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Barker bass with bluegrass?

Discussion in 'Barker Bass Forum' started by GW in Ohio, Aug 8, 2007.


  1. Although I have a nice B2 prototype Barker, I've been using a double bass for bluegrass, since it's the traditional thing to do.

    However, I'm finding that the upright double bass is exacerbating a carpal tunnel condition in both my wrists. So I switched back to my B2 prototype and paired it with a Behringer acoustic amp.

    While it's not a true acoustic bass sound, it's a good sound. And it cuts through the other instruments and the vocals in a bluegrass band very nicely. It's an assertive bass sound, but not overwhelming.

    And it's so much easier on my hands and wrists.

    Anybody else have experience with a Barker bass in a bluegrass setting?
     
  2. GW,
    i use my barker to play country, bluegrass. and country-rock, and it cuts through and sounds cleaner than the upright and it's it looks more trad than a atandard electric.
     
  3. larro

    larro

    Feb 8, 2008
    Hi GW,
    I've been playing my Barker in a Bluegrass band for a little over a year and it's working out very well. I don't want to deal with a double, but the vertical format seems more appropriate than a bass guitar in the Bluegrass setting. A gig seldom goes by without people coming up and asking about the Barker. Though I'm the least talented memeber of the band, the Barker is a real attention getter. The guys in the band have nicknamed it the "Picasso Bass".

    I just put on a set of Fender Stainless flats and I'm thinking it's a little closer to the acoustic sound. By the way, does anyone make an electronic effect that makes an electric sound like an acoustic?
     
  4. 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.
    Warning: the following post may contain material of a blatantly commercial nature.

    Those fellows in the white smocks down in the basement lab at Barker Musical Instruments have developed a set of mutes which, when slipped 'neath the strings at the bridge, attenuate the sustain and yield a pretty nice thunkety-thunk. There are those on this forum who use them, and I trust they'll enter the fray with their unvarnished opinions.

    I also would like to hear from the black tapewound loyalists about what kind of sound they are getting and whether it might fit into this genre.

    Now the sale-closing pitch: The mutes are $19.95 the pair, and for a limited time--maybe until 2010, I'm not sure--I'll pay the shipping in the US.

    But Wait There's More!!

    Also, if you want, I'll include some of our new postcards for you to hand to those blatantly curious inquisitors who'd rather you stood in the very front of the band so they could see you and your instrument better. They feel so good when they can walk away carrying something given them by the bass player.

    Kindly,

    Lee
     
  5. larro

    larro

    Feb 8, 2008
    Hi Lee, good to hear from you as always. Actually I have the mutes that you were kind enough to send me after I bought my B1 and they do work very well. Everyone loves my bass and the sound with the mutes is very good in my setting, but I still wonder whether there is something electronic out there to recreate the acoustic sound. By the way, quite often I'm asked whether I made the bass myself. Because I'm a cabinet maker they think I can make anything. As much as I'd like to take the credit, I always admit that it is absolutely and totally beyond my meager abilities and was made by the great Lee Barker.
     
  6. JKT

    JKT

    Apr 30, 2007
    Buffalo NY
    Endorsing Artist: Barker Basses
    I was wondering if you had tried some sort of muting. As for effects, I wonder if some sort of subtle use of a de-fretter effect might help. I wouldn't have a clue as to who makes this in a single effect. I have only seen it as part of various multi-effect systems. I am currently experimenting with the de-fretter in my BOSS MR 50B multi-effects and it is the closest impression of a fretless I have used to date. Unless you're doing other genres it probably wouldn't make sense to go that way. Another thing you might want to take out for a spin is the BOSS Acoustic simulator pedal. Intended to simulate acoustic guitar timbres, but it seems very tweakable.

    Out of curiosity, how much of a negative vibe have you gotten from having the audacity to bring an electric instrument to the bluegrass stage? I've heard that some 'o' them folks don't take to kindly to them there new fangled eelektronics...

    JKT
     
  7. 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.
    Good to hear from you too, Larro. I've been wondering how things were faring in the Wayfarers. Sorry, couldn't resist that.

    Joel's suggestions intrigue the curious. I asked the same question of Steve, who just received his B1 fretted this week in Colorado. Here is a paste from his email:

    "I use a small bass effect foot pedal, DigiTech BP80. It has a nice fretless effect, flanger, chorus, delay, octaver, etc. It is inexpensive, around $100."

    I have never heard any of these things. Hey, I make the fretless Barker! I only wish I had an ear that would allow me to play one in public. :crying:

    But it would be fun to have a pedal to make a simulation available for tunes like "Wayfarin' Stranger", which we sometimes play in church.

    So I'm watching this thread!

    Kindly,

    Lee
     
  8. Ed Goode

    Ed Goode Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    My B1 is fretless, and I've found that lowering the bass setting on the amp has given me more of that "hollow" acoustic tone that I think you guys are seeking. I hand mute everything since I've had to develop that technique using extended range slab basses, so I've not tried the foam mutes. Reducing the famous Barker Bass sustain by muting and rolling back the bass settings has definitely gotten me closer to a typical DB tone. But in fairness I'm not a bluegrass player, speaking more from a jazz tone point-of-view here .... ;)

    In general I haven't had good success with multi-effects pedals since the sound always seems too "electronic" to me. Or maybe I just don't use them properly (likely the true reason for my lack of success) ....

    I, too, am interested in hearing more how some of you guys handle this ..... :cool:
     
  9. JKT

    JKT

    Apr 30, 2007
    Buffalo NY
    Endorsing Artist: Barker Basses
    In all honesty, I like the sound of my Barker best going direct in terms of warmth. My ME50B alters things only slightly, and yet if I want, it is true bybass. Life is full of compromises and the pallette of tools available for different textures are of certain value to me. And, I'm still tweaking here and there...

    JKT
     
  10. larro

    larro

    Feb 8, 2008
    Hey JKT,

    Thanks for the tip on the BOSS Acoustic Simulator pedal. I'll try to find one and listen to it. As for the level of acceptance among the Bluegrass fans, there are probably those in the audience who don't like anything that's non traditional, but I've never heard about it. Of course, it's unlikely that they would say anything to us if they do object. But I can hardly remember a gig where someone didn't come up and ask about the Barker, and they are always very complimentary. Double Basses are such a pain to carry around, and much harder to play. I've seen more and more players in this genre go to electric bass.

    Also, in my opinion one of the main reasons our music has seen such a huge renaissance in recent years is the freshness brought into it by the young innovators. Purely traditional Bluegrass has a following, but without something fresh I think it would have declined rather than expanding. Along with that freshness comes an opening for acceptance of electric bass in my opinion. I don't want to see the lead instruments change much, but the bass is one place where we can embrace a little modernity. Of course this is just my personal take on it.

    The Barker B1 is s a beautiful instument, crafted of fine wood and obviosly not something you'd see in a hard rock band or anything like that, and being a vertical format it just seems to fit in just fine. If it makes us a modern Bluegrass band rather than purely a Bill Monroe knockoff I think we can live with that. Thanks again for the tip on the pedal.

    Larry
     
  11. All I'll add is, I saw JKT play last night, and one of the first thoughts that hit me was . " man, that Barker would ahve been the cats arse in that rockabilly band I playing in as a kid! " It was an electric band, mostly country, but the Barker would have done the job, arguably, better than the Fender/Peavy I used, yet had more stage presence than the Gibson 76 Tbird ( a dud sonically), that I tried to use.
     
  12. "Out of curiosity, how much of a negative vibe have you gotten from having the audacity to bring an electric instrument to the bluegrass stage? I've heard that some 'o' them folks don't take to kindly to them there new fangled eelektronics..." JKT

    I play with some very hard-core bluegrass people...many are up from the hills of Kentucky and West Virginia. The songs I've learned through books and CDs and other ways, they've grown up with.

    But I've never...ever...had anyone disparage my Barker because it relies on electricity. On the contrary, my Barker has elicited curiosity and interest from my bluegrass colleagues, but never resentment.

    But....there are a number of occasions when bluegrass people gather to jam and play outside, and there is no electricity available. On those occasions, a double bass is really handy if you want to join in.
     
  13. JKT

    JKT

    Apr 30, 2007
    Buffalo NY
    Endorsing Artist: Barker Basses
    Interesting. Perhaps things are changing in the world of bluegrass.

    Thanks for the Barker blurb, Buffalo Bass. It was great seeing you there.

    I'm having the distinct pleasure of playing all week with the legendary
    Will McFarlane, and will be anxious to hear what he thinks. And Thanks again for the thoughtful comments the other night re the P-bass EQ.
    I'm going to clone that other patch and tweak it some more.

    JKT
     
  14. Well, I got a set of foam mutes in the mail yesterday, and tried 'em out on my Barker, and my reaction was, "No way."

    They mute the sound.....okay....but why would I want to mute the rich sound of my Barker bass? They don't improve the sound; they just dampen it. They also take away a lot of the warmth.

    So why would I want to do that?

    Actually, I've learned to dampen the sound on my B2 prototype with my hands, without sacrificing any of the richness and warmth of the tone.

    Lee: Thanks for sending the mutes, but I don't think they're for me.
     
  15. 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.
    No problem atall, GW. As bass players, we're all like Goldilocks, looking around for the porridge that is "just right."

    My good fortune is I happen to get to be in the kitchen, trying porridge a little warmer, porridge a little cooler, porridge with a little cinnamon in it and so on, and then I put it out on the table and see what happens!

    Would you want to try those mutes with a little nutmeg sprinkled on?

    ;)

    Kindly,

    Lee
     

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