Peter 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.”
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.
“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.