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The diverse talents of Scott Brown

Published: 3/17/2014
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By Maddy Butcher Gray

Plenty of saddle makers diversify. They’ll make chaps, saddle bags, and shotgun scabbards.

But violins?

To hear Scott Brown tell it, the dual talents were natural extensions of his interests and passions.

Brown played violin in the high school orchestra of Lubbock, Texas. That’s where he met Becky, who played cello and is his wife of 38 years. He’s particularly fond of traditional Irish folk music.

[Photo: Brown describes tooling on tapaderos.]

It was not so arbitrary, then, that after many successful years in the saddle making business, he walked away to make fiddles.
Brown had worked for renowned saddle maker Eddie Brooks at J.M. Capriolas in Elko, NV, at Big Bend Saddlery in Texas, and had run his own shop for years, too.

But in 2004, he and Becky moved to Salt Lake City where he attended the Violin Making School of America. He then crafted violins full time for three years, selling to Boston shops and others. His violins are exquisite with intense attention to detail in the woodworking, varnish, and antiquing processes.

When working full-time, Brown can produce six high quality violins each year. The same time commitment will yield 20-25 saddles, he said.

“I like doing both,” said Brown recently at his home in Salt Lake City. “The music world is a whole different world. It’s more of an artsy world. The cowboy world is just a little more down to earth.”

To his saddle customers delight, Brown has returned to leatherwork over these past few years. Compared with fiddle making, it allows for more creative freedom, he said. Brown finds it easier to relate to his customers, too.

“I can talk with them about what they need and want on a certain level because I’ve been there,” he said.

It just so happens Brown excels at horsemanship, too.

“He’s really good with a horse,” said Martin Black. “He has the same feel and timing with making saddles as he has with starting colts. He’s smooth and fluid. There is nothing jerking, nothing quick.”

[Photo, courtesy of S.A. Brown Saddles, shows Black and Brown (center) with Tom Dorrance.]

Read more about Martin Black.

Black and Brown worked together for many seasons in Nevada, where Brown cowboyed and crafted saddles. He moved easily and frequently from one task to the other. As such, he came to understand the fit and function of the rider’s most important piece of tack, making saddles for Black, Joe Wolter, Billy Askew, Randy Rieman, and scores of working cowboys.

“Scott’s saddles are most appealing in line and form,” said Rieman, who has several Scott Brown saddles. “He has an artist’s eye for patterns, flow, and lines. And the silhouettes of Scott’s saddles are super pleasing.”

Read more about Randy Rieman.

When placing orders, horsemen and women don’t have to over-explain their custom saddle needs.
“I understand when they’re talking about doctoring, roping...I can talk with them about what they want or need on a certain level,” Brown said. “Because I’ve been there.”

Rieman said Brown brings artistry and creativity to all his crafts, violin-making, saddle building, and horsemanship: “Scott understands it can’t stay mechanical. He has the soul of a master craftsman.”

Visit S.A. Brown Saddles on line.

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3/17/2014 Dr. Steve Peters
Scott Brown is a class act. Rare to find humility and such a pleasant, gentle nature in a man with such broad and significant talents. His work truly reflects remarkable craftsmanship.

"A horse doesn't care how much you know until he knows how much you care." - Pat Parelli