A review of the Barker
Vertical Bass....my opinions, experiences, and feelings surrounding my Barker
B1 4 String Fretted #66.
I've owned and played many basses since I first began to learn the electric
bass, in the winter of '62. I still own most of the basses I've ever
had, and enjoy using them regularly. I've always been open to try something
new or different...be it someone's latest offering, or a cool old vintage
I'm very fortunate to be offered the opportunity to work regularly, and
I always enjoy playing... whether it's live shows or studio work. As
the result of a particularly busy two week period, my left shoulder and neck
developed a painful condition. My doctor told me that it would not go away until
I gave it a rest from a bass hanging around the injured area. Not really willing
to stop working for the period of time necessary to allow the injury to heal,
I began researching alternatives to having a bass strap around my shoulder. There
were various strap configurations available, but I felt they would make me look
like a dog in a harness type collar!
I then came upon the Barker
Bass website. I was immediately intrigued by
the concept and design.... not to mention a solution to my shoulder problem.
After researching the Barker on the web, I came to the conclusion not
only would this solve my injury problem, but this was a very high quality
and versatile instrument.
By all accounts of what I was able to read from owners and players who
had experience with the Barker, this bass was a tone monster. Always seeking
tone" I decided I should own a Barker.
I got acquainted with Lee Barker just by visiting his website ,
and decided to e-mail him to make some initial inquiries. Lee's responses
and I got a good feeling about Lee and his bass. After several more e-mails,
we spoke over the phone several times. Each and every time I called,
Lee answered the phone himself! Lee was always willing to take time away
from his work to
talk with me, and answered my questions in a most forthright manner.
Lee, and his company, really understands "Customer Service".
I gave Lee an order, and in a few days, My Barker arrived. (There is
a thread on the Barker
Bass website "Leo gets his Barker!" with some initial
Now about the Bass, Barker #66. It's a Barker B1, 4 String Fretted. My
first impression was with the quality of construction and finish. The construction
is simply flawless... beautiful woods, and quality hardware. It's very
solid, with no buzzes or rattles. All of the pieces are fitted together perfectly.
It's obvious a lot of thought went into the design, as exemplified by the
layout of the controls, pickups, thumb rests, and the stand. In my opinion, the
quality of this instrument is on par with any high end Zon, Spector, or Alembic.
The Barker plays wonderfully. The neck is smooth and quick, the frets
are finished off with obvious great care, and the playing position
comfortable. The well placed thumb rests are very handy. This bass
is a joy to play. The
designed stand offers versatility in height, tilt back, and body position
relation to the instrument. It's very easy and quick to get set up and
acquainted with. I look forward to every opportunity to play it.
As I said previously, the Barker is an absolute tone monster. Big and
fat, yet clear and articulate. The Seymour Duncan Jazzline pickups
do an excellent
They produce the tones I need with the front and rear pickup volume
controls, and single tone control. Pickups aside, I have always felt
that if a
sound good acoustically, the best electronics available probably won't
improve it. The Barker has a great acoustic sound. It's naturally loud and resonant,
with great natural and artificial harmonics, probably partly due to the sound
chambers in its body. The sustain is unbelievable! I feel the body design, choice
of woods, and construction all blend to give it that awesome tone. The Barker
responds well to various plucking techniques. You can "dig in" to
get that growl, pluck above the neck pickup to get a smooth, sweet, upright sound,
work near to the bridge to get a close, tight sound, and yes, as it has been
discussed in other reviews, it can be slapped and popped. Your slapping technique
will be slightly different that what you may be using on a conventional bass,
but I found adapting was quick and easy. It probably won't be played with
a flat pick, and although it resembles an upright, it cannot be bowed. The Barker
is all about your touch, and responds beautifully and obediently. It punches
through a live mix very well, and the engineers love it in the studio! I require
a lot of tonal flexibility, and my Barker delivers. I constantly get many positive
comments on my Barkers' tone.
The Barker comes with a very nice gig bag, and a bag for the stand.
The gig bag has a strap and handles, and it can be carried over
Barker up for the gig is quick and easy. Because the Barker has
its own stand, you're free to move about around the instrument. It's a good feeling
having the bass standing right next to you, not hanging on you. I really enjoy
the feeling my Barker gives me on stage... it's kinda' like standing
next to a beautiful woman...
(My wife, of course!) It's absolutely amazing the comments I get about
the Barker. All of the other Bassists who I have let play it love it. But the
comments I get from the people in the audience during and after the shows are
amazing! People ask"What kind of instrument is that? "Is that an
electric Cello?"I get all kinds of questions. One thing for sure...the
Barker is a real attention getter!
I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute spent with my Barker.
Since I took delivery of my Barker, it's been the only bass I have used. It's a lot of
fun, it looks and sounds great. If you ever have the opportunity to play a Barker,
I think you'll see why I feel the way I do. Although the Barker costs a
little more that your average Fender, Lakland or Gibson, I feel it's an
outstanding Value. When you take the customer service, construction, performance,
and value...my Barker was worth every dollar.
Now a word about Lee Barker and his company, using a quote from
one of my previous posts on the Barker Forum.
I got the feel of Lee's passion for his instrument, along with the ingenuity,
creativity, and forthright thinking that is so apparent when
you view, and put your hands on the instrument in person. Lee understated
every aspect of the bass,
and greatly over delivered in every respect. So, thanks Lee...
for a wonderful Bass! And Lee, get to work... I'm jonesin' for a Barker
to learn more?
Lee...I know you'll
have a great experience with your Barker!
If you're ever in Memphis,
I can usually be found gigging in the Blues Clubs on Beale St. Stop
by and say hello, and try out the Barker.