About Neal Heppleston
I can trace my fascination with making things back to an early age, when I would draw plans and make all sorts of things. I was always interested in music and began learning the piano as a child moving to the bass guitar as a teenager, and shortly after that I took up the double bass. I have played in many bands and musical ensembles since 2001 and continue to do so.
Being fascinated with the double bass that I was playing, seeking a better understanding of it and wanting a better instrument than I could afford, I began my journey into lutherie. I started making instruments in 2011, when I commenced studying at the internationally renowned Newark School of Violin Making, I then furthered my training briefly with master luthiers in France and England. In 2016 I set up my own workshop in centre of Sheffield, at Yorkshire Artspace’s Exchange Place Studios where I specialised in double bass making and repairing, working for local and national players. In January 2019 I moved my workshop to Holme Bank Mills, Mirfield in West Yorkshire.
Playing the double bass for many years formed my passion for specialising in these fantastic instruments, and has given me the insight to what players want and need from a bass regarding the sound and play-ability. I have made a variety of different basses, classic London orchestral, solo, swell back, flat back, four and 5 string basses, violin and gamba form.
My inspiration comes from early British instrument making, I am especially interested in the historical double basses from the North of England and spend a lot of time researching the makers and seeking out these instruments, I also continue to follow the latest research on acoustics.
In my work I aim to use predominantly traditional methods, whilst I do use some machinery I finish all my work by hand. I use only the best quality materials for all aspects of my instruments, from the spruce and maple plates to the bridge and soundpost. I believe that using the best wood and materials will create a better sounding instrument. I have a deep appreciation for wood, having grown up in the surroundings of Burnham Beeches (an ancient woodland in Buckinghamshire), being able to work with wood everyday, understanding how it works and what will make a good instrument is vitally important.
In my repair and restoration work I also use traditional methods that have been passed down and taught to me by other fantastic makers and restorers. When repairing or restoring instruments, whether they are contemporary or anywhere back to the 16th Century it is very important to treat them with great care and respect. Any work carried out on an instrument is just a brief part in the life of the instrument but it’s effect will be carried on into it’s future.
If you are interested in trying any of my instruments or discussing commission options, if you have an instrument in need of repairs, restoration or set up please do not hesitate to contact me.