Bell Gamba English
Glockengamba German

A variant of the Gamba, found at 8' on the manuals or, rarely, at 16' in the pedal, so named because of the “bell” (inverted conical section) found at the top of each pipe. While most sources describe the body of the pipe as being conical, Sumner describes it as cylindrical. Wedgwood describes both forms, and reports that the conical form was invented by William Hill and used for his Viola da Gamba. Authorities differ as to its scale: Sumner says small, Audsley says medium, and Wedgwood says large. Audsley provides the illustration reproduced here (click on it for a larger image) and gives the following measurements for the middle c1 pipe:

diameter at mouth1.39"
diameter at junction of bell   0.76"
diameter at top of bell1.27"
length of bell4"
length of bodyapprox. 21.5"

The forms of the pipes required that it be tuned using its large ears, bent inward to flatten or outward to sharpen. Reaching the mouths of the pipes could be extremely difficult, depending on the stop's placement on the windchest. The tone of the Bell Gamba has been described as “delicate”, “reedy” and similar to that of the orchestral Viola da Gamba. The stop is largely obsolete, owing to the difficulty in its construction, voicing and regulation. Audsley maintains that better tonal results can be obtained from simpler pipe forms.

See Spitzgamba.


The earliest known example occurs under the name Gamba:

Gamba 8', manual; Christ Episcopal Church, Rouses Point, New York, USA; Erben 1857. (Moved to St. James' Episcopal Church, Dexter, Michigan late 1900's).

Bell Gamba 8', Choir; Park Street Church, Glasgow, Scotland; Hamilton 1866. (Moved to Greyfriars in 1901; Bell Gamba moved to Great during a rebuild.)

Bell Gamba 8', Pedal; Holy Cross Cathedral, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Hook 1875.

Bell Gamba 8', Great; Pilgrim Congregational Church, Sherborn, Massachusetts; USA; Hook 1864.

Bell Gamba 8', Choir; City Hall, Johannesburg, South Africa; Norman & Beard 1916.

Bell Gamba 8', Swell; Sacred Heart Cathedral, Davenport, Iowa, USA; Noack 1992.

Glocken-Gamba 16', Pedal; Grace Church, New York City, New York, USA; Roosevelt 1878. This is the only known example of this name.

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Audsley[1]: Bell Gamba. Audsley[2]: I.XIII Bell Gamba; II.XXXVI Viola da Gamba. Grove[1]: Bell Gamba. Hopkins & Rimbault[1]: § 587-588. Irwin[1]: Bell Gamba. Maclean[1]: Flûte à Pavillon. Sumner[1]: Bell Gamba. Wedgwood[1]: Bell Gamba.
Copyright © 2001 Edward L. Stauff, all rights reserved.
BellGamba.html - Last updated 10 May 2002.
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