The 11'5" Octobass Proves That Size Matters When it Comes To Low End (VIDEO)

The Octobass Is a String Instrument That is Almost Twice The Size of an Upright Bass
By BP Staff ,

The octobass is an extremely large bowed string instrument that was first built around 1850 in Paris by the French luthier Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume (1798–1875). It has three strings and is essentially a larger version of the double bass (the specimen in the collection of the Musée de la Musique in Paris measures 11.5 feet in length, whereas a full size double bass is generally approximately 6.5 feet in length). Because of the extreme fingerboard length and string thickness, the musician plays it using a system of hand and foot-activated levers and pedals. The instrument is so large that, sometimes, two musicians work together to play it: one to bow and the other to control the levers and foot pedals. It has never been produced on a large scale or used much by composers (though Hector Berlioz wrote favorably about the instrument and proposed its widespread adoption). In addition to the Paris instrument, another octobass is in the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona. Here is a look at the ladder: