How to Build an Upright Washtub Bass

Tub Of Nuts image by Scott Williams from

Things You'll Need

  • Wooden broomstick handle or closet pole four-feet long
  • Saw
  • Drill
  • Metal washtub
  • One eyebolt
  • Two nuts
  • Two washers
  • Clothesline

The washtub bass or “gutbucket” is an instrument seen often in old-time jug bands. Unlike a regular acoustic bass, which has four strings, washtub or gutbucket basses only have one string. The player changes the pitch by pushing or pulling the stick to adjust the tension of the string. It’s easy to make a washtub bass with some household items.

Broomsticks are a good dollar store buy.
broom image by L. Shat from

Look at the bottom of the bucket and notice the raised ridge. Notch the end of the wooden broom handle with your saw so that the bucket's raised ridge will fit into it.

Drill a hole through the opposite end of the broom handle about three inches from end.

Flip your washtub upside down and drill a hole in the center of the bottom of the tub.

Lay a nut on top of a washer over the hole you just made and screw in the eyebolt halfway.

Turn your washtub on its side. From underneath, feed a washer and nut onto the bottom of the eyebolt and screw securely in place.

Tie one end of the clothesline tightly to the eyebolt.

Stand your washtub upside down on the floor and set the notched end of the broomstick into the raised ridge on the bottom.

Lean the broomstick slightly toward the center with one hand while grasping the free end of the clothesline with the other.

Feed the free end of the clothesline through the hole drilled into the broomstick and pull it taut. Wrap the clothesline around the end of the pole and tie securely.


  • "Treasures from Throwaways"; Better Homes and Gardens Books; 1976

About the Author

Amy Lyn has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and development. She has worked with nonprofit, arts, education and technology organizations. Lyn holds a B.A. in journalism from the University of Massachusetts.

Photo Credits