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In Memoriam: David Minnieweather

In Memoriam: David Minnieweather

1964 – 2009

by Veronica Merryfield, and David King

Originally published in American Lutherie #100, 2009

David’s life’s passion was bass, both as a maker and an accomplished player — although he would say he just noodled. He started making bass guitars at middle school where his teacher instilled the concept of starting with a centerline, and of not building until it looked right on paper. David was largely self-taught, learning bit by bit from others’ advise and his own work.

His basses were liked and respected by luthiers and players, ensuring his popularity at his regular NAMM appearances.

“Thoughtful,” “genuinely complimentary,” “he smiled with his whole body,” “kind, well spoken, the kind of dude you could connect with immediately,” “an amazing person,” “a huge influence,” “a true gentleman,” are just a few of the comments made by players and makers. Whether you met him once, many times, or only on-line, he left a profound impression.

I am going miss our get-togethers, where all things bass would be talked over, design ideas discussed and pulled apart, what players wanted and didn’t, why things worked or not. He was an inspiration, encouraging trial and experimentation. I am forever indebted and thankful for this, and will noodle as he directed.

David, may your soul be truly at peace and noodling with the Great Maker.

— Veronica Merryfield

Photo by Jonathon Peterson.

I always marveled at David’s musical ability. He once told me how he tried to learn all of Stanley Clark’s seminal solo album by ear in the 8th grade by going to the music store everyday and playing on a Kramer bass. I was also amazed by David’s ability to hear an instrument or a pickup and tell me what it sounded like when compared to other instruments from the near or distant past, where it excelled or was lacking. He had an instinctive understanding of how it would “sit in the mix.” His ability to listen extended to his many deep friendships. Always a quiet person, David would let an initial bluster in an often one-sided conversation blow over, but then redouble his concentration when you were finally getting around to the meat of your thesis. Our wide-ranging conversations were always punctuated with laughter no matter how dark the subject.

As a luthier, David had a knack for finding extraordinary pieces of wood and melding them into something gorgeous. He loved fine details, frequently becoming so engrossed in his work that the passage of time was lost. He called one morning saying that he’d been up all night sanding the edge of a body. At dawn he realized that he’d removed more than a 1/4" of wood all the way around, but he was finally pleased with the results. When I suggested that he trace the shape and alter his template, he implied that it was only this particular instrument that had needed that quantity of sanding.

David did most of his jointing and surfacing with a hand-held router, and the results rivaled the best that I’ve seen. His glue lines were immaculate, and his finishes were as flat and optically perfect as any that I have seen.

David’s passion and his friendship enveloped and inspired me. For this I’ll be eternally grateful.

— David King