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The Octobass- An extremely large bowed string instrument that was first built around 1850

Alex .A

Built by the French luthier French luthier Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume, Octobass is a massive, enormous bowed string instrument, which we can freely  dub” the giant of the instruments.” So, the ” the giant of  instruments” Octobass has three strings and is generally an extremely larger version of the double bass. In the  collection of  Musée de la Musique in Paris, there is a specimen measuring  3.48 meters in length.

The musician plays Octobass using a combined system of hand and foot activated lever and pedals, because of the huge fingerboard length and string thickness.



modern-photo-of-octobass By Prokhorov - Own work, Public Domain,



Octobass  is so large that sometimes two musicians work together to play it; one  to control the lever and foot pedals and other on the bow.




octobass-mim-phx By Frank Kovalchek from Anchorage, Alaska, USA - Musical instruments on display at the MIM, CC BY 2.0,

octobass-mim-phxPhoto Credit

The instrument has never been used by many composers or produced on a large scale. However, Hector Berlioz, a French Romantic composer was rather fascinated by Octobass and proposed its widespread adoption.


In his edition of Berlioz’s Treatise (Cambridge University Press, 2002, p. 318) Hugh Macdonald lists another in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. He also states that Adolphe Sax created an ‘outsize double bass going down to C’ with four strings tuned in fifths.’

octobass-construction By Prokhorov - Own work, Public Domain,


The instrument plays so low that  human hearing can bearly register when its lowest string is played.  In order to play it, a musician must use a footstool because of its massive size.



octobass-in-a-symphony-orchestra By Prokhorov - Own work, Public Domain,

Octobass-In-A-Symphony-Orchestra By Prokhorov – Own work, Public Domain,