Invented in the mid 1800's by Gautrot
to compete with the Saxophone, for use in military bands to bolster
or replace oboes and bassoons.
The instrument was named after the
French bandmaster Sarrus, who Gautrot credited with the idea for
It was available in all sizes from Eb sopranino
to BBb contrabass, including contrabasses in Eb, C, and Bb.
Eb appears to be the most common contrabass sarrusophone. The fingering of the sarrusophone is nearly identical as that of the saxophone.
This similarity caused Adolphe Sax to file and lose at least one lawsuit against Gautrot, claiming infringement upon his patent for the saxophone.
Sax lost on the grounds that the tone produced by the two families of instruments are markedly different, despite their mechanical similarities.
However, because the sarrusophone never reached wide acceptance, makers were not inclined to develop its mechanism to the same extent as that of the saxophone.
Warning: Sarrusophones have been known
to create seismic disturbances!
For more information about LOW sounding instruments, please visit sarrusophone owner Grant Greene's Contrabass