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Barefaced bass speaker cabinets have been around for over a decade now and, although more people know about them than ever before, they are nowhere near as well known as the more mainstream manufacturers.
You may very well be reading this and wondering who I am to be writing this. The honest answer is, I’m nobody special. I’m an ordinary bloke who plays bass in some bands, I’m not a signed artist, in a touring band, in a band of any great popularity and I’m certainly not endorsed by anybody. I wanted to write this because, to be honest, I thought it might be helpful for anybody who wants an opinion, not only about the cabs and BF’s customer service, but also to read about my experience. I should say here that I’m only talking about the bass cabs, I’m not a guitarist and have absolutely no experience or knowledge regarding the new BF guitar cabs, which is why I’m speaking purely from a position of my own experience.
So how did I hear about Barefaced cabs and what made me take the plunge?
Like many musicians out there I was becoming more and more fed up with having to lift, drag and carry large and heavy gear. I’m also blind and although I’m more than happy to manhandle my gear, it often ends up being another member of the band or a roadie loading the cars etc. Since losing my sight I’ve always been very conscious of this and over time strove to make my gear lighter and easier to manage, in particular the cabs. I’ve been playing bass for just over twentythree years now and, like thousands of musicians around the world, I have always sold or traded in unwanted gear to help fund new purchases. The cabs I’ve used over the years are a good example of this. My first serious gigging rig was a Peavey 2x12 combo and a Hughes and Kettner 1x15 and man they were heavy, the combo in particular was a nightmare if you didn’t pick it up at exactly the right angle. Over time a moved to using an amp head and cabs, which of course made things lighter. It was at this point I found Gallien Kruger amps and fell in love with the 1001RB head which I used for several years before switching to a 1001RB II for the increased head room and power. This was an important time for me as it’s where the biggest changes in my cab set up took place. For the first few years I ran a GK Backline 4x10 and a GK Backline 1x15 with my original 1001RB head. Once I’d invested the money in the head my budget was limited for the cabs, so I went with what I could afford and that matched reasonably well with the head. After a few years I wanted better quality cabs that were smaller (the Backline cabs were massive). I got a really good trade in deal with the Backline cabs for a GK RBH4x10 and a GK RBH2x10. These new cabs were actually slightly heavier than the Backlines but they were infinitely better for sound, were very well matched for the 1001RB II head and were physically quite a bit smaller than the Backlines, which of course made them easier for moving and loading. It was once I had these cabs that I started noticing in practical terms how much easier having a smaller footprint on the stage made the logistics of playing gigs, particularly in small to medium venues with limited stage space. I appreciate that nearly every bass player reading this will have gone through a similar moment of realisation, I mention it here simply because it was the physical practicality of it which really hit home.
It was around this time that I basically decided that any cabs I were to buy in the future would always be lighter and physically smaller than their predecessors where possible, and all without the loss of any sound quality etc. Fast forward a few years and I was switching to a GK 1001RB II head and was thinking about switching cabs again. By this time I was playing in a 7 piece rock covers band and a 4 piece metal band. I needed plenty of volume for both but stage footprint was also starting to become increasingly important, particularly in the rock covers band. By the time we had a drum kit, bass rig, 2 guitar rigs, keyboards, all the musicians and 2 vocalists on the stage, we were almost needing to sit on each other’s shoulders! So, I ended up going with a 4 ohm GK Neo 4x10 which allowed me to run the 1001RB II head to its full potential for larger gigs and a GK MBE 2x12 as my small gig cab. Both were great cabs in their own ways. The Neo 4x10 sounded awesome but was quite big and reasonably heavy, although not as big and heavy as any other 4x10 I had previously owned. The MBE was light enough to be carried easily, was only about 20” wide and was loud enough but I did always miss the sound of the 4x10.
I must have had these cabs and been gigging with them for a year or so before I stumbled across something about Barefaced speaker cabinets online. Apparently BF cabs were compact, ridiculously light, ridiculously loud and their sound quality was fantastic; the only downside was that they were expensive. Any musician who is reading this will know exactly what I’m talking about as I describe that I read everything I could about this awesome new gear, fantasising about owning one but at the same time knowing that there was no way I could afford it and anyway, the stuff I had was okay. Yet over time I read more and more about it and my mind started working over scenarios where I could sell this, trade that or sell a kidney to raise the funds. Ultimately I decided that I really wanted a Barefaced cab as, from what I’d read, I believed that I could have the small stage footprint and lightweight portability but still have the clarity, punch and bone crunching volume that I required.
It took me a couple of years to work up to getting my first BF cab and I don’t mind telling you, I was really quite nervous about it. The reality was the the cabs I was using were actually very good and I was about to need to sell them to get one Barefaced cab purely based on what I had read online, all without ever having even tried one out. I must have read through the entire Barefaced website about twenty times before I finally emailed them to ask for their advice. I was relatively sure I knew which cab would be best suited to me, I had narrowed it down to two possibilities, but I really wanted to get their input as I didn’t want to drop all that money on something only to find that it wasn’t right for me. As it turned out, of the two cabs I’d narrowed it down to, Alex from BF actually recommended that the cheaper of the two would be a better match for me. That cab was a SuperTwin and holy cow was I in for a surprise!
So, the cab......any good?
Before I even start talking about sound, I want to talk about build quality. I had read that there were some quality issues with carrying handles and rubber feet coming off which did concern me a bit initially. I soon realised on investigating further, that those issues were happening in the first and sometimes second generation cabs and that BF had made design tweaks and/or hardware changes which eliminated those issues for the newer third generation cabs. The SuperTwin is a third generation cab so naturally my concerns went away. There were, and still are in fact, some reports of the covering peeling away from some of the 10” models, but I understand that BF have managed to sort this out now. Not only that, but they will send out repair kits to people who encounter that issue. I have never owned a 10” model so can’t really comment on that at all.
What I can say is that the build quality of the 12” models is fantastic. They are incredibly well put together, tidy, compact, incredibly stiff and incredibly light. The SuperTwin has tilt back wheels and a pull handle on the top so you can pull it along but also has a carry handle on each side. It’s actually very easy to manoeuvre with the wheels anyway but even if you need to carry it up stairs, it’s so light it’s perfectly possible for one person to lift it. No need for two people to each take an end of a massive heavy 4x10 any more, brilliant! I now also have a BigBaby2, which is a 1x12 cab and it is awesome. The stage footprint is only about 19” wide and it’s so light I can pick it up with one hand, I can literally have my amp head in its bag over one shoulder, my bass in a gig bag over the other shoulder and the BB2 in one hand if I want or need to travel light, it’s just brilliant. It’s clear to me that Barefaced put a great amount of craftsmanship and pride into their cabs and rightly so. Not only that, I’m 100% certain that if something were to go wrong with one of my cabs and I were to contact BF, they would either send me a repair kit (if it were something I could do myself) or would take the cab back and fix it as long as I hadn’t done something stupid like playing through it under water or something.
Bringing the thunder.
When you read through the Barefaced website there’s a ton of information about the science of the cabs, hints and tips about how to get the best from your cab, technical information aplenty etc. To be honest, it’s all rather a lot to take in initially but, what immediately impressed me was how much useful and practical stuff was available. They talk about frequency response, power handling, dispersion etc and they are all terms we are, if not familiar with, will at least be aware of. Naturally I was very interested in the physical size and weight of any BF cab I was thinking about buying but then I found myself thinking more about things like clarity and dispersion and how getting what, on the face of it, would be a smaller cab with less speaker area to move air, might affect those factors. Like most bass players out there, I not only wanted my bass to be heard by the audience but I also wanted to hear it clearly myself. My GK cabs, the 4x10 in particular, were actually very good and could certainly move some air, but I did used to find that at high volumes I would start to lose clarity on the deep lows and being a 5 string player, I felt this was quite important.
The first thing that struck me when I plugged the SuperTwin in for the first time was how incredibly clear the sound was. I actually ended up adjusting the EQ on my amp a fair amount to dial in the tone I wanted. This was because the EQ settings I had used with my old cabs really needed to compensate for their shortcomings, the SuperTwin however was much more responsive to pretty minimal EQ tweaks. I really felt like I was hearing my playing and my bass properly for the first time and it was clear, loud and punchy as hell. This was reinforced by our drummer who, at the first rehearsal I used the BF at, said something like, “Holy stinky poo man, I can hear every note you’re playing!”. What I hadn’t really appreciated at that point was that the dispersion qualities of the cab were making a huge difference, not only to what I could hear, but what the rest of the band and by extension, the rest of the room/venue were hearing. When I asked him about it, the drummer said that he had always been able to hear the bass, feel the rumble etc before but he couldn’t really hear the actual notes I was playing, but with the BF he still got the rumble but could hear the notes cutting through. I think the thing that impressed me the most however, was that even when playing loud heavy rock/metal and playing down on the E and B strings, the Barefaced never farted out, never lost any clarity and showed no signs of being anywhere near its limit, all in a smart lightweight package that I could easily carry and that took up way less stage space than any other cab I had ever owned. I also didn’t seem to need to push my amp as hard to get the sound and volume I wanted/needed, which I felt could only be a good thing.
Shortly after getting the SuperTwin I had the opportunity to buy a pre owned BB2. I honestly couldn’t believe my luck, particularly as the guy selling it had it from new and had only owned it a couple of months. He was selling it as he couldn’t get on with the fact that he could hear absolutely every nuance of his playing. It perhaps should be acknowledged that not everybody wants absolute transparency from their cab, some players like a more coloured tone. That’s what makes us all different though; imagine how dull music would be if we all sounded the same. I was ecstatic with my SuperTwin but it’d be fair to say that the BB2 absolutely blew me away. It’s only just over half the size of a SuperTwin, can easily be picked up and carried with one hand, has a single 12” driver, can handle up to 800 watts of power (it’s an 8 ohm cab) and has a fully adjustable tweeter crossover built into it. As I don’t really use tweeters I did wonder if I shouldn’t bother to buy the BB2 but ultimately decided to go ahead as it seemed too good an opportunity to miss. Man, am I glad I did! Several weeks later I was reading the information on the BF website and saw that it was perfectly possible to use the BB2 (and the SuperMidget in fact) as a high quality PA speaker by turning the crossover all the way up. Needless to say, I had to try it. Well, I can tell you that it absolutely can and it sounds killer. I tried it with music running through a mixer, with my playing bass along with the music through the mixer, guitar, bass, electric drums and vocals through a mixer and it all sounded crystal clear, with no hint of it farting out and that was with only one BB2. I imagine with 2 you would have a PA set up for practically every situation.
The BB2 quickly became my go-to cab, not because the SuperTwin wasn’t amazing, it was, it is the best cab I have ever played through for consistancy of tone and volume, but the BB2, particularly in small to medium venues could do the same and it was practically half the size and two thirds the weight, plus it has the flexibility of being used as a PA speaker when needed. Ultimately I decided to sell my SuperTwin, the truth was that I had only used it for 4 gigs and 1 rehearsal in the year that I owned it. In contrast, I used the BB2 for every rehearsal and all but 2 gigs since getting it. I think I would have kept the SuperTwin if I were in a bigger band which played more medium to large gigs rather than the small to medium gigs I mostly play, but it’s gone to a good home and I know that it’ll deliver no matter what it is used for in the future.
I now play through a DarkGlass AO900 head and I think it’s worth mentioning that, both the SuperTwin and the BB2 handle distortion with ease and sound great. If you like those DarkGlass tones I’d be very surprised if you were disappointed with the sound you got from a Barefaced 12” model.
I’d buy that for a dollar (10 points if you get the movie reference).
You often hear things like, “Barefaced are good but they’re bloody expensive” or “I’m not sure the expense is worth the returns”. Obviously the perception of value is completely subjective and almost everybody is going to have a different opinion, so I’m not going to say categorically that Barefaced cabs are worth the money and everybody should have one. At the end of the day we all have different criteria as to what constitutes the best cab for us, different music tastes, different playing styles, different budgets and or course different expectations. So all I’m going to do is tell you what I think and feel about my BF cabs based on my own experience.
Yes, they are expensive. However, when both new, the SuperTwin (2x12) was approximately £300 more than the GK Neo 4x10 and all things considered, I would choose the SuperTwin over the GK if I had the funds. Although very good, the GKs sound quality wasn’t as good as the SuperTwin, particularly at high volume, the clarity all the way through from deep lows up to high end frequencies was significantly better on the SuperTwin, the dispersion was also significantly better on the SuperTwin. The SuperTwin is much lighter and easier to move and crucially, its footprint is significantly smaller. When taking all of those things into consideration, for me, the Barefaced is well worth the extra money.
If I were to compare the BB2 (1x12) with my old GK MBE (2x12), the Barefaced would win every time. When new, the BB2 would be approximately £350-£400 more than the MBE. The sound quality of the BB2 out performs the MBE on every level yet with only one 12” driver, the footprint of both cabs is about the same, however, the BF is much smaller over all and can be carried in one hand, the BB2 is also lighter. The BB2 has a built in tweeter crossover and can very comfortably be used as a PA speaker, the MBE cannot. For me, the Barefaced is worth the extra money when taking all of this into account.
None of that is to say that either of the GK cabs were bad, far from it, they were very good cabs, I used them for several years and both were very reliable. It was more to help communicate my thoughts regarding the value of Barefaced cabs.
The one thing I haven’t talked about is the fact that all Barefaced cabs are hand made to extremely high standards by a small team of dedicated folk, they aren’t produced on a mechanical production line in a factory as many big brand speaker cabs are. The guys at Barefaced are also incredibly customer focused and always do their best for the owners of their products. Even when you purchase a cab from them it’s more like a chat with friends about gear (friends who know their subject inside and out) and their communication as not only prompt but friendly and helpful too. That, on top of the performance capability, portability and weight saving of BF cabs makes them well worth the extra cost for me.
Well, that went on a bit longer than I thought it would! Thanks for reading and I hope, if you are considering buying a Barefaced cab, it has been helpful to you which ever way you are leaning.
No longer for sale, fallen in love with it again.
It is in very good condition and comes complete with a padded cover.
It has a 15" LF driver a 6" for the mids and 2 soft textile tweeters for the HF. It is full frequency with pretty flat response, so accurately puts out the sound of your bass and amp without colouration.
Accugroove are USA made and at current exchange rates this would cost around £970 plus shipping. So I'm selling for less than half new price.
Any trial welcome, bring your bass and amp with you.
Collection only, or could deliver if within 30 miles of Bath. I'm not willing to box up and post.
- Barefaced Super Compact 1x12" cab (Grey cloth front) - £525
I won't preach to the choir, we know how good these are.
Comes with a Roqsolid cover with placeholder strap and internal board protection pouch in which I've put a thin piece of MDF to offer extra protection for the cloth grill (adds less than 0.5kg weight). Easy to remove if needed.
Barely a year old and near mint condition. This has been my main single cab solution for small/medium gigs and it's never even come close to breaking a sweat.
With a cloth grill this little monster comes in at only 10Kg 🤯. 600W, 8Ohms.
Full specs: https://barefacedaudio.com/products/super-compact
- Markbass Little Mark Tube 500 - £350
About 18months old, comes with Markbass padded bag (with front and rear flaps for easy set up) and power supply.
Awesome sounding amp with a great blend (solid-state/tube) feature and the signature VLE & VPF filters. In very good condition, recently serviced, just has a few scuffs around the corners.
Full specs: http://www.markbass.it/product-detail/little-mark-tube/
The BigBabyII in the pictures (bottom cab) has already been sold sorry!
Speakon cables not included. You're more than welcome to come and give it a try, I work from home so am in most of the week, although I'm away on tour from the 27th of Sep until the end of October. I guess that could work out if someone further away was interested as we're covering a lot of the UK and I have space to take it with me.
All the bass 🤘