The Washtub Bass Persuasion and Irene Tukuafu

A few days ago, I got an email from Irene Tukuafu, artist, musician, musical instrument maker, and kindred spirit, now living in Illinois. Here’s her email and my reply:

On 12/23/16 at 9:15 PM -0600, Irene Tukuafu wrote in a message entitled

Fwd: Washtub bass:

Dear Lloyd, I just finished this last night.  Well, I have some more fun painting I’m going to do on this, but thought you’d like to see it.  I did some research on the different kinds of washtub bass’s and when a gal let me play her one that had the handle of an axe….that worked better and can control the sound pitch better.  At least it did when I played her one.

Sooooooooo I’m in the market to find a better string.  Living is just wonderful when filled with fun stuffs to do.  My next musical instrument will be a TENNESSEE MUSIC BOX.  It’s a dulcimer that was used more for the dance hall, so had to be bigger.  Not much to look at………..soooooo I’m making mine to Look at too. ha.


aloha, irene

Irene online:



Here’s my ‘box base.” It uses a piece of a Samsonite suitcase for a soundboard. That’s my brother on banjo and Phoebe Brabo, 91 playing ragtime piano, at my Mom’s rest home in 2010:

Several years ago I ran across the Baby Soda Jazz band playing in Union Square in NYC and fell in love with Peter Ford’s box base. It took me about 2 years to talk him into into making the parts for me, which he sent me and I then put together. Here’s his band:

I try to catch them each year when I go to NYC.



About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

One Response to The Washtub Bass Persuasion and Irene Tukuafu

  1. ha ha ha…I didn't think you'd post this….but for fun. yes, that video of you playing that tub bass and others helped me want to build one myself. I'm so very grateful to have read all your books and Good Earth Catalogue and yes, the main inspiration of our round house now on the Mississippi is from all the books that you've published. . aloha, irene

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