appeared in The Costco Connection magazine's June 2004 issue
written by Will Fifield
When life hands you lemons, the saying goes, make lemonade. When Costco
member Lee Barker of Bend, Oregon, began experiencing severe pain
in his wrists while playing bass guitar, he followed this axiom. Music
is one of Barker's lifelong passions. He's a longtime member of an
"aging garage band," the Dry Canyon Philharmonhick, and he plays in
a church worship band. But when the wrist pain begain to increase,
Barker, an experienced woodworking craftsman, used his skills so that
he could continue to make music.
After research and experimentation, Barker crafted an ergonomically
friendly instrument he could play without pain. And his instrument
is a true hybrid. It attaches to a heavy-duty stand vertically,
like a traditional upright bass commonly used in jazz orchestras
and symphonies. But its body
is solid, made of laminated hardwoods and containing electronic
pickups (small microphones that pick up the vibrations of the strings)
like most modern electric bass guitars. "The vertical orientation
of this instrument relieves the stress of supporting the instrument,
leaving your hands free to play," explains Barker.
sound and craftsmanship of Barker's bass attracted other musicians.
In fact, he's had such an enthusiastic response that he closed his
22-year-old woodworking business and began manufacturing the Barker
Bass in his one-man shop in Redmond, Oregon.
recording artist Yanni and his bassist, Hussain Jiffry, gave Barker
a vote of confidence recently when they purchased a Barker Bass.
The instrument accompanied Yanni on the final 26-city leg of his
"Ethnicity" tour, which ended in April. To learn more about Lee
Barker and the Barker Bass, call toll-free 1-888-899-8302 or visit
*Photos by Kevin Kubota