In 2010, Bill and Pat Bartolini made the decision to retire after working hard for the last 40 years providing great tone to musicians everywhere. There were a number of potential buyers, but Bill and Pat were concerned about the company just becoming a brand and losing focus on the existing customers and friends of the company. Clyde Clark had been working with them as a design and manufacturing consultant. Based on his experience and passion for the product, customers, and brand, they asked that he take over. Clyde decided that he must buy the company and keep the fabled Bartolini tone available to current and future generations of musicians.
It took 2 years of work to get all the pieces in place to complete the purchase. In October, 2012, Clyde became the new owner and put an immediate focus on preserving the design integrity of the product while implementing improved manufacturing techniques and quality assurance programs. Clyde also wanted to expand the production capacity and reduce delivery times and decided to open a new factory in San Luis Obispo, CA. He quickly developed improved production process and control and implemented and manufacturing resource management system. Bill and Pat officially retired in 2014.
“Clyde Clark has surpassed ALL my expectations to carry on the Bartolini legacy.” – Bill Bartolini
Once the manufacturing and testing improvements were in place, Clyde began looking at the rich history of offerings and began to reintroduce some of the most popular products. One of the more recent products is the “b-axis” – which is a 21st century riff on the legendary “Hi-A” designed by Bill Bartolini back in the early 70’s. The result is a fully encapsulated pickup with exposed poles and asymmetric response that provides a huge punchy tone. This high asymmetry provides tonal characteristics similar to acoustic instruments, which have a naturally asymmetric response due to the bridge structure and increasing and decreasing biased tension. It has a highly repeatable product design with extensive testing every step of the way. Reception to it has been outstanding.
From the beginning, and always in response to the needs of many excellent musicians, Bartolini has continued to expand its catalog of pickups and electronics.
By this time, the Bartolini name was well established in the bass community. Several mid-size and large manufacturers were using a Bartolini design in their off-the-shelf products. Custom luthiers from around the world were working with Bartolini to have custom pickups designed for their instruments. There was a drumbeat coming from the guitar section demanding more attention and more product selection. It was clear that only a small portion of demand would be met unless production capacity was expanded. Bill and Pat made the decision that Bartolini would be kept as-is for the short term. It was a fortunate decision given the economic crises of 2008. Many companies went out of business but they were able to continue offering great design and great product.
Beginning in 1980, Bartolini began manufacturing vertical hum canceling designs such as 3AV acoustics, 3XV Fender Strat* replacements and 9V J-Bass* replacements. Shortly afterward it introduced 94J, a quadraphonic for J-Basses*. Laminated Core humbuckers were brought out, adding the choice of upper midrange enhancement to the smoother response of previous designs.
In the next year, after extensive experimentation with the sound requirements of several New Wave and Heavy Metal guitarists, Bartolini developed a pickup specifically tailored for power guitar tone (these developed into the E88, E90 and E90-D series) and a distortion effect (the Tube-It) that was appreciated by many musicians at that time.
It also began talking to Classic and Flamenco guitarists and luthiers and began some design and sound experiments. In 1982 Bartolini presented the results of its experiments at a meeting of the Catgut Acoustical Society in DeKalb, Illinois. These results and many other scientific inquiries into the acoustics of guitars and violins were then published in the Journal of Guitar Acoustics**. To this day, Bartolini continues the work on nylon string instruments with an electronic device capable of controlling the attack, decay and tonal characteristics of solid body instruments to duplicate the sound of the best acoustic instruments.
In 1973, Bill Bartolini began manufacturing magnetic pickups after 11 years of part-time research in the acoustics of nylon string instruments, speaker cabinets, power amplifiers and polyphonic pickups. During his first year, he made only quadraphonic and hexaphonic pickups under the ‘Hi-A’ brand. Two years later, the first monophonic designs under the Hi-A label.
In 1978 the Hi-A label became the iconic Bartolini label. Square-wave magnetic pulse testing for magnetic pickups, expanding upon the description of the impedance curve for these pickups, had been put in place. Shortly afterwards, Bartolini introduced the mechanical string picker to the field of pickup testing. Bartolini also introduced the first electronic (preamplified) pickup with parametric bandpass enhancement (the EVQ)! These pickups were also some of the earliest hum-cancelling designs in large humbucker size. The EVQ and related designs were discontinued later as the Bartolini on-board preamps began to provide wider tonal range and more versatile application.
“We deeply thank all the musicians, repairmen, luthiers and manufacturers whose thoughtful requests and suggestions have helped to develop and improve our products.” -Pat and Bill Bartolini