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Double Bass

The double bass is the largest string instrument in the orchestra and with its warm, deep tones it is often thought of as the supporting the rest of the orchestra.

Double bass
Video

Instrument: Double Bass

In this film, Michael Fuller introduces his instrument - the double bass.

The Principal Double Bass Chair is endowed by Sir Sydney and Lady Lipworth in memory of Bertrand Lipworth.

Tutti Double Bass Chairs endowed by:
Saul Nathan
and others who wish to remain anonymous

Endowment opportunities at the Philharmonia offer supporters unique access and insights to our players. Find out more here:

Find out more

Introduction

The double-bass sometimes comes to the fore with a solo or a particularly prominent part, but mostly it is in the background supporting the harmonies, creating rhythms and adding its rich tone to the overall orchestral mix.

The double bass, or contrabass as it is also known, is descended from the viol rather than the violin, although both violin and viol shaped instruments exist today.

Did you know?

There are two types of bass bow: the French, and the taller German or Butler bow which is played underhand.

Range

The bass sounds an octave lower than written, and its strings are tuned in fourths, sounding as follows: G2, D2, A1, E1. The addition of a low C extension can take the lowest string down to C1.

 

Double bass range

Frequency Range

41 – 392 Hz

Strings

E A D G

 

More about the double bass

Video

Wu Wei (sheng) Artist Portrait with Michael Fuller (double bass)

Wu Wei, a virtuosic performer on the sheng, in conversation with Michael Fuller, double bass player with the Philharmonia.
Video

Backstage with Tim Gibbs, Principal Double Bass

A sneak peek of what it’s like to walk the corridors with a Philharmonia musician
Video

Béla Bartók: Folk Inspiration

Find out about the use of double bass in Béla Bartók and traditional romanian folk music

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