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Alembic #001 Rick Turner rennovation

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by andertone, Sep 22, 2017.


  1. andertone

    andertone Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2000
    Southwest USA
    Looks like this bass is going to be meticulously restored. <FB snip>. The world is now a better place :)


    Rick Turner OK, it's Alembic #001 which I built for Jack Casady (spelling counts here!); most of the construction was in 1971 at the facility at 360 Judah St., and I finished it off at the infamous Chicken Ranch Alembic shop in Cotati, CA. Ron Wickersham made the electronic circuits; I did the rest...wood work and carvings, bridge, fine tuning tailpiece, fingerboard inlay, pickups, sliding pickup mounting system, LED side dots. I'm restoring it to it's original electronics concept with modular electronics on brass "console channel strips", and I'll make new bird's eye front plates to match the originals. I'll save the later Alembic "Series" electronics as a kind of historical record, but use new preamps and filters from John East in England with the original pickups. This will take a while, and I'll document it carefully. This bass was really the clincher in establishing the Alembic instrument building style, even though later instruments had the full "hippie sandwich" body construction. This was not my first neck-through...the Pretzel guitar preceded it in 1969/1970. This was the second instrument in history with LED side dots, David Crosby's 12 string being the first.
     

    Attached Files:

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  2. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Big Dogs Staff Member Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    Wow. Very cool.
     
  3. Paulabass

    Paulabass Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2017
    Good post, thanks. I'm facebook friends with Rick, and I often mean to ask him some stuff about the first couple Alembics, but we always end up off on a tangent about all kinds of other stuff.
     
    Garret Graves likes this.
  4. CaseyVancouver

    CaseyVancouver

    Nov 4, 2012
    Thanks for posting this!

    Most of us who own Alembics have wondered about that instrument. Keep us in the loop.

    Edit:
    Been thinking about this instrument. I can appreciate the collector who owns it can do what he wants.

    A bass with this history is special as is. All the chips and finger scratches from Casady will be gone? Electronics from England when Wickersham is at Santa Rosa just down the road?

    It should, in my opinion, be left unrestored.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2017
    rtav likes this.
  5. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    Hmmm. Really glad to see this bass getting some love. BUT, it seems somewhat odd and less than optimal that Rick isn't collaborating with Ron. John East? Really? That just ain't right.
     
    CaseyVancouver likes this.
  6. EdwardofHuncote

    EdwardofHuncote I Still Dream of Jeannie Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2013
    Southwest Virginia
    Just wondering if there had been any updates posted on the Casady bass?

    (not being a Facebook user, I can't see content)
     
  7. jim nolte

    jim nolte

    Oct 26, 2006
    california
    I tend to agree. Casady , along with Jack Bruce, were my two biggest influences when I started playing bass back in 1968. It's a little like deciding to swap out the pups on James Jamersons' bass or something. This is a iconic bass and if it were up to me I would just leave it the way it was/is.
     
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  8. EdwardofHuncote

    EdwardofHuncote I Still Dream of Jeannie Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2013
    Southwest Virginia
    I get why some might feel that way, but if it were my bass, I can't think of anyone more qualified to work on it than the guy who built it in the first place.

    I do however agree, swapping out the Alembic circuitry isn't right for #72-001... it's such a shame the 'parents' of that bass can't bury the hatchet long enough to restore it together... after all, it meant so much to their respective futures. Maybe someone inside could act as an intermediary?
     
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  9. EdwardofHuncote

    EdwardofHuncote I Still Dream of Jeannie Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2013
    Southwest Virginia
    Happened to run across these pics the other day...
     
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  10. Very cool, I didn't see this thread the first time around. Has anyone heard anything new on the refurb/restore(?) of this bass?
     
    Garret Graves likes this.
  11. EdwardofHuncote

    EdwardofHuncote I Still Dream of Jeannie Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2013
    Southwest Virginia
    Hmm. Well, I hope you guys were able to see more than just the top page... there were a bunch more, very detailed pictures in that post of Alembic Numero Uno. I'm not on Facebook, (TalkBass is as close as I get to being sociable...) so maybe that's why my link didn't post correctly. I originally found it posted here at the Alembic Club forum: Detailed Pics of #001 [merged]

    He's not on here too often, but I suppose it might be worth asking @Rick Turner how it's going with ol' 72-001.
     
  12. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Meh.

    If Shelby himself put a new transmission in an old Shelby Mustang, it's still a ridiculously cool car..... maybe even moreso.

    I think it's amazing that he's doing it himself. The thing was made to be PLAYED forever. It wasn't made to kick of a corporation and record a few smash hits.

    Time keeps moving on. Jack himself moved on to other basses.

    If Rick Turner wants to restore his own work from decades ago, I think it ADDS to the legacy of the bass, not detracts from it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2018
  13. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    That’s not a particularly great analogy, in this case. Ron and Rick were very much equal parts of what that bass originally was.

    Putting the East preamp in it is petty, and a substantial downgrade. In fact, if Ron had never been involved and Alembic had East preamps in them from the get go, they would have quickly become just another fancy piece of furniture. As things stand, the Series electronics package remains the sine qua non of bass preamps.

    That’s not just my opinion. I’ve recently had fairly extensive discussions with Mike Tobias, for example, about bass preamps; and he would pretty much concur. FWIW.

    It would be another matter if the Wickersham preamp no longer existed. Regarding your analogy, the Shelby Mustang #1 just recently resurfaced in a Texas back forty, sans engine; among other things. I’m pretty sure that the restoration will give full measure to at least one of the early engines that was used in it. That might be a better way to think about it.
     
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  14. mdogs

    mdogs Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2010
    Cary, Il
    Actually, it is still just your opinion, the fact that someone else may share that opinion doesn’t change that. The fact that the Alembic Series electronics are the most complex available, doesn’t necessarily make them the best. Rick Turner has done a significant amount of work in his post Alembic years in the electronics area and his thought process has continued to evolve. Whether the East preamp is a downgrade or not is not something of fact.
     
    Garret Graves likes this.
  15. EdwardofHuncote

    EdwardofHuncote I Still Dream of Jeannie Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2013
    Southwest Virginia
    From the recent pictures, it looks to have a complete set of Series I electronics currently installed. Is there some information out there that suggests the electronics need to be replaced?
     
  16. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    Well, in terms of measurable facts, like signal to noise ratio etc., I’m pretty sure my statement would hold up. But, I agree with you that ranking any preamp is a subjective matter. I’m not claiming that kind of discrimination. Each to their own. I’ve played and gigged both. World of difference to my ears.

    And as to opinions, which we all have, all I intended when I wrote the post was to indicate that my statement was not my sole opinion. I should have thought that would be clear. Not sure how you read into it that I was claiming expert witness fact or something. Not what I intended.

    But, in the case of this particular bass; it is an Alembic. Yes, Rick did the luthiery. But, the electronics package was an essential element of the instrument and a big part of its recorded heritage. The only reason for not using that preamp is a decades old feud. To use the Shelby analogy, the East is like putting a Chevrolet engine in the Shelby Mustang #1. It just simply would not be a proper restoration. Sure, it would still drive down the road. And the restoration is at the restorer’s prerogative.

    And yes, this is my opinion. I shouldn’t have to type that, since it should be obvious.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2018
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  17. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    That is interesting and contrary to his initial posting. Props to him, if so.

    BTW, I should add that I’ve had several conversations with Rick over the years. First about #189, which I gigged for many years and later about my SSB. Really super nice guy. Which has made the rift between him and the Wickersham’s all the more perplexing and unfortunate.
     
  18. mdogs

    mdogs Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2010
    Cary, Il
    I think the Shelby analogy would be more akin to Carrol Shelby finding Mustang #1 and putting a Chevy engine in it either because he came to hate the Fords or because his thinking had evolved and changed. But, who is going to question the guy who created the car?
     
  19. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    I think that is correct; but also suspect a non-zero fraction of the Mustang enthusiasts would definitely take issue with it.
     
  20. EdwardofHuncote

    EdwardofHuncote I Still Dream of Jeannie Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2013
    Southwest Virginia
    That's what they look like to me... the current configuration for plain and simple Series I electronics, two volumes, two filters and two q-switches, and a pickup selector switch, but with Jack Casady's old sliding pickups still intact. Looks like the preamp card is mounted underneath the upper pickguard.

    20180823_143321.

    I'm with ya' on the feud being at the root of it. And you won't find a much bigger fan of RIck Turner on these boards than me. I currently own and play 4 of his creations, have talked to him on several occasions, and found him to be extremely personable (especially to another wannabe loothier like me), but I also have 4 Alembics, and I think the world of Mica and her family. Yeah, it's often a little like having feuding parents. You can't haul off and post just anything anywhere, because there is an extremely delicate balance to be struck.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2018
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