If your instrument has strings and is made of wood, we'll take care of it. With six full-time luthiers, a full arsenal of tools, and over 30 years of experience, there are few challenges that have ever stumped us.
Meet our luthiers:
I started playing trumpet at age ten, electric bass at age 12. I studied bass with guitarist Joe Gaydos while teaming with other local musicians to play at small venues in the Northeast throughout my high school and college years. At age 18 I started string bass studies with Bill Blossom, now of the New York Philharmonic. As a college student I studied string bass at both the Berklee College of Music with John Repucci and at the University of Massachusetts with Reggie Workman and David Neubert. At this time I also had the honor of studying with Max Roach for two years in workshop ensembles and advanced composition courses.
In 1976 I moved to New York to study with Dave Holland while continuing to play electric and string bass professionally. During this time I started to work for (and apprentice with) Chuck Traeger while also studying with acoustic physicist/luthier Carleen Hutchins and luthier Lou DiLeone.
In 1978 I opened David Gage String Instrument Repair, Inc. In the beginning we did repairs, restoration, and limited sales of string basses for local clientele. Today the shop repairs, restores, rents, and sells world-class instruments for orchestras and players around the globe.
I started designing products for the string bass in the early 1980s, starting with the Gage Case ™ and then the Czech Ease™. Since those early years I’ve teamed up with famed designer (and good friend) Ned Steinberger to create The Realist™ line of acoustic string instrument transducers. The Realist line has expanded to include cello, viola, violin, guitar, banjo, mandolin, and world music instruments, plus we created the Realist Violin, an acoustic violin with the Realist pickup integrated within the top plate.
I’m an ardent advocate of the International Society of Bassists and am on the ISB Board of Directors. I’ve written articles on instrument repair for the ISB Journal and Bass World, and I was a regular columnist for Bass Player Magazine. I’ve also given many workshops at such places as The Juilliard School and the Prague Conservatory of the Performing Arts.
I’m very proud to have such an excellent group of luthiers, manufacturers, craftsmen, and administrators working with me. I have always felt that one is only as good as the people with whom he/she works. In my case, I work with the best.
Charles Mike Weatherly
I grew up in the Desert Southwest and I can't remember a time when I didn’t make things, take things apart, build, invent, and fool around in mechanical ways. Also I don’t remember a time when I was not interested in music, singing, and instruments. I bought my first string bass in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1974 (I’d been playing electric bass for seven years). In 1977 I bought my second string bass in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, an old flat-back that needed restoration. Some of this work I did myself, which is how I eventually came to David Gage.
In 1980 I brought my bass to David Gage to have adjusters installed in the bridge. David observed some of the work I’d done on the instrument (handmade soundpost and refinishing), and offered me a job. Within the first year David showed me bow rehairing and I’ve been doing that ever since, and later I took bow making lessons from Lynn Hannings and George Rubino. Bassist Greg Cohen also shared with me his knowledge of bow hairing and repair. I’ve been making bass bows of my own design since 1999. My work at the shop includes scroll and neck grafts (German and French techniques), custom c-extensions (bass only), bridge making (bass, cello, vialone, gamba), body restorations (graduation, bass bar, crack repair, rib panel replacement), varnishing, French polish, fingerboard work (all violin family instruments), and tonal adjustments (soundpost).
I started playing bass guitar in the mid sixties, in garage bands, and then started playing the “real” bass in 1970. I have been playing ever since, not having found an effective cure. I started working with David Gage around 1986, starting with simple gluing and learning to dress fingerboards, and little by little learning to make a bass that arrives in a garbage bag an actual instrument again. What I love about this work is that, like playing music, there is always more to learn, and I always feel challenged to improve my skills and knowledge of the instrument. I am not seeking a cure.
I’ve been working on guitars and other fretted instruments at David Gage since 1998. My experience with fretted instruments began in 1972 with guidance from Noah Wulfe and an apprenticeship with Miguel Luciano, a renowned luthier in Greenwich Village. I cut my teeth and many guitar strings at Sam Ash in Brooklyn for two and a half years. I then worked at King James Music and started my own shop (Guitarcraft) in Manhattan in 1984. Through rock ‘n roll, folk, disco, funk, punk, metal, electronica, and grunge, I have done all types of repairs on guitars, basses, mandolins, and banjos, as well as violins, cellos, and upright basses. I also make custom instruments, and I sing and play guitar in a rock n’ roll band.
After discovering the bass in college, I quit biology and completed a B.A. in Music Education at UNM, followed by an M.A. in Bass Performance at WMU. As a native New Mexican, I never pictured myself moving to New York, but in 2007 I landed in Brooklyn searching for gigs and opportunity. One day I took my bass to David Gage for some routine maintenance. The next thing I knew, I was an apprentice (my experience in my father’s cabinet shop finally paid off!). Within my first few years, I’d completed C-extensions, new ribs, grafted necks, and restored fine Italian, French, and English instruments. Some of my most interesting jobs have been new necks, neck grafts, neck resets, tuning machine installation, re-graduating a top plate, pressing out the arching of a sagging top plate with a plaster cast, reinforcing old thin tops with grafted wood, and stabilizing cracked and crumbling ribs and backs. The family atmosphere at the shop makes it an amazing place to work. The traffic around my bench feels like the “who’s who” of bassists. I’ve met almost every living bass hero of mine, and even worked on some of their basses—I once worked on Charlie Haden’s bass at a recording session with Hank Jones! That being said, it’s incredibly rewarding to help a young player love the way their instrument feels and sounds. The bass is hard enough to play, even with a good set-up, so why settle for a bad one?
Born and raised on the south shore of Long Island, I grew up playing violin in various school and youth orchestras. Later, in college, I transitioned to viola and have been playing both interchangeably ever since. Interested in the design and construction of violin family instruments, I enrolled in the Violin Making School of America in Salt Lake City, UT. There I learned the craft under the guidance of Charles Woolf and Sanghoon Lee, and graduated in 2014. I've been working at David Gage since 2013, where I specialize in violin and viola repair (with the occasional cello and bass thrown into the mix) and also set up the shop's line of Realist Violins. The diverse knowledge and experience amongst the other luthiers at the shop has given me valuable insights into approaching my own making, and I feel lucky to work with such a talented team.
I work on violins here at the shop. I work on the occasional customer instrument but mostly perform setup on the Realist Violin: carve the bridge, make the soundpost, fit the pegs, test the electronics, evaluate the instrument, and perform whatever final adjustments might be necessary to ensure optimal tonal quality and player comfort. This might include adjustments to the shapes and angles of the fingerboard, neck, nut, and saddle. I’ve been repairing violins, violas, and cellos for about ten years now. I bought my first fiddle years ago for $20 and before long it needed some repairs. When I set foot in the violin shop of Robert Young and Jason Viseltear in the East Village, I felt like I had missed my calling in life. The feeling returned when I visited the shop of Nathaniel Rowan. All three of these luthiers inspired and encouraged me, and eventually I enrolled in the violin repair program at the State Technical College in Red Wing, Minnesota, where I earned a diploma in violin repair. Since then I’ve repaired and set up instruments for a number of nonprofit music schools, and since 2010 I’ve been working here at David Gage.
I’ve been a luthier as long as I’ve been a musician. Unable to leave well enough alone, I always ended up taking my instruments apart and tinkering with them while I should have been practicing. This habit only got worse when I started playing double bass in 1995, and stuck with me over the next 20 years, through a BA in sociology, a Masters in engineering, and a ten year career as a product designer.
During this time, I spent more hours in a shop than anywhere else. I drove hundreds of miles to visit luthiers like the great Lou di Leone and learn anything they would teach me. I read any book I could find about instrument making. I built my own instruments in the MIT wood shop and machine shop - travel guitars and double basses that could go with me wherever I went. Working as a designer, I learned to make full-scale interactive mockups of everything from medical products to auto interiors using machine tools, rapid prototyping, and electronics. Then the internet happened, and suddenly hoards of information was available from luthiers around the world. Slowly, the collection of run-down instruments in my house slowly turned into functional guitars and basses.
Here in the shop, I’m lucky enough to learn and practice with some of the best luthiers in the business, and some of the best human beings I’ve met. I work on all aspects of bass and cello repair, and also enjoy coming up with new jigs and tools for repairs and making parts.