The Viennese double bass: The long pattern


In the 18th and 19th centuries, double basses made in Vienna had distinctive shapes and characteristics that gave them tremendous sound quality.

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The Viennese double bass is unique. It has a long history comprising numerous makers, specific aesthetics, uncommon shape characteristics and of course, virtuoso players. A complete history would be far too much to condense into a few pages, so this article is intended as merely an introduction to this exciting subject.

It might seem rather pointless to begin by explaining the Viennese bass’s geographical situation. That it has something to do with Vienna may seem logical, but there’s more to say than just that. When looking at shape characteristics, some aspects can be found in other parts of Europe. For instance, the protruding points at the pegbox are strongly reminiscent of some Brescian double basses, and the distinctive outline of the corpus can be seen in the area of Bohemia. Not uncommonly, this can result in the term ‘Viennese’ being attributed to rather crudely made basses from, for example, what is now the Czech Republic. The real Viennese bass, however, is indeed made in Vienna, even though many famous makers of Viennese-style basses from Prague, Bratislava and Budapest were all trained there….

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