In America it became the washtub bass. In the U.K. during the skiffle music craze many bands used the tea-chest bass, including John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Richard Starkey, Van Morrison and Pete Townshend’s earliest bands. In modern African music it has re-appeared as the sanduku or babatoni bass.
All versions of the instrument are played the same way – string tension makes the different notes.
For a resonator, the inbindi used tree bark over a pit dug in the earth, but now a pickup plus an amp is another option – and what an option. You get a clear, big, booming bass tone. Depending on the amp, you can play an octave or two below a bass guitar.
There aren’t any frets, but you’ll soon discover that playing in tune is like singing – if you can carry a tune you can play. Like any musical instrument, it takes years to truly master the inbindi, but you can start having fun right away. For students, it’s wonderful ear-training – just don’t tell them that jammin’ will help them develop perfect pitch.
Following the African tradition, each instrument is a completely unique work of art. Our stage model Electric Inbindis are handcrafted in Jamaica. The instrument shown on this page was carved with a jungle plant theme by Rock Bottom of Port Antonio. Custom built instruments are available, as are no-frills practice models that duplicate the sound and fun for the student player on a budget.
To use the incredible sub-sonic bottom end of the inbindi’s sound, you’ll want the biggest baddest bass amp you can get – a 15-inch speaker is a good start. While it’s possible to practice in a quiet area without an amp, you will need one (and a patch cord) to play to an audience. The amp defines the new sound of the inbindi bass.
This website is your home page for background information, tips for learning to play better, plans for making your own electric inbindi, and for contacting us to place an order. We would love to hear from you – please feel free to ask questions or just let us know what you think.