Hey Gear Headz -The Whamola was one of our favorite pieces of gear we found doing research for Les Claypool week (March 21st – 27th), and it’s such a simple looking instrument we were curious how tough it would be to make one. Turns out some other folks had the same idea, and there are some great resources out there, should you be so inclined. If you’ve ever been curious about your skills as a luthier – a good ol’ Whamola might be a good place to start. So, first of all a little context – some great Les Claypool whamola songs:
Primus Les Claypool playing Whamola
Les Claypool – Mushroom Men
If you don’t want a whamola now there’s something wrong with you. Before we show you exactly how to do it, we want to give credit where credit is due. Waayyy back in 2007 there was a great conversion on this very subject going on over at TalkBass, and user Toonman contributed the following as instructions on how he built his. Mandatory disclaimer: Do this at your own risk. You hurt yourself, it’s your fault, don’t come crying to us.
Whamola Parts List:
- 5.5′ 1/16 Gauge square steel tubing.
- 2.5′ X 3″ X 3/4″ Oak craft wood
- 1.5″ Brass screen door roller
- 1/4″ Threaded rod
- 4 Cap nuts
- P Bass-style bass pickup
- 1.5″ “L” bracket
- Bass guitar tuner
- Small piece of aluminum for the end of the lever
- Several self taping screws and small wood screws
- Long scale “D” bass string
- 500 ohm dime size pot
- 1/4 Input jack
- 2 plastic end caps
- Sheilded cable
Putting Your Whamola Together
First you’ll need 5.5′ long steel square tubing 1″ and 1/16th guage. Next buy a 3″ X 2.5′ X 3/4″ oak craft wood from the Home Depot. This will make the lever and fingerboard. Cut a strip off the wood 2.5′ X 1″ and use a hand plane to create a nice bevel on the wood. If you’ve got the tools, run it through a jointer to get nice smooth edges and belt sander for finishing etc.
Cutting the steel tube is the hardest part. Cut a slit about 1″ down from the top using a jigsaw. This is where the roller will fit in. Cut a piece of the threaded rod long enough so the cap nuts on each side will screw on to it through the roller. This assembly will rest on the tube where you just cut the slit. You might want to file some grooves so the roller will sink into the tube a little.
Next cut out an opening for the lever, just a little taller than the slit you cut for the roller (not sure the exact measurement). Cut your lever out of the oak craft wood about 10″ X 1″, and round off the end the string will rest on. Wrap that end with your piece of aluminum and screw it down. Drill your hole for the tuner and install. Make sure the lever will slide into the hole you made and make it a little smaller so you can glue some washers on it. Drill your hole in the middle of the washers. (GOTG Note: This paragraph was the least clear of the instructions we found – will probably make more sense as you’ve got all the pieces in front of you). Use Gorilla Glue and clamps to attach the fingerboard.
Next you’ll need to cut a hole for the pickup. Drill a hole for the pot just opposite the pick up cut-out. Install the 1/4″ jack and attach the shielded cable to the pot and pickup. Wire it as such:
This guy’s got a good ‘how to’ video on how he made his. Between the whamola instructions above and this video you should be well on your way to Whamola jammin’.
How to Make a Whamola
We just ask that if you make one you post a vid here of you playing ‘Whamola’ from Primus. Or you could just buy a premium Whamola one from Whamola Lab – theirs look pretty nice.
UPDATE: Some folks over at TalkBass asked us to include some more detailed pictures of final designs, so here you go friends. Thanks to the Jambi at Pearl Drummers Forum for the pics.