My Washtub Bass site

a weblog about my instruments and experiments

About My Instruments

I have been playing bass guitar on and off for nearly 40 years, I have had an interest in acoustic basses from the original Earthwood and Guild acoustic bass guitars, but didn’t ever commit to raising the money to buy one. That’s probably OK since I would have probably gotten rid of it by now anyway…

Instruments that I can document…

Going back, in late 1967 or early 1968 I bought a brand new Fender Jazz bass from the local music store with a hard shell case for $285, it was my second bass guitar. I kept if for about 2 years and sold it to a friend for about $175 it was still in very good condition, last I heard Bob still had the bass.

Then the bass drought, in about 1973 I bought a Biltmore Herald f-hole archtop from my step-grandfather. My great unkle who was a marvelous guitar player reset the neck so it was playable. The action was still a bit high for my standards so I made a pine base for the archtop bridge which it still has and had a very sweet playing guitar. Of course it has the distinctive bright (Harmony) f-hole sound. I have loaned this out to my neighbor Jake and he is playing it as an acoustic blues guitar. (I’m in the process of putting a archtop mini-humbucker on it now so it can be amplified.)

1976 I need a bass… so back to the local music store and I bought a new Fender Musicmaster short scale bass, I liked it and kept it for about a year or so and then wanted someting different, so I traded it in and got a Gibson Grabber bass, I liked it but was somewhat disappointed at the time with the soft alder body. I did a very poor job of installing a DiMarzio P-bass pickup in it and had a hot dual sound bass with a series parallel switch. I bought a $150 Yamaha acoustic guitar that was a nice little guitar, and a little while later a friend sold me a $40 closet find of his, a 1952 Martin 00-17 which was so cool but not as playable as the cheap Yamaha.
Then again I got bored so…

1978 or so I bought a Peavey T-40, the sound capabilities were amazing, of course after using it a bit you end up using the one sound you like almost all of the time. I remember the Grabber with the DiMarzio, in the series mode I could get a huge full sound with great sustain, and flip into parallel mode for a bright rock sound. I wish I could make up my mind…

A great expanse of time…

1990 I bought a funky looking Ariline guitar for the kids for Christmas and with it got a funky looking short scale bass for myself, I couldn’t possibly get them something and not use that as an excuse for getting myself something as well.

The funky bass was a 50’s-60’s Kay with a single cutaway and very cool striped binding, it had a poplar neck, and a semi-hollow body made from 2″ pieces of wood covered with poplar plywood on top and bottom. Oh what a woody sound, right before I got rid of it I had some GHS flatwounds on it and what a sound.

I can’t really remember the order of the next two instruments, whether the mid 1960’s Epiphone Newport short scale bass ($75) was first or the Silvertone (Danelectro) I got both within a period of about 6 months.

At a friends music store I saw a Schaller Gibson EB style bridge so I had to have it. I got it and put it on the Epiphone bass, instead of the cheap “round bar” Gibson bridge.

For the Silvertone (dano) the skate key tuners were bad so I put a set of Grover open tuners which lasted a few years, later I put on a set of Gotoh tuners, by far the best. Oh BTW, I traded the Peavey T-40 for the Silvertone (dano).

Somewhere in this time frame I sold the Martin back to Mark it really didn’t have any value to me because of the playability (or should I say lack of…), I kept the Yamaha for my acoustic guitar and then the Yamaha guitar, my SM-58, brand new mike stand and my Yamaha bass guitar preamp burned up in a fire.. (At the time I was a LITTLE bummed, but now I can say oh well it’s just stuff…)

1996 Hanni bought a Seagull S6+M or something of the sort, a nice reasonably priced acoustic guitar, she played it for a while until I took it away from her, (nice aren’t I? she wanted a “real” guitar and thought she liked it but later realized she didn’t like it so she didn’t play it, so I did)

2002 For an aniversary, birthday, Christmas present I got an Epiphone Chet Atkins SE, steel string solid body acoustic electric guitar, I could play it and not make so much noise in the apartment. I upgraded the pickup to a Fishman Natural II which was a major improvement in the sound and got rid of the grounding hum present with the stock Shadow passive pickup system.

2004 I bought a Semour Duncan acoustic tube pickup and put it in Hanni’s guitar, she hated the pickup in the sound hole, (it didn’t bother me… but I guess it WAS her guitar).

2005 Three 1960’s short scale basses, so time for change, I sold the Epiphone bass to my brother, with my Peavey Minx amp. Less stuff, more good!

May 2005, while in Spokane I bought a really beat up 1989 Squire P-bass, time to go back to long scale, with some help from Kelly “we” did a fret job and I put some new strings on it and what a sweet bass. Looks like hell sounds like heaven, how can that be? Oh, no, now I have 3 bases again, something has to change…

OK, so it’s time to get rid of the other two vintage bases, I gave the Silvertone bass away, what the hay, it’s only stuff… Later I bought the Silvertone (dano) bass back and sold it and the Kay bass to a friend (he’s a closet guitar collector, or is that a guitar closet collector, or is that a guitar collector closet?).

Finally down to only one bass, the Squire p-bass, everythings better now for at least a minute or so and then I ran into Joe at Kelly’s store and he asked if I wanted to borrow the 2-string fretless washtub bass he had made for his brother, and of course I cannot say no so away we went. At first I didn’t play it much but finally I started to play it and tweak with it and grew to love it, finally an acoustic bass that worked.

Then along comes Dave and he askes me if I would like to borrow his “custom” Judd fretless thin-line acoustic bass that gets to reside in his basement and be ignored. Of course as above I can’t say no so now I only own one bass, but have three in my posession.

Then the itch… oh better scratch that itch… Mooore , mooooooorre… I had to make my own washtub acoustic bass, just like a mountain climber having to climb a mountain because it is there, I HAD to have my own washtub bass, “MY OWN” washtub, good, bad, or indifferent, it had to be “MY washtub bass”. So away I went, to Home Depot, the local “tonewood supplier” in a very Homer Simpson voice “Oh… red oak… Oh… luan plywood… Oh… tempered hardboard… Oh… stufff and more stuff… Oh… ” Then to D & B supply for the #3 tub. Now what am I going to do? OK, the tub and body took about three weeks of experimentation and contemplation, (often more time in contemplation than in experimentation, to paraphrase Homer Simpson “Bart if you never try, you’ll never fail”, if I don’t start I won’t have any problems) finally I actually started to do something and put things together, BTW I needed a neck so without asking I borrowed Steve’s Squire P-bass (no big deal right???) and proceeded to take it apart, hey it lives in my case so … (doesn’t that mean it’s fair game???)

The End? I know myself better than that, I don’t think so…

4 Responses to “About My Instruments”

  1. Since the above article I’ve had how many electric basses?
    * A really nice low-end Yamaha, this was a keeper but I didn’t keep it …
    * An Aria from the 80’s, again one of the low end models, neck wasn’t so good so bye bye … no regrets
    * Fernandes J-style, the neck was bad so really is was a body only, so it has a large vintage like replacement neck, Fender US Custom Shop pickups, and a HipShot Vintage bridge.
    * Franken-J-bass, a parts bass using a Squire ‘soft’ maple body, Japanese Fernandes neck, Fender US pickups, baddass-II bridge.
    * another Squire P-bass this one a MIJ actually a pretty nice bass, with the large vintage sized neck.
    * Washburn T-24 my current go to bass, not perfect but really playable, comfortable etc. I like it!
    * I almost forgot the Hohner acoustic bass project sans frets

  2. david judd said

    I’m curious about the Custom Judd bass. I’m Dave Judd and i would be interested to know if it is one of mine.

    • Hello Dave, the ‘Judd’ bass belongs to a friend, I had it for about 6 months or so … now several years ago. I do believe that it is one of yours … the owner said the ‘maker’ worked for Taylor guitars …

  3. david judd said

    Nice to know it’s getting used. I never really know where they go. Now i need to get rid of a few more.

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