James Ham (Victoria, BC), 2001, Gamba Model - $45,000

In the early 1990s, Gary Karr asked Jim Ham to make a copy of his Guarnerius double bass. He wanted something with a removable neck and a moveable neck that adjusts string height instead of bridge adjusters. Gary was so thrilled with the results that he retired his famed Koussevitzky bass and started using the Ham bass almost exclusively. A friend of Mr. Karr's commissioned another from Jim but asked that it be as faithful a copy of the original Guarnerius as possible, down to the same nicks and scratches in the finish. To top it off Mr. Ham asked artist Harry (Ari) Shafer to carve a woman's head into the scroll, another unique detail on Mr. Karr's Guarnerius. The result is a gorgeous double bass that is the only antiqued instrument from the hand of James Ham. The ingenious adjustable neck feature allows the player to adjust the string height "on the fly" without altering the pitch. The string spacing is less than an inch with a curved fingerboard profile and bridge to match, making the instrument feel a lot less than its 41 1/8" string length. Other features include tuning pegs that make string changing much easier (see picture above) and an endpin that uses a lathe collet making the adjustment of the endpin quick and secure. The pernambuco tailpiece has adjusters which allow the player to adjust the pitch of the strings after-length which helps to tame wolfs and focuses the sound to increase projection.