My friend Olivier

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Don Higdon, Apr 19, 2002.

  1. I'm just back from a vacation in France, where I spent a day with Olivier, a frequent poster here at TalkBass. My mission was to track down some definitive information on my beloved orchestra bass, which had been identified by a high-profile, confident luthier (his initials are NOT Arnold Schnitzer, who is as modest as he is expert) as French, Mirecourt. Olivier researched luthiers based in Paris, even found two who had apprenticed for Georges Apparut (whose label is in my bass). Then he took a day off from work to meet me and guide me through the Paris subway system and then introduce me and translate for me with SIX different luthiers, including James Chauvelin, the "godfather" of French luthery. The experience, the knowledge gained, was breathtaking. It was a guided tour, with up-close, hands-on examination of French basses and pieces thereof, that was more exciting than I can describe.
    Some of the things I learned:
    My bass is NOT French.
    There is no necessary correlation between visiblity as a USA luthier and ability to deduce bass heritage.

    But this is about Olivier. You could not meet a nicer guy. When we weren't talking about basses, we were jabbering about all kinds of things and having a ball. His generosity went far beyond what could be expected, and his wit and intelligence made for a great day.
    If you're ever in France and run out of money, e-mail me and I'll give you Olivier's home phone number.
    One other thing: he told me the secret to making the best French fries. You don't want to know.
  2. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    What a nice day! Try to set up appointments with six prominent French luthiers, specialized in DB, and all in a single day! With my friend Don, we made it! We had a ball: every one looking at the snapshots of Don's "French" bass, and giving opinions. Actually, we learned more about the general features of the Mirecourt school, and the legacy of Bernardel - père, than about Don's bass. We still do not understand why the actual builder of that bass would be reluctant to claim such a nice piece of work, and why would it be attributed to G. Apparut who, like many other Mirecourt luthiers, always subcontracted his bass work to specialized shops, like the one of Bauman. This did not spoil the day for my friend who was very philosophical about it: it remains a good orchestra bass, after all.
    Take home massage: rather than looking at the label or a brand name one must concentrate on sound and construction to evaluate a bass. Any bass.
  3. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Hey, Don, any guy with the initials ARNOLD SCHNITZER must have a whole bunch of middle names!!
  4. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny