Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by burnthill, Sep 13, 2002.

  1. Saw an 18 stringed instrument, part lute, part bass, tonight. The bass notes have a 76" scale and are not fingered with the left hand.

    See at 409.html

    It's called a Theorbo or Chitarrone. The Ancient music group Hesperus uses one in their performances. What a cool bass!

    One early tuning was
    G, A, Bb, C, D, Eb, F, G (G Aeolian??) and the lute part was C, F, A, D, G (10 strings in octave pairs)
  2. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    that looks pretty kick ass. and yeah, that's g aeolian. wow. any idea where we might find some mp3s of that thing in action?
  3. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Must be hard to mute those bass strings.
  4. Nope, but they're often found in baroque (and perhaps renaisance) settings, sometimes together with the equally lovely sounding viola da gamba (a bass instrument with six or seven strings, if that seems familiar...).
    Don't know where you can find mp3's of these things in action, but albums featuring classical music are often quite cheap, nudge, nudge. ;)
  5. Not sure whether you'll actually hear the theorbo, but the musicians who use it are Hesperus at They have some "Real Audio" clips of their music there.

    I E-mailed them with some questions, and if I hear back, will post responses in this thread.
  6. Monkey

    Monkey Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Dayton, Ohio, USA
    I've always admired theorbos from afar, but have not heard one. The tension on the neck must be extreme; it must be a robust instrument. If you like theorbo, you might like one of my favorite bass instruments; the Indian surbahar. It is a bass sitar that I read can produce sounds as low as 20 hz. I wonder if the local Guitar Center has any theorbos in stock....
  7. If yer interested, the folks at Hesperus (see above) could probably refer you to their custom luthier.
  8. dangnewt

    dangnewt Veteran Dispenser

    Jun 6, 2003
    MetroWest Boston
    I attended a concert of Cappella Clausura which is a female chorus which specializes in early music written by women. They had a theorbo and a gamba laying down the bass as the lowest vocalists was a lone alto. A harpsicord or a small organ was used on some of the songs as well.

    I had never seen or heard of a theorbo before, so it was a treat to hear one live.

    There may be some theorbo on some of these tracks.

    A picture of one is on the home page. It must have stood 6' tall - I thought bass players need to be careful of our long necks - the theorbo is twice as long. There was a dancer on a couple of the songs, I don't know how the theorbist was able to concentrate on her playing with someone doing ballet moves within inches of this huge (and I suspect, expensive) instrument.