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Topic: Bgdunn13@aol.com
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AuthorTopic:   Bgdunn13@aol.com
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posted: 5/7/2006 at 3:56:53 PM ET
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Does anyone have information on a instrument used by Country Folk singers that looks like a straight peice of wood that was attached to a metal drum or bucket that would be considered a stringed instrument. I can remember seeing it used on PBS or someting like it when they were documenting musical instruments used in the mountains of Tennessee, West Virginia or somewhere down south. Any information would be sincerely appraciated.

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posted: 5/7/2006 at 6:50:52 PM ET
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Welcome to the forums. This is real shot in the dark, maybe if you email PBS and asked them the same question you asked us they can help.

I hope this helps, let us know.

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posted: 5/9/2006 at 11:41:41 AM ET
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My guess is you are talking about a "Viking Cello", gut-bucket bass, or a "Pitchfork Cello". They originated in logging camps and are basically a bucket on one end as a resonating chamber with a stretched string that can be plucked or drawn with a bow.

They also used to make similar instruments such as cigar box banjos and the like.

Chad Criswell
Director of Bands
Western Dubuque High School

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posted: 5/11/2006 at 12:00:01 AM ET
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I think what you are refering to is a kind of "poor man's bass fiddle". By moving the wood section you could change the pitch of the string.Not sure what the name was.

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Ashley PA

posted: 5/11/2006 at 9:09:36 PM ET
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I've always known it as a wash tub bass. Some blue grass groups actually still use them. I played one when I was stationed in Missouri. One of the guys in the sheet metal department made one. They really sound good. It takes some practice to play proficiently, as there is only one string, and to stretch or relax the wooden neck to achieve the correct note is challenging. It,s kind of like bending the notes on a guitar. These were instruments of improvisation by poor backwoods folk who couldn't afford "regular" instruments. Things like spoons, jugs, washboards and other household utensils or farm implements became weekend entertainment. These people were no dummies, and the music is quite good.

I am a fragment of my imagination

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North Coast NSW, Australia

posted: 5/12/2006 at 2:43:38 PM ET
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Logging camps in Australia during the early 1900's produced the Larger-Phone, another strange instrument, which consisted of a series of beer-bottle caps loosly fixed to a pole, which was used as a percussive accompniment to bush ballards.
There is also the saw, in which the handle of the saw is tucked under the neck, and a violin bow is drawn accross the blunt side..the saw is bent to produce different notes.

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