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6 String Barker Build!!!

Discussion in 'Barker Bass Forum' started by pointbass, Apr 27, 2009.


  1. pointbass

    pointbass Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    After much begging, pleading, whining, crying and other fairly embarrassing childish acts on my part, Lee Barker has finally caved in and agreed to build me a 6 string fretless :hyper:. If you have paid any attention to my general blathering here at TalkBass over the years you probably know that I am an extended range bassist, and while I love my 5 string B1, I have always wanted to get a Barker ERB .... and Lee has graciously agreed to try some new techniques to get a 6 in my hands!

    We have come to an agreement about the new build and actual work should be started within a month. I will be providing Lee with a 6 string neck for the bass, and he'll be using some newer techniques to get everything set up for the neck pocket to accept this wider neck. I'm in the process of obtaining the "donor" bass and expect to get the bass out to Barker-land within the next couple of weeks.

    Lee has located some amazing fir stock that will be used for the body. The bass will be natural, no tinting or laminates applied. Here are some initial pics of this beautiful wood:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I'll keep this thread updated with progress reports throughout the build, and I'll also have some details about it on my web site (link below). I'm really excited about this :D

    Thank you, Lee .... :cool:
     
  2. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    I usually don't say this to other guys, but that's some sexy wood!! It's gonna be a beautiful bass!!
     
  3. Lee Barker

    Lee Barker Labor of evident value satisfies the soul. Supporting Member

    Oct 25, 2005
    Redmond, Oregon
    owner, Barker Musical Instruments, maker of the Barker Bass, No Longer In Production.
    Linda came across this Goethe quotation today:

    Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.

    I'm going to print this and put it on the wall in the shop. It speaks to our collaboration with Ed on this project.

    I feel like I'm standing at Le Mans (see this in black and white in your mind's eye) looking across the track at my Maserati, set to sprint the distance, vault into the car and get it rolling at the instant the French tricolor waves.

    Speed isn't the point in building this breakthrough bass, of course, and on the surface my suggested image suggests racing. But recall that Le Mans is 24 hours of driving, and the winner is he who covers the most distance. Speed is way down the list.

    This will be a memorable and delightful project.

    My helmet, please...I want to be ready.
     
  4. JKT

    JKT

    Apr 30, 2007
    Buffalo NY
    Endorsing Artist: Barker Basses
    As we all watch from the gallery...:smug::oops::atoz::):eek::p
     
  5. pointbass

    pointbass Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    Two pieces of the puzzle fell neatly into place over this past weekend. First, I located the "donor" bass, a fretless 6 string Brice Z6 (the early bolt-on version) with a cool unlined fingerboard and my preferred 19mm string spacing. It's also got a 34" scale neck and a headstock design not too far off the Warmoth style, so it should be just about the same dimensions as other Barker basses ....

    The donor bass is being shipped this week and with luck it should be in Barker-land sometime next week. Once Lee gets it, we can talk about hardware changes, etc, where needed.

    I also was able to sell my fretted Brice Z6 neck-through bass this weekend, which is great since I'm trying to fund this new Barker 6 without dipping into any personal accounts. So far, so good .... and I haven't had to issue any expense requisitions to the PointBass Chief Financial Officer yet, something she is very pleased about .... ;)

    Next up, getting the donor bass in Lee's capable hands (and getting some moolah in his hands, as well .... :D)
     
  6. Tom7

    Tom7 I'm so bright, my mom called me son! ;-)

    Jan 31, 2000
    Eagle River, Alaska
    Subscribed.

    Like you, I've been asking Lee about 6 string Barkers as well, so I want to follow this project closely.

    And like you, I am primarily a 6 string bass player -- especially for fretless basses. In fact, I can't see a reason for owning a 5 string fretless bass; it's not like the C string is in the way. Besides, fretless basses, especially upright ones, often play with horns which like to play in the keys of Eb and Bb... it's nice to have a B string then for positioning and lines in those keys. Also, it is easier to play in tune on a fretless near the nut where the spacing between notes is wider, therefore having a C string not only helps for harmonics and solos, but lets me play "regular" stuff more in tune and with less work.

    You answered 2 of my questions with your last post as well.

    I dislike 35" scale basses. They tire my left hand more quickly, and the value they add is dubious at best. A 35" scale length bass doesn't just tighten the B string, it tightens all the strings, and on a 6 string bass that just makes the C string sound too tinny sounding for my taste. My favorite scale length for a 6 string bass is 34.5 inches, but I've recently played some 34 inchers now that have restored my faith in standard 34 inch scale length basses for 5 and 6 string basses.

    And 19 mm string spacing is a must for me as well. In fact, the ONLY bass I've hung on to that isn't 19 mm is my Barker B1, and that is because I really want a bass with this look and sound, and since the bass is vertical, I have to make changes with my right hand technique anyway so I deal with the 18mm spacing alright. But I'd still love 19 mm.

    If I were to do this project after you, I'd want piezos as well, and a finger ramp that either matches the body wood, or is transparent so it doesn't cover it up.

    This is a VERY interesting project guys; thanks for giving us a heads up so we can see it progress.
     
  7. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    toms_river.nj.us
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    great quote!

    Ed, I cannot wait to give this one a spin. Congrats
     
  8. pointbass

    pointbass Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    Thanks for the responses ... :D

    I wouldn't have minded a 35" scale, although I'm not 100% sure it would even be a factor to me in this vertical orientation. My current slab basses are all 35" scale and 18mm spacing, so to a certain degree the 34"/19mm setup is slightly out of the norm. But I'd rather have the increased spacing for the Barker, and the 34" vs 35" is not an issue.

    I gave serious consideration to making this a 7 string but I couldn't justify the extra string for the purposes I use this bass (primarily jazz). I have been missing the C string big time on my current B1, but I don't forsee a reason for either an F#0 or the higher F. So 6 it is, and I'll be a really happy bass player .... ;)
     
  9. pointbass

    pointbass Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    The donor bass has arrived in the lovely State of Oregon, safe and sound :D Many thanks to Mike Ziemski (T.B. Player) for letting this sweetie go and the excellent packing job!

    Not great pics, but here is the Z6 neck we'll be using:

    [​IMG]

    I have some stuff to take care of with Lee, as well as getting some strings out to him. I usually use LaBella flatwounds (.029, .049, .068, .089, .109. .128) for my basses, but I'm very tempted to go with the no-name "Indie" string set from Rondo Music. With the exception of gauge, they seem identical to the LaBella's at nearly 1/2 the price (gauge on the Indie's is .025, .045, .065, .085, .105, .135) ... not 100% sure, decisions to be made this weekend on that end ....

    I'm a little bit too excited ..... :cool:
     
  10. Tom7

    Tom7 I'm so bright, my mom called me son! ;-)

    Jan 31, 2000
    Eagle River, Alaska
    Oh! Love the look of that neck.

    As for strings, here's an idea. I know Thomastik Infeld Jazz flats are NOT cheap, but I know guys who have had them on their basses for 4 and 5 years and swear they sound better now than when they were new.

    I tried a set on my Fbass AC6, and they are definitely sounding better over time. I got a set to put on my Barker as well, I just haven't got around to it.

    Again, I know they are not cheap up front, but VERY cost effective over time.

    But more importantly, these strings are a FANTASTIC tone to them, especially if you are wanting an organic, acoustic type tone.

    Here are two quick clips I made for myself of my AC6 with TIJFs:

    Fbass AC6 piezo pickup

    Fbass AC6 Magnetic pickup

    About the recording: it is sloppy, I didn't just so I could hear the difference between the 2 pickups, not really to present to others, and there are no recording enhancements. Just direct in, but it does still give you a flavor for the strings.

    I wish I'd done this for my Barker already so you could really hear the difference in the context of this bass you are building. Maybe I'll do that this coming week though and post the audio clips for you to check out.

    Currently my Barker has LaBella Deep Talkin' Black Nylon Tapewounds on it, the gauges are: 60/70/97/115/128.

    Oh, here's another recording that might be helpful in helping you assess Thomastik Infeld Jazz Flats. Again, this is my AC6.

    What I did was record a bunch of lines, whatever popped into my head, with the Fbass round wound strings, then recorded the lines again with the TIJFs, then meshed the recording together so that I could hear each line twice, first with the round wounds, then with the flats. I used the recording to help me decide which strings to stick with, and I never meant it for public consumption, so I'm a bit embarrased by all the slop. Still, if it helps, here it is.

    As you'll hear, the AC6 has a tremendous sonic range... Jaco to near upright, and I kept tweaking the settings on the bass so that I could hear all spectrums of the range with both sets of the strings.

    In short, the bass sounds more Jaco at the beginning and more like an upright at the end, but it is the same bass playing the same strings, and the TIJFs really did well -- and this is when the strings were fresh. They sound better now.
     
  11. pointbass

    pointbass Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    Thanks for the info and clips, Tom .... Nice!! :D

    I've used the TI's in the past, as well as the tapewounds, but in both cases the tension is too light for me. The thing I enjoy about the LaBella flats is that they are a high tension string, and I've gotten so used to them that anything with less tension is most uncomfortable to me.

    And truthfully, it's not about the expense, especially considering that I get many years out of a set of flatwounds. But when I recently played these Rondo "Indie" strings on another 6, they felt exactly like the LaBella flats with a bit more tension on the B .... that's sort of what appeals to me. I might just try a set on this new Barker 6 and if they aren't good, just switch over to the LaBella's .... :cool:
     
  12. Tom7

    Tom7 I'm so bright, my mom called me son! ;-)

    Jan 31, 2000
    Eagle River, Alaska
    Right, that's true. TIs have very light tension, and that's not for everyone, but that's one of the things that I like about 'em... just one more way they make the bass feel and play and sound like an upright.
     
  13. Lee Barker

    Lee Barker Labor of evident value satisfies the soul. Supporting Member

    Oct 25, 2005
    Redmond, Oregon
    owner, Barker Musical Instruments, maker of the Barker Bass, No Longer In Production.
  14. pointbass

    pointbass Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    Seriously, how cool is this? :D :cool:

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Buskman

    Buskman

    Apr 13, 2007
    Jersey Shore, USA
    That's awesome, Ed. Looks great!

    Glad to see the project is coming along nicely!

     
  16. Tom7

    Tom7 I'm so bright, my mom called me son! ;-)

    Jan 31, 2000
    Eagle River, Alaska
    Lee was right in his blog: the quilted fir brings out the lighter colors in the rosewood finger board.
     
  17. pointbass

    pointbass Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    Maybe this kind of stuff is only interesting to me, but I love getting these kind of detailed updates :D

    Lee was kind enough to send over some pics of the process used to get the back of the bass ready. The back will be alder, you can see some of the figuring in the shot coming out of the planer:

    Rack of raw stock
    [​IMG]

    Resawing the plank
    [​IMG]

    Initial glue up of the alder
    [​IMG]

    Hand plane was used to get rid of some ridges
    [​IMG]

    Board coming out of the planer
    [​IMG]

    :cool:
     
  18. Tom7

    Tom7 I'm so bright, my mom called me son! ;-)

    Jan 31, 2000
    Eagle River, Alaska
    Actually, these updates are EXTREMELY interesting to me. I fact, I have to smile just seeing that someone has posted to this thread.

    I am glad this this is alder (not that I really know anything about it), but knowing Jaco's bass was alder body with a rosewood finger board, I've always liked that combination for a fretless bass.

    So, do I have the wood specs correct:

    Alder body
    Rosewood finger board
    Fir top
     
  19. Lee Barker

    Lee Barker Labor of evident value satisfies the soul. Supporting Member

    Oct 25, 2005
    Redmond, Oregon
    owner, Barker Musical Instruments, maker of the Barker Bass, No Longer In Production.
    I am guilty of not giving Ed enough info on these images, and thanks for your interest, Tom.

    What's going on mostly here is the front end work on the core piece--it's a nominal 1" thick and defines the chambers of the bass, which are derived from the Bunsen-Ferndock Reciprocity Equation, with the addition of the Scandeveer Caprifications. But enough of that technical jargon.

    So the resaw pic is indeed the back, alder, and lovely, but you can't see it because the surfaces that will show are the ones in the middle.

    The core piece is, in this case, a glueup of four pieces, hence the ridges that had to be evened out before the planing process.

    So currently we have the core ready for shaping, all flat and an inch thick. The back is ready for flattening, which will be in the overhead sander, not the planer (it's a kinder, gentler, slower process).

    And indeed alder is a wonderful wood in a lot of ways, not the least of which is it's Northwest which always feels a teensy bit righteous to me.

    So the core and back are alder, front is fir, and the fingerboard is rosewood.

    This is nearly too much fun.
     
  20. Tom7

    Tom7 I'm so bright, my mom called me son! ;-)

    Jan 31, 2000
    Eagle River, Alaska
    Which equation came to you when you bumped your head and made that drawing of the flux capacitor?

    I worked a summer as a tree thinner outside of Petersburg, Alaska... our mission was to go to previously clear cut areas reforesting themselves and cut down every tree except for 1 in every 15 foot radius so that it could grow up to be strong and healthy for future harvesting. The tree with the lowest priority for preserving was... yep, the alder.

    I've felt badly for it ever since. :crying:
     

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