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How to play washboard?
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Poster How to play washboard?
technique2012





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Joined: Aug 11, 2012
Location: Illinois, USA
No. 1 Posted on Apr 1, 2014 1:38 PM Profile | PM | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
I have to accompany a group by playing washboard and I have absolutely no experience with it. I don't even have the correct materials to play a washboard or a washboard, but I want to learn in advance so that I'm ready with the concepts when I do get the washboard. Has anyone else played the washboard before? I just need to learn the general basics.


"Anyone can make the simple complicated. Creativity is making the complicated simple."
-Charles Mingus
Singlestroker





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Joined: Apr 7, 2010
No. 2 Posted on Apr 2, 2014 4:18 AM Profile | PM | Email | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
You have asked the question at just the right time. My brass band is playing Pasadena soon, and the written part is boring.

I just love the Temperance Seven version, so I naturally went straight to their version to see how their drummer did it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=RDD0UdkKH-0Es&v=D0UdkKH-0Es

I could never get on with the washboard using the usual sewing thimble, so itís lain idle for the five years Iíve had it. I had also assumed that Iíd have to hold is against my body, so it would be difficult to switch between it and the drum kit. How unimaginative I was!

The Temperance Seven gave me the answer in this video of another recording of theirs:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcelC9xFl9A&list=RDD0UdkKH-0Es

As you can see, the washboard is horizontal, and the drummer is playing it with the tips of his sticks. The playing consists of drags along the ribs, and taps. As with any percussion, getting the optimum sound is a matter of experimentation with stick weights and stroke-pressure. The dexterity and fineness of touch that you already have from playing drums will take you a long way, especially if youíve done some light jazz drumming.

By the way, before I tried it, stupid though it was, I used to assume that this sort of playing was easy. That percussionist (or the session percussionist if that was the case) was an artist in his own right!



Singlestroker





Posts: 661
Joined: Apr 7, 2010
No. 3 Posted on Apr 2, 2014 6:00 AM Profile | PM | Email | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
A couple of points to add:

If you're mic'ing your equipment, this probably won't apply, but it will be of interest to drummers that play unplugged. , it is of interest. Laying the washboard on the snare drum with snares off drum amplifies it quite well. Using a different drum produces a different tone.

Music for snare drum can be read directly for the washboard. What would be press rolls can be played as drags on the washboard, and the rest exactly as if they were on the snare drum - apart from the absence of bounce, of course. If you get a hardwood-framed washboard, the sides and ends can be used to play woodblock effects.



Aktootere





Posts: 5
Joined: Aug 3, 2015
No. 4 Posted on Aug 4, 2015 1:57 AM Profile | PM | Email | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
This posts is†very†informative.†Thank you!


pwc





Posts: 9958
Joined: Jan 16, 2005
Location: Pattaya, Thailand
No. 5 Posted on Aug 6, 2015 3:54 AM Profile | PM | Quote | Search | Copy | Favorite
I had a period of playing washboard with a dixleland band years ago and one trick I learned was to have a strap that went under legs. I used both metal and plastic thimbles on my fingers to play and depending on the type of washboard (mine was metal) it cuts through just fine. The secret to washboard is to find a pattern that suits the tune with one hand sweeping like you would with brushes and stick with that rather than try too hard to match melody lines. It can sound corny if you try to play it like woodblocks or something by just tapping patterns.


Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

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