A Personal Welcome from Lee
Flash 6 required

Cayford Burrell
Moraga CA

It took me a while to realize that what I wanted in a new bass was exactly what Lee Barker was building: a vertically oriented electric bass. I experimented with other electric upright basses--not right for me. What I wanted was a Fender Jazz Bass in a vertical orientation. Once that sunk in, it was clear that I had to have a Barker Vertical Bass. From the moment I had it in my hands I was in love with it! The tone the tone the tone the tone! That and the playability make it a winner. The feel and shape of the neck is perfect for me. The maple wood in the neck is exquisite, and the finish is a silky smooth satin. The shape of the body is unique and stunning.

This fall, we experimented with the bass by installing a set of Piezo pickups, and related electronics from the Graphtech company. The experiment was a massive success, as the tone choices are now even more varied. I can get an "electric" sound, or a very articulate "acoustic" sound, and a deeply resonant "acoustic" sound. The piezo pickup adds tremendous detail to the sound, and indeed, makes the bass sound more like an upright bass.

I enjoy playing the B1 in small jazz combos and in a bigband. It gets looks, but the sound is what wins the prize.

Ed Goode
New Jersey

Ed GoodeFrom my first day with a Barker Vertical Bass (a lined fretless 5 string B1) I knew I had stumbled upon something that was special and quite out of the ordinary. Not really a double bass and not really an electric bass guitar, the BVB was in a category all by itself. I quickly found out that the bass was amazingly adaptable to every style of music I played. Jazz, rock, big band swing, country, folk... it didnít matter. My Barker did the job beautifully.

My real challenge was the string limitation. As an extended range bassist, Iím most comfortable playing basses with 6, 7 or 8 strings and the Barker line was limited to a 5 string. Suffice it to say that I was thrilled when Lee agreed to build a custom fretless 6 string for me! This fretless 6 string is not only a beautiful example of his craftsmanship, it has one of the most incredible musical voices I have ever played! Not a gig goes by where I donít receive numerous compliments on both the appearance and tone!

Thank you, again, Lee, for your fantastic workmanship in building me this beautiful bass!Ý And additional thanks for the extensive contacts made during the build time ...The steady stream of emails and photo documentation through each step of the process was great. I have been playing bass (and basses) for a long time and your attention to customer service and satisfaction is unmatched (and I have worked with many gifted luthiers over the years)!

Vince Francis
San Francisco Bay Area, California

Former trumpet player here. I'm not a performing bassist (yet), but music is a consistent passion of mine, and has been for my entire life. When I dove into bass about three years back, I had a lot of innovation (in this industry) to absorb. What kind of bass? What kind of electronics? How to account for certain limitations of my increasingly aging body? How to ramp up my equipment for what I wanted to play, yet keep as much open as possible until I found my vision?

With a little time, the most mind-blowing discovery for me in all of this was Barker Bass. The concept is so logical and yet so unprecedentedly innovative - a vertical bass guitar with 34" scale. Why wasn't anyone doing this before? So I shot off an email to Lee Barker just asking a few questions, and here I am a few years later, the owner of one of these awe-inspiring basses.

People could write books about why this all works. I'd just say I love the sound - it's really amazing. I love the ergonomics - it's really amazing. I love that I can just walk up to this beautiful beast and start playing (no straps, no unplugging or replugging because it's passive). It all just works. True - it's not exactly a travel bass that I can just throw into the back of my car, but it's not a double bass either (grins). Friends watch me playing this thing, and they repeat what I just said - it works. And there are many other players performing with a Barker Bass, so it's not like I had to carry the concept to the world for the first time. That was cool also. Finally, it doesn't hurt that these instruments look so much like lovely ladies. Other than the sound, that's likely the most frequent comment I get about this bass (grins).

So thank you, Lee, for your genius, and thanks for just being so cool.Ý

Steve Legersky
Redstone, Colorado USA

                  LegerskyAfter playing conventional style basses for 30 years, I developed a herniated disk in my neck from the pressure exerted on my neck and shoulder. My music career certainly looked as if it had ended.ÝNot wanting to just give up, I searched for options and ultimately contacted Lee Barker. His unique hybrid design, I thought, would eliminate the bass guitar problem that caused my injury.

Surgery corrected the herniated disk and now after six months of rehabbing, I am playing the bass again, this time with no problems. I have two Barker Basses, a B1 fretted 4 #87, and a B1 fretless 4 #93. These basses are incredible. Both are plugged into an a/b splitter box so that I can switch from one to the other without unplugging from the amp. The fretted delivers crisp tones and the fretless has a nice defined growl on the low notes and the upper octave produces mellow tones. I had no problem learning to finger the fret boards vertically. It is the most natural position, and relieves the stress on your wrist joint. I am relaxed through every show because I do not have a heavy bass pinching down on one side of my body while I am working to keep my left arm elevated.

The resonance chambers within the bodies create incredible sustain. The necks are narrow and easy to finger.The electronics are first rate and sound better than any solid body bass. The woodwork is beautiful, and the asymmetrical design of the body is artistically ergonomic. I have not played a gig yet where someone has not come up to me and asked me what kind of a unique instrument I was playing.

Lee was very pleasant to work with, and as he built my instruments he sent progress reports and photos, and made me part of the experience. It was as if I were there in the shop watching the build. Lee is always there even today to answer any questions I have or to just say hi, howís it going.

Not only is Lee a first rate luthier, he is also an artist and craftsman of the highest quality. I will never play any other basses, and when I retire I will hand these two down to my son, who has recently started to play the bass as well.

Lee, I thank you for saving my career.May I impart a little advice to all bass guitar players: switch to Leeís standup basses before you injure your body! You will be happier, more popular, and you wonít have to spend $20,000 on an operation.


I picked up the bass yesterday, and played it for the first time tonight with a friend who plays piano. Took me about half an hour to get used to the (R) hand with 5 strings, but first impressions:-


I love it!

I will take a photo and post on the forum.
Thanks for the great service.

Will keep in touch.


I brought the B1 and my best jazz bass to the studio for laying down the first round of "what flavor do you want?" with the band leader. Well, I might as well take a splitting maul to the jazz bass. That B1 has done me right. Thank you for putting your heart into the BVB. I am getting work that eluded me in the past thanks to it.

Silverlake, Washington

After a long and sustained courtship, I finally had a chance to play a Barker Vertical Bass. The first time I played Barker fretless four number 84, I knew it was the bass for me. The notes blossom blissfully and sustain suspended-like as a result of the convergence of outstanding design, selection of the highest quality materials, lots and lots of wonderful wood, and the craftsmanship of an artisan who clearly takes pride in his work.

There was absolutely zero adjustment to the vertical playing position for this self-taught electric bass guitar player. I immediately found the vertical playing position more natural and more comfortable than playing an overgrown guitar with a 35 inch scale. I also found that it just feels right to be playing straight-ahead jazz vertically as opposed to walking an electric bass guitar. So, to anyone who's wondering about making the transition, I say: jump in -- the water's fine.

One phrase sums up my Barker fretless four (with apologies to Carmen McRae in "My Handy Man Ain't Handy No More" from "Live at Birdland West"): I knew it was gonna be good, but I didn't know it was gonna be THIS kind of good.

Thank you, Lee. You have made a beautiful instrument, and you have made me a very happy owner.

Steve Jeffrey
Rutland, MA

The bass just arrived, and once I got it set up, I was ready to go.

All I can say, is my tone is here, but BIGGER... MUCH BIGGER!

Nice job with the Bartolinis, everything works perfectly... feels and sounds so familiar, just BIGGER... right now I've pretty much left the tone settings mostly flat, and it sounds great!......

Very nice bass, can't wait to spend some time playing it... can't wait.

(7 hours later)

Spent many hours playing the new bass today, and I can't tell you enough how much I'm enjoying playing this bass... It took a little adjusting (mostly on my technique), and now I'm ripping the finger board up... didn't realize my left forearm was in such bad shape... not any more.

I am running it through an Eden Wt550, with a couple twelves and a two ten cab... everything is set flat (including the bass), and the perfect bass tone I've always wanted is all around the room... as you know, I love the Bartolini sound, and at least for me, they are the perfect match for this bass.

As for the B string, well, I will be selling my Modulus, this bass has just as much low end as that one, but without Ýthe annoying 35" scale.

As you can tell, I'm very very happy with the bass, and just wanted to thank you for making such a wonderful bass... I hope you sell thousands more of these basses, because I think you make a great sounding unique instrument, that is a blast to play.

Enough writing, I'm going back to play it some more.
Take care,

(next day)

I now know for sure that the next CD will be recorded with a Barker Bass... it's the perfect tone for the music I write.

Anyway, I'm still playing the bass... I have found a sweet-spot for very rapid percussive right-hand stuff by picking around the 15 fret... no lack of definition like most standard-type basses... this bass rules!

I use to be a bridge pickup player, and never much cared for the tone when picking around the neck pickup, but now I have found that my right hand picks just above the neck pickup, with my thumb resting on the north edge of that pickup... my right arm is pretty much at a right angle, with no arch in the wrist... what comfort, and TONE!

One other observation... when playing notes on the G string... around F#, G, A, (11, 12, 14 fret), I've noticed that with this bass, you can actually feel them...they are Huge! I have never played a bass with such a pronounced G string...it sings with authority all the way up...and has such clarity on the lower G string notes too.

I haven't been this excited about playing in a long time... thanks again for the bass, it really is great, and you know I'm very picky *smile*

Andrew Pfaff
Musician, Educator and Author

I got the bass and accessories today and had a few moments to try it out. What can I say? It's a visually striking instrument to see in person. These basses are obviously made with a great deal of love and care. I tried it first, briefly, by playing it without the included stand. The importance of the stand became obvious as my left hand bore too much of the weight of the instrument to be able to play comfortably. Then I set it up with the stand and adjusted it to my taste.

Some initial impressions:
Great setup considering the thing came all the way across the country. It was even close to being in tune! Very, very playable straight out of the box.

I played it through a small Gallien Krueger combo that I normally use with my acoustic upright. The sound out of the tapewound strings, with my right hand plucking near the end of the fingerboard, has a very generous amount of low end along with great definition. It has acoustic "vibe" coupled with electric clarity. I was impressed by the warmth of the sound and by how the instrument responded to slides and glissandos -- they show just how the bass can sing. In addition to the craftsmanship evident in the instrument itself, the case and accessories are all very high quality and very well thought out.

The first gig:
Playing jazz standards and having a lot of opportunity to solo, I noticed that I could solo on the Barker with a dexterity and harmonic complexity that already approaches my normal electric technique, and that’s on the first gig! In other words, I can play a lot more "hip" without killing myself!

Julia Poplawski

Julia Poplawski" When I saw the Barker Bass on Lee Barker's website, I was immediately attracted by its extraordinary design and the fact that the bass is played upright. Today I'm the proud owner of Barker Bass no. 43. It's workmanship and setup are very good . When I got it I was surprised to find it even more beautiful than on the photos, revealing details like the beautiful texture of the wood and the nice color shading. Though it's quite tall, the slim shape makes the Barker Bass easy to store and handle. The tone is warm and accoustic. Playing upright on the Barker Bass is very comfortable and easy. I'm very happy to own such a great instrument!"

Doug Mancini
Santa Cruz, California

Doug Mancini"Fellow bassplayers of the world:
My Brother is a drummer in Central Oregon and he told me about a luthier there who was making an upright bass that might be of interest to me. Bassists are by nature curious, so I needed to find out more. I took time out from my fulltime bass playing and teaching to investigate this "new" instrument."   (read more)

Hear the audio files here

Hussain Jiffry, Bass
Yanni Ethnicity Tour

"I was looking for an electric upright with sustain for the "Yanni Ethnicity Tour" when I met Lee Barker at the Music Trade Show. I tried the Barker Fretless 5 String and loved the way it sounded and felt. It has a warm, big sound and the sustain is amazing! Thank you Lee!"

Datta Groover
Ashland, Oregon

Okay, after several gigs under the bridge, I have to be very honest with you. Your bass does not meet my expectations. In fact, it far exceeds them. It is such a wonderful instrument. I see now why I listened to my inner voice and bought it. I really thought it would take my playing to a new dimension that did not previously exist, and would totally justify buying it even though common sense and cash flow suggested otherwise. I have to say that I was completely and absolutely right.

Ken Wacker - Owner, #36

I am having a ball with the bass...I find that I want to play it any chance I can...that means practicing when ever I am not on a Gig! THANKS!

Michelle Ehr, on hearing the Barker Bass in a Trail Band Concert

...intriguing design. It's a wicked-cool looking instrument. It is eye catching, and from an audience perspective, it makes one curious and want to sit up and take notice when it gets played; to pay attention to the sound.

Bruce Gertz, Professor/bass, Berklee College of Music,
Recording artist, Author of Mastering the Bass, Walkin and other books.

The Barker Bass is beautifully constructed and has a clear, fat, warm sound.
It's fun to play!

Clay Smith - SoundSmith Studios

The first thing that struck me upon hearing the Barker Bass was how huge the sound was.....fat without being boomy, with incredible sustain. Also impressive is the "evenness" of notes up and down the neck, without the occasional dead spots (or hot spots) found on some basses. Being an electric bass player myself, I was surprised how comfortable and natural it felt to play this "vertical" instrument.


Barker Bass #37 is comfortably residing in Wisconsin and all are happy. My son Al, my wife Mary and I all think it is different, unique, and really beautiful. The sound is wonderful, with great sustain. I was up early playing it today and am drawn to it constantly.

In the category of fit and finish, it is a 10. Every detail is taken care of: The opening in the bottom of the bag for the endpin; the packing box and its intelligent design; the numbered and signed truss rod plate; the musical design in the monogram, the personality worked into the owner's manual.

Again Lee, thanks. This all happened to me rather fast, impulse like, but I trusted my instincts, trusted DownBeat, loved your website and found you to be very helpful. I got more than I could have imagined when I purchased #37. Cheers!

John and Bernie Bliss
Greeley, Colorado

We attended a recent concert of Kream of the Krop in Greeley, Colorado. The Barker Bass provided a rich, resonant foundation for the swing music they played. The band stood straight and tall with the BVB providing the musical backbone. Following the concert, we were able to see it up close and enjoy the beauty of its workmanship.

Laura Quigley
upright acoustic bass
Misty River Band

My first pleasure upon meeting the Barker Bass was walking into the shop! I got the best vibes from the place.
Playing through a Fender amp, the first voice was powerful, solid, happy, thorough, beautiful, bright, and clear, with gorgeous sustain. Instantly I felt the ease and comfort for my right hand. These basses gently guide you to the upright position. The stand supporting the bass was another solid joy to rely on. I felt free and easy to play the Barker Bass this way. I liked the fact that there was no make-shift acoustic body to pretend to lean on. The stand supplied a great deal of freedom and stability. A very vibrant lively tone emanates from these instruments. Lee has a good thing going!

The Barker Vertical Bass - Patent Pending

copyright Barker Bass, 2003

features  |  about ustestimonials  |  contact