Instruments | Scraper | Percussion

As the name suggests, a scraper comprises a ridged edge which is scraped with a stick. Scraping instruments are common in Africa, Central and South America and the Carribean, and are played with sticks, combs or a switch.


The güiro or reco-reco (raspador, casaca) originated in Africa and is made of ridged bamboo, or, in Latin America, often made from a metal spring. The scratcher, a tube of ridged galvanized iron sheeting, is a stalwart member of the engine room in a steel band.


The washboard was a popular jazz instrument in the 1920s. It was also played in the folk music of the southern states of America and in skiffle – all styles of music famous for using homemade instruments.

It is, quite literally, an old-fashioned washing board with a rectangular wooden frame (30 cm/12 in wide, 45 cm/18 in long), in which are mounted galvanized metal ridges. The washboard may be hung from the neck of the performer, as in the Cajun or zydeco rub-board vest, where the performers wear metal thimbles on their fingers and rub the washboard in a rhythmic pattern. In a jug band the washboard is stroked with a whisk broom or metal snare-drum brush. The washboard provides a constant backbeat to the music, like the use of a shaker in Latin-American music, and may replace the drummer in a band. The performer may add other small percussion instruments like a cymbal, woodblock or cowbell to the washboard.

Introduction | Percussion Instruments
Instruments | Wooden | Percussion

Source: The Illustrated Complete Musical Instruments Handbook, general editor Lucien Jenkins


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