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Now some people don't understand. They think a blues player has to be worried, troubled to sing the blues. That's wrong. I'll put it this way; there's a doctor, he has medicine. He's never, sick, he ain't sick, but he has stuff for the sick people. So the blues player, he ain't worried and bothered, but he's got something for the worried people. Doctor . . . you can see his medicine, you can see his patient. Blues . . . you can't see the music you can't see the patient because it's soul. So I works on the soul, and the doctor works on the body - Roosevelt Sykes, spoken on Smithsonian/Folkways Classic Blues anthology

Author Topic: Jugs  (Read 4401 times)

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Offline Norfolk Slim

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Jugs
« on: July 22, 2009, 02:00:31 PM »
I'm in the process of acquiring and trying to play a jug....

First one I got from ebay turned out to be rather small- but makes a half sensible sound.  Managed to get a big (mebbe half gallon) stoneware flagon from a work colleague but was very disappointed with the sound.  Has a very narrow neck and im wondering if that is the problem- virtually no volume or reverberation at all.  Can anyone who knows about such things tell me whether that is right?

Do I need to look for a nice big stoneware crock with a wider neck?

Be warned EBA folks- the little jug is coming to Blues week.... >:D

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Jugs
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2009, 02:51:07 PM »
There's a brief jug write-up by the late Fritz Richmond that was on John Sebastian's website, but ain't no more. Fortunately someone at wikipedia had a link to an archive, http://web.archive.org/web/20041211190338/www.johnbsebastian.com/jugmaking.html.

Here's the text:


Making a Jug

By Fritz Richmond

 
Jugs are made of glass, plastic, crockery, even metal. I like to use crockery jugs. Somewhere they are still being made new, but old ones such as you find in antique stores work just fine. Sometimes they have conical tops, sometimes rounded tops. It is my experience that the ones with conical tops are more likely to be good musical jugs. Some jugs are blond, some brown, some brown-on-blond, that is, with only the top glazed brown; some are blond-on-brown with the lower half glazed brown. The color doesn't make any difference. Look for a jug in the 1 gallon size with a hole about an inch in diameter. It is better if the hole tapers a bit, like the shape of a cork. It is possible to play larger or smaller ones, but the sound you're familiar with on jug band recordings was made almost exclusively with 1 gallon jugs. I see jugs for sale in antique stores for $10 and up. It would be inflationary to pay more than $20 for one unless it has the original paper label still on it, or has a glazed-on graphic of some sort.

It is not wise to test strange jugs until you have cleaned them, you never know what's been in them. Here's how to clean a jug. Dump out whatever will fall out of it, then pour in a couple of tablespoons of laundry bleach, then fill it with water. Let it sit for a couple of days. Keep an eye on the water level, if you have to keep adding water, this means the glaze is imperfect inside the jug, and the water is soaking into the porous crockery. This condition does not affect its musical qualities, but a jug with this problem will require more frequent cleaning. If the jug does soak up additional water, keep it full. After two days dump out the water and bake it in an oven for half an hour at 350 degrees. This will boil out any water that has soaked in, and drive off the chlorine from the bleach. (And heregoes your original paper label.) Do not play a jug that has only been rinsed with bleach, the chlorine fumes will form hydrochloric acid in your throat and you will feel the pain. Jugs with imperfect glaze will soak up the normal splatter from playing and get moldy inside, you'll feel that too. Now you have found a jug or two and gotten them ready to play, in the next installment we'll talk about how to play the jug. This ought to be interesting. Fr.


Offline waxwing

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Re: Jugs
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2009, 05:22:42 PM »
Having played around with jugs somewhat, I would agree with what Fritz said, except, of course, that Gus Cannon's jug was not ceramic, was not one gallon and appears to have had a hole a bit smaller than one inch, yet he seems to have gotten pretty good tone and volume. His jug was metal and possibly about 3/4 of a gallon. If you happen to want to play a jug on a rack you want to go with a metal jug. I'm pretty sure a Tag will take you to other discussion of metal jugs and racks.

Recently I was clearing out my family home and there were two large ceramic jugs. One was about one gallon, had a conical top and a hole of about one inch. It was also the classic two tone coloring. The other was somewhat larger than one gallon, had a domed top and a hole just a bit larger than one inch. It's a rich dark reddish brown color but appears to be purely decorative, as there is a small square hole in the bottom that clearly looks to have been made before the jug was fired, so it could never have held liquid. The jug that fit Fritz's optimum description, to my surprise because I was familiar with that description, was, as you would say, naff. The other jug has a great deep tone and pretty good volume.

I'm thinking the little hole will accommodate a wire to an internal mic nicely. (Any PTers, not already on their way, remember Del's jug playing friend Russ Hibbard from a few years back: "I got a P-90 in there!!") It's at my sisters now, but it'll cost me a fortune to ship it 'cross country safely, no doubt.

But the bottom line is, even more than Gibsons, every jug is an individual. You really gotta blow 'em to find out if there's music in there.

Wax
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Offline Norfolk Slim

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Re: Jugs
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2009, 12:59:53 AM »
Back to the drawing board then! 

I think that what you say must be right Wax.  This thing absolutely looked the part- but it was just completely dead.

Has anyone tried a glass demijohn- the type of thing people make home made wine in?

Offline waxwing

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Re: Jugs
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2009, 02:10:17 AM »
Yes, actually they are a pretty good bet. Upon arriving at PT Chezz would always stop by the Port Townsend brewery where you could buy their beers in just such glass jugs, maybe in the half gallon size, and then he'd play that jug all week. The brewery would also refill the jug for him now and then, of course.

Actually large liquor bottles, also around the half gallon size, work decently as well. Bob West played one at PT one night. These glass jugs may not have the best tone, which could be because of their smaller size, i.e. less harmonics, but they do seem to be more consistent. A gallon size one may sound quite good, but I can't remember trying one.

Wax
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
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Offline Norfolk Slim

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Re: Jugs
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2009, 02:13:26 AM »
Hmm I know of a local homebrew shop.  At worst, I will end up with an excuse to make some wine  :)

Offline onewent

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Re: Jugs
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2009, 06:52:52 AM »
Quote
You really gotta blow 'em to find out if there's music in there.
..or dead mice  ;-)

Offline Mike Billo

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Re: Jugs
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2009, 07:15:08 AM »

   I've found that if you practice jug playing enough, without a jug (just vocalizing while buzzing your lips) enough, you can get a satisfactory sound out of almost anything that had once been a liquid container.
   You can practice these, low note "fart sounds" while standing in line at the Bank, the Supermarket, etc. and entertain strangers standing near you who will give you a "wide berth"  ;D
   
   Since notes are acquired by vocalizing, I strongly believe that somebody who has the ability to sing in Bass register is always going to be a better sounding Jug Player than Tenors or Baritones.

   When nothing else has been available, I've been able to get a decent sound out of plastic containers (half-gallon milk or Bleach containers), but I like the resonance of glass (most easily found as wine bottles) best of all.
     

Offline dj

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Re: Jugs
« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2009, 05:03:41 AM »
Is the theory of playing a stovepipe the same as playing a jug?

Offline waxwing

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Re: Jugs
« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2009, 08:57:45 AM »
Actually, a stove pipe has a kazoo at one end of it. There was a pic of a boy playing a stove pipe posted over on the yahoo jug band page. I'll see if I can find it........

Here you go. This was posted by Sule Greg Wilson on his myspace page but it is on the Old Hat CD Good for What Ails You. Apparently myspace pics are not posted in a format we can insert, so here's the link:

http://viewmorepics.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=viewImage&friendID=129971399&albumID=58897&imageID=11244499

From listening to Stovepipe #1 with the King David Jug Band I think it is possible that he is sometimes playing the stove pipe as a jug but other times, when he gets to a higher register, he is clearly playing the kazoo. Pretty smooth transition tho. I'm not sure that the stovepipe would work as a jug unless the end were sealed off.

Wax

"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
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Offline Richard

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Re: Jugs
« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2009, 01:56:50 PM »
Well, live and learn. Bet Adrian Rollini would have liked one of those  :D
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Gingergeezer

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Re: Jugs
« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2009, 10:48:07 AM »
If you buy a jug of Westons Scrumpy, available at most supermarkets, the glass jug is just about spot on for your purposes. The jug player in our band (Last Gasp Spasm Band) used one for quite a while until we inhertied a custom made brass jug from Tony Knight of the Jug Trust. The new brass one is superb with no need for internal mic.
I've got to get a stovepipe kazoo arrangment too. I've been trying to figure out how Stovepipe No.1 got that sound and knew the folks at Weenie Campbell would supply the answer!

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Jugs
« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2009, 11:21:34 AM »
Here's that picture of the boy with the stovepipe (so we don't have to click through anywhere):

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Jugs
« Reply #13 on: September 24, 2009, 04:44:18 PM »
anybody ever try a piece of pvc pipe? I have a hunch it might have a good jug sound. Cap off one end rig up a smaller piece for the mouthpiece. Whaddaya think?
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Offline Gingergeezer

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Re: Jugs
« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2009, 04:17:18 AM »
I have made a stovepipe kazoo arrangment from various bits of drain pipe and guttering, the kazoo stuck through a Pringles lid gaffer taped to the top. It sounds almost exactly like Sam Jones'! I'm over the moon with the sound! Our jug band is going to start playing 'Chicken You Can Waltz The Gravy Around' and it sounds great!

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