What is it?
Barber Electronics LTD, Silver edition. Made in USA, 2005.
Barber pedals pretty well known for high quality in their designs, as well as for their build quality. This unit is the first Barber pedal for me. Got it in a trade, played with it for a while and opened it up. Yup. There are only a few of these modern “boutique” brands that are not likely to get ridiculed on builder/analysis/diy forums. Opening the bottom plate gives you the first clue why Barber is one of those. Although there is not much eye pleasing symmetry on the board design, everything has its place and all the parts are connected neatly. In essence, this is a prime example how i would like to see more of the bigger name “boutique” pedals done. Barber has posted a schematic for this design on his page.
Two trimmers that control presence and bass response are marked on the board. This surely suggests that these are controls in addition to external ones. As the schematic shows, the design has non-inverting clipping amp stage with dual pair of Si diodes and added presence control to standard non-inverting arrangement. After that, there is a low pass / high pass filter as tone control – not completely unlike the one you’d find in a Big Muff. Although, the values on Silver edition are the key to the design being the Silver edition. Pot offers very mild tonal changes, which are meant for fine tuning rather than for affecting the overall tone in drastic measures. Presence and Bass controls do offer a lot of tweakability and one of the resistors on the following non-inverting gain stage can be swapped for a additional mids control per the shared schematic. For the tone control, one could also swap the 150K resistor from pot pin three to ground with a potentiometer to add a “body” control. The last gain stage has interesting, but simple way for controlling the bass (and treble, in customized version of the schematic).
But i do not see a reason for tweaking this unit. It is very nice, usable design as it is. I wouldn’t mod mine for the world. As for biggest downside.. The font for the labels. Really?
How does it sound?
Organic, mild/medium range overdrive with very nice dynamics and smooth, harmonic symmetrical clipping. It offers enough sustain for leads, but truly shines as mild ovedrive, used to boost a good sounding amplifier for your base sound. The trimpots inside offer a lot of control range, while keeping the outer shell simple. In my opinion, the tone control could have been a trimpot too, as its range is limited to fine tuning the frequency response. The footprint of the enclosure is rather big for the designs, but should be counted as a con only if there are other pedals with similar overdrive features on your board. As only overdrive, this one shines bright. Simple, yet very effective, recommended overdrive.