Conversations with Gary Karr

Jack Hill and Gary Karr met in May 2014 to talk about double basses.

Gary Karr has owned an ALTER EGO electric upright bass for many years and he recently acquired one of our traditional double basses with removable neck.
We share his insights into double bass, bass setup, and his experience with the ALTER EGO basses.

Gary, what is it that you look for in an instrument. What is it your ideal bass?

We found out that Gary Karr has strong opinions about it.

Can you talk a little bit about your setup and how that has affected your playing?

In this segment Gary Karr talks about the setup of his former Koussevitsky-Amati bass and what implies to play with a tighter radius on the bridge and strings closer together.

Gary, can you talk a little bit about your approach to bowing?

Gary Karr picks one concept to explain one simple yet powerful aspect of his bowing technique for the double bass. In the meanwhile, we also find out something that he really dislikes in orchestra playing.

And here Jack Hill and Gary Karr talk about the Alter Ego CONTRABBASSO specifically.

In previous clips, Gary Karr stresses the importance of playing user-friendly double basses. A user-friendly bass has some physical characteristics and a meticulous setup.
In this clip, Gary Karr uses the term user-friendly to refer to portability and important tonal adjustments that can be done on the Alter Ego CONTRABBASSO in minutes without the help of a luthier.

Features and portability

“I wish I had that before I retired, because I would not have retired. I would have kept on going, if I had the Alter Ego.”

Tone and setup

“Boy, this bass has… it’s like a trumpet. It’s really, really loud. It’s phenomenal. I really love it.”

Gary Karr has played an Alter Ego electric upright bass for many years, but he doesn’t use it in a traditional method. He doesn’t amplify it. What he has to say is really new and interesting. Gary Karr explains what “proprioceptivity” is and why he likes the Alter Ego EUB so much.

“I think that if anybody wanted to learn more about the bow: Pick up an Alter Ego bass, and all of the sudden you have to start thinking about something you never thought about…”

This is the last segment of the conversation between Gary Karr and Jack Hill. Here they talk some more about proprioceptivity. They offer a different perspective on how to acquire a seamless legato. Proprioceptivity also offers a nice framework to understand Gary’s unique singer’s approach.

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