Friday, December 12, 2008
Stellartone Tonestyler Revisited, and Hello to Ginner
Back in October, 28th to be precise, I said "in a week" I'd post pictures of this bass. It's been a long week, but here they are. #99. Called "Ginner."
Since completing this assembly and setup, I have played this bass twice weekly at church.
Something's new there: Little post-its on my music that say things like B-4 or M-0 or N-1.
They're reminders to roll to the bridge or neck pickup or the center detent which is both. This is the middle knob.
The lower knob is the Tonestyler. The numbers in my top secret alphanumeric code refer to clicks from the most bass position, which would correspond to "off" on a volume knob. (The top knob is a master volume.)
The amp stays set the same, no preamp fiddling, no foot pedals, just click and go. Sounds sort of like some kind of kitchen floor cleaning gizmo, but it's not. It's an astounding upgrade to a Barker Bass.
A word about Ginner. I had targeted that bass to be my own from the beginning. There was a flaw in the body--not easy to find, but I knew where it was. It couldn't go out the door as a typical representative of the marque, so it stayed around, its future marked boldly: "For Lee."
One year at NAMM we met some delightful men from China who were vending instrument hardware. They were our neighbors across the aisle. We became friends, and they were intrigued with the Barker Bass. On our last day there, they insisted I take a set of their tuning machines. I graciously accepted, out of a sense of diplomacy as well as professional curiosity about less expensive instrument hardware. The machines went into the same figurative drawer as the marked body.
And there was that endpin that Rod, my welder (really, that's his name) missed--the plate a little askew from the shaft.
And Stew at Nordstrand had been gently reminding me that he thought a set of split coils would sound really good in a Barker. I bit on that one. More in the drawer.
And there was this orphan neck. It was not quite "right" but I knew that I could make it work for me.
It looked like an ideal platform for testing the Stellartone.
In fact, I could test the Tonestyler on any Barker B1--it leaves no marks or scars--but I was convinced, from Will Witt's experience with his B1-5 and my playing the Brio here, that this was going to be right down my teacup.
I like it a lot. Ginner will be around a long time.
She's named after my mother, who died in mid October. Mom survived the Depression by getting by. She was a saver: "You never know when you might need one of these..." She was genius at making do. She would appreciate that I built in her honor not a perfect, top-o'-the-line bass, but one characterized by the triumph of using what's at hand. #99. Unique. Of humble origins. Stands tall.