that he favoured. Although it was widely used in France between 1750 and 1790, another hundred years were to pass before
The big advantage of orchestral tuning is that fewer shifts are necessary than with fifths tuning, making it convenient for playing a large part of the literature. In addition, the compass is sufficient for many orchestral works. Since this tuning came to dominate during the 19th century, some composers have taken it into account, although this has in not a few cases led to poor musical compromises, for example in the works of J. Brahms, who even broke off melodic lines when they led below the
For this reason, and to do justice to the requirements of older music, Carl Otho "invented" the five-string double bass with the tuning C-E-A-D-G around 1880, and had it patented.
The enthusiasm of conductors for the new instrument (see the guest essay
"As far as the five-string bass is concerned, I am a decided opponent. All those gentlemen who favour it, almost all the music directors, think only of the low notes which are lacking on the four-string bass, but not of the extreme difficulties which are involved in playing the five-stringer. I have yet to find a double bass player who would say to me that he likes playing the five-string monstrosity. Those who are condemned to it are forever complaining about the wide fingerboard and the extreme extension of the left hand required in order to be able to grip the C string firmly. Ordinary mortals have no conception of what a strain that is, and how tiring! And then the three middle strings, the D, A and E, cannot be bowed powerfully enough because of the need to avoid touching the neighbouring strings. On the `fat-head´, all passages are hard to play."
As an alternative to the five-string instrument, designs were developed for lengthening the lowest string beyond the pegbox. Karl Pittrich of Dresden,
Today some 20% of all orchestral double bass players use a five-stringer (of which in Germany, the lowest string is tuned to a sub-contra B) or an instrument with the so-called C Extension, while all the rest use exclusively the E-A-D-G tuning, apart from a handful of enthusiastic adherents of the revived