What is a Stompbox?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 22 September 2017
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As an example of a simple but effective percussion instrument, the stompbox has found a place in several different musical genres, including American folk, blues and classic rock and roll. Occasionally referred to as a stomp box, the stompbox is currently used in both acoustic and electronic varieties.

Essentially, the basic stomp box is a small wooden box that is placed under the foot of the musician. When tapped with the foot, stompboxes produce a sound that is very similar to that of a bass drum. The value of using a stompbox is that the singer or player of a stringed instrument can create accompanying percussion rhythm without the need for another musician. This is actually one of the more common applications of the acoustic stompbox among folk musicians, who often use the combination of a guitar and a stompbox during a performance.

While solo stage performers originally used the stompbox more, record producers and agents soon realized the value of using small percussion instruments along with drums in the recording studio as well. As is true with many traditional musical instruments, the stompbox has been enhanced by modern technology. Today, a microphone is often placed inside the box, which allows the sound created by the rhythmic tapping to be amplified.


While folk artists tended to use the stompbox more than any other type of musician, the device has made the transition into several other genres. Classic rock and roll bands found many ways to use the stompbox in stage performances. Blues artists have known the value of the stompbox almost as long as folk musicians. Since the 1970s, the number of country and bluegrass performers who routinely use the stompbox in recording sessions and live performances has increased dramatically. As a simple means of adding a little extra hint of rhythm to just about any musical performance, nothing beats the stompbox for simply ease of use.


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