Octobass: The Largest String Instrument Ever Invented

Octobass: The Largest String Instrument Ever Invented

Move over Contrabass, the Octobass has arrived. This unique stringed instrument makes the upright bass or cello look like a junior instrument. It is exceptionally large and carries a very low end sound, dropping to lower realms than any other stringed instrument.

Originating in Paris, the Octobass was first constructed in 1850 by Jean­-Baptiste Vuillaume. With three strings, it is considered the larger, older brother version of the upright bass. Due to its very large girth, the instrument was considered a two-­player vessel, with one player operating the bow and the other manning the fingering. It also features hand and foot activated pedals and levers for added bass depth in tone.

Though this video illustrates the playing of the Octobass with a single performer, the sizing up and comparison between it and the Double bass is astounding. There is no other instrument in the classical realm (or other musical genres for that matter) that compare to the way it dwarfs the bass as a stringed musical vessel. The prowess needed to command such an instrument is indeed very high.