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.
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.