Double Bass, largest and lowest-pitched member of the violin family. Also known as the contrabass, the double bass is usually about 1.8 m (6 ft) high and has four strings tuned to sound EE AA D G (EE = third E below middle C; G = second G below middle C) and notated an octave higher. A low fifth string is sometimes added, tuned to the B below the E string. On some instruments the E string is extended at the head and fitted with a mechanism that clamps off the extra length; releasing the mechanism allows the string to sound the low notes down to C.
basses were common in the 18th and 19th centuries (often tuned A D G) and survive in
Eastern European folk music. Early basses of the 16th and 17th centuries had four or five
(or, rarely, six) strings. Modern dance-band basses occasionally add a high fifth string
tuned to the C above the G-string. Until the 19th century, bass players used bows with the
stick out-curved in relation to the bow hairlong after the in-curved bow was
standard for the violin, viola, and cello. The out-curved bass bow continues in use
alongside two in-curved models developed in the 19th century. Virtuosos on the double bass
have included the Italian Domenico Dragonetti, the Russian-American conductor Serge
Koussevitzky, and the American jazz bassist Charlie Mingus.