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.

Instrument: Double Bass

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

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The Philharmonia's Principal Double Bass's Chair is endowed by Sir Sydney and Lady Lipworth in memory of Bertrand Lipworth. For more information on Chair Endowments, please visit:


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.


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.

Fact File

Did you know?

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

Frequency Range

41 - 392 Hz