Seven String Bass Viol

Maker: Nicolas Bertrand (1686–1735)

Date: 1720

Geography: Paris, France

Culture: French

Medium: Maple, spruce

Dimensions: L. 132 cm (51 15/16 in.) x W. 41 cm (16 1/8 in.) x D. 25 cm (9 13/16)

Body length 70.8 cm
Body width: upper bout 34.2 cm
center bout 25.0 cm
lower bout 40.9 cm
Rib height: top block 7.35 cm
center bout 13.5 cm
bottom block 13.4 cm
String length 71.3 cm

Classification: Chordophone-Lute-bowed-fretted

Credit Line: The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889

Accession Number: 89.4.1343


This instrument retains its original neck, which was reshaped when the viol was converted to a cello, probably in the late eighteenth or nineteenth century. Bass viols of French origin feature seven strings, an invention of the French viol player Jean de Sainte-Colombe (fl. 1658–87, died by 1701). Nicolas Bertrand, one of the most celebrated makers of viols, incorporated this feature in his bass viols.