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Barefaced '69er


Roland Rock
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[center][b]Barefaced '69er 6x10 sealed cab, 4Ω[/b][/center]

The concept behind the Barefaced '69er is to make a cab that emulates the tone of the classic original sealed 1969 8x10, but is smaller, lighter, has greater power handling and better sound dispersion.
I'd love to compare this with the 1969 8x10 and the Berg NV610, and provide concise data based on various specific frequencies etc., but unfortunately I'm not technical in that way at all, I'm just a bass player who knows what tone he likes, so apologies in advance for the meaningless, intangible tone descriptions.

[b]The Gear:[/b]

[list]
[*]1978 Fender Precision, with Rotosound Trubass strings.
[*]Wood & Tronics Ergon 5. Chambered mahogany body, three-piece maple neck and kingwood board.Brass nut. Häussel jazzbucker & jazz single coil pickups. East S2 preamp. Controls are volume/pickup pan, humbucker/single coil switch, bass and treble (with internal frequency dials). EB Cobalt strings.
[*]Red Iron amp (with some modifications done by John Chambers of Champ Electronics). 100w all valve. 2 x 6SL7s (Tung Sol) in the pre and 2 x KT88s (JJ) in the power. Self-made case. Controls are gain, bass, mid, treble and master.
[/list]
[b]The Style:[/b]
I mostly play reggae. I also play 60s & 70s rock and funk.
My reggae band has a simple setup with bass, drums, clean guitar and single vox, so there's not much competition for the bass frequencies.

[b]The Testing Environment:[/b]
I've played with it a fair bit at home, at band practices in rehearsal studios and two gigs in medium sized venues.

[b]Build Quality:[/b]
I'm not used to the thin ply construction of Barefaced Cabs, so it doesn't seem as solid as a cab with more old school construction. However, these are strengthened with some very clever bracing, and I'm sure there will be no issues.
It has recessed side handles, which are plastic, presumably to save weight. These don't feel mega strong, and creak a bit when you lift the cab. Again, I'll assume that these are up to the job until events prove otherwise.
The finish is that rough paint, which seems pretty tough and knock-resistant. Apparently if this does get chipped, you can just touch it up with similar paint.
The speakon sockets sit proud on the back. I'd prefer these to be recessed for protection, especially as I slide it on its back into the car.
I've just ordered a cover to protect it, but overall I'm quite sure it's a very strong and well built cab.



[b]Practicality:[/b]
It's a 6x10 measuring 3ft x 2ft x 13", so obviously doesn't compare to modern compact cabs in terms of practicality.
I can't imagine a cab this size being lighter or as easy to move around. It's 55lb/25kg with the cloth grille option. It can be lifted by one person for short distances/lifts easily enough, and between two people it's barely noticeable. As if that's not easy enough, it also has tilt-back castors and a top rear strap handle for wheeling across reasonably smooth surfaces.
It fits in the cupboard under my stairs, it fits in the (admittedly large) boot of my car without putting the seats down.
In short, as long as you don't need to lug it up lots of stairs on your own, it's very practical.

[b]Sound:[/b]
My previous cab was a 2x10 ported Ear Candy, which I replaced because I wanted more volume. It certainly has that, with broadband sensitivity at 102db, it's a sensitive cab and I have no volume issues when paired with my amp, which puts out 96W rms
With the Ergon, I had to play around with the eq a fair bit at first, as I was used to boosting the bass eq on my amp and instrument to get that fat reggae tone, but this setting was sounding a bit muddy at higher volumes with the '69er. The solution was to back the bass off on the amp, and I had instant clarity. Alex reckons this is because my amp eq is voiced more highly than that of my Ergon, so those boomy mid/upper bass frequencies got eliminated. My best description would be clear and even, with a lovely rich woody/hollow tone.
With the Precision, it was a bit more instant. With the amp eq pretty much flat, and the instrument tone backed off just a bit, I had that lovely plummy punchy sound which is also rich and even.
I also experimented with overdriving the amp, and again, I had the distortion I love from that amp, but clearer and a lovely rich timbre.
As you can guess, the main themes are evenness, clarity and richness. I was maybe expecting something more naturally aggressive, and an emphasis on the mids, and it wouldn't be hard to get this if required, but it has a natural evenness across the range. I'm able to very clearly hear the characteristics of the different basses - I've had this clarity before with my old EA rig, but this has an extra fullness that I love.
I wasn't expecting this, but if I ever played with a bright tone, that would be achievable, and I certainly can't imagine needing more low end, and I play reggae!

[b]Customer Service:[/b]
Well, I wouldn't judge Alex from this experience alone, as this is the very first production example of the '69er, so has taken quite a bit longer than the average cab. It was actually [url="http://basschat.co.uk/topic/115789-vintage-with-a-100w-valve-head/page__hl__100w%20valve%20vintage"]a thread on Basschat two years ago[/url] where I asked advice on the best cab for my needs, and decided on the '69er.
I finally had the money ready in April 2012 so contacted Alex to let him know. We exchanged a few emails to make sure that this was the correct cab for me, and the deposit went down on 22nd June with an estimated 6-8 week delivery. I won't go into details, but will just say that I had to do the chasing up to get any kind of progress report. I recieved it on 7th December!
In short, I'm a very patient person, but was quite frustrated, not by the delays so much, as I'm sure that these were unavoidable, but by the lack of communication. On the plus side, Alex is friendly, helpful and knowlegable when it comes to giving advice.

[b]Overall:[/b]
As soon as my brain gets used to the fact that something so lightweight can be super strong, I'll relax a bit more. It's easy to lug about, and has impressed me with its evenness, richness of tone and versatility. Barefaced offer a 30 day return policy if you're not 100% happy with their cab, well he's not getting this one back!

Edited by Roland Rock
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I totally agree about the seeming fragility of the BF cabs, I was a bit scared to move the Big Twin around, but it's really as tough as old boots, something that light shouldn't be that strong.

I've seen comments from people who've dropped BF cabs down stairs and had no damage to speak of, but you do kind of fear they'd just shatter...!

Alex's designs seem to do exactly what he claims for them don;t they?

Thats a little bit of BF history you have there.

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I've got a Barefaced Big One (15/6) with similar dimensions and construction. I've been gigging it for 2 years and although it doesn't look new, it doesn't look rough or tatty either. It's tough! Mine has a little chip in it just to the left hand side of the grill about a quarter of the way up. It's about the size of a 5 pence piece. That's the only damage that resulted from me walking it at full tilt into the pointy corner of a low garden wall during a load in. I didn't see the wall because I was carrying the cab over a gravelled car park (if the surface had been smooth I'd have been wheeling it and it wouldn't have happened). The force was enough to knock me on my ass and drop the cab with a clatter - the small chip was the only damage. They're tough!

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When I visited Alex to pick up my cab he had a battered Compact which he'd been throwing from the first story balcony in his place to see what would happen. Certainly the corners were bashed, but the structure had held up and it still worked.

Part of its protection, I believe, its it's lightness, if there were giant magnets involved this would be more likely, upon impact, to rip the driver from its mountings and cause structural damage to the box.

The little bit of knocking about, even with hidden garden walls, may make a mark or two but they're not likely to challenge the structural integrity of these cabs.

(Just for the record, I lost a rubber foot from my Midget and sent Barefaced an email to this effect so that I could replace it with one the same height etc, short while later they sent me a whole set (8) of them, screws and all. I added a dab of glue to all the feet screws to prevent it happening again.)

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Cheers for the vote of confidence folks - looks like I have nothing to worry about in terms of strength.
Something I forgot to mention, these are NOT neo magnets! Unbelievable how it can be so light.

Here's a response from Alex re. The handles:
"Although it looks like a square handle, it's actually cylindrical, so you have a big cylinder sticking into the cab and then a cylindrical bar piercing that (the bit you hold) and then the square flange where the bolts are (but the main cylinder is tight in the hole in the side of the cab). Obviously we don't know ultimately how tough it is but based on everything we know it appears to live up to the strong and light criteria that we prefer. We can't use it in the cabs with the port up the side of the cab because it would restrict the airflow, hence its first appearance on the '69er. Do tell us if it makes any unwanted noises when playing or falls apart when carrying, but I'll be surprised if it does!"

Edited by Roland Rock
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[quote name='Roland Rock' timestamp='1355937558' post='1904817']
On one of my gigs this weekend, I'll get a chance to hear it as an audience member, as we're sharing gear with the other band (The other bass player is BC's Lee-man). I'll be moving round the room to test Alex's theory on dispersion.
[/quote]

I'm looking forward to it!

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Last night was a really good test for the '69er, with no bass going through the PA. two bands playing through it, one had me with the Ergon, and the other had Lee (Lee-Man) with a souped-up MM Stirling.

I quickly found a lovely tone by backing off the bass to flat on my bass. So the settings were:
Ergon - bass flat, treble cut
Amp - bass eq at 12 o'clock, mid at 3 o'clock and treble at 9 o'clock.
It sounded smooth, full and even, but with the character of the Ergon shining through.

Lee very politely left the amp settings as they were, and I was able to stand back and enjoy. Again, a lovely fullness and clarity, but this time with a distinctive MM voice. It sounded gorgeous (which is in no small part due to the expert playing by Lee, and he was depping!)

[quote name='Mr. Foxen' timestamp='1356056831' post='1906384']
Be aware of room effects though. The shinier the walls the higher the room is going to effect.
[/quote]
Yeah, cheers. I noticed differences in rehearsals, where it became boomier when I went under a low ceiling.
It sounded pretty consistent when I moved around the room at last night's gig, so big tick for Alex there.

Edited by Roland Rock
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  • 3 weeks later...

I ordered some too, a year ago for my Midget and Compact, they had the dims already, both fit perfectly (even to the very slightly off-centred Midget handle) and have survived a year's use and abuse (Midget is out at least a couple of times a week loaded up with other gear) with the cover generally chucked anywhere when not on the cab.

Both covers are without mark.

Surprised Alex doesn't offer them as an optional extra.

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  • 10 months later...

Just some more thoughts a year on.

- don't be fooled by the fact that it's a sealed cab - this thing has enough low end (if you want it) to do any full on dub gig.

- I've recently been favouring a clean, deep sound for some dub numbers, and got a Shuttle 9.2 to play with. Through the '69er, this extremely transparent amp shows up that 'coloured' aspect that the '69er has. When I'm playing very deep, very clean tones, you can hear a small amount of speaker distortion, which I'm pretty sure is coming from the top left driver, doing its job as designed. I think that you'll never get ultra-clean tones from this cab, but that was pretty much understood from the beginning.

Edited by Roland Rock
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