At Guitar & Bass we’re always on the lookout for companies that design and build their kit within these very shores; Alex Claber’s Barefaced Bass is one such company. Claber’s interest in cabinet design was aroused whilst studying engineering at Bristol University in the late ’90s. He built his first cabinet in 2008, tailored to his own personal bass-playing needs. Crucially, Claber wrote a blog about the process, and this created such interest that before long he was making additional cabs in his spare time from his Brighton workshop.
Fast-forward to 2012 and the set-up now involves a ‘micro factory’, three full-time staff and a waiting list of four to eight weeks. Barefaced now make eight different cabs (four of which have an optional with-tweeter version), offer steel or cloth grille variations, and have just begun to produce custom finishes. We’re looking at Barefaced’s little monster, the Midget T. We used a Genz Benz Shuttle Max 9.2 head for the review – a top-notch and very natural-sounding amplifier – and a B-string equipped bass.
The Barefaced Midget is small, very small, standing just 483mm high, 344mm wide and 341mm deep. It’s also sensationally light as it’s made from a proprietary dual-density plywood just 9mm thick. Inside, the cabinet is braced and insulated to the max, while the outside wears a coat of acrylic polymer with a wrinkled black finish: not as retro as vinyl, but ultra-hardwearing and easy to touch up.
Each corner is protected by solid metal caps, and there are rubber feet on one side as well as the bottom. The speaker – a fearsomely powerful 650W-rated 12" Eminence Kappalite 3012HO with a lightweight neodymium magnet – is protected behind a black-finish steel grille with the rather natty logo along the bottom edge.
This Midget is the ‘T’ model with optional £40-extra tweeter, an APT80 unit mounted on its own baffle right in front of the main driver; there’s a tweeter attenuator hidden away inside the port. You plug in using only Speakon connectors, and there are two sockets, an ‘in’ and a ‘link’. And let’s just emphasise once again how light this little cabinet is – it stops the scales at a near-unbelievable 10.58kg/23.3lbs. That’s a very, very easy one-hand lift, so the single handle is all that’s needed.
The amazing power to weight/size ratio still doesn’t stop us being staggered at just how loud the Midget is and how clean and natural-sounding it is at high volumes. In an age where it seems fashionable to produce bass gear that exudes a slight zingy high-mid bias, here you get the sort of punchy midrange response that you hear from your bass before you plug in: it’s tight, solid and true.
Removing the horn from the tonal equation is fine – the highs are still well-realised, but if you attack the strings more aggressively there’s a slight choking effect. At quarter-level tweeter, though, you get a sweet, full-range sound with lots of detail for melodic playing. The lows are as fat and deep as you’d wish with no audible distortion, and the Midget will take a big dollop of bass boost, chew it up, spit it out and say ‘is that all you’ve got?’
You simply will not believe how much air this tiny unit can shift. Max the low mids and the Midget responds with genuine punch; dose it up with higher mids for gurgly finger-funk, or saturate it with treble for head-slicing cut and bite. It is, quite simply, awesome.
For portability alone, this cab comes highly recommended – but it's also wonderfully well-made and sound fantastic. In fact, the tiny Midget T is the loudest, widest-sounding small cab we’ve ever come across, and we think every self-respecting bassist in the country should buy one. There’s a waiting list of four weeks or longer, but we can assure you that Barefaced cabs are well worth waiting for.