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Meet the Maker: Carleen Hutchins

Meet the Maker: Carleen Hutchins

by Alan Carruth

previously published in American Lutherie #86, 2006

See also,
The New Violin Family by Alan Carruth
The Catgut Acoustical Society and the New Violin Family Association by Robert J. Spear

I first met Carleen Hutchins at the 1979 GAL Convention in Boston. I’d heard a lot about her from my teacher and friend Tom Knatt, who had been working with her for years, but she exceeded all of my expectations. The following winter I began joining Tom for the monthly drive down to Montclair, New Jersey for what Carleen called “technical violin making” sessions.

It’s hard to overestimate Carleen’s impact on the lutherie community. As one of the first women to gain a reputation as an instrument maker, she’s been an inspiration to a number of others who have been important in their own right. In helping to establish the Catgut Acoustical Society, she was one of the first people to initiate the sort of information sharing that the GAL carries on; a system that has contributed much to this “Golden Age” of lutherie. As a scientist, she was one of the pioneers in the study of musical instrument acoustics, and in editing the CAS Journal, she brought together, coordinated, and inspired the work of many others.

There always seems to be more to find out about Carleen, so when Tim suggested that I do an interview, I accepted the assignment gladly. Thus it was that I drove over to her new home in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, in a snow storm, and sat down for an interesting chat.

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