What or whom was your influence in getting into building basses, what inspires your work?
worked with wood my whole life,really. After almost twenty years of
working as general contractor I had a pretty good shop and some really
decent experience. I had been playing a groovy old Kay plywood bass
casually for a few years and figured I could probably make something at
least as good out of real wood. A friend or two who were making
instruments encouraged me to go for it, or at least they didn't do a
very good job discouraging me. I bought as many books as I could
on bass and violin and cello and asked a bunch or questions. The
bass turned out pretty good. I had some wood left over. I
made another. Since then I have had many
great opportunities to meet with and learn from many of the
top level bass makers in the world.
from many directions. I love the sound of the double bass, and bass
players tend to be pretty cool people. Each bass has such a unique
sound, and each player has such unique desires. It is exciting and
gratifying when a player decides that one of my basses is the perfect
fit. Of course, I love working with wood as well. I started whittling
sticks while growing up out in the country and camping by the rivers of
Oregon, then on to construction with lumber, now I have graduated to
using gorgeous woods, like NW timber supplies.
The wood itself is inspirational. I enjoy handling it, admiring
it, and watching its transformation from one step to the next.
How do you market your work? Do you promote yourself, as well as your lutherie?
I have always found running my own business to be interesting, I am far
more interested in carving basses than I am in advertising. I do try to
attend at least one conference/competition each year-more with the goal
of meeting players and other makers in mind than sales, though. The
International Society of Bassists and The Violin Society of America have
alternating yearly conferences. I have won several awards at these
competitions, which helps make a nice buzz. I try to reach out to
bass players at the University of Oregon music school, by offering
student discounts in order to encourage them in their
studies. My lovely wife (the most wonderful woman in the
world whom I couldn't manage without) does a good job keeping my
website - sethkimmel.com -
updated and making it always "new and improved." Mostly
though, I depend on word of mouth. Bass players love to talk about
basses, so if my name is brought up from a happy player, that's the best
advertising anyone can desire.
What have you done to make your instrument stand apart from all the others?
really cool thing about the double bass violin is that if they are
truly hand made, they all stand out. Every maker I know has little
things they do specifically this way or that way because of this reason
or that reason, But Then you add in the factor of these giant
pieces of wood we need to use and you get a very unique instrument every
time. I think one thing that might be a little different about my
approach than some others (definitely not to say better or worse!) is
that I really embrace this broad spectrum of opportunity. I love
working on designing new models and then refining them. I enjoy the
challenge and excitement of trying new wood combinations. With
wood this nice, even if it is an unusual combination, it's always going
to be way better than my old Kay!
What is your favorite part of the process?
enjoy it all. Designing a bass is really fun. Putting it together is
what I'm good at. Varnishing is stinky and sticky and you can
really screw up it, but I love love the challenge and seeing the
the color build and enhance the gorgeous wood. But of course, getting to
play and getting to hear others play the bass can't be beat.
Is there anything you haven't done yet that you want to?
am currently building a 1/20th size bass (a.k.a. a fiddle) just for
fun. Laura and I laugh that it looks like a child's toy compared to what
we are used to seeing. I recently built a guitar based on an old
Martin, and stained it purple-again just for fun. I guess I just
enjoy learning as much as I can about how all instruments are made, and
how various finishes and materials work, so I can take that knowledge
back to my bass carving and construction. I really just hope to be
able to continue to find good wood and stay healthy so I can just keep
keep on keeping on.
Contact Seth Kimmel,
306 High Street - Eugene, OR 97401