Root Bass

12 Disciples

Electric musical instrument from Port Antonio, Jamaica. I bought some from local carvers, and together installed a pickup in a few of them. The electronics design is based on ideas I have tried before, but improved as I have gone. But it is the carving designs that make the instruments sing visually and musically. Looking forward to getting back soon to continue development, but so far it sounds great, and gets an appreciative reception.

The Root Bass is an ancient instrument with a 21st century update in the form of a pickup. The washtub bass and related ‘inbindi’ instruments appear around the world, but used to suffer from low volume. The simples solution is to hold a microphone so it makes direct physical contact with the staff near the string’s upper connection. The best sound is achieved with a pickup built into the design.

While we were installing the pickup, we cut the staff in two and fitted it with a friction fit connector. This makes it much easier to get the instrument on an airplane, and carry the instrument around town to gigs. I use a guitar gig bag with a bit of foam – the pieces fit in well, and everyone knows to treat it with care.

In the tradition of African instruments, every instrument is unique and sings its own song. The instrument shown here is ’12 Disciples’ by Clive Williams of Port Antonio. It’s my personal instrument, so it is not for sale, but I can similar carvings from the same artist, or you can tempt me with a crazy offer.

A stick, a rope, and a mic are all you need, but these instruments go well beyond that. These are quality musical instruments, and works of original art, and pricing reflects this.

I hope to have other instruments for sale soon – I just have to get back to Jamaica soon.