Homemade Instruments: Washtub Bass

Posted by 5 on

Homemade wash tub bassContinuing in my quest to make jug band musicians out of each and every kid exposed to this blog, I'm going to follow up my previous post on making a cigar box banjo with something to fill out the low end - a washtub bass. This classic hillbilly instrument is easy to make, fun to play, and makes laundry just a little bit harder to do. You need:
  1. A galvanized metal washtub - get this at your local hardware store.
  2. A wooden pole - a broomstick works fine here.
  3. Two metal washers, two nuts, a large eye screw, and a bolt
  4. A length of medium-weight rope.
  5. You'll also need a drill and bit that can get through the metal of the washtub.
Instructions: Start off by drilling a hole in the center of the washtub to let the eye screw through. This is a grown-up job, as children lack the trigonometric knowledge to accurately judge the center point of the circle. Also drills and metal are a little bit dangerous. While you're drilling, drill a hole in one end of the pole for the bolt. Screw the bolt into the pole so it's sticking out from both sides.  Put the eye screw into the hole with a washer on each side and the nut at the bottom, and tighten the assemblage. Cut a groove into the end of the pole that doesn't have the bolt on it so it fits on the lip of the washtub. Finally, cut your rope to about eight feet and tie one end to the eye screw. Wrap the other end around the bolt in the pole and tighten it until it sits at about a 30 degree angle when the pole is resting on the lip. Tie it off so it's tight. Now you should be ready to play - drop the lip in the groove, pull on the pole to make the rope tight and pluck it to make the washtub resonate with that classic bwoom sound. Have fun, jugheads!

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  • thanks for commenting! check out this picture – seems to be a little more accurate: http://www.elderly.com/images/new_instruments/200N/WASHTUB_washtub.jpg

    Rockabye Baby! on
  • thanks for the instruction on putting together the washtub bass – the picture that is to the right (on this blog) doesn’t seem to correspond to the instruction – what i’m looking at seems to have a foot peddle or something –
    do you have a picture of the simple bass? Help

    much thanks

    Helen Coyle Bergstein on
  • […] Homemade Instruments: Washtub Bass | Rockabye Baby! This classic hillbilly instrument is easy to make, fun to play, and makes laundry just a little bit harder to do. […]

    Making Music, Being Well | CMIS Evaluation on
  • Dear Yevette,

    Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out our post on making a cigar-box banjo:

    A google search will turn up lots more resources for making homemade instruments.

    Happy strumming!

    Rockabye Baby! on
  • I am interested in making a music garden out of some of your homemade instruments. Could you help me select the right ones that will be interactive for kids. I have a small ramada that these items will be attached to.

    Yevette Sykes on

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