Definition: Washtub bass is a musical instrument that traditionally has one string that is plucked, using a metal washtub as a resonator.
How to play the Washtub bassThe string is tied at one end to the washtub and, at the other end, to a stick or staff (often made of wood). The player will moved one hand up and down the staff, "fretting" the string, while plucking it with the other hand in rhythm similarly to how one would play a bass guitar. Sometimes, variations are used and there can be up to four strings with tuning pegs.
History of the Washtub bassOriginally, a hole was dug in the ground, with a piece of animal skin stretched over it to act as the resonator. Through time, though, people developed ways to make the instrument more portable, and the tub or barrel resonator emerged. It became popular in America during the advent of popularity in old time music in the 1920s and into the mid-century folk revival. Now, the instrument has evolved further and an electric version has been developed for use in jug bands as well as punk rock.
Also Known As: gutbucket, barrel bass, babatoni, laundrophone