Contrabass Conversations double bass life

507: gear talk with Donovan Stokes

July 26, 2018

Donovan Stokes is a one-of-a-kind artist.  I’ve been captivated by his playing ever since hearing him over a decade ago, and it has been a real pleasure getting to teach alongside him at the Golden Gate Bass Camp.

Donovan and I were able to carve out 30 minutes prior to a concert at the camp, and we dug into a bunch of gear-related questions that I’d been wanting to ask him, like:

  • why Donovan plays on bows that weigh 240 grams
  • how his bass is tuned and how he thinks about pitches on it
  • the unique spin on the Marvin tailpiece that Donovan uses
  • when he started to use the Labor-style endpin
  • how he still plays traditional 4-string tuning for rockabilly gigs
  • the influence of heavy metal in his compositions

…and much more! We’ll have to do a “round 3” soon with Donovan—I’ve got many more questions to ask!

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Robertson & Sons Violins

For more than four decades, Robertson & Sons has specialized in providing the highest quality stringed instruments and bows to collectors, professional musicians, music educators, and students of all ages. Their modern facility is equipped with three instrument showrooms as well as a beautiful Recital Hall available to our clients to in their search for the perfect instrument and/or bow.

Upton Bass String Instrument Company

Upton's Karr Model Upton Double Bass represents an evolution of our popular first Karr model, refined and enhanced with further input from Gary Karr. Since its introduction, the Karr Model with its combination of comfort and tone has gained a loyal following with jazz and roots players. The slim, long “Karr neck” has even become a favorite of crossover electric players.

D'Addario Strings

This episode is brought to you by D’Addario Strings! Check out their Zyex strings, which are synthetic core strings that produce an extremely warm, rich sound. Get the sound and feel of gut strings with more evenness, projection and stability than real gut.


A440 Violin Shop

An institution in the Roscoe Village neighborhood for over 20 years, A440's commitment to fairness and value means that we have many satisfied customers from the local, national, and international string playing communities. Our clients include major symphony orchestras, professional orchestra and chamber music players, aspiring students, amateur adult players, all kinds of fiddlers, jazz and commercial musicians, university music departments, and public schools.

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