Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cayford's Barker Bass: Graphtech Ghost, Stellartone Tonestyler Upgrades, Part 1

Some owners of the Barker Bass have described the tone as "more of everything." One argument might be to keep it pure: "No fads or fancy stuff" as one advertiser used to say. The other argument is, why not make it better? To start with something that good and add enhancements might just be an exponential improvement. That was Cayford's line of thought as we pondered the possibility of adding the Graphtech Ghost which is a set of peizo pickups individually contacting each string via saddles in the Graphtech bridge, stock on the Barker B1 four. Why not, then, add the Graphtech Acousticphonic preamp? All it would take is a little room in the electronics bay and a battery case somewhere on board--and that is an easy assignment on a Barker.

This peizo process requires some excavation below the bridge, noted in the photos above. These tiny, individual wires are routed to the electronics cavity and joined on a summing board, thence to the preamp.

The battery requirement is nine volts, but having had a bad experience with a battery failing mid-gig, I always suggest a double case with only one battery wired in so there's a fresh spare on board. Cayford agreed to that. The case goes on the back, out of sight.

Then came that almost-predictable moment: Hand on chin, thoughtful, he said, "Hmmm, as long as we're at it, why not add the Stellartone Tonestyler too?" Great idea. I'm a vocal exponent of this elegant and practical addendum to any passive bass.

This required a fourth knob now--the only external suggestion to an audience viewer that he's not playing a stock Barker B1.

Shop mission is accomplished, and the bass is back to Cayford at this writing for his installation of the electronics. We'll do a followup interview and post it down the line. Whether it's a nuanced improvement or trumpet-fanfared Innovation of the Century remains to be seen. And heard. The delight is in the team effort and the possibility of yet another way the Barker claims its place among unique electric bass instruments.

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