wah-heyy!!

Balloon Bass

Balloon Bass

I can't stop talking about it… http://www.balloonbass.com


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: reggie miles
Date: 29 Mar 11 - 12:11 AM

Pretty wild! Amazing what the right pickup and an amp can do for you when playing with balloons. I checked out one of the videos. The guy had great technique but his left hand work looked a bit tricky to emulate. He almost had a cat's cradle going on when reaching for those upper notes. Still, what a hoot! There seems like plenty of room here for imagination to play a role in the continuing development of this idea.

I've heard folks using a simple rubber band as a reed instrument. Years ago, there used to be rubber band player in a local band. He was quite good.

The first time that I noticed the resonance factor of a balloon was over 30 years ago. We were hangin' out and playin' on the street in Santa Cruz. One afternoon, when there were too few folks to entertain and we were doin' more hangin' than playin', I got bored and decided that it was time to inflate the 6 foot weather balloon that I had, for some odd reason, decided to bring with me in my backpack on this hitchhiking/busking tour that we were on.

Since I only had my lungs to use to inflate the thing, it took me a while. My buddies just stood around and watched as I became more and more hyperventilated while in the process of trying to get it fully filled with air. I noticed that I became rather light headed in the process. It was a strange sensation that I had not experienced before and a lot of bad puns seemed to accompany my attempt. Balloonatic was one word that came to mind.

I halted my inflationary mission when the thing was about four feet in diameter. I figured that was big enough. That's when I noticed the sound that the balloon could make when my fingers plucked its surface. I put my ear next to it and heard an amazing kind of reverberation of the sound of surface being plucked. I had always wanted to get another 6 foot weather balloon since then and explore that aspect further.

I see that someone else has discovered at least one other really cool musical property regarding playing with balloons. Balloonatics untie!


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: NervousPaulvis
Date: 30 Mar 11 - 01:41 AM

And then there's http://www.balloondrums.com/

So there's your replacement skins…

And I'm sure it must be possible to make a balloon kazoo too

Then a Balloon Guitar and balloon keyboard - hahaha

And we've got the whole orchestra -(:

Nice one Reggie, have you visited any of MY sites yet?

NPE


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Apr 11 - 10:03 PM

Hi Reggie,

"I'm merely saying that even via their best efforts on a variety of different types and approaches to one string bass builds, none has been able to equal what my friend could do with his. If and when I do hear one better, you can bet that I'll be happy to post about it."

But it seems that you haven't - checked out my sites and heard one better, - http://www.youtube.com/nervouspaulvis#p/u/5/ZjYmwFXCnCk - or if you have you're not going to admit it.

Ah well, I notice you've been touting your friend's drum-head bass around these pages for a few years now Reggie but like you say without much response.

I've tried to offer you a reason for this but you stick to your guns insisting that nothing sounds as good as your mate's drum-head and then when I direct you to a site where you will find those good sounds you seem to disappear from the board.

Seems a bit flakey to me but thanx for the rubber-band idea, when my balloon burst the other day I carried on playing with the scrap of rubber and got the same sound as an inflated balloon!!

So why bother with a balloon then?

Or a box?

Or even a stick??

A piece of string tied to a bunch of rubber bands will do the job just as well - though you do need a pick-up unless you just play it with your thumb in your ear.

I've no pix to show, nor no sounds just yet, but you heard it hear first - The Rubber Band Bass!! - it will take over the world - ha ha hee hee…


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Apr 11 - 01:05 PM

Great Thread Gents! Mahalo!
I play electric bass guitar for a ukulele band here in Kona on the Big Island, and one day two of our ladies come in and say Richard we saw two aunties playing ukes and this uncle was playing this washtub bass and it sounded good. Could you make one?

I was thinking that there is no way its gonna sound very good, but to satisfy my curiousity and keep the girls happy -- well, why not. Like I tell my son, 'see that smile on your mother's face? That means we're happy". So I'll make a good effort, then I could go back to a real bass.

A trip to Ace started the journey. Tried weedwhacker .95 & .105 but too stretchy and took too long to come back, but surprised me with a pretty good sound, then Ace plastic covered clothesline wire, better but not great sustain, finally at Home Depot a 1/16th cable with a thin green plastic cover - bingo. Easy on the hands, good sustain, nice deep sound. Holy shit, now I'm starting to worry.

Put the 74" pole end on a stick that was lying across the washtub bottom, so the end was about 4"-5" from the tub center so I had a lot of mechanical advantage, and now the string was pretty close to the pole so it could be fretted. Put the tub up on some short legs - 1" 1x2s - with some felt on the bottoms for anti-rattle, and on the front put a rim notched 2x2 2-footer across outside the drum with a couple of 3/4" pegs sticking up. This lifted the front of the tub. Stuck some 10# barbell weights on the pegs and don't have to hold the tub with my foot. Two small pillows inside the tub tamed the mids.

Damn thing sounds as good as my Warwick, but more appropriate for the Hawaiian with the pedal steel sort of feel.

Hey, I put on some country and some bluegrass music and started working out some basslines, and damned if this instrument isn't about the most fun in the whole damned world. The uke group is loving it, and so am I.

One thing that may have helped to get the great tone. I played it for about 3 weeks, then I saw a small crack starting next to the eye bolt. Cut a 3"x3" galvanized sheet metal patch, flattened the center of the tub and put the patch and a fender washer under and a fender washer over. Temporarily bolted it together and soldered the washers and patch, then removed the bolt and put the eye bolt back. This made the center a bit heavier, and the tone had the perfect level of fundamental. Its easy to play, and sounds a lot like an upright. My Warwick is downright indignant.

Also, this thing - on its own - is as loud as I play with the warwick against 10-15 ukuleles and vocals. And the tub is punchier if i dig into it. What a well kept secret.

Another thing I learned. If you ever do want to plug this thing in, take a pair of headphones with pretty good bass response, wrap them up in a small towel so they don't rattle and stick them under the tub and plug them into the input of a bass amp or a PA. They make a great pickup if you need the extra volume for on stage. I don't think you could buy a better one.

Mahalo again for all the help and ideas.
Richard
Grass Shack Records
Kona, Hawaii


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GutBucketeer
Date: 04 May 11 - 01:40 PM

Wow - I can't believe I missed this whole 2011 discussion on tub construction, strings, and things. I've been playing. A lot of good thoughts in the above threads (and some fairly thick hot air too).

Check the earlier posts for my thoughts on design etc.

I still think the best innovation is having a cross piece or using some other means to reduce the angle of the stick to the string. It allows more control and reduces the force on the fingering hand. I can play all day without gloves, and no longer get blisters.

There are tons of tub designs and they all work.

I've tried the drum idea with a smaller floor tom (i think it was a tom)with about an 18' diameter head and it didn't work out for me. If I ever find a used bass drum at a junk shop I'm going to experiment some more. One of the things that is important with this design is to cut a leather ring or reinforce it some other way where it goes through the drum head.

I've replaced the steel head in my tub with a thin piece of Luann plywood, and it sounds fantastic!

The type of string to use depends on your playing style and whether the neck is fixed or not. You have more note control if there is less stretch. I both pull back and finger so I like a smooth string that has mass but not much stress. Right now I use either a bike deraileur cable (which is very smooth to ensure accurate movement across the cable wheels) or a standup g string that has a multiple strand braided inner core.

I think the tub enclosure does matter. My bass is LOUD! but a little muddy. If I lift it totally off the floor it looses some of its tone. I've been afraid to cut a hole in the side, but would love to figure out how to put a tuned port in it (I use an old tub that is heavier than the newer ones and don't want to screw it up). Fooles Troop, if there are any sites that explain how to do a tuned port that would be cool.

Norvous- Your tub would probably sound better if you could follow some of the design principles for a resonating sound box. I suspect that right now you aren't getting any resonance from the box. There has been a ton of discussion on this topic in the cigar box guitar forums. If the holes are too big or its just open you basically have an open back banjo type instrument.

All that said, the more I see others play and the more I hear the differences between good and bad examples of tub playing, the more I'm convinced that it all boils down to the player learning to play their instrument. They have to say I'm going to practice until I can control the notes. Second, they have to keep it up until they can contol the notes across the full range, and increase their plucking speed. Others sound lousy on my tub. I can take a tub that sounds lousy and at least get decent notes out of it.

Norvous, you've gotten good because you have stuck with it over the years.

This assumes that they atleast have built a tub that isn't a 1/2 inch piece of cotton cord attached by an eyebolt to the bottom of the tub.

Nuff' said.

Yes Sir shows some of my playing from last Monday night.

http://youtu.be/gxXbiJBeZzw


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GutBucketeer
Date: 04 May 11 - 01:51 PM

And for the bluegrass folks here are two examples of tub playing with some slapping thrown in:

Orange Blossom Special
https://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.box.net%2Fshared%2Fj37k1ovdza&h=f5bd0


Florida Blues
https://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.box.net%2Fshared%2Feua5o18qih&h=f5bd0


Both are from when I was playing a little with Notable Strings featuring Speedy Tolliver on Fiddle and Jerry Steward on Mandolin.

JAB


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Jun 11 - 11:47 PM

Gutbucketeer!!

Sir, you're back, while I've been away for a month or two.

Where is it that you play, I'd like to visit and see you for real?

Tis good to finally read a word from the wise, esp as Reggie kinda withered on his own vine

But you did misspell my name, so I guess nobody's perfect, least of all me.

But my basses are, at least as close as you can get and they got more resonance than you can shake a stick at Mister.

Yes sir, siree.

Have you actually checked out any of my sites yet cause I don't know where you got that resonance idea.

Or was that just your gut instinct?

My playing may be a different matter, but the light-weight super-strong string I use and the cross-string method I employ for resonation makes playing so easy and the instrument so tonal that I too can play for hours without gloves.

And I'm talking playing man, Red Hot Rockabilly Blues Inspired New Age Progressive Skiffle, not tapping out a back beat to some old-school Ken Colyer foot-tapper

To me the word Bass, when applied to these instruments is a misnomer, sure I can get a bass note and plod along in the background but I don't wanna!!

I can and mostly do play my T-Box more like a lead instrument and often find myself following the vocals and running against the damn drummer.

Your cross-piece design for the stick on the tub-top (or bottom really) sure gives you better control but you are always going to be limited by the lack of flexibility in the standard upside down tub you traditionalists still use at the moment.

With my little stick-cup and light-weight strings I can play the string from super slack to tight enough to cut a mans hand off.

And because the open end of the tub is now the right way up you get more of the sound coming out of it, tho according to fools jewels not for the reasons I thought.

Still serendipitous genius eh?

You shouldn't cut up your old tub just yet though.

Least wise not til you've tried some of these ideas out on a cheap new one first.

I like what you've done with the wooden lid but the sound is still trapped inside (muffled) cause you got your box on upside down.

It's not a backless banjo because the strings meet in the middle of the inside of the box.

So here's how to make the sound come out of the tub.

1. Turn it up the right way round
2. Cut 4 small holes on opposite sides.
3. Thread a piece of thin gauge plumbline cord through these holes to form a cross inside the tub.
4. Tighten these cross-strings as much as possible, use a stick through each loop to really tighten them.
5. Tie a similar piece of string through the middle of the cross so as to tie all the loops together.
6. Measure and tie this string to the top of your playing stick while the top is bent over to be above the centre point - about 45º.
7. Place one foot inside the bass, watch the cross-strings!! - a small piece of carpet or sheepskin down here makes it more comfortable for your foot to stand on - or you can also attach an exterior bass base.
8. If you can attach a stick cup on the lip of the tub use that, otherwise place the stick on the floor
9. Start picking

I'm not sure what you mean by a tuned port google says it's a type of turbo-charged fuel injection system and if so sir I take my hat off to you.

And put my crash helmet on.

I think though that you may mean some type of balanced output for plugging your bass into an amp or PA?

Well the easiest way to amp a Tea-Chest (which then means it don't matter which way the sound comes out so long as the joints don't creak) is to stick a little stick-on piezo-pick up on the outside (these are about £15-20 in music shops or Amazon and are sold primarily to let classical guitars, violins and mandolins etc be amp'd up without cutting holes in them.

These have a cable attached with a standard jack plug which you can then plug directly into any amp or PA that has a guitar jack input.

To get the best out of this type of unbalanced output though is to first plug the jack from the pick-up into a DI Box which then transforms it into a balanced signal and which has an XLR socket to attach a mic cable to.

A competent sound-engineer can thus transform the dullest of T-Tubs into the richness of tone more often associated with regular instruments.

I'm good tho because I stuck at learning how to play guitar and then when I finally learned how to play three chords, I kinda naturally how to find the right note at the right time for whatever other people are playing.

People ask me how I play it and I usually answer "Magic" hahaha

Nice vids and mp3's but I can't hear you too well without my headphones which I can't find at the moment and the vid clip doesn't show your tub,cept for a quick flash of the wooden top (bottom).

Send us more tho please.

In the meantime go and see me at http://www.youtube.com/nervouspaulvis#p/u/6/tWPAxbAnsIY

and tell me about resonance!!

Chow4Now

Paulvis -(:


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST,Nervous Paulvis
Date: 03 Jun 11 - 11:48 PM

GB- That last message was from me man

Paulvis


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST,Nervous Paulvis
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 03:31 PM

What??

Nutting??

From No-one??

Oh well, as usual Paulvis gets the Last Word

nuff-sed


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST,Nervous Paulvis
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 03:46 PM

That's
http://www.elveye.co.uk/ElvEye1.2/page5.html


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 08:23 PM

I'll see if I can get one of my band mates to explain how his washtub bass is put together. He's been playing the thing for over 20 years, and finally bought a new string last spring. As I recall he said picking the right washtub is not an easy thing for a beginner. He tested them for resonance by sticking them over his head and singing, amusing the other folks in the hardware store no end. He also pounded out flat the first inner ring because he found it a structural weak point; he is a quality control engineer.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST,The Raindance Kid
Date: 04 Aug 11 - 09:26 PM

I play a simple washtub bass: stick, string and tub. The tub gets attention cause I painted it metal flake black and mounted a vintage Fender insignia on it.
I am a former sail maker and have been playing WTB for about 30 years. I have always used 505 polyester leech cord for the string. About 3/16", good tone, balance of tension and elasticity, holds a knot and is impossible to break. Any sail loft should have it.
The stick is a small, straight cedar tree which transmits vibration well.
I play fairly accurately with only string tension to get pitch. The stick is tall enough that I can lean my head against it to really hear the notes.
I have recently achieved the best rattle free tone from the tub by eliminating the handles and beating the bottom into a relatively smooth dome. I was thinking of going over to some sort of wooden box, but now the tub sounds so good, I probably won't.
The string is attached to the tub by tying it to a screw eye which goes through a hole in the bottom and into a small wooden block inside.
Thanks for the thread....


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST,Debra
Date: 20 Jan 12 - 03:52 AM

I have had 3 tub basses (one was plastic) and this third one is the simplest design and best. I use a dowel to attach the string under the bass and keep it from popping through the hole. I have another dowel to hold the string in place near the hole we put in the mop handle. The mop handle has a notch cut on the bottom to let it rest more easily on the rim of the bass. I do "let the sound out" with a notched piece of wood that fits the bottom rim of the bass. It's getting hard to find tubs that aren't too thin in the middle to use.

I use cotton string-never get sore fingers even at an all-weekend jam fest. I have also tried something like a weed-wacker string on someone else's bass, but it didn't behave like I expected. What I like best is old curtain sashes, but they are brittle, since they were used in this house circa 1969. But they get the cleanest pitches. My first bass had nylon parachute chord- too stretchy to get clean pitches.

I have played in a couple of old-time/bluegrass singing trios and two instrumental contra-dance bands. To amplify the bass, I use a sneaker with a good dipped heel cup. Place the mic inside the sneaker with the head sticking up out of the heel. Place that underneath, inside the bass on the floor. If your guitar player taps his foot on the stage, the sneaker pads the mic so it doesn't pick that up.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST,Abby the spoon lady
Date: 24 Apr 12 - 09:01 AM

WEED-WHACKER CHORD!! If you get the thick one that is also ROUND (they start going square or somethin) it sounds great, and can be very accurate. and, TO ANYONE THAT SAYS THEY "JUST RATHER PLAY A REAL INSTRUMENT"..... GO TO SCHOOL AND GET EDUCATED, BECAUSE YOU SOUND DUMB TALKING THAT WAY.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 24 Apr 12 - 01:30 PM

I guess I must have gotten blown away by some of the hot air mentioned above, so I missed Gutbucketeer's question about a "tuned port."

Helmholtz did the calculations about a hundred years ago.

If you divide the VOLUME (cubic inches) of an enclosed air space by the "sum of the areas of all the holes" (square inches) in the container, the result is inversely proportional to the frequency at which the air will resonate. (Proportional to the wavelength of the sound.) More holes, or one bigger one, will raise the pitch. Of course there's a "scale factor" to multiply by that depends on whether you want cycles per second or radians per second of the sine wave, but you'll probably just "do it by ear" so it doesn't matter much what the number is.

If you start with a closed can, and put a fairly small hole in it, it will have an "air pitch." Make the hole bigger to raise the pitch to where you want it. A bigger can starts with a lower pitch, so if you want "bass" there's a sort of minimum volume needed for the can you start with, and if the hole gets too big relative to the volume the pitch gets "sloppy" - hence different sized instruments for different pitch ranges.

The air that goes in and out of the "can" doesn't really do all that much for the volume of a stringed instrument. It's the air pushed around by the vibrations of a large surface of the instrument that gets the noise out, hence the attention paid to creating an efficient "sound board" in most such instruments.

Note that you can't use an open bottom tub to "let the sound out" in any practical way and still have a "tuned" instrument.

The "f-holes" in a fiddle are made that way because very precise tuning is wanted there (although every builder has a different idea of what they should be tuned to). It's easier to "tweak" a crooked hole by making it a little "differently crooked" than it is to change the size of a round hole accurately while still keeping it round. (Guitars can (usually) use a round hole 'cause "pitching" the box is less critical when you play lots of strings with a range of frequencies at the same time.)

John


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GutBucketeer
Date: 10 May 12 - 05:57 PM

Thanks John!


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST,dddiam
Date: 03 Nov 13 - 10:48 PM

I am still experimenting with strings for a traditional wash tub base (one where you pull the pole sideways, rather than fingering a rigid neck).

There are dozens of different opinions on the web regarding one's favorite strings. Unfortunately those postings do not always indicate which type of WTB -- rigid neck vs. pulled pole.

I have a new 32" diameter, 35-gallon, round tub. I tried a low-stretch nylon 1/8" string. It has a clear sound, but does not go very deep into the bass note region, nor is it very loud. I am about to try a low-stretch nylon 3/16" string for comparison.

A few decades ago, I had a smaller WTB with cotton clothes line that had a wonderful deep, loud, bass register.

David D.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 04 Nov 13 - 12:12 AM

I had a "double bass" washtub for a couple of decades (two tubs, connected) with fingerboard, and found a lawnmower starter cord (the smaller of the two common diameters) about optimum to simulate the lower end of a standard stand-up bass with about a 50 inch long string, but it needed at least 40 or 50 lb tension to get it up to where it would "ring" right. I used an electric fence stretcher for a tuning knob and a 2x4 split lenghtwise and rounded a little for a fingerboard. String tension was high enough that I had to "brace" the tub bottom where the string attached to keep from pulling the bottom out.

That kind of string would not be well suited to a "bender" type bass (unless you're built like Godzilla).

For a "bender" type tub, it's likely that you'll get better control and a wider range of usable pitches with a lighter string with some stretch, although too much stretchy isn't good either. I'd say you should avoid string that "creeps" when you stretch it (like most monofilament line), but when the string stretches a little the diameter shrinks a little which gives a slight additional change in pitch to help with both pitch range and control of pich accuracy.

One exhibitionist we've seen recently used a 5 ft diameter tub and about 1/4" diameter aircraft control cable, with an old doubletree for a pole. He sweated a lot, and needed leather gloves with steel "caps" on the fingers to play it. (I was much less impressed with him than he was.)

For best effect, you need to consider both the string pitch, and the tub pitch as separately adjustable parts.

The string pitch depends on the weight of the string and its tension. The heavier (pounds per foot) the string the lower the pitch. Increaing the tension raises the pitch. For conventional instruments, it's usual to target the tension to about 80% of the "yield strength" of the string, since anything less than that will sound "flabby" at best. For a manually manipulated string like what you're considering, probably 20% to 30% is more reasonable, and should give decent results.

Ideally, the tub should have an "air resonance" near the lowest pitch you want to play, and the fundaments air resonance (its Helmholtz frequency) is proportional to the total cross section of all the holes in the volume, divided by the total volume of air it contains.

You can lower the "tub frequency" by closing off most of the "open side," with only a "tuning hole" to let the air flow in and out. Adjusting the hole size will tune the air volume. YOu'll get arguments about it, but you DO NOT NEED to have a big hole to "let the sound out" if you get the right tuning, since the vibrations of the metal will drive far more "acoustic motion" than you can get from pumping air through a big hole. To get to an air resonance close to the lower third of a stand-up bass range you probably shouldn't have more than 3 to 6 square inches of "air leaks" for a 30-40 gallon tub.

Most builders of "bender" type WTBs ignore the tub tuning, and that's permissible if it sounds good to the builder.

For maximum volume, you need the heaviest string you can handle, but that also means higher tension, so there are definite tradeoffs. You likely can get a better compromise (IMO) with a fiber string than with a monofilament, and for fibers a woven construction probably is better than just a twisted rope.

Obviously, lots of people have built instruments of this kind, and nobody ever built the second best one. You can expect any advice to be contradicted by the next advisor - but that's part of the fun.

John


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Nov 13 - 08:38 PM

There are no rules, just find what does the job.

I remember once at a festival there was a group from Madagascar or somewhere. They'd got a kind of washtub bass, but with a more musical tone. The "string" they used was a weird wiggly metal thing they'd got off a packing case. They said that when they got some bookings they went out and bought a proper bass string from a music shop, but it just didn't make the right sound, so they wen't back to the binding wire, and it sounded fine.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST,dddiam
Date: 16 Nov 13 - 10:03 AM

Well, I am getting closer to a string that works for my basic "pulled pole" type washtub bass.

My initial attempt, 1/8" low-stretch nylon string (sailboat halyard), had great, clear tone in the higher bass octaves, but did not go all the way down to the tub's natural resonance.

I just tried 3/16" paracord, which yielded significant improvement. It is not a clear or bright of a sound in the upper octave as the other string, but it does play all the way down to the tubs natural resonance. Unfortunately, in the lowest register, the string is loose and floppy, and thus produces no appreciable volume.

My next attempt will be to try curtain drawstring cord, since that was recommended in a previous post.

If the curtain cord does not work, I will then go to cotton clothesline, since that worked beautifully for my old washtub bass, many decades ago.

Gosh do I wish that I still had that old tub. It was a smaller washtub than my new tub, but was made out of thicker metal (circa 1950s I think). It had a full, round tone that would but an orchestral double bass to shame. (Sigh!)

David D.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 16 Nov 13 - 10:28 AM

A "real bass string" is usually used at something like 60 pound tension, and will probably be much too heavy to "pull to pitch" on your type of tub bass. That's also about the most expensive choice you can find unless you can find one while dumpster diving.

Cotton clothesline may be about the right weight, and probably will have a "plastic" core to limit stretch to reasonable amounts, which will likely be a help. Some of it loses a lot of strength if it's really wet when you pull on it. (It seems strange it would be like that when it's made for hanging wet stuff on it?) That might not be a problem, since if the string is wet enough to show the effect your fingers are probably too soggy to play it. (The strength mostly comes back when the rope dries out a little.)

It might be worth noting that even a "real bass" doesn't produce the same "ring" when fingered far down the string. Most "pluckers" stay mostly on the bottom third of the pitch for each string, and switch to a bow for the high notes.

(There's nothing inherently wrong with using a bow on a wastub bass, but I've only seen a very few players who tried it.)

John


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST,dddiam
Date: 16 Nov 13 - 11:01 AM

Debra,

   You mentioned that you got best results from "old curtain sashes". Were they cotton or nylon?

David D.


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: GUEST,Harry Tubman
Date: 11 Jul 16 - 06:55 PM

I use a broken fiberglass upright bass body for my 'tub'. It has no neck or hardware. I lay it down on it's back and attach my string where the bridge normally sits. Enter the 'downright bass'. Sounds better than a washtub, teachest or file cabinet.

Do not attach the stick to the body. This is your secret weapon. You can't unlock the potential of this instrument if you bolt down the neck and fret it like a bass. The body and the stick must only attach to the string.

Paracord works great for string. I played for 7 hours straight at the walnut valley music festival. no gloves, no blisters. Not even a callous in the two years I've been playing religiously. As far as thickness, this is your preference. 3/16 works fine, 1/4 works fine. Depends if you want more low notes or high notes.

You can grab the string higher up on the neck if you want to 'capo' and get a higher register of notes.

Practice playing and talking in sync. This makes people laugh. Sounds like satan is talking.

You can lean your head against the stick to monitor yourself.

Don't forget to use harmonics. Rest your thumb on the string on a harmonic node (1/2, 1/3, 1/4, etc) while you pluck with your finger to achieve harmonics. Helps to mark the string. You can now play bugle songs without changing the position of the stick. Washtub players need not brag about how many octaves they can reach. With one string, your range is infinity low to infinity high. If you can only hit four octaves that's your fault, not god's.

There are two alternative stances I've never seen tub bassers use before that greatly reduce the physical difficulty in playing the instrument.

1. Switch hands. That's right. Switch your left and right hand so you're pushing the stick instead of pulling it. You're now reaching around the stick with your other hand to pluck it. You're now playing 'lefty'. To play 'righty' again, just stand on the other side of the tub. This takes advantage of your weight and makes you work less pulling the stick. If you're standing, this is the way to play. Trust.

2. Sit on a stool and put both feet up on the tub. This is very simple, and makes playing a breeze. This is 'the new way' to play tub bass.

If you're sitting, you can also lift a foot up, press it against the string, and now you have a 'foot capo'

Sitting offers you the remarkable new ability to drum with your feet while you play. You're now a drummer and a bass player. Tap your toe for a snare and use your heel for a kick drum. Barefoot works great. You can now cover bands like prodigy and rage against the machine.

Learn to play left handed. Sometimes you get a cramp and you need to switch hands in the middle of a song, or between songs. This instrument entirely strains one side of your body. Unless you want one big arm and one little arm, learn to play lefty.

Also, sing! Its generally thought to be impossible to sing and play tub. Not so! You just have to split your brain in two like a dual core processor. If you imagine your voice on one side of your mind and the tub on the other side, you can, with concentration, produce two competent notes at once, harmonizing with yourself or singplaying in unison. You can play articulate bass lines while singing complicated vocals if you practice splitting your brain in twain. It helps to close your eyes.

Thumb strumming. make your strumming hand into a fist, but with your thumb on top, like you're holding an invisible scepter. Use the tip of your thumb like a pick. Now you can play very fast chicka-chicka-chicka rhythms at a previously impossible pace, yet still accurate.

What else..

There is no need for any metal hardware to attach the string. Just tie knots and loop through holes or notches to attach the string. No eyebolt or bracket necessary. These things weigh you down, physically and spiritually. When I eliminated metal, I no longer had to bring a wrench 'in case something goes wrong' Now there is less to go wrong.

Tub's break. Teachests break. The bass drum contraption seems especially fragile (not waterproof either). One day I will sail my fiberglass bass across the river to safety.

You can snap your fingers while playing. Snap your fingers. Notice how your middle finger is sort of 'plucking' your thumb? Now, pretend the string of the tub bass is your thumb, and try to snap while plucking. Do this every other pluck and now you're snapping on the offbeat. This will appear to the audience like a miracle.

There are many visual tricks you can use to entertain the audience. Pretend to draw an arrow from your quiver and fire it from your string. Sheath and unsheath your stick like it's a sword. Reach across the stage with your stick and tap your bandmate on the other shoulder, so they look the wrong way. This makes the audience laugh, but confuses your bandmate.

Stand on it! Your bass is strong and so is your ability to get a new one. You only live once. Stand on your bass. I've learned to climb through the triangular space between the body, stick and string while playing, and without setting foot on the ground. If you think that's tricky, go watch a video of Rodney Mullin riding a skateboard. If you're not doing kickflips, backflips and handstands while playing walking basslines, you're not trying. Try to imagine what the X-Games version of tub bass playing would look like. Now do that.

First impressions are everything. When you're heading to the gig, carrying your home made whatever-it's-called down the street and into the bar, don't just carry it in your arms like a wimp, wrap the string around the end of the stick over and over (by rolling the stick in your hands) until there is no more slack and the stick is tight up against the body. Now sling that bad boy over your shoulder like a bindle and walk it around like you own the place. If your tub is heavy enough (mine is), you can swing the whole thing around like a hammer and smash it through somebody's windshield.

Finally, chapter 11 from the Tao Te Ching:

"Thirty spokes share the wheel's hub;
It is the center hole that makes it useful.
Shape clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that makes it useful.
Cut doors and windows for a room;
It is the holes which make it useful.
Therefore profit comes from what is there;
Usefulness comes from what is not there."

In other words, we already got too much crap! The next great invention is the eraser! Long live the one string bass!


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Subject: RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why?
From: Acme
Date: 11 Jul 16 - 10:32 PM

This last post is really great reading! And I sure do miss JohnInKansas. He'd have loved this post. Thank you Harry Tubman.


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