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the online home of the Derby Washtub Bass Company

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Instructions

CARE AND FEEDING OF THE DERBY WASHTUB BASS

From time to time work a small amount of Vaseline into the string to retard rust.

Car wax for the tub and neck.

DO NOT ROCK THE NECK BACK AND FORTH!!

Carrying the bass: Pick it up by the rear strut (the one at the "six-o-clock" position), push down on the neck and swing the tub section behind you. Watch out for low ceilings, chandeliers, light fixtures, low-hanging branches, door jambs, furniture, people, etc.

Transport: Turn the bass on its side, resting it on the edge of the plywood platform. Support the neck at the PVC clips. A milk crate with a folded towel on top works fine. Brace the tub with a pillow or folded blanket to keep it from rolling. Face the string upwards to minimize stretching.

Use the special wing nut wrench to remove the platform. Be sure to match up alignment marks when reattaching to the tub.

Protect the formica disc by not setting the bass down on rocks or stumps or other objects.

Replacing the string: Forget it. You probably won't outlive the string anyway.

INSTRUCTIONS:

TUNING: The string is tuned to the second A below middle C, same as the A string on an upright or electric bass. Any good quality tuner will give you the correct note.

STANDING POSITION: With the rear strut as six o'clock, stand at four o'clock if you're right handed, eight o'clock if you're left handed. (Left handed players: take a magic marker and transfer the notes to the left side of the neck. Substitute left for right and right for left in the following instructions.)

FINGER POSITIONS: Place your right thumb on the lower white plastic clip. This lines up your index finger with the "sweet spot" on the string for the best sound and volume. With the SIDE of your index finger (NOT the tip), pluck the string by pulling it towards you, not back towards the neck. Place your left thumb on the back of the neck at the G position. Get ready to use the TIPS of your fingers of your left hand. (Grab a can of soda with your left hand. Stiffen your fingers and remove the can. You are now ready to play the washtub bass.) Place your left second finger TIP on G and pluck the string. Now place your index finger TIP on D and pluck the string. You have gone "down" to the D because you have gone down the musical scale. (From now on, "down" is toward the tuning peg and "up" is toward the tub surface.) Practice going from G to D and back again. Count "1, 2, 3, 4" as you play. "1" (G), "2" (D), "3" (G), "4" (D). Keep practicing until it is smooth. This is the "chord" of G. Now place your index finger on the C closest to the tuning peg and pluck the string. Go "up" to E with your second finger and pluck. This is the chord of C. Keep practicing. Put your index finger on D and pluck. Now pluck the "open" string (no fingers). This note is A. You are now playing the D chord. Practice: G, D, G, D; C, E, C, E; D, A, D, A, and keep counting. The chords G, C, and D are the three main chords in the "key" of G. G is the "first" or "root" chord, C is the "fourth" chord, and D is the "fifth" chord. Keep practicing these chords until it becomes smooth and steady. IMPORTANT: THERE ARE NO SHORT CUTS! IT WILL TAKE TIME! KEEP AT IT! Eventually you'll "get it".

Sharps and Flats: The symbol " #" means "sharp", "b" means "flat". Example: The dot below D is "D flat" as well as "C sharp". The dot above D is "D sharp" as well as "E flat". The other dots on the neck are sharps or flats of the notes next to them. "Bb" or "B flat" is a common key used in all types of music. (Technically, F is "E sharp" and B is "C flat", but nobody actually calls them that!)

OTHER CHORDS: F: FandC. A: A (open string) and E. Db (D flat) can also be used for the second note in the A chord. E: E and B. Bb: Bb and D. Eb: Eb and Bb. E: E and B

KEYS AND CHORDS:

Key:

Chords:

G

G:

GDGD

C:

CECE

D:

DADA

C

C:

C ECE

F:

FCFC

G:

GDGD

A

A:

AEAE

D:

DADA

E:

EBEB

(or substitute Db for E)

F

F:

FCFC

Bb:

Bb D Bb D

   C:

CECE

Bb

Bb:

Bb D Bb

D

Eb: Eb Bb Eb Bb

F: FCFC

THE BEAT: All music has a "beat". The beat refers to the amount of time between each note. You are familiar with the beat from counting 1, 2, 3, 4 while finding the notes on the neck. If there are no drums in the group you're playing with, then you're in charge of "keeping the beat". From now on, tap your foot while practicing counting with your notes. Make your right hand pluck the note as your foot hits the floor, and make your left hand fingers get to the note before your right index finger plucks the string. By now you've got a lot of things going on. Again, there are no short cuts. Keep the faith! Keep at it!

As of now you're no longer just a spectator of music. You're a student and you've got a lot to learn. Watch musicians as they play. Tap your foot to their beat. Listen for the changes of the chords. Talk with other musicians and learn from them. Ask some of them if they'll play a few chords and call them out as they play with you following along. The fastest way to learn is to get into jam sessions and try to keep up with the big boys, or girls as the case may be. You'll be surprised how much you learn and how fast you learn it!

REMEMBER: IF THERE IS NO DRUMMER, THEN YOU'RE THE BEAT-KEEPER!! You need to be strong, steady and smooth. These instructions will get you started. Practice, practice, practice, and then practice some more! Go for it!


KEEP ON PLUNKIN'!!

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