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Midget Washboard #442, dark tin, near mint
Identical to Zinc King #703 except for dark tin rubbing surface.
Identical to Zinc King #703 except for dark tin rubbing surface.


 
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  • Pictured washboards are representative sample: Your washboard will vary from pictures.
  • Washboard Grade: Near Mint
  • View all washboard grades.
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Our Price: $87.97 each

Here's what you get: One better quality vintage washboard

Quantity in Stock:1
Product Code: 100-610-442-Z-N
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Description Technical Specs
 
Vintage Near Mint Quality Midget #442 Washboard
Dark tin rubbing surface
Great alternative washboard for the legendary Zinc King #703


Genuine Vintage Midget #442 made by the National Washboard Company
The National Washboard Company manufactured washboards using several kinds of tin. The Midget #442 washboards featured in this shop represent three kinds of rubbing surfaces: shiny tin, dull tin, and dark tin. The Midget #442 washboards described on this page are the dark tin version.

Dark Tin
dark shiny tinThis rubbing surface is darker than the other Midget #442 washboards. It is made with a thin coating of dark gray material over shiny tin. I do not know what substance the dark coating is composed of. But it is probably zinc. The dark coating is fairly even over the rubbing surface. But on some Midget #442 washboards the coating seems to have naturally worn away. This might look like oxidation or tarnish, but it is not. Examine the outside edge of the metal rubbing surface closely and you will see the shiny tin. Like all Midget #442 washboards, you can also see shiny tin on the backside of the washboard beneath the wooden panels.

Corrugation Pattern Like Zinc King #703
midget 442 metal profile As you can see in the photo at right, the metal rubbing surface of this dark tin Midget #442 washboard is a "wave" corrugation pattern. This is similar to the metal rubbing surface you find on most Zinc King #703 washboards.

Strong Lightweight Rubbing Surface made from Thin Steel
The Midget #442 must have been a workhorse in its day. Maybe that is why so many of the boards reveal ridges worn from use. The rubbing surface of nearly all small vintage washboards is a core of steel coated with tin. Yes, your vintage Midget washboard is basically a corrugated tin can with a wood frame. How do we know the rubbing surface is steel coated with tin? Because the worn corrugated ridges show rust. I have yet to see a Midget #442 washboard - or any steel-core washboard - that is totally free from rust.

On the other hand, the metal rubbing surface of a Zinc King #703 washboard is virtually rust free. However, every once in a blue moon I will find a 703 with rust spots. So some Zinc King #703 washboards are probably made of zinc plated steel instead of solid zinc. But I am just guessing. In any event, unlike Zinc King #703 washboards, all Midget #442 washboard rubbing surfaces are prone to rust. So be sure to keep your vintage Midget #442 washboard dry and away from moisture. BTW, if you have definitive data on the composition of washboard rubbing surfaces I hope you will drop me a line.

Tone
How does the tone of a Midget #442 washboard compare with a Zinc King #703? To find out I conducted a simple auditory test comparing the relative tone of each Midget #442 washboard to the Zinc King #703. The boards were tested using brass thimbles. I got the same results using plastic thimbles. The results from highest to lowest tone are shown below.

Relative tone from highest to lowest
1. Midget #442, shiny (highest tone)
2. Midget #442, dark (distinctly lower tone than Shiny)
3. Zinc King #703 (distinctly lower tone than Dark)
4. Midget #442, dull (similar, but slightly lower tone than Zinc King #703)

All in all, the four washboards sound pretty much alike. But washboard connoisseurs might note the difference in tone between the Midget #442 Dull Tin and Zinc King #703 was barely perceptible, at least to my ear.

Small Compact Size
The Midget #442 is the same exact size as the Zinc King #703. And although some washboard artists prefer larger models, "The size of the washboard does not improve the sound," insists Grammy award winning songster, storyteller, and multi-instrumentalist, David Holt. And he should know. After all, David's Folk Rhythms DVD is the definitive video for learning how to play the washboard (plus bones, spoons, hambone and even the paper bag).

Approx Dimensions
Mini: 7-1/2" x 15" (19cm x 38cm)
Pail: 8-1/2" x 18" (21.5cm x 46cm)
Family: 13" x 24" (33cm x 61cm)

So just to be clear, washboards come in three sizes: Mini (toylike), Pail (small), and Family (large). The Midget #442 is a small pail-size washboard.

Specially Selected Vintage Musical Washboards
About the only way you can latch onto a quality vintage washboard you would be proud to play on stage is from an antique shop, flea market, garage sale, estate auction, or granny's attic. Beware of makeshift versions, hidden damage and missing parts on eBay. (I have a pile of bad eBay boards in the basement.) Of course, none of these places offer you the broad selection of specially selected vintage musical washboards you can get right here on this website.

What Makes This Washboard So Special?
You can boil it down to three factors:

midget 442 metal detail 1. Strong Dark Tin Plated Rubbing Surface
The thin dark tin surface delivers a distinctly lower tone than the Shiny Midget, but a distinctly higher tone than the Dull Midget and Zinc King #703. So it sings with a marvelous character all its own. Steel is a strong metal. But don't worry about the weight. After all, a pail-size washboard like this is nothing more than a corrugated tin can with a small wooden frame. So it won't weigh you down. Besides, it weighs just 15.8 ounces more or less. So this dark Midget is the lightest of the bunch.

midget 442-g backside 2. Wooden Back Panels Resonate Sound
The two wooden panels on the backside form an enclosure behind the metal rubbing surface. This creates a resonating chamber that adds tonality and helps drive the sound - kind of like a drum. The Midget #442 is one of the few washboards that sport such a chamber.

washboard-construction 3. Brilliant Floating Construction Boosts Harmonics
The frame design is elegantly simple and compact. The metal rubbing surface floats - and resonates - within a deceptively simple tongue & groove and rabbeted framework. So the entire unit is amazingly sturdy yet flexible. That's why the whole darn structure rattles when you play it. And it is all secured in this vibratory state with just four small strategically placed nails. What's more, no elements stick out, fall off, or snag at you.

Which Washboard Grade is Right for You?
Every Midget #442 washboard we sell is a fine playing vintage instrument. All parts, including the two back panels, are intact and in good working order. For all practical purposes each washboard plays just as well as the next. The difference in price merely reflects the outward appearance of the wood, the rubbing surface, and the ink.

Washboards in all grades below are antique objects that might show signs of age, wear or inconsequential damage such as small chips, water staining and paint spots from long term storage or display.

washboard-good

Good
Might show scuffs, scratches, minor cracks in wood. Ink might be faded or missing. Might show conspicuous rust, soap residue or other slight imperfections. No significant cracks in wood frame. No pin holes, cracks or breaks in metal rubbing surface. No serious ruts, dents or substantial scratches (i.e. washboard was not a musical instrument in former life). No missing panels. No missing parts. Framework is sturdy yet flexible. Washboard has been around the block a few times but is eminently playable.

washboard-better Better
Overall better condition. Minor rust areas.




washboard-near-mint Near Mint
Light wear. Hardly used. Little or no rust or soap residue. Ink color and print quality usually good, but not always.



midget 442-z mint Mint
Appears unused. Ink color and print quality usually good, but not always. Little or no rust. Belongs in a museum. Don't know why you would want to scrape up a fine antique relic like this to play music on it though.




How to Attach Accessories:

The wood on vintage washboards is bone dry and brittle with age. So avoid hammering nails or tacks into the washboard because the wood is likely to crack. The safer way to add accessories and hardware is to drill holes with a sharp wood-cutting bit, then attach with bolts (preferably) or screws.


Grading Scale in a Nutshell:
The weathered ones cost less, the clean unblemished ones cost more.
Features
  • Coated Tin Plated Rub Surface: Resists rust.
  • All Wood Frame: Easy to attach accessory Items
  • Dark Tin Surface: Produces relatively medium-high tone
  • Distinctive crackly sound: Not clangy or ringy
  • Back Panels Resonate Sound): Adds tonality and sound color
  • Floating Construction: Boosts harmonics
  • Sturdy yet Flexible: Radiates sound, won't fall apart
  • Natural Wood Finish: Won't irritate skin

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