How did Seth Kimmel become a Double Bass maker / luthier?
I was born in 1969 in Eugene, Oregon, and grew up on a farm south of town surrounded by big Douglas Fir trees.
My idyllic life of horseback riding, building forts and messing
around in the creek was darkened only by daily mandolin practice.
I have always worked. As a kid it was either on our farm, or helping out a neighbor with chores or a fence. During college I worked for the campus food service sytem, painted houses, dug ditches and cleaned fish tanks. I illustrated the Stages of Embryonic Development of the Zebrafish for Charles Kimmel (my father and professor of Developmetal Biology at the University of Oregon), which is still used by researchers today.
In 1992, after earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy from Oberlin College, in Ohio, LauraRose and I moved back to my hometown where I started my own business doing residential carpentry. I also studied pottery with Lynn Bowers. Her understanding of line, form and function, rooted in the Bauhaus tradition, has been invaluable.
By 1996 I was working as a general contractor with some of the best trade folks in the country. I did many jobs--both remodels and new construction-- featuring salvaged materials. Building led to design and consultation, as well as fine cabinetry and furniture work.
On a lark, in 2006, I decided to build a bass violin for myself. By January 2007 I had a really good sounding bass. Some extra wood and a desire to do a bit better led to the next one, and the next. Now I am working through the 60s. Six have received awards for their exceptional tone. I have also built 3 'cellos and a fiddle, a dozen or more banjos for my old-timey music friends, and I made myself a purple guitar based on a 1928 O-21 Martin.
I build the basses full time in a small shop which I built behind my home in the historic district of downtown Eugene. Being able to work at home and using so much salvaged and US produced material is a real joy. I play a bass of my own, #2, named Betty, around town in an old-jazz/old-pop/old-time project called Butterchuck; the funky duo, Dirty Spoon; and the Old-Timey dance band The Barnstormers.
I am very grateful for the huge support, input, and positive recognition that luthiers, bassists, my family, friends and community have given me. Of course, I couldn't have done any of it without the seemingly endless encouragement of my trusted side-kick, best friend, beloved wife, and Director of I.T., Communications and Marketing for Seth Kimmel Bass: LauraRose Hisrich.