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Click here to listen to a sample of the Bass Marimba


Bass Marimba

The Bass Marimba is by far the largest and most powerful instrument Cris Forster has built. It is over 12 feet long, and all of the 24 exceptionally large bars are made of Honduras rosewood.

This instrument has 19 standard wavelength resonators and 5 cavity resonators. The reason for the cavity resonators is that extremely low frequencies require extremely long tubes, which, in turn, would require a high stand for the instrument and a high riser for the musician to stand on.

In all 24 bars on the Bass Marimba, Cris tuned the first three modes of vibration to produce exact harmonic ratios 1:4:8 in each bar. Therefore, above the fundamental or first mode of vibration, the second mode sounds the interval of the double-octave, frequency ratio 4/1; and the third mode sounds the interval of the triple-octave, frequency ratio 8/1. Cris developed this tuning technique because in low-sounding bars the upper modes of vibration are clearly audible.

Despite its enormous size, this instrument requires only a screwdriver to disassemble. Hand knobs hold all the large structural components together.

Started:  1983, San Diego, California.
Finished: 1985–1986, San Francisco, California.

Total number of bars: 24.
Longest bar length: 44.0 in.
Shortest bar length: 19 ½ in.
Length of stand: 145.0 in.
Height of stand: 40.0 in.
Width of stand at wheels: 44.0 in.
Height to bars: 36.0 in.

Honduras rosewood, birch, teak, mahogany, delrin, kydex, acrylic, formica, aluminum, brass, and steel.

Lowest bar: Third G below middle C.
Highest bar: A below middle C.

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