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Autobiography

©2020 by Seth Kimmel: Maker of real wood double bass violins and ‘cellos; Made in America in Eugene, Oregon.-1.jpeg

Early Life

     I was born in 1969 in Eugene, Oregon, and grew up on a farm south of town surrounded by big Douglas Fir trees. My parents still live there.

My idyllic life of horseback riding, building forts and messing

around in the creek was darkened only by daily mandolin practice. Music, especially old-time, has been a part of my life since the beginning.

      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.

©2020 by Seth Kimmel: Maker of real wood double bass violins and ‘cellos; Made in America in Eugene, Oregon.

Work Life

©2020 by Seth Kimmel: Maker of real wood double bass violins and ‘cellos; Made in America in Eugene, Oregon.

      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.      

 

      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 cabinetry and furniture work. I still occasionally get involved with construction of projects for our tiny universe.  We built Rose Cottage in 2013 as a story-book like fiber arts studio for LauraRose, and I just re-roofed the shop in May, 2020. 

       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 5 'cellos and a fiddle, a dozen  or more banjos for my old-timey music friends, and a few guitars based on a 1928 O-21 Martin which I got a good deal on from my Uncle Dick Kimmel a few years back. Recently I was comissioned to buid and Arched-top-guitar-bodied-octave-mandolin for a family friend. So, I built my-self one as well, while I wsa at it. What fun!

Seth Kimmel Gluing Up A Handmade Double Bass Violin
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      I build the basses full time in what is now an enormous shop in my back yard. In March 2023 we moved in order to be closer to my folks, in a quieter area and to have a larger, more efficient shop.  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 a 5 piece old-jazz/old-pop/old-time/occasional rock/originals project called BakeClub,complete with drums and keys .

(click here for photos of my original small shop)

 

Influences

©2020 by Seth Kimmel: Maker of real wood double bass violins and ‘cellos; Made in America in Eugene, Oregon.

     Growing up in the Pacific Northwest means I was surrounded by natural beauty from the Pacific Coast to the giant trees of the Cascade Range, as well as a bunch of old hippies and beatniks. One of the things that bothered me about construction was the intense resource use.  Building basses gives me a chance to treat each piece of wood as the precious commodity that it is. Though I do still create huge piles of chips that end up on our garden beds.

©2020 by Seth Kimmel: Maker of real wood double bass violins and ‘cellos; Made in America in Eugene, Oregon.
©2020 by Seth Kimmel: Maker of real wood double bass violins and ‘cellos; Made in America in Eugene, Oregon.

     One of the hippies was potter and environmental activist Lynn Bowers who lived across the road from my parents until her untimely death in 2018. I studied ceramics with her for several years after college. Lynn's understanding of line, form /function,  and production/art rooted in the Bauhaus tradition, has been invaluable for every endeavor to which I put my hands.

     Meeting LauraRose got me interested in historic preservation, as she grew up in an early 19th Century stone farmhouse in south-western Pennsylvania, Both she and her parents are big restoration buffs as a consequence. When we decided to buy a home in 1996, we were overjoyed to find a small historic home in The East Skinner Butte Historic District which is the heart of the original plat of downtown Eugene. It is only a few blocks from the (also historic) train station, the river and Alton Baker Park, which is a huge, rambling thing of a park. Balancing historic traditions with modern needs is at the core of my aesthetic in both architectural and double bass design

    However , we have now outgrown that site and have moved farther out into the countryside, where we have room for the dog to romp and a shop that is much easier to work in.  Our new house was built in 1989--the year that LauraRose and I started dating at Oberlin--so it isn't OLD exactly but it certainly is vintage!

 

©2020 by Seth Kimmel: Maker of real wood double bass violins and ‘cellos; Made in America in Eugene, Oregon.
©2020 by Seth Kimmel: Maker of real wood double bass violins and ‘cellos; Made in America in Eugene, Oregon.
middle aged white couple and icelandic sheepdog in winter garden

      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.

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