Whamola!

As I recently leaned, a whamola is an instrument that uses a single bass string, but has a lever to vary the pitch.  Les Claypool of Primus brought this instrument, if not into the mainstream, at least into focus for those that like that kind of music.  After seeing my cousin Jackson one weekend, we decided to make one and he promised that he would be able to get all of the parts for it.  All he supposedly needed was help assembling it.

Although I was skeptical, he did indeed have all the parts needed – mostly an older bass guitar and a square piece of wood (more build details in a later post).  After an afternoon’s worth of work, here’s what we came up with:

Whether you think this instrument is awesome or annoying from the video, I can definitely say it’s incredibly fun to pay.  Jackson plays pretty much any instrument in a band, but is best on bass.  I, however, have played bass guitar some, but haven’t really picked one up in a few years.  Both of us loved playing the whamola, however, especially using a distortion pedal.  If you decide to build one, use extra caution even when playing.  The string can snap violently when tightened with the handle, so use at your own risk, preferably with safety glasses or mask.

I was sad to see it go.  Jackson did leave me another J-style pickup and tuning peg, so another may be in my future.

whamola-pickup-and-stringJackson claims that he spent $7 building this instrument, but that isn’t including the bass that was taken apart or the wood that he was able to obtain free of charge.  The only thing I contributed was an extra 1/4 – 20 nut to lock the whammy handle axis down and some time on my milling machine and chop saw (here’s the the mill and chop saw that were used from Amazon).

I was thanked profusely for helping build this “whamola-bass” device, but I had a great time (5 hours or so) building it!  I’ll go over the specifics of this build in a later post part 1, acoustic version, and part 2 electronics (coming soon), so be sure to check back or subscribe to find out!


  1. How to Build a Whamola! (Part 2, Electronics) | JCOPRO.NET - pingback on May 31, 2012 at 6:02 pm
  2. Mario Mendoza

    This is very cool. If the whamola makes it onto a Jackson record, I’d like to hear it.

    • Glad you liked it! I went and saw Jackson’s band play a few weeks ago, they were quite good, so you never know.

  3. Building a PVC Pipe Instrument | JcoPro.net - pingback on May 22, 2014 at 7:41 pm

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