Meet Andrew Pfaff!

Discussion in 'Barker Bass Forum' started by IotaNet, Oct 25, 2005.

  1. IotaNet

    IotaNet Supporting Member


    Andrew Pfaff has a deep and abiding love for the bass guitar. He is a professional bassist and teacher in the New York City area and has written a book called Mode Shapes for Bass.

    Andrew has been fortunate enough to share the stage with greats like Oteil Burbridge, Stanley Jordan, Leo Nocentelli, and Harvie Swartz. He's been on the Today Show and has played Lincoln Center. Keeping active in rock, jazz, "singer-songwriter" and corporate/club date scenes, Andrew keeps a full playing schedule that takes him all over the NYC metro area and occasionally to other parts of the country. Also a teacher, Andrew has written and self-published an instructional book for bass called Mode Shapes for Bass.

    After getting a B.A. in Communications from Penn State, Andrew got his formal music education at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, studying Jazz Bass Performance. He graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Music degree.

    A Few Words From Andrew ...
    "The common misconception is that bass guitar is an easier instrument than guitar. After all, it has fewer strings and you don't have to play any flashy, speedy guitar stuff, just the boring low part that goes "boom boom boom." But when you actually look around, you find that good bass players are more rare and coveted than good guitarists.

    This phenomenon may be at least partially because there is less 'glamour' in playing bass. But it may also be because the bass player has incredible power over the rhythmic and harmonic dimensions of the music, and it takes considerable skill, taste and experience in order to wield that power effectively. With bass, one note can change everything."
  2. modeshapes


    Oct 17, 2005
    NYC Area
    Hi, I'm Andrew Pfaff, a gigging bass player and teacher in the NYC metro area. My Barker Vertical Bass (a fretless 4) has taken the place of my acoustic upright as the instrument of choice for the "society" work I do, as well as the straight-ahead jazz. It sounds better, is easier to play, easier to transport, and records like a dream. I find it a great sounding, great looking upright "solution" for the electric player who also gets upright calls.

    If you are an electric player who occasionally needs the sound and aesthetic effect similar to upright bass, but like me, don't really have the chops or inclination to do an acoustic bass justice, Barker could be your answer too.

    The following is my "Barker Story."

    As a dedicated electric bass player, freelancing for a living and working for (almost) whoever would hire me, I would often hear this dreaded question: "Do you play upright?"
    ESPECIALLY as an electric player studying jazz at school, I heard that question every day it seemed. I knew there was at least some work I was losing because I didn't double on upright.
    The last straw for me was a gig I played one night several years ago while living in Philly. It was a small big band playing a lot of jump swing stuff, like Louis Jordan, with the drummer cutting the beat in half so it became a kind of swing/funk hybrid music. Of course I was subbing for an upright player. At the end of the night the leader of the band came over to pay me and said, "man, you sound great, it's just too bad you don't play upright."
    I was, of course, really used to hearing this, but it had finally gotten so annoying to me that I went out the next day and dropped $750 on a plywood bass. "Alright then," I thought, "if guys like this would rather hear me sound mediocre on upright than great on electric, then fine, I'll take the upright calls."
    I took a few lessons, spent some time with the bow to get my intonation together, and started playing gigs on upright.
    It was frustrating, though, having all the sound and pickup problems, the blisters on my 1st and 2nd right hand fingers, and being hindered in what I was technically able to play. Instrument maintenance was a big-time headache and a huge expense too. And I still turned down some of the upright calls because I didn't want to bluff my way into work I shouldn't be doing. It was no fun at all.
    But somehow I kept getting called to play upright, which led me to the conclusion that I was basically getting called because I can play jazz and I OWN an upright. The upright bass was mainly a cosmetic consideration. Anyone who wanted a GOOD upright player knew better than to call me!
    Then, Lee Barker contacted me a couple years back and asked me to check out his instrument. After looking at the website, I wrote back that it looks great but I suspected that the people calling me for upright want the upright for cosmetic reasons, and that I wouldn't be able to get away with bringing even a VERY NICE looking EUB like the Barker to the gig in its place.
    Fortunately, Lee checked back in with me some time later and persuaded me to try one out. I brought a four string fretless Barker to a straight-ahead jazz gig and got nothing but raves about how it looked and sounded. With the 34" scale and the tapewound strings, I was able to play with a dark, upright-like sound, but use my electric chops to do it! Suddenly playing an upright gig got way more fun, way more easy, and much, much better sounding! I was sold.
    I called my main employer, a company which gives me about 100 dates a year and sometimes calls me for upright, and asked permission to substitute the Barker for my acoustic upright. When they agreed, I began bringing it to jobs. Again I heard nothing but raves from bandleaders, fellow musicians and sound technicians.
    My plywood bass has been sitting in its case gathering dust since the day I got my Barker. I now take the Barker to all my upright gigs and could not be happier with how much easier it is to play, how much better it sounds, and how positively everyone reacts to it.
    There are many electric upright basses on the market today, but the Barker Vertical Bass is the first instrument to truly combine the playability of an electric bass with the visual appeal of the acoustic upright. Even so, I was skeptical myself until I took a leap of faith in trying it on that first upright call. But since then I have never looked back!
  3. modeshapes


    Oct 17, 2005
    NYC Area
    For those of you who may be in the NYC television viewing area: CBS's New York affiliate has been carrying a Latin American verison of American Idol called "Nueva Estrella". The final installment aired this past Saturday, 10/29/05. Each installment has been re-run a number of times; check your listings. I used a fretless Barker 4 string to back up two of the contestants.
  4. djcruse


    Jun 3, 2002
    Norwood, MA
    Hi Andy!

    Folks, Andy's wife and my girlfriend are long-time friends - that's how I met him. I can say from hanging with him that he's a great guy and a solid, hard-working player (and good dad!). I'm proud to know him and his family.

    I've also had a chance to play his Barker. Very nice!

    Welcome, buddy!
  5. modeshapes


    Oct 17, 2005
    NYC Area
    Thanks for the shout-out, Dale! I'm sure we'll meet up many more times here.
    Best to you and Courtney,
  6. Ben Rose

    Ben Rose

    Jan 12, 2004
    Hi, Andy. Great to see you on TB! Thanks for the help moving to NJ. I'll have to check out your Barker some time.

  7. modeshapes


    Oct 17, 2005
    NYC Area
    Hi Ben! Looking forward to seeing you. Come see us when you can -- we'll all have dinner and hang out.

  8. 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.
    An unlikely Andrew Pfaff sighting:

    It's a picture in a book, and few if any of us would be likely to have seen it except for Linda Barker, the other, less visible principal in Barker Musical Instruments. In her day job as a librarian she sees lots of books. As a former floral designer and florist shop manager, she maintains an interest in that sort of art. So naturally when a book titled "Inspirations" by Preston Bailey appeared at the library, with its colorful flower pictures on the dust jacket, she was curious. It's a large book, 9 x 12, an inch thick, and all about outre design. Quoting from the flap, "Preston Bailey has established himself as the foremost event designer and planner for celebrities and the affluent alike..."

    She glimpsed a mention of J.J. Philbin's wedding (Regis' daughter) and hunted up the page.

    It's a double truck picture, and there, just to the left of the split, is Andrew Pfaff in person, his Barker Bass in full, if very small, view.

    It looks like sound check time for the band.

    Everything, in pinks and blues, is perfect.

    You'd have to get the Rest of the Story from the Man in the Tuxedo.