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Would you happen to know what a gutbucket is?

- K. W. K.


Do I know what a "gutbucket" is? Of course! I play mine every month at our church's "Country Gospel Music in the Pines" session!

Bob thumping his gutbucket I prefer to call it by its more respectable name: "Washtub Bass Fiddle." The name "Gutbucket" comes from the fact that it's the same type of bucket that was commonly used for carrying away the guts when slaughtering and butchering animals on the farm. The "Washtub" designation doesn't have such a gory connotation.

The hard-driving rhythm and down-home style of the Gutbucket even lent its name to a style of jazz or blues music. "Gutbucket jazz" (also known as "Barrelhouse") is noted for its "strident, uninhibited, and forcefully rhythmic style" [Merriam-Webster Dictionary] and is often associated with the sort of music played in the old saloons of the late 1800s and early 1900s.

With a bit of amplification, the Washtub Bass can hold its own against even an electric bass guitar. In fact, at our last country gospel sing, both of the bass guitar players were out of town, and my old Gutbucket filled the void quite nicely. One interesting feature of the Washtub Bass is that the resonator (the tub) is in hard contact with the floor, so on a wood floor the entire floor -- and even the building itself -- becomes part of the resonator. This results in the audience actually FEELING the rhythm, in addition to hearing it.

Happy Gutbucket Thumping!

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