Updated: 19 September 2022
Bass Place, London’s busiest double bass workshop, needed extensive repairs to the roof of their building – and their high-street bank couldn’t help. Here, we talk to founder Laurence Dixon about how a Funding Circle loan gave them the means to revamp their shop, so they could continue to restore some of the world’s oldest instruments.
Bass Place works to fix and restore double basses back to their best condition. It’s kind of like a car garage, as we do a bit of everything. We do in and out visits, safety checks and re-strings, to full MOTs and crash repairs. We also do a lot of deep restoration to very old basses that haven’t had much love and have been quite neglected – some of the instruments we get are from the early 1800s. We’re here to make them strong again so they can go back into the world.
We get all sorts of clients from professional and jazz musicians to pop and rockabilly players, but we try to make our clientele as wide as possible. While the professional players are of course very welcome, it’s very important to me to nurture young talent as well. I’ve been going long enough that the young kids I was serving 20 years ago are still ringing me now saying ‘I’m on tour and I need something repaired!’. It’s great to be a part of their journey.
I first got into instrument repair as a teenager. I had about 13 guitars at one point and was always adjusting them and swapping parts over. Then after I studied music, I was at a friends’ house and he had a broken double bass in the corner of the room, and I begged him to sell it to me. The next morning I signed up for instrument repair courses, and it’s been a straight line since then really.
Many people spend their lives sitting at a computer, but fixing something has an immediate sense of satisfaction. We often talk about how lucky we are as every day we can stand back, cross our arms and say ‘This is what we’ve fixed, this is what we’ve improved.’ We’re constantly sending things out into the world that were dead but are now going to live for another 50 years, and will go on to teach children and play concerts. You’re bringing things back to life and that’s a really satisfying feeling.
Cash flow is our biggest challenge, as you get paid for the bass when it’s fixed and out the door, but you can be working on something for months. You’re investing in materials and labour over quite a long period before it gets settled, so that can be tricky to balance.
My brother in law told me about Funding Circle. I was struggling to find funding for some restoration works on our building, and my high street bank was less than helpful – particularly as I’d been with them for 30 years and had 10 accounts with them. So I made a phone call to Funding Circle on Monday, and I had all the funding for the restoration in my bank account by Friday.
It freed up money firstly, so we could keep buying in stock rather than having to squeeze everything to get the work done. And it very much made a big difference to the building, which is really important when you have a lot of customers coming in. I would recommend Funding Circle 100% to others. It was beyond my expectations how easy application and fulfilment of the loan, and interest rate was virtually what my bank was offering me as well.