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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
reggie miles Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why? (153* d) RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why? 03 Mar 11

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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