In January of 2014, I commissioned a double bass. The one I was using was not adequate and I needed something on the pro level. When you take lessons on a double bass (and you really MUST take lessons to be any good), your instructor will have his or her own luthier--someone who can service it or the bow. You can't take a double bass to just any music store if you need work done on it. You need a luthier you can contact. Generally, you'll pick up the one your instructor has and this was the case with me. My instructor, in turn, picked up from his instructor who was the principal bassist of the Detroit Symphony for 34 years--Robert Gladstone. the luthier is Dan Seabolt who re-haired and repaired Mr. Gladstone's bows.
Dan made violins but did not make basses at that time. When he finally did start to make them, my instructor got the very first one--and a beautiful piece of work it is. I admired it so much that I decided to call Dan and see if he would make a bass for me. He said sure. So I drove across the state from Detroit to Muskegon where Danny lives and visited him in his workshop and we discussed what I wanted. I've always had a thing for medieval European art and music and said I wanted a bass with medieval themes. That peaked Dan's interest because he's always interested in doing something different.
After we had mapped out what I wanted, Dan set to work and kept me updated by sending me photos. I share them now with you:
The sides are a type of maple. Dan showed me the raw wood when I was there and asked me if I'd like for those to be used for the sides (or ribs, as they are called). It was beautiful wood with a find grain so I said yes.
The belly is made of European spruce.
Here you can see the beautiful texture of the grain.
The underside of the belly being carved out. The belly has a curved surface and it must be very carefully carved. The luthier will shave off some wood and then tap the belly and listen for the ping. It has to exude a certain pitch and it must be perfect.
F-hole cut into the belly.
Belly, ribs and back glued together.
I told Dan I wanted a knight's helmet for a scroll. He carved this based on images I sent him. He asked if it needed a grille in the visor. I said it did.
Grille added. Armed and ready for bass.