Barberra Pickups

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by JYD, Sep 11, 2002.

  1. JYD

    JYD Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2001
    Anyone out there have any experience with the Barberra pickup system.
    I understand this is the pickup Rufus Reid and others use.

    Expensive system if you consider there must be a new bridge carved and installed.
    What amp combination can be used along with this pickup for best results?

    I have heard live recording of Rufus and heard him live in person. I do know.
    Anybody tried this pickup system or have ideas?
  2. Yep, I've got one. I just traced my bridge and posted it away. About two weeks later I had it (and I live in New Zealand). I've had it about six years now, and it really is great. I play jazz, irish, country, and rockabilly. I can play very loud with feedback control limited to stopping open strings. It sounds pretty damn good for arco too. For jazz I use a GK MB150E112, for everything else I add an SWR 4x8 cab. Well worth the money.
  3. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    I used to be an installer/dealer for the Barbera pickups, but I found his service to be lousy. Most of my clients felt the sound too aggressive and electronic, though it's the best for playing loud. Keep in mind the new bridge top is pretty fragile with the grafts and installed pickups. And once the string groove is made in the individual saddle, there's very little adjustment possible.
  4. ...And I'm one of Arnold's clients who had a Barbera. It was 'hot' in the sense of immediate response. Amazingly quick.
    To be fair, when it first hit the scene, it was the best sounding setup available. Compared to my custom K&K, though, it has an electric sound. And the wait for Barbera to deliver seemed interminable.
  5. Hi Don. I'm thinking of doing some major corrective surgery on my bass in the not too distant future. This will involve removing the neck and increasing the neck angle, among other things. As a result, my existing bridge will be too low, so will have to be replaced, and of course the Barbera will be history. I was very interested in your comments on it, which led me to go back and re-evaluate the sound, which of course, after six years I am very accustomed to. After much listening, I think you may be right about it being a bit "electric", I just never noticed it before.
    I am considering importing a K&K Bass Max or some other pup. What I would like to know is what your "custom" K&K is like, and does it bear any resemblance to the Bass Max? Interested in your comments.
  6. I am surprised there isn't more posted on this particular thread, maybe it's somewhere else--but yes, The Barbera system rocked my world at first..till it broke. I even ordered another that eventually broke as well. (1 actually did took a hit, justifying the damage). I sent them in for repair, and never hear back from him. After a year he did return a phone call. Then finally hew sent me one of them back...and it was still E string sound... only the 3 others, oddly enough I play 4 string bass, so this makes me quite angry.
    He hasn't charged my card, and hasn't shipped my other one back. I've been waiting for my anger to dissipate so I can talk to someone rationally.
    It's a Very even pickup when it works, very electric in the PA though.(sound guys love it). I miss it all the same, and wish I had one for any gig that gets above jazz band volume.

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    I had 2 and both of them broke. They are extremely fragile pickups. Kind of reminds me of the Wilson sound. After finding the Full Circle I abandoned my search for any other pickups. It just plain works!
  8. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    I have had one on my old Kay for about 14 or so years, and it has never caused me a problem. In fact, I am quite happy with it. I like the fact that it is fairly resistant to feedback, as I used it very heavily for a while in a rock band where I doubled on electric, and we were more often than not pretty freakin' loud.
  9. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Rufus does indeed still endorse the Barberra System. At one point Barberra would send you a little "record" with sound samples of the pickup. I listened to that and determined that the sound wasn't at all what I was looking for. You might still be able to request one of those. It's probably just a MP3 download these days. IMHO transducers have come a long way since the Barberra and Wilson systems. Rufus also has a Dyn-B and the new DPA 4099 mic. The sound he produces through his bass is so beautiful I seriously doubt that it would matter what he used as a pickup. The Live Stan Getz album anniversary kind of speaks for itself. Rufus plays live on that recording. Probably into a mic

  10. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Pittsburgh area
    I owned 2.

    Both broke twice which was a real PIA -- because you basically have to take your whole setup apart to ship it back. (Keep your stock bridge handy!)

    My low E sensor was always the first thing to go.

    Even though I sent detailed tracings, the bridge always seemed to come back with much less of an arch -- which was a bummer since I spent good money on good setups.

    That said, when it was working (which was for a good bit of time) it was an awesome pickup for loud gigs. I got very good customer service from Rich -- but there is a wait since this is custom work.

    I have to agree -- I'm happy with the Full Circle now -- but I've been through about 3 of them as well until they stopped breaking! (Early models were more fragile).

    Problem is, it always sounded out of phase with any other pickup I tried. It wasn't "natural" sounding enough for the quiet jazz gigs -- it had a bit of "thwack" to the sound.

    Now I'm looking for an EUB for the loud gigs -- so compared to $2500 for one of those, $500 actually seems pretty reasonable!

    But when it breaks -- you're SOL.
  11. Mike Arnopol

    Mike Arnopol Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 4, 2005
    Owner of MAS Soundworks
    Yeah, it's too bad. I was an endorser and got a fabulous sound with it. I got a bit impatient with it on my third bridge. IMO it's the best compliment to a mic for live, but my E string piezo would always break. I used to detune my E string a lot and literally stopped doing it (after being told by Rich Barbera---who is a really nice guy-that the detuning was causing the problem) because I liked the Barbera so much. But it still broke again. And that was it. At the time I was touring with my DB. With the EUB being reassembled every time I knew the Barbera wasn't a possibility. Boy did I like it for arco, though.
    Now all of my basses have the Full Circle. Not a perfect pickup---all pickups are a compromise. I may start a thread about properly installing the FC----they are SUPER finicky despite advertising claims. A FC properly set up sounds WAY better than an improperly set up one. I talked at length with an engineer at Fishman and he confirmed my perceptions and suggestions.
    I'm still interested in trying to combine the FC with another piezo which is why I suggested on the design of the Doubler to have the variable phase control. For me as much for combining piezos as with a mic. Haven't gotten around to it yet. I was thinking of trying the Aptflex just to check it out. I love the initial attack of a pickup like the Gage more than the FC. But that's the only thing I like about it. I feel that the initial attack of the FC to be its weak point and would love to try another pickup in combination to compliment it. Which wouldn't have been possible prior to the Doubler. (as far as variable phase)
  12. I've had my Barbera for about 14 years now. I've never had any problem with it, and I'm very happy with it. It's done a LOT of gigs, and it's been through aircraft baggage handlers quite a few times so I guess it's pretty robust. I'm using some unknown brand of gut strings with a Pirastro Olive E and the Barbera seems to compliment the guts very nicely.
  13. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Pittsburgh area
    Man that's great news about your pickup.

    Do you think the gut strings have a lot less tension across the bridge?

    Man -- EVERY time I felt like adjusting my bridge (under Thomastik Orchestras, etc.) I got scared the pickup would fizzle out!
  14. shwashwa


    Aug 30, 2003
    i hate to say it because i like the sound of the pickup alot for quartet gigs, it really is plug and play, but i've been through 4 of them now. the G string on mine keeps breaking. the one i have now is an early prototype that is not really available for commercial use (as of about 10 years ago. things may have changed by now) but it's more durable than the ones he was selling at the time.

    by the way, the sound you hear from rufus on stan getz' annaversary album is indeed the barbera (that exact pickup is actually on my bass now), and he doesnt use one anymore. he uses the dyn-b and the dpa 4099.
  15. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    That's what I thought, since I remember that recording, but I just figured that the engineers didn't only use the signal from the pickup. Interesting! I'm encouraged to try the DYN-B with the DPA 4099 since Rufus uses that combination. He also uses a Schertler PUB system doesn't he? I wonder how he connects the DYN-B and the DPA 4099, perhaps he just sends the DPA to the House.