Peter Ford’s Box Bass

Box BassPeter Ford holds down the bottom for the Baby Soda Jazz Band playing a single-string box bass of his own creation. He started out on the slightly more conventional No. 2 galvanized washtub bass before switching to a wooden bucket bass a dozen years ago when he was playing Irish and klezmer music with the Mad Jazz Hatters.

“I’ve heard of tea chest basses and packing crate set-ups, but when I was looking for a warmer, wittier sound, I made my own bass box out of pine.”

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Ford’s triangle-shaped axe is designed in homage to the three-sided bar at Café Moto, on Broadway in South Williamsburg, where Baby Soda held forth every Saturday for several years. (The café is now closed.)

“First I built one with one large hole, Ford says, “but now I put two holes in front like a speaker port, so it’s not as loud, but the low end has more pitch definition and a better spectrum of tones.”

Indeed, when Peter Ford plucks his string and pulls back his stick, he creates bass notes that resonate with a tone as golden as any double bass or a tuba.

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“Most people haven’t seen one before,” he says, “so, as a novelty, it draws people in.”

Ford plays tunes in all 12 keys, and he consciously swings the music. “People are compelled to listen,” he says with a satisfied grin.

Baby Soda Jazz Band
Baby Soda Jazz Band
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Russ Tarby is based in Syracuse NY and has written about jazz for The Syncopated Times, The Syracuse New Times, The Jazz Appreciation Society of Syracuse (JASS) JazzFax Newsletter, and several other publications.

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