Elements of the Washtub Bass

by Tom King
Plastic Grommet

Pan Washer

Flat Washer

Washtub Drill a 5/8” hole in the center of the bottom of the tub. Insert the rubber grommet to protect the sharp edges of the hole. Drill an appropriate sized hole in the tool handle near the top and glue in place a decorative dowel (the kind you hang a window sash on) perpendicular to the top of the tool handle (below). Tie either a length of 5/8” rope or a standup bass string to the top of the tool handle and run it through the grommet in the bottom of the washtub and throught the pan washer and then the flat washer. Tie a figure 8 knot in the string to prevent it from escaping. Using the bass string may require you to improvise a smaller flat washer to keep it from slipping through the hole. Make sure the string has solid contact with the metal bottom of the tub.

Decorative Dowel

When you play, place one foot on the rim of the tub opposite the point on the edge where the handle is braced against the rim. Don’t put your foot flat on the bottom or you deaden the tone. Stretch and loosen the string to change the notes as you pluck the string in time to the music. I like to use my hand to hold the string firmly against the stick. Changing my hand position higher or lower changes the length of the plucked string. I grip different places depending on the key of the song. The washtub is very forgiving of mistakes in pitch.

Tool Handle

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