Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Barker Brio #16

It seems like more of these have been made than just 16, but here it is, the numerical empirical truth.

We thought it would be the Ford Falcon of Barker Basses, an allusion which holds well if you're old enough to remember those years.

The Falcon popped onto the automotive stage amidst schools of lethal dorsal fins, doors which rattled even when you were the first to drive on a newly paved street, and ginormous power plants stuffed into marshmallow-inspired chassis equipped with power steering which ranged more than all the nomadic tribes of the world combined.

It was smaller. It was trimmer. It was simpler. It was modest. Cute, even, and quickly adopted by our car-crazy culture. It outsold its competition which was the Chevy Corvair (the rear engine was just too, um, German) and the Plymouth Valiant (whose little tailfins were vaguely reminiscent of a 13 year old girl's first sweater).

And then, over the years, per American Car custom, it slowly got bigger, fancier, and, surprise! more expensive.

Right now the Barker Brio is exactly as designed, and at the same price.
It is simple--Pbass pickups, volume and tone controls.
It is sleek.
It has a humility about it--unpretentiousness perhaps, springing from the alder used exclusively in the body.
It is lighter weight than its more sophisticated sibling, the B1.

And just as much fun to play.

The bright spot is that making instruments one at a time allows the maker to be in touch with the parts and bring them to a singular purpose with his own experience and intention.

The dim part is about sales. It would be very helpful for all aspects of the business if more were marching toward the boxup table and the door.

Meantime, you can still get a Barker Bass with a serial number in the teens!

Ponder that moment that your grandchildren are proudly standing next to the carpeted, oddly shaped table and the Antiques Roadshow appraisers are clustered about, cooing and oohing about this extremely rare example of the early Barker instruments. "The value would be half this if you'd had it refinished!"

After the filming is over, they'll tote the bass out to the parking lot, put it in the back of their Falcon Ranchero and ease into traffic.

Life is good.
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