DIY Washtub Bass

Last weekend we were invited to a Hootenanny by my good friends Shannon and Stacie of Mommytonk. They are silly and southern and swear a lot so I knew it would be a good time.DIY Washtub Bass_1

I felt inspired to bring a little extra somethin’. But I was all outta moonshine…

The hootenanny invitation said to bring our guitars, ukes and harmonicas. With our family in town and visions of jugbands, we decided to bring all our instruments plus a washboard, some cowbell and a homemade washtub bass. It was so easy to make so I’m sharing it with you today.DIY Washtub Bass_2

Now y’all have no excuse for not putting your own family jug band together before summer’s end.

DIY Washtub Bass


  • Galvanized washtub
  • Broom stick
  • Clothesline string (or wire)
  • Plunger (This is to let the sound out of the bottom of the washtub. Sure, you can use a piece of scrapwood, but a plunger adds that je ne sais quoi.)
  • Drill
  • Handsaw

*If you’d prefer your washtub to be permanently transformed, you can watch this tutorial that involves drilling an eye hook into the center of the washtub and tying the clothesline to that. Mine worked just fine tied to a handle. And when the show’s over we can still use the tub for its original purpose—bathing piglets!


  • Saw a notch into one end of the broomstick.
  • Drill a hole in the other end of the broomstick.  (When the notch rests on the lip of the washtub, the hole should face the center of the washtub)
  • Tie clothesline string to one handle and thread the other end through the broomstick and tie off.
  • Unscrew stick, saw a notch in plunger head and put under the edge of the washtub.
  • Done! You’ve just brought the hoot to this hootenanny!DIY Washtub Bass_3

Other instruments to complete your jugband:

My brother-in-law played the guitar and the uke.

My sister-in-law added a few small metal bells to the tips of a glove and tapped on a washboard.

My husband drank a beer and blew in the bottle.

The kids shook an antique cowbell that wasn’t getting any action hanging on the wall.

In the spirit of jug band music, any household item you can fashion into a sound maker is acceptable. Jug, essential. Spoons, classic. But what about that George Foreman grill? How about a wok and a whisk? Bonus points if you can turn a garlic press into a kazoo.

Hope everyone enjoys their good ‘ol fashioned hootenanny! Here are a few videos to get you in the mood.

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