Twenty two years ago my daughter said she wished she could play the bass. At the time I was a cabinetmaker and I figured I could save some money by fixing up an old bass. A friend, fiddler George Wilson, gave me an old bass that was in his woodshed. Another friend, violinmaker Geoffrey Ovington, offered his guidance. The bass was made in Germany in 1933. Its neck was broken and the top was gone. I repaired the ribs and back and made a new top from some quarter-sawn white pine. Geoffrey’s tutelage carried me as far as setting the neck, for which I would need the advice of a bass expert. As it happened, John Feeney was in town to play the Dvorak Quintet. Geoffrey introduced me to him we talked about my project. John urged me to call Lou DiLeone, the master bass restorer who worked on his own bass. So I did.
Lou invited me to bring the pieces of my bass to his workshop in Orange, Connecticut. He said I needed to do a neck graft and showed me how he did it. I went home, made the graft, set the neck, and a some weeks later I visited Lou again for advice on the next step. Let’s just say that I passed the graft test because he said, “You should be doing this professionally, and I will teach you.” That was the beginning of my ongoing apprenticeship with Lou.