The Berkeley Box is a living musical instrument and each has its own unique sound.
What underlies that sound is a complex interplay between several factors.
The key ones are internal shape and volume, dimensions of the playing heads, distance front-to-back,
size of the soundhole, and the materials used.
Our standard offerings represent the most popular configurations for our two main box-types.
Customizing from the Options list is available for a service charge of $15, plus the price of each individual option.
CHOOSING YOUR BOX
The slanted face of the ErgoBox allows for more comfortable body mechanics while playing the front,
at the expense of not being able to tip the box back on its feet while playing the back.
Acoustically, the bass-tone, while still strong, is more "open" and of somewhat more indeterminate pitch.
The traditional rectangular sides of the BBox produce a more "punchy" and focused bass-tone,
while allowing the player to tip the box back on its feet from front or back, as many players prefer.
The bass-tone may be "unfocused" by putting some light wadding inside the instrument,
or by opening the optional "bass valve".
1. SNARES ARE NOW STANDARD: The Berkeley Box snare System is state-of-the-art,
precisely adjustable with quality mandolin-tuners and stainless-steel strings.
Our non-switchable system sounds better than any switchable snares on the market,
and our sliding-bridges uniquely allow a string to be replaced if one should ever break.
2. HEIGHT: Instruments come at standard heights of 16"-18".
Other heights are available by special order.
A taller or shorter box may be desired to suit an individual's body-type or playing style.
Multi-instrumentalists may prefer a lower seat that keeps the knee above the hip.
The 14" "stubby" is also designed to be less "tippy" and thus safer for small children.
The "stubby" also has higher and brighter bass and tom tones.
3. HEADS: The standard Berkeley Box playing heads are of 1/8" 5-ply Aircraft Birch
at the main (snared) head and 1/8" Maple/Luaun at the second head.
The Birch is slightly warmer in tone, more stable and durable, and perhaps a little "slower".
The Maple/Luaun is a sandwich of traditional tonewoods and performs very well.
Slightly less durable (and less expensive), it is bright, loud, very responsive,
and often shows dramatic and attractive grain-pattern.
Some other makers attach heads with screws only. This can cause uncontrollable rattling sounds, and the lack of a positive air-seal at the seams inevitably compromises the bass-tones of the instrument.
Berkeley Box heads are attached with a heat-sensitive luthier-grade adhesive, ensuring a strong tone
while making replacement of damaged heads a reasonable procedure.
With the "Heads" option, you may choose Birch all around, Maple/Luaun all around, or one of each, front or back.
4. CLAPPERS (Galletas): The upper corners of one playing head are held free of glue
and a very small gap is introduced, controlled by brass or stainless-steel screws.
This adds a nice sharp clack to the instrument's palette, coming at the expense of a slight loss of bass tone.
Our clappers are precisely tuned in the shop, but their sound may change over time
as the wooden instrument responds to temperature and humidity. Shop-tuning the galletas, and bedding them precisely
to prevent bass-compromising air-leakage, is unpredictably time-consuming and tedious and the price reflects this
Instructions for post-shop tuning of the clappers are included with your Berkeley Box.
5. TONE-ZONES:: Our unique hidden tone-zones, carved into the shell from the inside,
can produce rim-shot and temple-block effects. Extremely precise hand-technique is necessary to take
advantage of this feature. They add $25 each to the price and at least two are recommended.
6. STAIN: Choose from our rich Walnut or warm Cherry stains, applied to:
a) just the playing heads ($25)
b) The entire box ($35)
c) The playing heads and all the edges (sporty! $50)
More stain colors coming soon.
7. INSTALLED JACK: XLR or 1/4" with an internal connection for your mic or pickup - price tbd.
8. PITCH-CHANGE TONE HOLE: The 1-1/2" second hole below the main soundhole
opens up the bass tone (a bit like the bass-valve option).
When plugged with your heel, this hole will lower the pitch of the bass tone by about a minor 3rd.
This is a bit of a 'stunt' option and not recommended for most players.
9. BASS VALVE: Discovered by accident while installing an xlr jack, the 3/4 bass-valve in the corner
defocuses the bass tone and adds a subtle but persuasive presence and openness. Cork included!
10. PICKUP SYSTEM: We are working on an elegant, optimal and affordable on-board pickup system
that will guarantee great sound with a simple setup. Stay tuned!