Octobass the Giant Viola

In 1850 a world-renowned and multi-awarded French violin maker, Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume, invented an enormously oversized viola. This absurdly sizeable low tone instrument is called the Octobasse. Unlike the usual string instruments, the Octobass has three strings.

Octobass stands almost 12 feet tall which makes people play it look like a dwarf. Because of the thickness of its string and the extreme length of its fingerboard, it requires a system of levers and pedals for musicians to play the instrument. The Octobass was never reproduced on a massive scale. Some composers would not even use it aside from Hector Berlioz who was in favor with the instrument and proposed that it should be adopted widely.

Today, the only orchestra in the world who use and own an octobass is the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. Their octobass was donated to them last 2016 by the Quebec company Canimex. Jean-Jacques Pagès a luthier from Mirecourt, France created the instrument.