A one-string bass violin made from two washtubs, some plywood, a Louisville Slugger, and some weed whacker line.

Louisville Slugger Puts This Bass On Base

One of the most recognizable instruments in both jug band and American folk music has got to be the washtub bass. Also known as gutbuckets, these instruments tend to use an old broom for a neck and usually have a single string.

A nifty DIY wooden tool for turning a wingnut with ease.We would argue that the design of [goaly]’s single-string double gutbucket owes something to the double bass of the violin family as well, with its figure eight shape. On top of those tubs is a plywood soundboard, which is screwed into a series of wood blocks around the lip of the tubs.

For the combination neck and fretboard, [goaly] called up a vintage Louisville Slugger, which is way more interesting than some old broom handle. [goaly] extended the backbone through the body with scrap lengths of 2″x2″, and this spine runs through both tubs and acts as a peg on the bottom. In lieu of a tailpiece, the string is tied to a board that the player secures with their foot.

Although [goaly] experimented with steel cable, clothesline rope, nylon rope, and paracord first, the string is made from weed whacker trimmer line. At the top, the string is attached through the neck — it’s held down with a couple of bent fender washers and pulled taut with a wingnut. We love that [goaly] even fashioned a wooden tool to make it easy to turn the wingnut. And we also love the DIY bridge, which looks like a little person.

There are a couple of ways to make sounds with this thing. Fretting and plucking work, of course, but so does bending the whole thing backward to change the pitch. For a good time, do both. We think it sounds nice and thump-y, and it even makes great percussive sounds on the front and back. Check it out in action after the break.

Don’t have a washtub? A wheelbarrow works too, and it comes with its own stand.

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Wheelbarrow Bass Drives A Sound Garden

One of the best things about making music is that it’s so easy to do. There are countless ways to make interesting sounds out of nearly anything if you’re willing to experiment a little bit — just ask anyone who has ever made a guitar out of a cigar box and a broom handle.

[Vicious Squid] dug in to the fertile soil of the garden implement world and cultivated a three-string upright bass with a rich, soulful sound from a familiar workhorse — an aluminium wheelbarrow. Much of the build is made from reclaimed wood, like the solid mahogany neck from an old door frame, and a broom handle.

The bass is constructed arch-top style, meaning that the soundboard — the wood on the front with the f-holes — is a flat piece tacked to curved ribs that span the width of the ‘barrow. A broom handle sound post mounted front to back pushes vibrations from the soundboard to the aluminium body. To round out the agricultural aesthetic, [Vicious Squid] strung it with weed-whacker bass strings, which are no doubt inspired by the use of actual trimmer line.

It’s already plenty loud, but [Vicious Squid] added a piezo pickup for wheeling it into the recording studio. Slap your way past the break to hear a little ditty.

Are your instrument-building skills at the sapling stage? Start with something simpler, like a sliding rubber bandolin.

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