Type: Chordophones > Harp > Ground > Monochord.
Region: Many & Africa.
Description: The washtub bass or gutbucket, is a stringed instrument used in American folk music that uses a metal washtub as a resonator. The resonator maybe a metal washtub, box to which a stick is placed. A string runs from the box up to the top of the shaft. Often the string is simply tied on. Optionally one can have a machine-gear tuner involved. traditional washtub basses have a single string whose pitch is adjusted by pushing or pulling on a staff or stick to change the tension.
The washtub bass was used in jug bands that were popular in some African American communities in the early 1900s. In the 1950s, British skiffle bands used a variant called a tea chest bass and during the 1960s, US folk musicians used the washtub bass in jug band-influenced music. It is found in English skiffle bands, Australian and New Zealand Bush bands and kwela bands [it is played in South Africa, Malawi e.g. Daniel Kachamba, Gaspar Nali of Malawi].
Playing Techniques: Usually this instrument is plucked and pressure created from the musician is applied to the shaft so the instruments pitch can bend during performance. Sometimes the babatoni maybe played with a slide and also struck like a drum.
Variations: Gas-tank bass, barrel bass [Trinidad], box bass [Trinidad], bush bass [Australia] babatoni, [South Africa, Malawi, Zambia], dumdum [Zimbabwe], Sanduku [Zanzibar], tanbou marengwen [in Haitian Creole & in English] mosquito drum ; tingotalango [Cuba], tulòn [Italy]. Instruments like this are also encountered in the south-pacific particularly with string bands featuring the instrument as a bass in Vanuatu.
Citations: Bibliography: Websites: Gerhard Kubik ; Grove Dictionary Online / Babatoni ;