You definitely need a Whamola. What in the world is a Whamola? It's a simple one string instrument with a handle at the top to vary the pitch. This upright bass instrument is normally played by hitting the string with a drumstick with one hand and varying the pitch with the other like a whammy bar on a guitar. I was truly "inspired" to make one after watching a video, which defies description, of what appears to be Les Claypool enthusiastically playing a Whamola.


I embarked on a Whamola journey to make one in my garage with a goal of less than $100. During my Whamola research, I discovered Whamola Laboratories which makes and sells beautiful hand-made wooden Whamolas but I'm cheap and wasn't that fully committed to a Whamola to shell out $500+, but that's just me.

These are the steps I used to make my Whamola. The materials for this project came out to less than $100 which is odd because most of my projects go over budget. Using these steps and materials, your Whamola will come out like mine or you can pick and choose which steps you want and make yours unique. Either way, I'm fairly certain yours will look and sound different than mine which is a good thing because Whamolas are like people and no two are alike. Remember, you're unique just like everyone else!

Step 1: Materials and Tools

These are the materials used to make the major components:
Whamola Body
Gorilla Wood Glue (shameless plug alert!)
3 Oak Hobby Boards 48"x1 1/2" x 1/4" (Red Oak Hobby Board 0.25 x 1.5 x 4 ft)
1 Aluminum Square Tube 1" x 4 ft
1 Set of Patio Door Wheels (Two Wheels) 1 1/4" in diameter
6 Nylon Plastic Spacers 1/4" long, 1/2" outer diameter, .257 inner, (Lots of 1/4" metal washers would work too)
Threaded Rod 1/4" about 2 ft
10 Cap Nuts (1/4" -20)
1 Wooden Dowel 7/8" x 48" (need just 13" actually)
1 Rubber Foot (Came in set of 4) 7/8" Leg Tips
1 1/4" Thumb Screw (Winged Screw 1/4"-20x 1/2")

Oak Board .75 x 1.5 in x 9 in
Aluminum Flat Bar stock 1/8 thick x 1 in
Bass Tuning Peg (I bought a cheap set of four)
4 Wood Screws

Pickup (Find one or make one):

- Buy/salvage a used or new guitar pickup. A bass pickup would be ideal. Price will vary wildly.

- Make one:
2 Plastic Bobbin Spools
Magnetic Wire 40-44 Gauge normally used. I think my mystery spool is 40 gauge.
4 1/2" Neodymium Round Magnets
2 1/4' Threaded Machine Screws
Scrap of 1/4" thick wood
3 little nails (3/4" shade bracket nails, nickel plated)
1 1/8" Audio Jack
Black and Red hook up wire

These are the major tools I used:
Drill Press (Electric Hand Drill will work but much more challenging)
Drill bits 1/16" to 1/2"
Dremel tool
Clamps to assemble and glue body together
Electric Hand Sander and assorted sand paper
Basic hand tools e.g. pliars, screwdrivers, wire cutters,
Solder Iron
Beer Fridge (Fully Stocked)

Whamola Opening Concert and Tour Requirements
Drumstick (not chicken, think percussion but any stick type thing will do)
Guitar Amp (Mine are from pawn shops)
Audio Cord from Guitar Amp to Whamola and possibly audio jack adapters
Humility - A modest and humble view of one's self creating and playing the infamous Whamola
<p>hey what about really thick strings. conklin makes a .195 !!! thats a thick string. </p>
<p>nice 'ible.. love it. </p><p>hey what effects do you think les is putting his whamola through in that video?</p><p>thanks!</p>
<p>I made mine and put a lipstick pickup on it. I also placed some blocks of wood in the back to build a plate to mount the 1/4 inch instrument jack. I bought a Cello stand and modified it to go into the bottom of the whamola.</p>
<p>Made my own - and I am really pleased with the results!! What a crazy-good set of instructions! The materials list, photos and schematics were all very helpful and well ordered - so far the best I've seen.</p><p>I used an actual used bass pick up, purchased from a local shop, i think $15. Would still like to make my own, though. Tuning key, and jack were less than $10. Notice that I modified the design of the string holder at the base/bridge - figured this would prevent flex or bending.</p>
<p>Nicely done! Thanks for posting the pictures of your finished Whamola. Glad you found this instructable helpful. I've really enjoyed mine and it's also been great conversation piece as these 'fine' musical instruments aren't that common, especially handcrafted ones. Thanks for sharing.</p>
Where does it say on here about what kind of musical wire you need?
<p>I used a bass guitar string. I think any guitar string would work but the bass strings last longer and in my opinion sound better for this fine instrument!</p>
Good project, well worked. <br> <br>After seen that Youtube video, it occurs to me that this instrument could ALSO be used to make music! ;)
Thanks for your comments and good points on a Whamola's ability to produce &quot;music&quot;. No lessons needed to learn how to play it and I don't think there are many openings for Whamola instructors!

About This Instructable




Bio: I like making different things because it’s fun and always an opportunity to learn something along the way. Plus, it’s excellent justification to ... More »
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