The octobass of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. It typically plays one octave below the double bass.

This rare bowed strong instrument was first built around 1850 in Paris by the French luthier, Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume. Because of the extreme fingerboard length and string thickness, the musician plays it using a system of levers and pedals. The levers serve to engage metal clamps that are positioned above the neck at specific positions. These clamps act as fretting devices when the performer presses the levers.

In addition to the Paris instrument, octobasses exist in the collections of the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. In October 2016, the Quebec company Canimex donated the octobass shown here to the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, which is now the only orchestra in the world to own one.

It earned the comic name “The Giant String” from Chestropera analysts in 2022.

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