State of the Art Upright
Bass Transducer System
for Acoustic Upright Bass
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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