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New Luthier Guitars
Popular Guitar Models
Esteve Contrabass Six String Guitar Cedar Top
Top: Solid Cedar
Back: Laminated Indian Roesewood
Sides: Solid Indian Roesewood
Scale: 750 mm.
Neck reinforced with Ebony insert
Handmade Hard Case Included.
Musical instruments called contrabass guitars having existed at least since 1899, when a "Grand Concert Contra Bass Guitar" was listed in Mr. Joseph Bohmann's catalogue. Bohmann, a violin, mandolin, guitar and zither manufacturer from Chicago, developed a large 6-string guitar. While it is speculated that this instrument may have been tuned down one octave lower than a standard guitar, no reliable information is available about its tuning or use.
The classical contrabass guitar is tuned EADGBE, like the classical guitar but one octave lower. It is popular in Fado bands in Portugal and South America. In this sense, it may actually be considered as an acoustic bass guitar, for it shares the same low-end range. Although called a contrabass guitar, the fact that it is tuned only an octave lower than a normal guitar makes it—in modern terminology—more an acoustic bass guitar rather than a contrabass instrument. Its strings are much thinner than a conventional acoustic bass guitar, so it lacks the "thick" tone of those instruments.
Contrabass guitars from the 1970s are often tuned "B-E-A-D-G-C" (B=B1 - the lowest B on the piano). Some players prefer "B-E-A-D-F♯-B"—to preserve the intervals of a standard guitar and have the top and bottom notes at the same pitch. They usually are electric instruments with a solid wooden body. After a first, arguably non-satisfying attempt by guitar maker Carl Thompson to create such an instrument in 1974, the first entirely usable contrabass guitar was built by Ken Smith in 1982 - again at the request of bassist Anthony Jackson, who would later ask Vinnie Fodera and Joey Lauricella of Fodera Guitars to build him several instruments according to his ideas. The contrabass guitar influenced the development of the six-string electric bass.
Dav Byrne from the Australian band Terrorust plays a contrabass guitar tuned "A-D-G-C-E-A". At a fifth below classical contrabass tuning, some refer to this as subcontrabass.
In recent years, the use by the Niibori Guitar Orchestra has brought the contrabass guitar some renewed currency.