The gut bucket is a single-stringed musical instrument created by early jazz and blues musicians fill the place of an upright bass violin. The instrument consists of a stretchy cord 4 - 6 feet in length strung through the bottom of an over-turned wash bucket and fixed to the top end of a sturdy stick or pole. The diagram below shows the instrument in profile.

The gut bucketteer sits in a chair and places both feet on the top of the over-turned wash tub; he mounts the bottom end of the pole at the closest point on rim and pulls the pole towards him, putting tension on the string. With his other hand he plucks the cord to sound the musical note. Unlike nearly any other conventional stringed instrument, the tension in the string is provided solely by the instrumentalist, making it very versatile - and perhaps one of the most physically and mentally demanding stringed instruments.

The first gut buckets were probably made in the 20's and 30's by musicians unable to afford a real stand-up bass upright bass, and was more often accompanied by washboards, spoons, and harmonicas than guitars, horns or traditional stringed instruments. Only a handful of modern musicians still play the gut bucket, and the instruments are almost always hand made.

The driving, soulful and often gut wrenching music of the early gut bucket blues bands inspired a range of musical styles, such as Country, Bluegrass, and Delta Blues, as well as several jazz and blues artists, Muddy Waters, Charlie Patton, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, Jimmy Reed and many, many others. Recently released by James Mathus of Squirrel Nut Zippers fame is an excellent album featuring the gut bucket as it was probably originally heard, called "Jas. Mathus and his Knock-Down Society play songs for Rosetta."

            pull -    //|
                     // |
                    //	|
                   //   |  -  pluck
                  //    |
                 //     |
                /       @       \
               /                 \

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