How to Play the Washboard

Left Wasboard

The washboard is an easy traditional instrument to play.
It can add a variety of interesting sounds and rhythms to any band. The board can be held in the crook of one arm while played with a wooden spoon, drum stick or brush, whisk broom or thimbles. It may also be hung around the neck with a strap or held between the knees while sitting and played with two hands.

The 1+2+3+4+ rhythm pattern can be accomplished with thimbles on the fingers, by dragging the fingers of your dominant hand down the board for the count of 1. Next, tap a thimble adorned finger of the opposite hand for the +. Follow by striking down the board with the dominant hand for the accented 2. Repeat these moves for the 3+4+.

Our boards have the added bell and tin can for some interesting sounds and you can even play on the Right Washboardwood area. The different sticks and brushes mentioned above will alter the tone of this instrument considerably. Listen to drummers for ideas on what to use or what to play.

Holding the board in one arm and playing with a whisk broom gives a nice soft sound. Try playing down, down, up down, down, up or just get that chugga, chugga train sound going. You'll be amazed how many songs you can play along with.
Seated with the board between your knees, you can employ the drum brushes to good effect. Try following the 1+2+3+4+ pattern.
As you play the washboard more and more, you may decide to customize your board. Some people add bicycle horns and bells or woodblocks. You could add different size cans to increase your sound palette. A set of hole saws would make lovely bells. Make your board fit your unique personality or play it as it is.

Click here to see our T-shirt designed especially for the Washboard Player