State of the Art Upright Bass Transducer System
for Acoustic Upright Bass
The Barbera Multi-Transducer Upright Bass Pickup/ Bridge is a unique, high performance bridge pickup system. Barbera upright bass pickups feature two, dual piezo transducers for each string. The sensors are mounted within a precision fabricated maple graft which is integrated into the bridge beneath the strings. The bridges are made custom to match each basses particular setup.
The system senses from three perspectives simultaneously. Each strings vertical and horizontal vibrations are sensed individually, as well as the overall lateral twisting motion of the bridge (on acoustic style bridges). Vertical sensitivity to each string provides clarity, balance and sustain for pizzicato. Horizontal sensitivity to each string provides for precise articulation of attack for pizzicato and a rich, natural arco response which is dynamically in balance with the pizzicato. Sensitivity to lateral-twisting bridge motion, provides depth and tonal interaction with the instrument top. This multi-dimensional sensitivity provides exceptional clarity, tone and power.
Barbera multi-transducers for the upright bass and double bass are not mass produced. They are custom made for each instrument. In the process of their being crafted, each bridge receives considerable individual attention. Performance characteristics of upright bass pickups are carefully brought out and optimized, through a voicing process similar in some respects to the way a luthier develops a musical instruments voice.
Model for Acoustic Upright Bass
Some advantages of an integrated into the bridge, all maple pickup system include:
All maple construction provides integrated tonal compatibility with the bridge and the instrument.
fast, dynamic responsiveness in piz and arco modes
Warm, open quality of sound with incredible clarity and focused power which projects a clear, focused tone even in the most difficult musical situations.
Balanced response across the strings.
Non-microphonic sensitivity*. This provides a natural, high resistance to feedback without fingerboard noise or distant ringy edge to the sound, and without sound bleed from drums or other nearby noise sources.
(*Non-microphonic sensitivity is a focused, selective coupling to the energy source which rejects undesirable noise and provides a clean, clear signal. On the other hand, Microphonic sensitivity, as occurs in surface contact transducers, is an unfocused, nonselective, surface contact type of sensitivity, which includes undesirable noise such as body noise, finger noise etc. in the signal to be amplified.)
No hardware clamped, stuck or wedged into or under the bridge.
Clean, uncluttered appearance on the instrument.
High gain, passive output.
Multi dimensional reproduction of the instruments sound, with full, clear fundamental and overtone response at flat EQ settings.
Methods for generating a new custom bridge:
New, custom upright bass pickups can be made from tracing the existing fitted bridge. If the original bridge has adjusters, the new bridge can be prepared to utilize the existing fitted feet and adjusters. Installation is a matter of minutes.
The system can also be installed into a new, pre-fitted bridge blank. The process involves having a local luthier set up a new bridge for the instrument (fit feet, shape top arc, make string notches, install adjusters) but leaving the bridge at full blank thickness. We can then install the multi-transducer graft into the pre-fitted blank and thin the bridge down in the normal fashion. (A detailed information sheet on ordering options and instructions is available).
Homage a Casal
These recordings are in 2 track stereo - the direct out from the pickup system can heard alongside a simultaneously recorded track with a microphone.
The right channel is just the acoustic instrument sound.
A Neumann mic was placed apx 2 feet in front of the bass at bridge height. The left channel is direct to the board from the Barbera Bridge.
A basic pre-amp was used for impedance matching purposes.
(a Fishman model B)
Left and right channels were recorded simultaneously with all EQ controls set flat with 100% isolation between channels.
No post processing was done on this recording other than the conversion from the original .wav format to a compressed MP3 format.
Bass Player Magazine ran a feature article entitled "Top Ten Upright Bass Transducers" back in June '96. The article evaluated the field of upright bass pickups. This article is still relevant because nothing has emerged since, in the same unique class of pickup as the Barbera Bridge. Below is the section of the article evaluating the Barbera Multi Transducer Bridge, through the end of the article, which sums up the conclusions for the entire article.
BARBERA CUSTOM BRIDGE REPLACEMENT SYSTEM ($500)
"Installation of this pickup is really special. You send an exact tracing of your bridge to Rich Barbera (In my case, only the top half of my adjustable bridge was necessary), and in a week or so he sends you a high-quality maple replacement bridge with eight piezo transducers hidden inside. The only signs of the pickup are a thin wire coming from the bottom of the bridge and a small graft along the top. The unit installs in minutes-but don't drop your sound post!
Barbera included a demo tape with his unit, and while I was installing the bridge on my bass I played the tape on a high-end audio system. The demo, which consisted of pieces performed by Rufus Reid and Anthony Falanga, had the Barbera unit on the left channel and a studio mike on the right-and it knocked me over. I was very impressed with the bass reproduction, and wanted to know more about the basses on the tape. Well, when I disconnected the tape deck and inserted the jack for the Barbera system, the great sound I had just heard was now coming from my bass!
This unit is the best transducer on the market. It reproduces both pizz and arco playing in a simply amazing fashion, with startling volume available and great sonic reproduction in all playing modes. It needs no improvement. But don't take my word for it-call Rich and get the tape for yourself."
"Which unit gets the job done best? As always, you must consider your instrument and your performance needs. My favorite bass, the german flatback, will never part with the Barbera Transducer; it's by far the best for volume, balance, and true acoustic-bass sound enhancement. For the juzek, I'll go with the Shertler electrostatic system-but this was a close call, with the Wilson coming in just behind. The Kay, used strictly for combat-zone rock gigs, will be outfitted with the combination of a Pierre Josephs String Charger and an Underwood. A Fishman Pocket Blender will become part of my gig bag's inventory, for use with all of my basses.
Once I had completed my test, I realized that a full-range amplifier is now an additional requirement for my gigs. A simple 1X15 combo just can't reproduce the harmonics, color, and voicing now available from my acoustic uprights. And so, perhaps, another quest has begun . . ."
By Bob McCaskey copyright 1996 Miller Freeman, Inc. Reprinted from the June 1996 issue of BASS PLAYER Magazine. Reprinted with permission from BASS PLAYER Magazine. BASS PLAYER subscription information (800)234-1831 or (303)678-0439, or by clicking here.
A few users of note are:
Charnette Moffet who is currently working with Ornette Coleman
Tony Falanga who is currently working with Ornette Coleman as a featured soloist
Hear the Barbera Bridge on Ron Carter's "Mr Bowtie" CD