Music Workshop
The Whamola Is the Single-String Whammy Viola You Can Make Yourself
Les Claypool, pictured here in a monkey mask, popularized the whamola.
Les Claypool, pictured here in a monkey mask, popularized the whamola.

If you’ve seen any episode of South Park past season nine, you probably recall the catchy, goofy theme song. What you might not know is that Primus frontman Les Claypool not only composed those funky sounds, but popularized the easy-to-build instrument on which he performs the song.

The Whamola (a mix between a whammy bar and a viola) is a single-string bass instrument that is played by hitting the string with a drum stick in one hand and varying a lever that manipulates pitch with the other hand. The Whamola is a direct descendant of the wash-tub bass, but offers more versatility and robust electric sound made possible by a pickup.

It’s an incredibly fun and approachable instrument for any musician or Maker. The simplistic, intuitive nature of the Whamola makes it an especially worthwhile project for Makers who might not have a musical background.

The best part? You can build one for about $100. Check out how Instructables user gazillabytes built his own Whamola, and check out the video below for an audible treat:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWRn80UOsqw]

3 thoughts on “The Whamola Is the Single-String Whammy Viola You Can Make Yourself

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Sophia is the managing editor of the Make: blog. When she’s not greasing editorial gears, she likes to run, ride, climb, and lift things, and make lo-tech goods like zines, desserts, and altered clothing. @sophiuhcamille

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