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Al Krow

Alembic basses

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6 hours ago, EMG456 said:

I will state that my first hand experience of these only goes to 1993 - Wal, 1998 - Alembic but I don't think that much has changed with the philosophies of either company in the meantime.

Both are top quality instruments built to the highest standards and use mostly unique, purpose built hardware and electronics. to my mind, Alembic set the ball rolling with filter based preamps but Wal developed the concept to its optimum regarding variety of tones versus simplicity of use. ACG/ John East has since developed the Wal concept even further albeit the complexity is increasing again.

A couple of things not mentioned in the original thread you referred to in my mind influence the sounds of these instruments as much as the pre amps - Construction and pickups.

The Alembic sound is without doubt partially due to its complex, multi-laminate, through-neck construction, just as the Wal is similarly shaped by its bolt-on construction. That is partly I think, why the Epic basses seem to slightly fall short - they are set-neck construction, not through-neck. Apologies to all Epic owners - they are fine basses but that basic construction setup in a way changes the character of the sound.

And again- pickups. The Alembic pickups are voiced to enhance the Alembic sound and as such are probably integral to the sound of those basses. Likewise, the Wal Multi Coil pickups are a huge part of the Wal sound.

Do Alembic and Wal ( and Fodera, Sadowski etc. etc. ad infinitum) justify their high price tag? Well, factually they do - they're still in business after all these years and customers are still ordering new instruments from them so the price is justified in that respect certainly. But in relationship to general cost of living price indices, some of these makers have been able to push their prices far beyond inflation levels. According to an inflation calculator I looked at, the Alembic Essence 6 bass I ordered in 1998 at a cost of £2k should now cost about £3.5k But if I look at the Alembic price list, it starts at $8000. Only the individual can decide if anything is worth that sort of premium to them.

I love my Wal. I love my Alembic. I love my ACG. I love my Antoria fretless Precision Copy! I just like basses and I like the little differences between different ones.

Whilst the prices of the boutique builders can sometimes be hard to swallow, there is no doubt that at the mass market end of the bass spectrum, it has never been easier to afford a quality instrument.

+1 to that, as also an Alembic and Wal owner

Mine's an early one;  a 1976 S1 long scale.   Love it, but have to admit I tend to use more for recording than gigging.

We're so familiar with the design now, but when you think what was around when the first Alembic basses came out, they must have seemed from another planet.....

alembic01_small.jpg

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@EMG456 great post thanks!

40 minutes ago, Shaggy said:

+1 to that, as also an Alembic and Wal owner

Mine's an early one;  a 1976 S1 long scale.   Love it, but have to admit I tend to use more for recording than gigging.

We're so familiar with the design now, but when you think what was around when the first Alembic basses came out, they must have seemed from another planet.....

alembic01_small.jpg

Might have seemed from another planet at the time, but the design is so elegant and has proved to be enduring: I can still look at your bass and think "yup, that's a beaut!"

Edited by Al Krow

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18 hours ago, hiram.k.hackenbacker said:

Yes, but if you’re a proper ‘Dead Head’, you gotta get one. Only two left 😂

 

144242C3-D6FE-4C52-9B23-E9139C2207EF.png

If something like that came up for sale, I'd be seriously investigating the going price for every internal organ I possess that I could struggle on without!

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5 minutes ago, FinnDave said:

If something like that came up for sale, I'd be seriously investigating the going price for every internal organ I possess that I could struggle on without!

So your Appendix then? 

 

😂

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1 hour ago, Al Krow said:

So your Appendix then? 

 

😂

I don't think a well-used appendix would fetch enough to buy me a new pick, never mind a bass!

Edited by FinnDave
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8 minutes ago, FinnDave said:

I don't think a well-used appendix would fetch enough to me a new pick, never mind a bass!

I generally wouldn't recommend getting rid of any of the others. 

Have you considered doing a paper round instead? 

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6 minutes ago, Al Krow said:

I generally wouldn't recommend getting rid of any of the others. 

Have you considered doing a paper round instead? 

I tried that a few years ago (well, 45 or so years ago) and I've frittered that money away already!

Edited by FinnDave

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Just now, Cuzzie said:

Plenty of other disposable ones

Yep, but sadly none of those basses are available. I have a scalpel ready for a bit of DIY surgery if once comes up though. Until that day, I will have to manage with my rather less exotic but perfectly workable Ibanez sixes.

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Get the scalpel out and pop it on Ice

They keep for a while, what else would you do on a Bank holiday

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Just now, Cuzzie said:

Get the scalpel out and pop it on Ice

They keep for a while, what else would you do on a Bank holiday

i would do, but the freezer's full right now. It's a hard life!

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2 minutes ago, Cuzzie said:

Thwarted at every stage

If you organise the courier, i’ll Stash it for you

That's very kind of you, but I'd hate to put you to so much trouble. And there's always the risk that someone in your family may not realise what it is and barbecue it!

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2 minutes ago, Cuzzie said:

With some fava beans.....

Don't forget to remove the hockey mask before you eat though

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52 minutes ago, FinnDave said:

... Until that day, I will have to manage with my rather less exotic but perfectly workable Ibanez sixes.

Tbf that's not such a hardship (speaking as a fellow Ibby lover) and a lot less painful, particularly as you'll only be able to use a 'local' if you're doing the surgery DIY.

Kidney + Ibanez 1206 = Alembic : I think most audiences may not appreciate the price you would be paying for your art. It's just the way of the world in this modern shallow era...

Should be able to get minimum wage for paper rounds, these days, or does that still not apply?

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Not sure how many paper rounds are left now, certainly in rural areas such as where I live.

I loved my Alembic dearly, and it pained me to part with it, but I had too many 4 stringers, and storage plus insurance costs are a problem. That's the second gig I've played with the 1206 (we don't gig too often) and it feels quite a natural bass to play, and sounds great. Would be even greater with an East pre in it, but even John East had to admit defeat on that one. He told me that he has something in the pipeline that ought to fit, though.

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1 minute ago, FinnDave said:

Not sure how many paper rounds are left now, certainly in rural areas such as where I live.

I loved my Alembic dearly, and it pained me to part with it, but I had too many 4 stringers, and storage plus insurance costs are a problem. That's the second gig I've played with the 1206 (we don't gig too often) and it feels quite a natural bass to play, and sounds great. Would be even greater with an East pre in it, but even John East had to admit defeat on that one. He told me that he has something in the pipeline that ought to fit, though.

Yeah know what you mean about lusting after a John East Pre. 

Seems that the Ibby 1206 isn't the only bass that's defeated ol' John boy from installing his preamps from my recent discourse on the Yammy thread! 

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1 minute ago, Al Krow said:

Yeah know what you mean about lusting after a John East Pre. 

Seems that the Ibby 1206 isn't the only bass that's defeated ol' John boy from installing his preamps from my recent discourse on the Yammy thread! 

There is always the option of having the control cavity routed out so the uni pre will fit, but I'm holding off on irreversible surgery on the bass for now (and on myself, until that Alembic six comes up!)

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I would take a fair guess and say that most bass players have never owned or played an alembic bass. Probably most have never seen or heard one live on stage outside the big named pro users like like Stanley Clarke or Jimmy Johnson.

A lot of the negative views I have come across regarding alembic be that on line or in person conversations with other bass player are centred on cost and not the sound or playability. Although some find the ergonomics less than suitable like for instance the stanley clarke style basses are neck heavy but that can be compensated for with a good strap and time getting used to the instrument.

Personally I don’t gig, rehearse or record with any other bass than an alembic. For me they give me the sounds and the playing experience I want. For some owners they find the sound is not for them and sell them on and that is fine we don’t all have the same tonal requirements.

In the past I did swap the electronics in one of my alembics with some ACG filter based electronics  but I found whilst they were extremely good I somehow lost the punchy power in the lower mids that the alembic gave and the upper frequencies I found a bit harsh so for the music I was playing it didn’t work out for me. I have since put the alembic guts back in that bass and it suits me better.

Over the years I have since tried a number of other high end basses like Fodera, Ritter, Wal and some custom shop fenders which all sound great but I haven’t found anything in them that I feel would make me choose them over my alembic.

Of course we know they are not cheap to buy new even the entry level basses but if that is an issue there are used bargains to be had on the usual internet sale sites. One crucial thing to do if buying used amongst other things is to get the serial number and check it out with Alembic, there are a few  fakes/copies around especially the Epic basses and also ask for photos of the electronics cavity as some have non alembic innards that the owner may never realise and the cost of getting a new set from Alembic ain’t cheap. When you get them post them on the alembic site www.alembic.com and ask form verification, there are lots of members there who can save you hassle.

Contrary to another poster on this thread, I have found them really easy to set up even though it has two truss rods, and have never taken mine to a tech to have a setup done for me. There is some good information on the Alembic website forum.

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Too much writing...not enough pictures...😉😉:facepalm:

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