Friday, August 11, 2017

Memory Lane: Barcus Berry Hot Dot Box Review

Aloha!

I find products to review all over the place, but today we have a first – a box I picked out of the trash at work – the Barcus Berry Hot-Dot Box. Well, not really the trash, but an electronics recycling bin…

Barcus Berry has been around since 1963, and they introduced innovations such as the electric violin and piezo pickups for lots of different applications. The Hot Dot Box fits well into what they were doing in the early 1970s, as this active DI/preamp/boost box would really help out an acoustic player that needed assistance with getting their signal heard.

There is really not much to the Hot-Dot Box, it is a bent sheet aluminum box with a single ¼-inch input and a single 1/4-inch output, and that is it – no knobs or lights, and no switches to stomp on with your foot. It measures 4.25 x 2.25 x 1.5 inches, and it weighs around a quarter pound.

Sliding the case apart (no screws required), the insides are pretty basic too: a couple of Switchcraft jacks, a 9-volt battery clip, two transistors, a trimmer pot, and a handful of capacitors and resistors. The printed circuit board is dated 1972, which seems about right for this.

Bringing this thing into the context of today, I have tried the Hot-Dot out with my acoustic and electric guitars and it pretty much did exactly what I thought it would – it made everything louder. There was no added hum or anything offensive, just a healthy clean boost that seemed a little bit warmer than the source signal. Where it shined the most was with the humbuckers on my Les Paul, and it provided that little bit of extra front-end oomph for distorting out my tube amp.

The Barcus Barry Hot-Dot Box is cool, and I would like to experiment with putting it in different parts of my signal chain to see how it affects overall tone. I’ll let you all know if something extra-neat comes out of this – not too bad for something that was going to get thrown away!

Mahalo!

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