We think we make a pretty darned good instrument! It's no surprise that we'd say that, right? Well, some other people who know a thing or two about basses have also weighed in with their opinions. In order to provide an unbiased view, we've included those reviews below. Check out what they have to say -- we think you'll be suitably impressed! _______________________________ Bass Guitar Magazine April/May, 2005 Bruce Jacobs What is the Barker Bass? Truth is, it's much easier to say what it isn't. It isn't a conventional electric bass, an electric upright, or an acoustic knock-off. It isn't whimsical, it isn't a prototype, and it wasn't built for a specific style of music. Think of it as a bass guitar neck that is attached to a large, chambered body and totally supported by a heavy duty stand. As unique as it looks, however, Lee Barker's beautiful Frankenstein of an instrument is one of the best sounding, most comfortable basses I've ever played. It's clear that Barker, a woodworker and cabinetmaker for over 20 years, pays close attention to details. The bass was so well-packed that the 1,500 mile trip to my door had no impact on its perfect setup. The maple neck, held in place by five large-head bolts, features a rosewood fingerboard. The fretwork was excellent. The headstock boasts a set of Gotoh machines arranged 2 + 2. A Schaller bridge completes the hardware package. The body is made up of a luscious 1û2 - inch thick cherry top on a chambered alder core and solid back; darkened maple accents the front. The woodworking, fit and finish are excellent. A tough polyester finish protects the body from bumps or sweat, and a long endpin accommodates players of virtually any height. THE ESSENCE OF SUPPORT Although I thought playing a vertical, fretted instrument would be weird, I was able to adapt quickly (though I'll admit that using a pick and slapping took a bit longer to master.) The familiar Jazz-Bass radius and scale felt great, and I found that playing "vertically" was much easier on the shoulders back and wrists than the standard horizontal approach. The Barker's eye-catching chambered body isn't just for looksóit adds fabulous personality to the tone, as is evidenced by the phenomenal sustain. The bass is equipped with passive Basslines Hot Jazz pickups selected for their warm yet articulate and versatile character. The pickups are closer to the bridge than they are on a Fender Jazz Bass, which gives a serious kick to the Vertical's tonal balance. The Barker came across broad and juicy in a blues four-piece, and everything I played at a crosssoverjazz/R&B quintet gig - from standards to Tower of Power funk - was a joy. To play harmonics on this bass is to experience a revelation; Jaco's "Portrait of Tracy" sounded better than I've ever heard. The Barker kicks ass for rock and metal grooves too, though using a pick is awkward. The Barker, a chameleon that always wore the right suit, was variously punchier, crisper, sweeter, or rounder than my standard 4- and 5-strings. It reminded me somewhat of a good, vintage Fender Precision: It sounds good by itself, but it sounds sooo right on the bandstand. THE BOTTOM LINE The positive comments and questions I got from everyone who heard the bass were worth their weight in PR points. You'll not only be heard, but actually noticed with this ax at your side, which is more than half the battle. Barker may be new to bass manufacture, but the Vertical Bass is nothing short of a sonic and instrument-design home run. _______________________________ DownBeat Magazine Dave Zaworski Bass guitarists looking to start playing electric upright bass face the challenge of simultaneously adapting to a fretless neck while using new fingerings due to the scale length differences between most bass guitars (34") and electric upright basses (42"). Although many bassists do double on uprights and electrics, those bass guitarists who might not wish to relearn fingerings on a fretless upright but still yearn to play an upright are in luck with the Barker bass. Built by Redmond, Ore.-based bassist and woodworker Lee Barker, the handcrafted Barker bass incorporates the fretted neck of an electric bass guitar on a flat, 2-inch-thick, upright body. Barker developed the idea for a fretted upright after experiencing wrist problems while playing bass guitar, and subsequently has designed the Barker bass for playing comfort. The bass has a free-standing design, so players don't have to hold it up-that's taken care of by a heavy duty stand with an attachment that locks in to a socket on the back of the bass. This helps to keep a player's physical contact with the bass to a minimum; arms, hands and wrists are held in natural positions and are only focused on playing the bass, not holding it. The minimal physical contact also keeps the bass's resonance from being dampened; the sound rings clear. As a bass guitarist who doesn't play upright, I found the Barker bass easy to adapt to and comfortable to play on a big band gig. Normally, with the bass guitar, I prefer to use a pick because I have yet to find a comfortable position for my hands and wrists to pluck the bass. With the Barker bass, I was able to find a relaxed hand position within moments via the two thumb supports on its top, so there was no tension in my hands when plucking the strings. This helped to deliver a warm finger-on-string sound that swelled and sustained, supporting the big band sound with a rich bottom end. Many fellow band members commented positively on the bass's tone (it features Seymour Duncan pickups) and individual look. The Barker bass features a 34-inch select hard rock maple neck with rosewood, maple or ebony fingerboards. It's also available in fretless or lined fretless versions. The body, available in such woods as cherry, alder, maple and walnut, is 2 inches thick and made with a solid wood chambered core. The bass also has an adjustable endpin that accomodates players to 6'6".