Darracott New England Bass Viol

Darracott New England Bass Viol

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Description (Brief)

This New England Bass Viol was made by William Darracott in Milford, New Hampshire, in 1829. This instrument has a four-piece table of pine, back of American maple in two pieces with faint, irregular horizontal figure, ribs of plain maple cut on 45o, plain maple neck, pegbox and scroll with four plain hardwood pegs, opaque brown varnish overall excepting the re-varnished transparent back, plain maple fingerboard and tailpiece painted black.

This instrument does not have ribs set into channeling of the edges on table and back, they are simply glued flush to the edge surfaces. The f-holes are joined to the table at the wings as is typical with New England bass viols. The fingerboard and tailpiece are original. There is an original printed label inside the instrument:


The modern term for this instrument is church bass. During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, this instrument was also known as the American bass viol, New England bass viol, or Yankee bass viol. These church basses were used in churches and meeting houses to provide a bass line for maintaining a consistent key by New England congregational singers. The church bass was also used by popular singing groups such as the Hutchinson Family singers.

Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Darracott, William
place made
United States: New Hampshire, Milford
Physical Description
wood, pine (overall material)
wood, maple (overall material)
overall: 8 3/4 in x 19 3/4 in x 52 3/4 in; 22.225 cm x 50.165 cm x 133.985 cm
body: 83.2 cm; 32 3/4 in
lower bout: 50 cm; 19 11/16 in
upper bout: 40 cm; 15 3/4 in
neck: 12 cm; 4 23/32 in
base: 12.5 cm; 4 29/32 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Charles G. Abbot
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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