orig. Europe The contrabass, or double bass, is the largest and lowest-pitched instrument in the Western orchestral string family. It is a key component of classical composition, but also forms the auditory backbone of jazz, blues, rock, bluegrass and tango, among other musical traditions.
Generally thought to be a descendent of the 15th-century viola da gamba group of string instruments, the contrabass has four steel or gut strings that can be plucked or played with a horsehair bow. The instrument may be played from either a standing or sitting position, and the height is adjusted with the endpin, which rests on the ground.
Together with its offspring, the electric bass, the contrabass is now a mainstay of musical traditions around the world.