Instruments and their abbreviations

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Hello Everyone! I have been editing recordings for a while and I stumbled ones a while over abbreviations given in the booklets or at the back of the cases were I don’t know what instrument is meant.
Currently I work on a “Django Reinhardt” compilation named “Swing de Paris” [] where the booklet lists (available at cover art) the used instrumentation as abbreviations. Mostly from the abbreviations it is clear what kind of instrument is meant but sometimes I just don’t no for sure what instrument is meant and I was not able to find the correct solution in the net.
Example: Django Reinhardt, Marcel Bianchi, Pierre Feret, Louis Vola (sb).
All are guitar players but in the net I found that “sb” stands for “double bass” what doesn’t make much sense.
Example: Stephane Grappellie (vln-p*).
“vln” stands for violin that’s easy but what does the “p*” stand for? Obviously not for piano since I could not hear a piano in the recording.
Does anybody know if we have a list which relates abbreviations to instruments or does anybody know where such a list can be found?
I would appreciate very much if you can link me to such a list.


The double or upright bass is also known as “string bass” (sb) sometimes, other abbreviations I’ve seen used include "cb” (contrabass) and just “b” (bass).

“p” would mean piano. I assume the recording you’re referring to is Undecided. My best guess is that Undecided was recorded at a session when Grappelli played both violin and piano, depending on the song. If you can’t hear piano in the recording just credit him with violin.

This website has a decent list
But there are several others you can find using google.


@CatQuest Would it make sense to add these abbreviations as aliases for the instruments?


It definitely does make sense. I would note I’m not so sure about *that*
particular list though, it omits some the other abbreviations already
mentioned in this thread.

I’d need a definite or compiled list of abbreviations and their MB equivalents (preferably with their links) handy.

Give me such a link / ticket and I’ll get on it :​)

One does have to be careful with context. In bluegrass discographies, “b” often means banjo’; mandolin and fiddle are simply “m” and “f”. (“g” for guitar and “sb” for string bass/double bass are shared with jazz usage.) On some old jazz listings I’ve seen cornet and trumpet abbreviated to simply “c” and “t” respectively. And “bb” confused me for a while, until I learned it means “brass bass” aka tuba or sousaphone.


Here’s a jazz oriented list that includes all the common ones I’m familiar with (and some I’m not - I have yet to come across “karkaba” in a discography).


I will note that there are *other* languages also, “br” or similar could conceivably be “bratsj”, Norwegian for viola, for example.

Probably common abbreviation languages are, English, German, French, Spanish and Japanese… possibly?
hmm… how would actually an abbreviation alias type be? @reosarevok?

How well-known are these abbreviations? I don’t think I have ever encountered them (which doesn’t mean that much, of course), and just adding them as aliases looks like it could get confusing fast (considering the different abbreviations used in different genres and different languages). Perhaps this would work better as a wiki page people can use for reference?


Or slap bass maybe ?

Sorry I’m just thinking out loud but, about vln-p:

Maybe violin pizzicato? :thinking:

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Hallo Guys, many thanks for your contribution!

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