Yesterday, I had the immense pleasure of finally trying out two Alembics and a double-humbucker Bongo. The only other high-end stuff I've ever played was a Modulus Q5 that had dead, out-of-tune strings through a terribly EQ'd SWR Workingman combo (Stupid Long and McQuade...). The first Alembic I played was an unlined fretless. Aesthetics wise, it was one of the most beautiful instruments I've ever seen. The moment I stepped past the racks upon racks of plain-jane fenders, my eyes caught two electric uprights. As I slowly turned around, a row of four Alembics immediately captured my vision as if it were a sign from god. I got a salesman's assistance (as per the sign requested) and he pulled me down an unlined fretless. Wonderful, wonderful instrument. The one thing I'm always skeptical about basses is the shape of the neck -- the neck on this was easily the nicest I've ever, ever played. Now, I have a fretless here at home that I've become almost as proficient on speed-wise as my fretted while still maintaining fairly good intonation (in fact, it's now my main axe) but this thing kicked my butt. I felt unworthy, playing out of tune all over the place...*sigh*. So I put it back and he got a specific fretted one at my request -- a gorgeous birdseye top fretted with a particularly attractive headstock inlay and a purpleheart laminate under the maple. The fretted was an Orion, for Alembic fans. It had the perfect sound for what I play solo, but it didn't have exactly the sound I need for when I join this particular band this Saturday -- basically, as versatile as possible, but almost always retaining a forceful punch. I had him put it back (he was crazy careful about these things, but it's understandable -- this place was like a mini guitar centre, so they get lots of twits in there...and they're Alembics!) and, before I bugged him too much (I obviously wasn't buying these basses and he knew that, but he didn't mind), asked him to get down the last bass -- a four string, orange with black ice HH Bongo. If I had the cash, I would've taken it and the Alembic Orion home RIGHT THERE (the Orion was $2250 or somewhere around those lines, huge discount,and the Bongo was $1499). Between those two basses, I had everything I could ever need in two four strings. The Bongo had that unmistakable, gut-busting kick that I was looking for when I played funk and rock in the band, and the Alembic had the smooth, delicate and articulate sound I needed for solo and tap. Both played like a dream, and (although some of you may disagree) I thought the Bongo also looked really great too, especially in that finish. They had a Bongo with a humbucker and a jazz, and a couple of five strings, but I decided I'd wasted enough of the guy's time and went to look at volume pedals. I ended up walking out with a Digitech BP50 multieffects though . And now...I return to my Samick fretted and my Yamaha fretless . Upside? I read the new issue of Bass Guitar (the UK one) that was all about fretlesses and my Yamaha was picked over the Warwick Rockbass (streamer std fretless), Aria MAB-09, and Vintage V940 by all three reviewers . Kinda makes one feel better after leaving behind the best instruments one has ever played.