American bass viol


Object Place: United States, New England region


Length 134 cm, width 50.2 cm (Length 52 3/4 in., width 19 3/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Pine, walnut

Not On View


Musical Instruments



Two-piece back of wide grain pine with large diamond shape in lower half, created from raised strips of wood. Walnut (?) ribs and neck. Crude scroll with no undercutting; pegbox finished flat down back. Two-piece belly of wide-grain pine. No purfling. F-holes widened at notches and connected at upper and lower ends. Tuning pegs (two extant), fingerboard, and saddle of hardwood painted/stained black; the fingerboard with four inlaid lines of bone to mark finger positions. Short endpin of oak or ash. Red-brown varnish. Interior construction: Neck projects into body deeply (not footed), resting on wood slab (about 5 mm. thick), reinforced by two screws through back. Narrow lower block. Back and belly grooved to receive ribs; no liners except for short pieces along back at waist. No corner blocks. Vertical walnut (?) slabs (about 37 mm. wide) glued to inside of ribs, spaced about 100 mm. apart. Bass bar angled from bass side to center seam.


Manuscript label: [illegible] March 10, 1831 / Repaird by [J S Gelland (?)]


1982, sold by Harold Priest, Harvard, Massachusetts, to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 13, 1982)

Credit Line

Samuel Putnam Avery Fund