Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by lowphatbass, Aug 26, 2010.

  1. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    Many years ago my 1992 Alembic Elan was stolen. An attempt to "disguise" the bass was made, the best I can tell somebody removed much of the thick "dipped in glass" finish and sprayed or rubbed something dark over the entire bass. It looks like the time was taken to remove hardware, mask the fretboard, etc. The finishing touch is a satin-ish clear coat, very obviously out of a spray can.
    When I recovered the bass and open the case I felt physically ill. I've honestly had a hard time even looking at or thinking about this bass for the last 15+ years. I was doing some cleaning/reorganizing a few days ago and decided the open the case. Strangely enough I did not suffer the intense anger and anxiety that I always have. A strange peace came over me. I'm ready to let this bass go. I've grieved long enough, it's time to get it into the hands of somebody who is going to play it. Even if I had this bass restored, it wouldn't see enough action to justify ownership.
    The bass has maple wings, quilted maple top and back(including headstock) with walnut trim, the usual PH stringers and an ebony fretboard. Luckily I think I have all the pieces. This bass was a stunner.

    I know that Alembic owners/players can be kind of a different breed(I was one, I don't mean this in a negative sense) and I'd like to hear from some of you on this. I'm wondering if I should sell the bass as is, or try to get it back to original form first and get more money for it. I would have to pay somebody to do this, I'm not bad with wood, but possible bad enough to make the situation worse.

    I've included a couple of current pics so you can view the extent of the carnage, as well as get a feel for what the bass used to be like.

    Any thoughts you may have are welcome!!

    Attached Files:

  2. Get it refinished by Alembic if you can. And enjoy it. And if you are selling it. Still get it refinished by someone who knows what they are doing. It is more valuable refinished, than it's present state
  3. Fender32


    Jun 23, 2005
    Kent, England
    That's dreadful :( (the theft, not the bass). There really are some ********s out there in the world :mad:.

    I don't blame you for wanting to let go of the bass (and try and forget about the whole thing). As for the condition in which you should sell it, my gut feeling is that you should probably just put it up for sale as it is and accept that it is going to sell way below whatever it cost you :meh:. Sure, you could spend lots of money trying to restore it, but would you get all that money and more back in the sale price!? Maybe.

    At least if you do sell it as it is, it might go to someone who couldn't afford an Alembic any other way and it would probably get much love ;).
  4. synaesthesia


    Apr 13, 2004
    Sad. Send it back. it's only worth paying for the overhaul if you value it.
  5. morguedoc71


    May 22, 2009
    Despite the bastardization of your Elan, underneath it all, it's still an Alembic through and through. Finish aside, I'd still rock that bass in a heartbeat (and I'm sure there are others like me out there!). I always had some anxiety taking my Spoiler and Essence out on stage (I play in a fairly energetic alt rock band). In this condition, that factor would be negated.

    FWIW, you could always try selling it in that condition. If it doesn't sell, refinish is an option. Sure, you could send it to a score of competent luthiers, but I'd vote to send it back to Mica and friends for a proper refin should you go that route (would probably help tremendously with the resale value, too!).

    My $0.02...
  6. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    Yea, I can appreciate that, thanks!!

    I'm the first and only owner of this bass. The worst part about the situation is was never able to take legal action or prosecute because there was family involved.
    I'm fairly certain the cost of a restoration at Alembic would come close the value of the bass. They're well within driving distance, and the coolest folks, but their time is a premium commodity.
  7. gafbass02


    Nov 9, 2005
    cheltenham uk
    I think it's beautiful! I've always deeply admired alembics from hopelessly afar! I'd never afford one even one like this but I actually really like the effect a lot on this one which I'm sure sounds crazy to you! It reminds me of the dark wood/gold effect I was going for on a bass I was building at Christmas before some pretty horrendous circumstances in my own personal life forced me to sell the lot before I could assemble it :-/ So my heart goes out on the pain at seeing it like that, I still get that feeling everytime i see the handful of left over gold screws etc that should have been my dream bass.

    I'm not sure wether to get it it fixed or not tbh I doubt it's worth it as I'm sure you won't get the cost back and I bet I'm not alone in really loving the look.
  8. bassman10096


    Jul 30, 2004
    As an Alembic owner, my heart goes out to you and your bass. But you are right - an Alembic refin would cost a fair portion of the resale. Based on your pix, and my own experience with finishes, a reasonably priced refin shop (there are plenty) might be able to "complete" the clear coat job and leave you with a better looking, if oddly colored bass. It's really to bad, though, because my best suggestion would be to market it as-is (try the Alembic Club first) and let the buyer decide what to do with what sounds like a completely intact Alembic with a ruined finish. I'm tempted myself, as I could see potential in removing the guts and either stripping the crud or (gasp) painting the bass in a solid color, then getting a commercial shop to put a high quality poly coat on it. Good luck.
  9. AltGrendel

    AltGrendel Squire Jag SS fan. Supporting Member

    May 21, 2009
    Mid-Atlantic USA.

    It will be worth it.
  10. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Why not look at Michael Dolan for a restoration? It would be cheaper and quicker than Alembic, and he was part of the Alembic crew in the past. I bet he would do it right, get it right and not cost you what a new Alembic would.
  11. lmfreeman9

    lmfreeman9 Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2007
    As an objective bass investor, and possible buyer (longshot) I think you sell it as is. The less expensive it is, the more people (Alembic wannabes like me) who could buy it. If you you refinish it, you risk over-improving it. Sell as is. Cheaper is better. Let the new owner refinish it, if he so desires. He will have the motivation and passion to do so. You don't. This same principle applies to real estate and other investments.
  12. +1 ... spread the love for Alembic by selling it 'as is'.
  13. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    That bass is perfect for someone... someone who really wants the Alembic sound, but done in a specific color (and so the current finish is not important), and may not want to pay the big bucks for a more pristine example.
    This may not be YOUR dream bass anymore, but it IS someone's: "Man If I could just find a real Alembic with a screwed-up finish to re-do for less bucks...."
    That buyer is out there.
  14. I agree with this. I know that since this is a custom/semi-custom job and you're the only owner, it is especially heart wrenching, since it isn't what you knew it to be and it's been tampered with heavily to say the least. However, someone might like that finish. I do, for one. I was thinking of buying an unfinished body and doing a dark, somewhat dry oil rub to emulate that blackened effect. Get a quote on what it would take to refinish it, and if the costs line up, do it. Otherwise, someone would be more than happy to jump on that and give it a nice clean clear coat. It's a little more rustic than the average bass, but someone might just love that.

    Ultimately, this is your bass. You have all the time in the world to think over what you want to do next with it, since you've regained a sense of peace now.

    Good luck,
  15. MaddAnthony_59

    MaddAnthony_59 Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2006
    Columbus, IN
    I Channel Surf During Commercials. (Drives my Wife CRAZY!!!)
    Hmmm. If you know where the Perpatrator is today, just give it back to him. RECTALLY!
  16. kjpollo


    Mar 17, 2008

    But on the serious side, is the bass otherwise complete and stock?
    You posted a pic with the bass missing a pickup, a pot or 2 and the trussrod cover so I'm just asking.
  17. Tonegasm


    Mar 22, 2010
    I'd embrace it's past and the fact that it made its way back to me. Play and cherish your old friend and your history.
  18. going to the person (and family who stole it) and telling them they are going to pay for the refinish / restoration. Call Alembic and ask them to give you an estimate for the job, and have them send you an invoice. Take the invoice to the perp, show it the invoice and tell them to write you check NOW. Be firm, and don't let anybody try to bully you out of it. They ruined it, they pay for it. Simple.
  19. Tonegasm


    Mar 22, 2010
    Or Townshend it over his head. Instant happiness. :bassist:
  20. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Why would you NOT just have it refinished? Basses are refinished every day! I don't see anything wrong with that bass that a refin won't fix.

    For that matter, why don't you refin it yourself? Then it's all yours again...and you've been the one to make it the way you want it.

    There's absolutely no reason to get rid of an expensive instrument because the finish was changed. Just make it the way you want and go on with life.