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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GutBucketeer Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why? (150* d) RE: Washtub Bass: What kind of string & why? 04 May 11

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.

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