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2007/97/1 Double bass, red brown varnish, European Spruce / European Maple / Australian Cedar / brass / paper, made by John Devereux, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1856. Click to enlarge.

Double bass made by John Devereux

John Devereux is one of the earliest violin makers known to have been working in Australia and is seen as Australia's first professional bowed string instrument maker. He had a significant reputation and output from the 1860s to 1880s and was a contemporary of Australia's other great maker of this period William Dow, also of Melbourne. Born in England in 1810, Devereux arrived in Australia in 1854 from London where he had been working in the workshop of violin maker Bernhard Simon Fendt …


Object No.


Object Statement

Double bass, red brown varnish, European Spruce / European Maple / Australian Cedar / brass / paper, made by John Devereux, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1856

Physical Description

A three string double bass made in European Spruce, Maple and Australian Cedar. The belly is made in two parts of European Spruce, the ribs are made of European Maple and the back is made in two pieces of Australian Cedar. The neck and decorative carved scroll are also made in European Maple. There are brass tuning machines and plates on either side of the peg box. The double bass is finished in an orange based, red brown spirit varnish. An early but non-original label is fixed to the inside.


A paper label has been fixed to the inside which can be viewed through one F-hole. The text on the centre of the label in black pen reads; 'Built By / J Devereaux (sic)/ London 1856'. A signature 'J. Devereaux (sic)' has been written diagonally across the text. LHS of the centre text handwritten in brown 'Repaired by / RG Lindsay / High & Wattle Sts [illeg.] / 1-5-1895'. RHS of the centre text handwritten; 'RF Gray / Tempus Fecit / AD 1891-Tempus Fuga / Cremona / Lo...T [illeg.] / Bendigo'. Underneath the centre text handwritten in brown; 'Reconditioned G S Caldwell / Kinlough 1-5-1939 / 11 Mollison St. Bendigo'.



1990 mm


655 mm


385 mm



John Devereux made this double bass in Melbourne, Australia in about 1856.

The exact number of instruments John Devereux made is unknown. Double basses made by Devereux both when he worked in London and in Australia survive, however, only five Australian made basses are currently known. Devereux also made violins, violas and cellos in Australia and examples of his work in general exist. He exhibited in a number of inter-colonial exhibitions and the catalogues of these mention the types of instruments he made. These catalogues also state that he used both European and Australian native timbers for his instruments.



The instrument is known to have been in Bendigo, Victoria from at least the 1890s through to 1939. It was also owned at one time by the Time & Tide Museum in Warrnambool. It was in private ownership for approximately 15 years before being acquired by the Powerhouse Museum.

Valuable information about the bass and Devereux in general was provided to the museum by Melbourne musician Barry Buckley, who encouraged the development of the Devereux material at the museum over several years until his untimely death in 2006. The museum is extremely grateful for his ethusiastic support and love of Australian musical history.


Credit Line

Purchased with the assistance of the Australian Government through the National Cultural Heritage Account and supporters of the Powerhouse Museum Foundation and the Pinchgut Opera, 2007

Acquisition Date

30 July 2007

Cite this Object


Double bass made by John Devereux 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 21 October 2021, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Double bass made by John Devereux |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=21 October 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}