Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Birth of a Barker Bass Prototype

As a manufacturer/craftsman, I like what I have designed and think, in my own selfish, unwindowed world that what you need you will find in my product line.

That is stinkin' thinkin', of course. In similar foolishness, I thought the mental construct was impenetrable.

But somewhere there was a micro fissure in my narrow world, and this Poco idea broached the gap. Two days of work and we have what you see.

Bass on a mic stand.

But wait, there's more!

Already Brent commented the "body needs work." Agreed. It also needs some drastic weight loss surgery. Too much mass, even when I changed the balance point from where you see to right under the end of the fingerboard.

And maybe it would benefit from a stand with a slightly wider footprint; perhaps a three-point stance would be better.

And the 360 degree mounting is good in concept but inadequate in position-holding.

And if we want it to go three ways--vertical on the stand, horizontal on the stand, and strap-slingable to boot, then there's a keen need for a smooth back unencumbered by attachment protrusions. As Bill Cosby's Noah says back to God, "RIGHT!"


This is the kind of list that makes an innovator wring his hands in poorly-disguised excitement! Clear that bench! Bring in the boxes of metal thingies that have no other label than "metal thingies"! Leave me an amp of modest but adequate horsepower! Slide pizza under the door at appropriate intervals!

And then there's the stand. The mic stand shaftresonates like crazy when this bass is played!

What are we going to do with that factoid?

The patient has ailments. The doctor is in the house. The immediate prescription is Elixir of Time.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Jazz Bass Electronics And Wanda the Terrier: A Tale of Two Barkers

Several viewers of the OPB Art Beat segment about Barker Bass have noticed the cameo appearance of Wanda, the Pound Hound. She seems unaffected by the attention.

Very little in her life introduces changes, and she responds happily to routine. This would be contrary to other terriers, who are often described as "dogs who will do whatever you want them to do...whenever they decide to do it!"

When a Barker Bass reaches the "clean bench" which is the one in the office where all the electronic and stringup tasks are accomplished, it loses the individuality it had enjoyed in the initial construction processes. There, the wood is identified by some characteristic--"the one with the swirl toward the middle" or "the one with the stunning alder pattern on the back" and that nickname sticks, for a while. It may even generate special attention, particularly when Dean Mancini, our artful finisher, gets his hands on it.

On the bench, though, the instrument becomes less individual and the tasks more rote. The electronics we want to be dependable, functioning exactly the same, every time. When you roll the volume of the upper pickup just this far, you want it to sound the same as it did yesterday. Quality components and attention to detail are the guarantors here.

Wanda wants to go outdoors about 6:30am, and when she comes in, she heads straight to the food dish. If that has not been the focus of the same sort of rigorous attention that the volume and tone pots get at the shop, she gets in my way and stays there, moving adroitly but always staying face on, until I dredge the measuring cup out of the dogfood pantry and clatter the kibbles into her stainless steel platter.

The wires for the control cavity are cut according to a chart, identified by color and length, stripped, tinned (technical term for melting some solder into the strands so individual tiny wires don't stray out of their yard), and laid out for their turn to be soldered in place and coiled neatly out of the way.

When Linda and I innocently went to the Redmond Humane Society some 10 years ago, we were overwhelmed by the barking and yipping in the yard. Then we noticed this diminutive, warmly colored but excessively fozzie dog sitting quietly on her haunches and looking us right in the eye. Our hearts were toast at that point, and are still warm when she attends to us, or moans her sighs of contentment as she lies by the fireplace in the evening.

The Barker Bass does not shout its way into people's lives. They are often looking for something else when it catches their eye.

It's likely to become a constant, dependable companion. Character? Of course. Fickle, no.