We’re chatting with double bass luthier and Heartland String Bass Shop owner Chris Threlkeld-Wiegand today on the Contrabass Conversations podcast. Chris formerly worked at Robertson and Sons Violins before starting his own shop, and he makes extensions and does repair work in addition to crafting his own unique instruments.
It was a real pleasure to sit down and chat with Chris. I own a low B extension on my Jakstadt bass that Chris crafted, and it is a really excellent piece of hardware. I’ve also enjoyed playing on his various double basses, and I’ll be excited to see how he continues to push the boundaries of instrument making and come up with new and innovative ways of crafting double basses.
We’re also featuring a track from University of Iowa bass professor Volkan Orhon performed on one of Chris’ instruments. Check out the photos below for samples of Chris’ work. More photos, plus detailed information about the Heartland String Bass Shop and contact information for Chris can be found at www.heartlandsbs.com. Enjoy!
About Chris (all photos feature basses by Chris):
Chris Threlkeld-Wiegand started playing bass at age nine. He earned a full scholarship to the University of Iowa where he studied under Eldon Obrecht and earned a Bachelor of Music in String Bass Performance. Chris has played with the Quad Cities Youth Symphony, the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Symphony Orchestra, and the Quad Cities Symphony. He has also performed with many bands during his career, ranging from jazz to blues to folk in communities as far ranging as Nagoya, Japan and Austin, Texas.
Chris has had a life-long interest in the sound and responsiveness of basses. As a player, Chris knows that having a finely tuned instrument is critical, and he recognizes the remarkable difference a slight sound post adjustment or bridge arching can make.
His interest in sound and the influence of craftsmanship and ingenious problem solving led him to world famous Collings Guitars. While working at Collings and living in Austin, his cat (a black one!) knocked over and broke the neck on his bass. At the time, Chris was taking private lessons from Professor David Neubert at the University of Texas. Frustrated with the quality of the repair work on his bass, Chris asked Professor Neubert to recommend a good repair shop. “Albuquerque” was the guiding answer. Robertson & sons Violin shop is one of the world’s finest string instrument repair shops & is located in Albuquerque, NM.
For five years at Robertson & Sons, Chris had the opportunity to learn the craft of bass repair and construction under the tutelage of an acknowledged master, and work on some of the finest basses in the world. From neck grafts to cracks, Chris’s skills were applied to a full range of challenges. But he also developed many original techniques, including installation of custom low C & B extensions that integrate into the scroll rather than cutting the scroll and gluing the extension to the modified scroll.
In 2003 it was time to set up shop in his home state of Iowa, and bring his remarkable set of skills and experiences to musicians in the Midwest. Heartland String Bass Shop is the complete manifestation of a musical life, a commitment to sound, and skills honed under the watchful eye of the finest instrument makers and repairers in the world.
Learn more about Chris at www.heartlandsbs.com.
Music Provided by:
Special thanks to Daniel Chmielinski for technical assistance – www.carsleuth.net