Gamut Music grew out of my efforts to make a living as a maker of musical instruments and was formally incorporated in 2008. It is the mission of this company to provide accurate and authentic reproductions of historical musical instruments and strings for those musicians who want to pursue the art of historical performance practice.
Currently, Gamut Music consists of me working in the instrument and string workshops, Jakob Larson in the instrument shop; Jeremiah Brown, Keith Passow and Katherine Crowley in the string shop; and Bobbye Larson and Genevieve Martin keeping the orders moving in the office.
The object of the workshop is fine craftsmanship and we use a unique blend of modern and historical tools and techniques and the finest materials from all over the world. We use the best quality sheep gut from New Zealand and beef gut from Ireland for our strings. Spruce from the Italian Alps, Adirondack spruce from the Application mountains and Engelmann spruce from the Vancouver forests, figured rock maple from the hills of Kentucky, yew from England and Oregon, bird’s-eye maple from Michigan, rosewood from Central America and ebony from India. Care goes into everything we make and we would be happy to make something really nice for you.
I was born in Corpus Christi, Texas in 1954. Raised in Southern Texas and Louisiana, I became interested in woodworking at an early age. When a teenager, I began to play some music and found that, although I had plenty of enthusiasm for this, I did not possess much talent. So, I decided to combine my interests in music and woodworking and become a musical instrument maker. I was not a player of the violin, but the form, complexity and mysteries surrounding this instrument were undeniable to me, so I decided that I would study to be a violin maker. With this aspiration, I applied for and was accepted into the London College of Furniture in London, England in 1972 where I studied violin making with Patrica Naismith. I graduated from this school in 1975 receiving a Certificate in Violin Making, With Distinction. William Luff was the judge for the violin making class that year.
After graduation I stayed in London where I had a workshop in the Waterside Workshops on Rotherhithe St. on the south side of the Thames River. In addition to making instruments, I was an assistant teacher to a part time class in violin making at the London College of Furniture and I assisted John Baily at the Merton Technical College with a class in violin repair. Returning to the USA in 1977 I set up a workshop in Austin, Texas where I worked independently until 1980. At that time I accepted an offer to be the head of the violin department for C. Bruno and Son in San Antonio, Texas, an importing wholesale music merchandise company. In 1982 my family moved to Duluth, Minnesota so that my wife, Bobbye, could attend the College of St. Scholastica to study the lute. I again set up a independent workshop where I made instruments and practiced violin repair.
From my most early studies of violin making I gravitated towards instruments intended for historical performance practice, making my first baroque violin in 1973 when I was still a student. About that time I began to research early instruments and set up, spending time in museums with as many unaltered instruments as the curators would allow. In the late 1970s I came to the conclusion that our early instrument reproductions would not work to expectation with the gut strings that were available at the time and I started to study the properties of historical strings based on old extant samples that I had taken out of violin cases over the years, historical descriptions of the string making process and early comments on the nature of strings. This led me to the conclusion that the only way to make authentically styled historical strings was to make them myself. The string making process does not lend itself to making just a few strings when needed, so I found myself developing a new business that developed into Gamut Musical Strings.
My interest in lutes began while I was at college in London where I became friends with several of the lute players and makers in the early 1970s. I began to study these instruments and make reproductions in 1977 and they have been part of my catalog ever since.