Today we feature double bass luthier Arnold Schnitzer. Arnold has had an interesting career path, from gigging around the East Coast as a youth to entering the corporate world and finally finding his way to the word of instrument repair. We talk about a wide range of topics, including information versus knowledge, wisdom, and street smarts, and the perils and pitfalls of the information age.
We also dig into Mike Rowe‘s Dirty Jobs (there’s a great interview with him on the Tim Ferriss podcast) – this all starts about 20 minutes into the actual interview – and training people for the jobs that actually exist, and the “in-between” jobs. This is quite a conversation—be sure to check this out. There’s a lot of food for thought here.
We also get deep into instrument construction, setup, maker competitions, wolf tones, and the Oberlin Bass Workshop, which Arnold serves on the faculty for and which sounds like a very cool event. I know that you’re really going to enjoy this conversation with the always interesting Arnold Schnitzer!
- born in Miami Beach (South Beach), FL
- moved up to Far Rockaway, NJ when he was young – dad was in construction
- dad got them a boat but Arnold and siblings had to figure out money for gas and fix it up
- his story of getting this Bohemian bass in his late 30s while working corporate recruiting gig and making good money but hating the job and basically just figuring out on his own (consulting people along the way) how to take this old beater bass apart and totally reconstruct it
Information versus Knowledge
- we talk about information vs. knowledge/wisdom/street smarts – this is an illuminating discussion
- Arnold is a jazz musician from way back, and he sees instrument repair as a constant improvisation
- we talk about Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs (there’s a great interview with him on the Tim Ferriss podcast) – this all starts about 20 minutes into the actual interview
- alternate paths to going to college for x, y, z – people getting trained for the jobs that actually exist
- traditional jobs are disappearing
- the in-between jobs are the ones that aren’t going away – electrician, plumber, instrument repair, air conditioning service – and these can pay really well!
- training people for jobs that have gone out of vogue
- being a luthier does involve working with your hands, but it really involves working with your brain – problem solving with your command center
The Future of Employment
- looking at predictions of jobs in the future and the rise of the worker less economy, think twice about going to college and racking up $100,000 in student loans
- musicians are the most conservative people on the planet… especially rock & rollers
Double Bass Setup and Construction
- ergonomic contrabass – thought it up while on painkillers
- wolf tones on the bass
- all basses will have some wolfiness
- clarity mainly comes from setup rather than construction
- what brands of strings can help with clarity
- other adjustments that can be made to help with clarity
- thoughts on maker competitions – judges are looking at basses through the eyes of the violin world
- motto of Oberlin Bass Society: “everyone teaches, everyone learns”
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