American bass viol

19th century

Object Place: United States, New England region


Length 129 cm, width 48.7 cm (Length 50 13/16 in., width 19 3/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Maple, pine

Not On View


Musical Instruments



Two-piece back of maple with wide curl descending from the joint; the joint offset considerably from the center. Ribs of maple with some bird’s-eye figure. Neck of plain maple with wedge (4 mm. maximum thickness) between neck and fingerboard. Two-piece belly of wide grain pine. Belly and back very thick and extremely arched. No purfling. Crude F-holes with off-set notches. Scroll ears decorated with small bone finial (one missing). Fingerboard of stained maple with four lines of bone dots to mark finger positions. Commercial tuning pegs of rosewood (one missing). Orange-brown varnish. Nut of bone. Saddle of ebony. Interior construction: Footed neck. Very wide lower block with rounded corners. Back and belly apparently grooved to receive ribs; some liners of short triangular pieces butted to each other. Large corner blocks, each corner joined to block from outside with eight iron round-head screws. Bass bar appears to run in line with grain.


1987, sold by Harold Priest, Damariscotta, Maine, to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 21, 1987)

Credit Line

Museum purchase with funds donated by Frank G. Webster