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Homemade bass for acoustic group

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by BbbyBld, Feb 7, 2014.

  1. BbbyBld


    Oct 13, 2005
    Meridian, MS
    One of my musician buddies wants to put together a folk music group to play at local events. He asked me about playing bass and if I had any ideas. Obviously, DB would be ideal, but I don't have one. Other instruments would be banjo, guitar, washboard, plus who knows what folk type instruments, and I think that all of us would be singing. I'm also thinking that we would be playing outdoors most of the time. My first thought was washtub bass, but then I remembered the whole cardboard box bass thing, which is something I've wanted to build for a while anyway, so I think I'm leaning that way.

    I've done a bit of research and can't really get a good idea of how loud the box basses are unplugged. I think they sound really cool plugged in (piezo pickup), and I guess it wouldn't be the end of the world if I had to use a small battery powered amp (maybe even built in to the box), but I would like to keep it acoustic if possible just to keep with the whole vibe of the group.

    I'd appreciate comments from any washtub or box bass players.:bassist:
  2. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    I have a two string Bogdon cardboard box bass, tuned AD.

    If you play with a relatively aggressive right hand technique (rockabilly style) it's about the same volume as an acoustic guitar. Definitely louder than an acoustic bass guitar, not as loud as an upright.

    Word of warning: The tuners are garbage. They work ok for a while then suddenly let go and do nothing. It takes three hands and three wrenches to fix them.
  3. Hi.

    A DIY cadboard bass only requires a trip to the hardware store, ~$50 max in materials and a few hours of work, so why not try that first.
    If I was a hat wearing kind of a guy, I'd tip my hat for Mr. Bogdon for finding buyers for his kits, that's for sure ;).

    If the project band is going to last longer than just a few gigs, I'd make a Nekromantix coffin style DB out of plywood though as a more durable and more permanent solution. Should be around $100 for the parts and should not take more than a weekend to put one together either.

    Then there's obviously CCB's, from ~$200 up if You don't want, or don't have time for DIY.

  4. BbbyBld


    Oct 13, 2005
    Meridian, MS
    lz4005, are both strings the same gauge of weedwhacker line?

    T-Bird, thanks for the info about the necro.
  5. IMG_2663.
    This is two steel patio chair seats, and a pickaxe handle. I play's great, and is tuned in A and D. It's loud enough to play with two guitars, Banjo, mandolin and fiddle.
  6. BbbyBld


    Oct 13, 2005
    Meridian, MS
    Very cool Landy. Metal is an interesting choice.
  7. Hi.

    You're welcome, that approach has always intrigued me.
    Just haven't gotten around to actually build one ;).

    An imploded or otherwise unplayable CCB would make a great donor for making such a bass.

    Another thought that crossed my mind, is a bass banjo.
    That would probably look the part better than a box bass.

    Either made out of an old (/cheapo) bass drum, or out of a 200 liter steel barrel.
    A regular BG neck and BG steel strings can then be used for economical as well as volume reasons.
    I haven't tried the commercial Weedwackers for a DB, but the garden aisle varities are IME only good up to A.
    The E would probably have to be 4 or 5mm thick to sound right and not to bee too floppy on a 42". Even thicker on a 34", obviously.

    Very cool looking instrument. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Halvorsen


    Mar 7, 2008
    Bottle bass:

  9. HaphAsSard


    Dec 1, 2013
    TBer kickass's brilliant creation:
    Genius! :eek:
    (A cardboard box bass might prove more wieldy though.)

    An easily disassemblable neck system would be the icing on the cake.
    (I mean devising one made of scrap parts/for cheap if possible, not designing a brilliant piece of engineering costing 20 times as much as the rest of the bass!)
  10. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013

    They're different gauge and different color.

    As for making one yourself, the build was actually a lot more complicated than I thought it would be. The cardboard is doubled up very thick corrugated all around, with a cardboard soundpost. There's a wood brace connecting the back of the neck to the back of the tailpiece inside the box, but it doesn't touch the top. Other than the tuners, it's a well thought out design, and worth the $75 or so I paid for the kit.
  11. Hi.

    I do remember that one, there's been other DIY approaches as well on TB IIRC.
    I'd probably make it a bit larger in diameter and also thinner with a bowl though, makes wonders for the tone.

    Speaking of coffin basses, what a coincidence... :).


  12. experimental bassist

    experimental bassist

    Mar 15, 2009
    Threads like this are why I keep coming back to Talkbass.


    Bobby please let us know what direction you plan to take.

    I need to bite the bullet and either get an upright or build a washtub myself one of these days. :rolleyes:
  13. moonshinegtrs

    moonshinegtrs Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 28, 2009
    White Bluff,Tn.
    Owner: Moonshine Custom Guitars
    Cool. Banjo Basses!

    Sling Blade:

    Moonshine :bassist:
  14. Kickass


    Jul 20, 2012
    Scottish Borders

    Here's one of my basses.
    There are more pics here.
    My 20x16" deep drum makes a sweeter tone than the 20x14" or the 22x14",
  15. Uncle K

    Uncle K The bass player doesn't get a sandwich Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2011
    Erie, PA
    I once had a 28" Ludwig marching bass that I was going to turn into an upright banjo bass. Then my SIL used it as a planter box.