My Washtub Bass site

a weblog about my instruments and experiments

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A 5 Gallon Plastic Bucket Bass

Posted by rockmumbles on August 30, 2006

My next bass project will be a 5 gallon plastic bucket bass, my intent is that it will be made completely from hardware store and salvaged materials, no instrument tuners or strings.

I’ll probably make it a 2 stringer, I’m thinking about placing the bucket in a wooden box then mounting the neck onto the box, we’ll see…

I’ll keep you posted on this one…

Update: Jan 14, 2007

OK, my brother beat me to the punch on this one, and that’s probably good… I was having troubles with “hardware store” tuners I was going to with the Tub-O-Tone tuners…

The following is taken from a couple of emails from my brother (edited by me)

A $10 bucket bass, and it takes only a few hours to make.rth 5-gallon bucket bass


some wood: a 1X2 for the neck and whatever you have for the frame

some weedwacker line for the strings

a couple of pieces of 1/2″ pipe

some assorted hardware fasteners, screws etc.

some glue

some time

The bass has about a 40.5 inch scale note there isn’t a bridge, the strings go directly from the bucket up the neck, like Lauren’s Tub-o-Tone design. (Tub-O-Tone page)

First Impression:

“‘It doesn’t have a lot of volume but it sounds pretty good with a Radio Shack piezo pickup. I would think it is probably similar to the cardboard box bass. To get more volume you need to plunk the strings much closer to bucket.'”

“‘So far it’s been hard to get a good low E (0.105 weedwacker string), the 0.095 string works good for the A string.'” What you need is two strings that are gauged such that both are really equal in tension when tuned. I don’t think this is as much of an issue with a bridge type instrument like the cardboard box insrument as it is tuned E and A with the same strings I am using. On my bucket bass the 0.105 tuned to E has much much less tension than the 0.095 tuned to A. I may need to tune it to A and D, you might even want to tune to something more like G and C for bluegrass – hillbilly – country music…'”

“‘So far it works best just to walk up and down a single the string versus playing multi string patterns as with electric bass. Also I doubt that you would (could) ever play open strings, you kind of (have to) adjust your position to get the notes (in tune) as you play…'”

The tuners:bucket bass friction tuners

“‘I was planning on using 1/2″ wood dowel for the tuners, but when I got to making them, all I had was 3/8″ or 5/8 ” dowel, so I cut a couple of short pieces of 1/2″ pipe and drilled a hole through one side in the middle for the string to go into and drilled all the way through the end for the handle, which is a nail covered with electrical tape.'”

“‘The friction block has two screws which fasten it to the back of the headstock, you adjust the tension on the screws to adjust the tension on the tuners. The center of the friction block is cutout for the string wraps (I only have the strings wrapped around the pipe a couple of times). The tuners seem to work easy. The strings seem a lot like uke (or classical guitar strings) they stretch and stretch and stretch until finally they hold there tune (better anyway).'”


Posted in 2 stringer | 3 Comments »

Kaufman Bros washtub bass

Posted by rockmumbles on August 28, 2006

Kaufman Bros upright 2-stringerThis all started when I was up at Kelly’s store one day and Joe came in and we started to talk… He asked me if I wanted to borrow the washtub bass he had built for his brother. So off we went to his parent’s place and he showed me the bass he had made it and given to his brother as a gift.

This article will attempt to document some of the things I’ve done and learned.

Even though a washtub is a “quite normal” body for a home-made bass, the engineering design of a washtub leaves a little to be desired as far as the “tonewood(s)” involved…

Click here for the full article.

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My First Washtub Project

Posted by rockmumbles on August 28, 2006

My upright wastub p-bassI’m going to try to document the building of my 4 string washtub bass.

I’m starting from where I am now and will attempting to rewind to where it started.

I would like to get some “plans” together so I could share what I’ve done, overall I’m pretty satisfied with this project, but more mad science will be on its way I’m sure.

Here’s an earlier picture, see “My Washtub P-Bass” project page for more info etc… click here.

Posted in 4 string Washtub | 1 Comment »