This Percussion Plus washboard is the perfect addition to any folk ensemble, able to create a variety of interesting sounds and rhythms. It has a sturdy construction, made from metal and a durable wooden frame, but is not too heavy so it is easy to support while playing.
Unlike our PP1082 washboard, which is draped vertically down the chest, this instrument is played horizontally, a method generally used by European players. The washboard comes with a strap to be hung around the neck but can also be played in a variety of other ways, such as held in the crook of one arm or held between the knees while sitting. It is extremely versatile and can be played with the thimbles provided as well as with a range of wooden spoons, drum sticks or brushes, and whisk brooms.
You can create a wide variety of different and unique sounds and rhythms on this washboard, by rhythmically scraping or tapping the metal surface. A simple 1+2+3+4+ rhythmic pattern can be played with thimbles on the fingers by dragging your dominant hand down the washboard for beat 1, then tapping the board with a finger on your opposite hand for the +. Next, strike down the board with your dominant hand for the accented beat 2. Simply repeat these steps for beats 3+4+ and you have mastered your first washboard pattern!
Further sounds can be created by striking the woodblock and bell which are attached to the frame. The more you play, you might like to customise your washboard further by adding extra features such as tin cans or bicycle horns to increase your sound pallet and match the board to your own personality.
Playing the washboard as a percussion instrument is believed to have derived from the practice of ‘hamboning’, which came to America from West Africa. This involved rhythmic dancing and chanting as well as beating out rhythms. The use of washboards as percussion instruments has continued and is seen in genres such as folk and bluegrass.