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BunnyBass Interview:
John Carruthers

February 21, 2001





I met with John Carruthers at his Venice, CA shop to talk to him a little bit about his work with basses and guitars. It wasn't the first time I'd visited his shop - back in 1989 or so I'd asked him if he could make me a replacement neck for one of my instruments (I was living in LA at the time). A guitarist friend had recommended that I have the work done at this small shop - supposedly the man in charge was a real legend in the LA custom building scene. Curious, I visited the Carruthers shop. John gave me a tour and showed me some samples of his work, and I placed an order for a neck that day. I think I was as impressed with his patience (I had a lot of stupid questions to ask) and quiet but friendly demeanor, as much as I was with his attitudes about craftsmanship and encyclopedic knowledge. The beautiful neck I got back a few weeks later radically improved the instrument's sound and playability, and I was very happy.

Fast forward over 10 years: I've just recently moved back to LA, and I thought it'd be nice to revisit John Carruthers, maybe this time for a BunnyBass interview. He accepted and the following is the result. A big mistake though - after we decided we were done and the camera and microphone were packed up, I asked John a stray question and went into a great explanation into the physics of string movement, bridge design, and a few other topics. The explanations were clear and laid to rest a number of questions (and misconceptions) I've had for quite a while, but alas, they are not included here. So perhaps I'll ask all the physics- type stuff in another visit. Sorry. But I hope you enjoy this interview with John Carruthers much as I enjoyed the opportunity to meet with him.

bunnybass:  How long have you been doing this? When did you first start getting into basses and guitars?

John Carruthers:  Well, when I was very young. My parents got me involved in music lessons, and I started playing when I was about 10 years old. I took lessons for I think about 7 years and I was always very mechanically inclined. I always liked to tinker with my own instruments. I'm the kind of guy that would take equipment apart to see how it worked. So it was just kind of natural for me to evolve into working on my own instruments. As I got better at playing them, I became an instructor. I'd worked for a music school that had a rental program. The instruments had to be restrung and readjusted when they were returned any cracks or damage to them had to be fixed. So I got involved doing that.

bunnybass:  How old were you when you were doing things like that?

John Carruthers:  I think I was probably, oh, I think 16 or 17 at that time.

bunnybass:  Okay, very young!

John Carruthers:  I had a sister that was training for the Olympics. She was down here in southern California training. I lived in Canada so it was kind of interesting for me to come down and visit with my sister. So I did. I came down and I kind of liked it here. I started going to school and working part time. I was disenchanted with the work I was doing. I was working at a service station, trying to support my sister and go to school. That got old, so I went around to music stores looking for a job. I finally got a job at a fairly well known store doing service work on instruments. The store had a well known clientele and soon I developed a good reputation. This was in the late 60's, so I've been working on instrument for around 35 years now.

outside the carruthers shop
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the modest and notably unglamorous Venice, CA shop - the sign simply reads "J. Carruthers"
no reference to the vast amount of cool stuff going on inside!

bunnybass:  Maybe it's not so nice to name drop, but who are some of the bassists whose stuff you've worked on?

John Carruthers:  Well, I've been most fortunate to work on a lot of different people's instruments. In the bass world I've done work for guys like Jaco Pastorius, Stanley Clarke, Leland Sklar, Joe Osborn, Jerry Scheff, Bob Glaub, Chuck Rainey, Carol Kaye, Steve Bailey the White brothers from Earth, Wind, and Fire.... It's kind of hard to remember them all, but there are quite a few and most of them are fairly well known.

bunnybass:  Well, that's a pretty impressive list. With so many small custom and repair shops coming and going all the time, what do you think it is that has allowed you to have the kind of longevity that's required in order to build and maintain a reputation?

John Carruthers:  Well, I think there's two things. One is you obviously have to love what you're doing. In other words if you want to do this type of work, you should really care for what you do. You should have integrity about your work. You have to maintain high standards. It is also important to enjoy learning new things. A lot of people do things a certain way because a lot of other people have done it like that. I don't think about it that way. I think of things in scientific terms - there's usually physical reasons why things have to happen the way they do. In other words, when I work on a guitar I know that a string needs to be a certain height because if I pluck it, it needs to have a certain amount of room to vibrate. If it doesn't have enough room to vibrate, it's not going to play properly. So I don't set up a guitar a certain way just because someone told me that's what the specs are. I do it based upon the physical reasons that work for a particular instrument. And so I really believe in figuring out what the physical principles are and then basing standards off of that.

bunnybass:  What kind of research do you do - that process of determining what the specifications should be for a particular class of instruments?

John Carruthers:  Well, I've worked with companies like Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez as a consultant, and sometimes they'll ask me to establish specifications for their instruments. So I might measure hundreds of their instruments to create some kind of database, and from that we can extrapolate what the settings should be. Other times we arrive at the specifications by experimentation. We take instruments, set them up, play them, and see how they respond. When you've been working on instruments as long as I have, you develop standards based on what works for most people. There are slight variations from instrument to instrument, from player to player, but overall certain specifications work quite well. Like at Fender for example, the specs they use for their set-ups are numbers that I gave them when I worked there as a consultant. Now they have a standard that they can work from. If you take an instrument and adjust it under that basis, then you'll get the same adjustment every time. It's repeatable. A lot of repair people just eyeball things. This creates an inconsistent result. But you know, once you get your instrument set-up the way you feel it should be, you'd like to have it that way every-time.

bunnybass:  Can you talk a little bit more about your development work with Fender and how that got started?

John Carruthers:  Well, I worked with Leo Fender and with Fender Musical Instruments as two different entities. I worked with Leo Fender when he owned MusicMan. I worked primarily on the Stingray basses and guitars. They had the Saber with two pickups and the Stingray had the single pickup. I understand that they have become "collectibles". A lot of players like the sound and feel of them. I was a consultant to Leo on those. And when I worked at Fender I was actually hired as a consultant to sort of help "rehabilitate" the company because it had been owned by CBS, and CBS had basically run it into the ground. After a while CBS decided that it wanted to sell the company so they hired some of the management people from Yamaha to run Fender. Yamaha had used me for their research and development so they hired me to work at Fender too. Basically we went through and checked everything out from design to production. We figured out why things weren't happening, tolerances, finish, quality control problems. Basically we were trying to get Fender's production procedures and the quality of the instruments back up to some kind of acceptable standard. And it's still evolving; I think it's getting better and better. They keep trying to upgrade the quality of their instruments. And I think that's good because that forces everybody else in the industry to do the same thing.

carruthers shop
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A small section of the Carruthers shop.

bunnybass:  How'd you feel about working with Leo Fender, considering his place in the history of electric guitars and basses?

John Carruthers:  Well, he's really like the Henry Ford of the musical instrument business. He helped pioneer mass production of guitars, basses, and amplification. Of course there were electric guitars before him, but not very available and not as usable. He made it so you could get one at a very reasonable price, and it was very functional too, so it sort of developed a whole genre in itself because at first people didn't think solid body guitars would have a sound that was desirable. They pretty much wanted to use acoustics. But after they were in circulation for a while they became more popular than acoustic instruments.

bunnybass:  What was that like working with him on a personal level?

John Carruthers:  Well, Leo was a very reclusive guy. He had some health problems in his later life with Parkinson's. He had a bit of a palsy that caused him to shake. He had damaged one eye so he basically only had vision in the other eye and it didn't see very well. He wore a visor so he could see things up close. I think he kind of felt a little, I would say, shy or embarrassed to be around people, because of his physical condition. It was an honor and a privilege to be able to work with him. When I was a child and learning to play guitar I would have given anything to have one of his instruments. And now here I am helping him build them. *chuckle* It was pretty amazing, quite a departure for me. He was a nice guy, and if someone had a common interest with him, he was always glad to expound upon it - he was always looking for insight, and at the same time he would offer his too.

bunnybass:  Did you help design the Yamaha B.B. basses?

John Carruthers:  Yes, I worked with a design team. Basically, we hired studio musicians to play and test them - we had some team members in Japan working together with more team members here in the U.S. at YIC (Yamaha International Corporation in Buena Park, California). We would make prototypes, take them to the musicians, and let them test them and play them. After we got to what we thought was sort of the epitome of development, we put them into production and released them. It was a good instrument at a reasonable price, and actually they're still quite popular.

bunnybass:  When you were developing them, were you thinking of them in terms of being a refinement of earlier Fender instruments?

John Carruthers:  Well I think there were several considerations. In a sense these basses did have to compete against other basses in the market and of course that included Fender basses. There are certain sound choices that people were used to listening to so we tried to get similar but enhanced tonal ranges from our designs. Then there were ergonomic considerations like balance, weight, playability. That's why each time we came up with new prototypes, we would have top studio players critically evaluate them. They had certain things to say about playability, neck shapes, sound qualities etc. We wanted to get direct feedback at a very high level, from the players who would be the end users.

bunnybass:  You're also well known for your electric upright designs.

John Carruthers:  We came up with our own designs for that. At the time we came out with ours, I think there was only one or two other stand up electric basses on the market. The earliest design, I think, that most people know about is the Ampeg Baby Bass. Prior to that there were actually a few others that weren't very successful. I think that Rickenbacker probably had one of the first, back in the late 20's or early 30's, and it was basically a bass neck with a post in place of the body, and then some kind of pretty hokey magnetic pickup based on the technology of the time. *smiles* It wasn't very functional. Amplification technologies weren't really happening at the time either. If you make a great electric instrument and there's nothing to amplify it with, it doesn't really make a difference! That was a situation where one technology just needed time to catch up with another. Recently we've had the advantage of having high quality amplification equipment that provide us with the opportunity to try and design electronic systems that will give you optimal "acoustic" properties with an instrument that's portable and more manageable than a traditional acoustic upright. That's what gave us the impetus to create the SUB-1 (Standup Bass). The very first one we made was for John Leightham who played with Doc Severinson. He played with Doc, touring all over the world and sometimes they'd have to travel by commuter planes. These commuter airplanes were small, and their doors were too small for John to fit his acoustic bass into. It got to be a problem and after a while Doc said "we have to do something about this or make arrangements for someone to play bass for me." *laughs* John approached us and asked us if we would make him a portable standup bass. We made him the first one, but it didn't have a removable neck. We basically took what would be the center section of a conventional bass and just cut the sides off of it. Our theory, was to maintain the feel and height that a normal bass would have. To make it more compact we didn't put a full scroll on it, and we shortened how far the tailpiece would go down, etc. It was much more compact than a conventional bass and so he successfully took that on the road. While we were building his, other people saw the design and expressed an interest. There was a fellow named Alan Hirano - the samurai bass player - and he decided that he'd like to have one too. He played with Debbie Davies and Coco Montoya among other people. Anyway he toured quite a bit with them and he needed an instrument that was portable, so we built one for him too. When we were building his we started to think about making it even more compact. We decided to make it so that we could take the neck off. That was probably the first step in its evolution. The ass was interesting because over the years we've constantly improved upon the original design - it keeps evolving. It's sort of like the original Volkswagen where it started out in the 30's and by the time it got to maybe '67 it had gone through a multitude of changes. It basically looked like the same thing, but technologically, it had improved significantly. And so we've done the same thing with the Sub-1. We built our own proprietary pickup system that uses floating tone bars that the bridge rests on and drives the piezo-electric system. This allows the bridge to duplicate the same motion as an acoustic bass, but into the pickup instead so it gives our bass a unique acoustic property that a lot of other electrics don't have.

bunnybass:  could you explain a little bit more about how that pickup system works?

John Carruthers:  Basically what happens on a normal instrument, when the string vibrates the bridge moves either towards the neck and towards the tailpiece, or it moves from side to side - depending on whether the string is plucked or bowed. So if you're plucking (pizzicato style) what's happening is that the bridge is moving more front to back and less side to side, and when you play it with a bow that's more side to side movement and less front to back movement. Pizzicato is neck to bridge; bowed is side to side - just to get that straight. Normally if you were to use conventional-type pickups, you would find that you might get one mode and not the other. Some of the earlier designs of other manufacturer's basses used selector switches. It had two different pickups, one of them would pick up the bowed sound and the other would pick up the pizzicato sound. That was inconvenient and there were also differences in levels and the balance wasn't very good. So when we made ours, we decided we would try and get it so that it would do both without the player having to do anything beyond just playing it. And so that's how we came up with our system. Basically we made bars that the bridge sit on, and these bars are suspended on rubber rings that allow them to have freedom of movement. The pickup system is underneath the bars and an activator sticks down from the bar making contact with the pickup. When you bow or pluck, the motion of the bridge is transferred into the bars. This activates the pickup creating an extremely close representation of an acoustic bass sound.

bunnybass:  You develop and build your own instrument designs from scratch, but you also do a large number of repairs and restorations.

Carruthers:  Yes we do.

bunnybass:  What kind of differences in mindset do you have to bring about to make the transitions between each kind of work?

John Carruthers:  Well, sometimes it can get pretty stretched out just because there's a lot of diversity in this business. You basically have to know how to do, I would say, probably five or six trades extremely well. That's what makes it interesting I guess. You know, for most things, if you were a plumber or if you're a welder, or whatever particular trade that you do - you just do that one thing and you try to do it well. Well with this you're actually involved in actively doing maybe five or six different trades. Some people make a living just doing painting, and I do finish work too. Then there's machining - stuff like making hardware - bridges, tailpieces, tuning machines and things like that. I do that too. You also have to deal with advanced woodworking, design and ergonomics, structural stresses and engineering, electronics. Then of course there's the business side to things that you have to take care of too. So there's actually a lot of things that come together and you have to get pretty good at doing all of those things to make an instrument well. If you have a good grounding in all of that then I think you have a better chance to be successful at designing and building instruments.

carruthers
John Carruthers talked to us while re-stringing and setting up a few instruments. I've never seen anyone do it so quickly!

bunnybass:  How does your work at this shop typically break down in terms of repairs as opposed to restorations? What do you do the most of around here?

Carruthers:  Well, we do all types. We work on acoustic instruments, electric instruments... and then there's the building aspect. I would say it's probably somewhere in the 50-50 zone in the amount of time spent on each. We service probably I would say somewhere between 3000 to 5000 instruments a year.

bunnybass:  What?!

John Carruthers:  They're not all basses. Some of them are guitars, some are acoustic guitars, some are basses, some are acoustic basses. We even do some esoteric instruments. Some things that are pretty bizarre, lutes and ouds, saz, and things like that. We get very diversified as far as what types of instruments we'll work on. If it has strings, we'll probably work on it. We've done things like repair sitars and other bizarre instruments like that.



bunnybass:  So I guess it's pretty safe to say your interest in musical instruments pretty much runs the gamut from development through production to maintenance.

John Carruthers:  Yes, it's like going from planting the crop to harvesting it, to cooking and finally eating it. *laughs* We basically go through the whole gamut, it doesn't matter what aspects of the production - whether it be finishing, metal working, design, ergonomics or even marketing. We are involved in all aspects.

bunnybass:  Do you keep your hands equally divided between all these aspects or do you favor one over the others?

John Carruthers:  I think I just try and spread myself out as much as I can. I seem to have more demands than time and so it's like having a split personality. I have to be focusing on a lot of different things at the same time in addition to supervising employees. We also do electronic service on tube amps and related stuff. That's another distraction! It keeps me very very busy. I also teach at the Musicians Institute one day a week. That's also a thing that takes a fair amount of time, but that kind of work provides a chance to give back to the musicians that have supported me over the years.

bunnybass:  What do you teach there?

John Carruthers:  I have a course at the school that teaches musicians how to maintain their instruments. I usually have between 30 to 40 students per semester that go through the course and they learn everything from putting their strings on properly, to setting up and adjusting their instruments, soldering etc. They learn to do minor repair work on their own instruments. When you become a professional musician and travel a lot, all kinds of things can happen to your instruments. You can't always count on having help wherever you go. We also have the Guitar Craft Academy where we teach people how to build guitars and basses from scratch - we show you how to do all the steps - finishing, electronics, we even build our own pickups. It goes from raw wood to a finished instrument, so after 6 months you'll have built your own instrument that you can take with you and show as a sample of your work.

bunnybass:  Cool. Where's this?

John Carruthers:  That's a division of the Musicians Institute. It's also in Hollywood, but it's at a different location.

bunnybass:  Maybe I'll take that class. Can we take a look at a couple of the machines you use to build your instruments?

John Carruthers:  Sure.

bunnybass:  So this is your CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine?

cnc machine
the CNC machine

John Carruthers:  Yup. You can use a machine like this to do a lot of different things. You can use it for routing, contouring, scaling. It's very effective for scaling because you can work to one ten thousandth of an inch, so you can make instruments that are extremely in tune. I've worked with several companies that have come up with tuning systems, like the Buzz Feiten system. We helped design that with Buzz Feiten. He needed extremely fine tolerances to do that - precision work - so that's why Buzz chose us to work on his project. We've also worked with an Australian company that has frets that have ripples in them in certain places. It's called the Wave Fret, and Yamaha has just come out with a model that featured this system at the last trade show (the Frank Gambale model). We've installed this system on a lot of other players guitars for them to test, like Steve Vai. He really likes them, and a lot of different people are using them too. This was an interesting diversion for us.

bunnybass:  You started using CNC machines pretty early.

John Carruthers:  Yes, I was one of the pioneers. I was probably one of the first small-time manufactures to use them because they're pretty expensive. At the time I think this machine was around $50,000. It was hard for the average guy to go out and get one. But it had great value for me. I could see the potential of being able to make things over and over again exactly the same a with exceptional tolerances. I was always just trying to figure out other uses for it to keep it running as much as possible. It has been very useful for us, and I'm sure the machine has paid for itself many times over.

bunnybass:  How would you use this to, say, make a certain kind of bass body?

neck pocket
John shows us the tongue joint on one of the
custom basses he's building right now.


John Carruthers:  Well you just pre-program everything. For starters we'd normally bandsaw the body and cut them to shape. Then as far as interior routes, like pickup pockets, neck pockets, there's certain standard sizes for the different features that you have to cut. For example if you make a four string, there's a certain-sized neck pocket. If you make a five string, it has a different sized neck pocket. All those programs are saved in the computer. We also make what we call set-neck instruments where the neck is joined into the body, and so those have different pockets too. You have different sizes of pickups for different styles. You might have a narrow p bass, a wide p bass, a long jazz, a short jazz - all kinds. You'll have different soap bars from different manufacturers; like EMG has certain sizes, Bartolini has more different sizes. We have programs for all those parts. You lay them out on the instrument, put a zero set at that spot, and then you select the correct program. Then run that program at that location to get custom routs almost instantaneously.


bunnybass:  How do you get those initial shapes and programs into this machine?

John Carruthers:  We write them ourselves. You just input them right at the keyboard here, or you can write them on the computer in the office and load them here.

bunnybass:  Aren't they kind of complex sometimes? Like organic shapes and stuff?

John Carruthers:  Well the organic ones are the most difficult. Whenever you program complex shapes, like curves evolving into straight lines or other curves, you have a lot of problems. It's pretty difficult to get them to line up and there's a lot of drawing and calculation that has to be done to input those types of programs. Rectangular and round shapes are easy to program. It's just a matter of inputting different coordinates and dimensions.

bunnybass:  Can you show us some examples of what this machines been up to recently?

John Carruthers:  Okay. *finds bass guitar body* This is a bass body that's under construction right now. The machine cut this part here. This is going to be a set-neck instrument, so this is the tongue joint for the set-neck. *pointing* Here's the two pickups. This guy's getting what most people would call soapbar pickups. They're basically just large rectangles, very easy to do on this machine. And then in the back it's got the control pocket where all your pots are going to go, and it puts a recess for the cover to fit into. This is basically all done on the CNC.

sloped heel
The sloped neck heel on a finished Carruthers bass.

bunnybass:  I notice that on your bolt-on models, the heel is sloped away, and on the back there's also a lot contouring. is that all done by hand or is that this CNC machine too?

John Carruthers:  A lot of that is done by hand. This allows you higher access on the neck without the body getting in the way. It just makes it much easier to play. We call that a sloped heel. Basically we cut away a lot of the wood from the back of the body so that there's more room for your hand.

bunnybass:  we had a Carruthers bass pass through, a baby blue one - it was beautifully done.

John Carruthers:  Why thank you.

bunnybass:  Could we take a look at your neck duplicating machine?

neck machine
the neck duplicating machine


John Carruthers:  Sure.

John Carruthers:  This is a neck-duplicating machine. It was designed by necessity. When you're making musical instruments much of the work you do is repetitive and if you want to do it consistently you have to have some tooling that will allow this to happen. I designed this machine so that you could duplicate an existing neck similar to the way a key duplicating machine works. The neck serves as the pattern, and the tracer will work its way up and down the pattern, with the saw exactly following its motions on the blank. That allows you to make exact copies of a neck. I built in some adjustment factors so I can make the neck larger or smaller, and so we can actually size it up or down. It works to within a few thousandths of an inch. It makes a very consistent product and doesn't require a lot of man hours. The machine can be operating while you're working on other things.


bunnybass:  How many of these machines did you make?

John Carruthers:  Well, I built this one, and I made another one for Fender. They use it in their Custom Shop. As far as I know, those are the only two that exist.

bunnybass:  Let's say Eric Clapton wears out a guitar. He shows up and...

John Carruthers:  Yeah, what happens is they would bring his neck, we would put it on the machine, we would make a trace of his neck, and that would be it. We've done necks for Eric Clapton, we've done em for Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Walter Becker, a lot of different people. It's pretty hard to keep track of all the ones we've done though. But once we make a pattern, we can keep it as a reference. If that person wants another one, we can make them another one, or if someone else would like that pattern, we can make one for them too.

bunnybass:  There's no computer aspect to this, right? Just physical templates?

John Carruthers:  No, there's no computer aspect to it, although it could be computerized if someone wanted to take it up a notch. Right now it's totally mechanical. What it does is it just goes up and down, and each time it goes up and down it takes a new cut. Now both the pattern and the neck thats being cut are always in precise relation to each other and after it's made 180 degrees, the neck has been carved. How fast you run it will determine how good the finish. If you run it very slow, you get a very fine piece and you'll have less clean up work to do.

bunnybass:  How many neck patterns do you have in your inventory?

John Carruthers:  We have maybe 40 or so conventional neck patterns, plus we have a left handed version of each one... And we have four, five, and six string versions... We can basically manufacture all the ones that are in most demand.

bunnybass:  That's a lot of patterns. How long have you had this machine?

John Carruthers:  Well, you know I'm trying to remember when I first put it together. I've had it for awhile now. I would guess maybe somewhere in the neighborhood of around 10 or 15 years. Time kind of goes by and you don't really pay much attention. To me everything kind of tends to be a blur after awhile. At one time I used to be more aware of time. It's just that now I have such a little amount of it that I'm always scrambling to keep up.

bunnybass:  Having all these patterns and a machine like this must make it a lot easier to make a neck a customer's going to be happy with. I mean, more than anything else, it seems like people are very particular about necks.

John Carruthers:  Well, we keep a lot of patterns around so people can come in and feel them. We have patterns on the wall, and you go right down the line and feel all the patterns, and if you find the one that feels good to you, we can make one exactly like it. Or if you want one that's different, we can modify an existing pattern too.

feeler
this is the feeler that moves up and down the neck

bunnybass:  So it gives you a consistent reference point. That seems to make a lot of sense. What are the major variables that you're always playing with, the variables that produce obvious differences in the feel of a neck?

John Carruthers:  You have a couple of different aspects to deal with. You have thickness (front to back) and width. Width is primarily at the nut end - usually at the body end it's fixed because of the size of the neck pocket. There are certain standards if you want to have it fit on a bass that already exists, for example a Precision or a Jazz type bass. The heel's the same width on both of those instruments, but the nut width is different. Then the only other difference is in the actual shape of the neck. Some necks are V-shaped, some are U-shaped, some are more oval shaped, and so on. Different players have different ideas about what feels good and it also has to do a lot with how much hand pressure it takes for you to hold the strings down. A lot of people get prematurely fatigued or develop problems like carpal tunnel syndrome from having a neck that isn't well suited to their hand functions. It works in both directions - a neck can be either too thick or too thin - it just depends on the person's particular hand-shape and how it relates to a particular neck. So a lot of times it's almost like being like a doctor. You have to work up a design that works well for the player, prevents them from getting injured and assists their playing. It becomes significant if you're a professional player and you're playing all the time. A lot of really well known players have carpal tunnel syndrome and it can get to where it's really difficult for them to play. So if you can do something that alleviates the symptoms or prevents them from being injured in the first place, then it's a step in the right direction.

bunnybass:  Is that something that you can kind of tell just by looking at the structure of their hand or by watching them play?

hands
talking about hands

John Carruthers:  I think you could do some analysis that way. People have different lengths of fingers and that produces different leverages. People with real long fingers will probably want to have thicker necks because if you have too little space between your thumb and your fingers, it takes more pressure to maintain that position than if you have more space. That's just the way the musculature of your hand works. For example, we sell a lot of instruments in Japan. A lot of the players in Japan have smaller hands. As a whole they're smaller statured, and so some of the necks that would be pretty comfortable to a lot American players would be excessively large feeling to some Japanese players. There are a lot of subtle intricacies that have to do with player's individual playing requirements. These are all considerations that you have to deal with when you design or build instruments.

bunnybass:  You been doing this for a long time, but what's coming up for you next?

John Carruthers:  I don't know. I sort kind of feel like I'm getting close to the top of my game. I'm over 50 years old now, and you know, I've been working on this sort of thing for a long time and it's getting to the point where I have a lot of experience and a lot of insight. And I just try and build a higher quality instrument all the time. I want to make each one better than the one I made before. I would say if I could come up with new ideas or concepts, I'm always interested in that. These are things that keep me going - the challenge of either designing something new, or coming up with something that really improves upon an existing product. That's always exciting.

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You can contact John Carruthers at:

346 Sunset Avenue
Venice, California 90291

telephone (310) 392-3910
FAX (310) 392-0389


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