I dialed back the bass on the amplifier and got the clarity necessary for strummed rhythms. Up and down the fretboard, string-to-string volume balance was excellent. With the volume and mids cranked on the Sportsman, the neck humbucker is great for chunky Cream-era Clapton rhythm tones, which I could easily juice back up to a smoky, thick lead tone with a quick twist of the guitar’s Volume knob. I loved the combination of Fender-like clarity and humbucker warmth and muscle at this medium-gain level. My only minor gripe with the mini humbucker was a slight thinness in the high E string, which did improve as I raised the pickup height on the treble side.
Middle-position clean tones drip with a funky, soulful, and open bottom end, yet also possess a biting toppiness. This blend of percussiveness and sweet vocal quality inspired me to run through my favorite Cornell Dupree licks.
The flat pole piece “Real Broadcaster” bridge pickup packed major twang and awesome sustain on bluesy bends. The pickup’s energetic twang factor is reinforced by a boosted midrange that, in combination with the Bakersfield’s robust bass output, gives the bridge position a relatively hot and aggressive voice.
The bridge pickup is an excellent match for the mini humbucker, powerful in output and warm enough to make the pickups sound related. That is not to say it can’t provide bite—some of the most fun I had playing the Bakersfield was ripping through cutting lead lines and spanky pinch harmonics all over the fretboard. And low-string runs demonstrated how readily the pickup can move from snappy to lowmidrange grunt.
Tele-style purists may balk at the body contours or the Les Paul-style input jack, but it’s important to remember that the Bakersfield was built to acknowledge the earliest modded Teles, as well as the originals. In a sea of Tele-style guitars, Larrivée put together something significantly different in the Bakersfield, executed at a level that’s competitive with custom builders, yet more accessibly priced. It’s got all the sweetness and wicked twang you need to cover the traditional bases in a country application, but with added power and girth to handle the heavier ranges of your repertoire. If that expanded sonic range, a wide, flat fingerboard, and the meatier neck of a ’52 Telecaster is your thing, the Bakersfield should land high on your list of slightly twisted Teles.
you want a bigger neck on a nicely tweaked, well crafted T-style guitar.
you like a more radiused fretboard.