Alembic Bass arrived today!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by JRBrown, Oct 24, 2003.

  1. JRBrown


    Jun 21, 2000
    North Carolina
    The folks at UPS handed this over to me today.

    Alembic Essence:

    - 3-piece neck through
    - Bocate top, maple laminate, mohogany back
    - Ebony board, solid brass bridge
    - Q-Filter

    Nothing new to me. I had one of these last year with a maple top. I sold it in search of a higher-end Alembic but soon discovered that the $4,000 price tag and/or 8-month wait was not for me. This one surfaced with a nicer top, near-mint condition, and hundreds cheaper than my previous one. SNAG!

    A keeper? Sure. Until a good deal on a higher-model Alembic comes my way.


    MAJOR METAL HARVESTER OF SORROW Staff Member Supporting Member

    HI JR

    Is the Sadowsky still in the running, i think they still have the one you want.
  3. christle

    christle Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2002
    Winnipeg, MB
    That is one beautiful bass! Congratulations.
  4. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    I have had one of these with a Koa top for about 10 years, and it is like a tank. So many boutique basses feel really fragile, but this one is nearly indestructible I think. The neck is rock solid and the whole bass is just aging really well.
    It also sounds great. I posted in the "pickups" forum that I replaced the Low Pass filter (and actually, the whole guts of the bass) with a prewired Bartolini NTBT system running on 18v. You would not believe how good this bass sounds now! Zow!
    All of the Alembic sounds are still in there, but now it's the sonic equivalent of a swiss army knife and so hi-fi. It gives up great jazz bass sounds, marcus sounds, yamaha sounds and more.
    I know Alembic enthusiasts think this is nuts, but I can't stress how well this system works with the Essence. The single low-pass filter doesn't give enough EQ options, and the NTBT is an inexpensive way to increase your tonal resevoir and preserve the fidelity of the bass.
    Try it!
  5. JRBrown


    Jun 21, 2000
    North Carolina

    This one was made in 1998. The first/original owner said that it has about 1-hour play time on it and he's about right. I removed the bridge to clean it an I noticed that the wood underneath was lighter in color. This one's aging nicely also.

    I agree that the bass sounds very good as is: hi-fi, percussive, very clean. And you're right about the Q-switch, it works, but it's limited. I reach for a little more bass and I loose some high-end and visa-versa. I called Mica at Alembic about an preamp upgrade. Not only does it cost $500, but it still includes the Q-switches. I'm going to try a Bart or Aguilar obp-3 preamp as soon as I find one. Shoot me a pic of your bass and its guts.

  6. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    I felt the same way about the sound of the soon as you started dialing the knob, you were either losing bass or treble. The NTBT rocks because you still have access to those SUPER lows and SUPER highs (it eq's the WHOLE tonal range of those pickups) but it's much more functional. You can keep that super top end and dial in other frequencies under it.

    Will try to get a pic of the control cavity. I ordered the NTBT from Zach Russick (he's pretty easy to find, do a search for him) for about $82. It dropped in to the bass very easily (or at least, my tech did it quickly) and sounds great.
    I think running it off 18v is essential, because the pickups are so low impedance. I actually tried an EMG BTC control before and there wasn't enough boost to drive the pickups.
    The NTBT in there is the mutts nuts!

  7. JRBrown


    Jun 21, 2000
    North Carolina
    Alembic's answer: "That's what the outboard controls are for."

    And they're right. I can balance the highs, mids, and lows via the F-1X controls. But I still want to try the conventional preamp.
  8. JRBrown


    Jun 21, 2000
    North Carolina
    The Sadowsky is always in the running. ;)
  9. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    Congrats on a great bass! I've liked the Essence design ever since BP did a review on one about 10 years ago. An Essence with a dark top (bacote, cocobolo, etc. ) is about as good as it gets when you're talking Alembic! I just hope your Eshenbaugh doesn't get jealous. :D
  10. nice stuff.

    btw, what kind of high end alembic has a $4k price tag? i don't think i've encountered one such as that.
  11. neptoon


    Jul 25, 2000
    summerville, sc
    every alembic i've ever seen with series electronics has been pretty outrageous....check out bass northwest and bass central, they both have some pretty expensive ones. i would like to have a rogue or a europa one day...for the right price...
  12. Victor Wooten98

    Victor Wooten98 Guest

    Jul 31, 2003
    South of Heaven...
    Damn thats a nice bass... Hey if you guys ever get really drunk and want to give any basses a way, Feel free to hand them over to me :D Id play that bass for HOURS.

    The first time I gave a MTD 635 a 'test run' I was playin it for like 3 and a half hours in the store, they had to kick me out...:D
  13. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    That's a lovely bass. :) I'm curious, though-

    Please define "Q-Filter". Isn't it just a tone knob?


    Aug 13, 2003
    Sulphur LA
    I have 3 alembics, one with Europa electronics, and the others have bass/treble boost/cut. I have no problems with versatility with those packages. I think the clarity is outstanding. I have two Zons with Barts and the Alembs are much cleaner. I got apples and oranges!:) And you my friend have one KILLER BASS! Congrats!:D
  15. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City

    Welcome back to the dark side ;). Beautiful top on that one. You do know that if you have an F1X, you're part way to having the Series I sound and flexibility, right?

    Cephas, try the Alembic Quote Generator and you'll see how quickly $4,000 slides out of your wallet. The various models are at the bottom of the page. The "pecking order" is
    Excel, Epic, Orion, Essence, Rogue, Europa, Signature Standard, Signature Deluxe, Series I, Series II. A 4 string Essence with no options lists at $3,800. As usual, retail is quite a bit less, but you can see how many models will list at $4,000 or more.


  16. JRBrown


    Jun 21, 2000
    North Carolina
    This one lists for $6.8K and SELLS for $4K! :eek: And it's the next model up: Rogue Bass

  17. JRBrown


    Jun 21, 2000
    North Carolina
    I posted these questions on the Alembic board:

    - Could someone please explain in detail how the Q-Filter and Q-Switches work?

    - Also, what would be a good electronics up grade for the Alembic Essence?

    - Anyone ever install a Bart preamp in an Essence? I heard that it works wonderfully.

    The reply:

    Basically, the filter control is a low pass filter; as you roll it back it lowers the point at which it passes low frequency signals and blocks high frequency signals. To quote Mica, "the range is from 350Hz-6KHz. Wherever you set the filter, only frequencies below that cutoff point are passed." The Q switch works in concert with the filter and provides an 8db boost at the cut off frequency you've set with the filter. When the switch is off you get a flat response on to the filter setting. Again to quote Mica, "the Q affects mainly the attack portion of the note".

    Essence controls have a filter control but no Q switch; for an Essence the Q is always on. A good electronics upgrade for an Essence is to add a Q switch. It is relatively inexpensive and Alembic will send you installation instructions. Beyond that, any upgrade is a bit more problematic because of the lack of available room in the control cavity. Also for any other upgrade Alembic will want for you to send the bass to them for the upgrade. For instance a good upgrade might be to add bass and treble boost/cut switches. But again, you are looking at sending the bass to Alembic and probably modifying the control cavity.

    I would imagine the vast majority of the members of this group would not recommend replacing Alembic electronics with Bart electronics. Bart makes great preamps, but part of the reason for buying an Alembic is the electronics.

    Personally, my main bass is an Essence and I know how frustrating Essence controls can be. With the Q always on, I find the boost to be generally unworkable at lower filter settings; thus I usually leave the filter all the way up and adjust my tone with my F-1X and SF-2. I have not yet added the Q switch since I am planning to send my bass to Alembic at some point in the future. However, I do have a fretless that has Europa controls and the Q switch on that bass does make a difference. Being able to turn the Q off when rolling the filter back to lower settings does give a smoother sound.

    I would guess that not all Essence owners would agree with my comments; I'm sure many are happy with the tone they are getting now. Tone is very subjective and is also influenced by what your ears hear and how damaged your ears are after years of repeated assaults from high frequency PA feedback, as mine admittedly are. But if you are having problems getting useful tones out of your Essence, then a good first step would probably be adding a Q switch.


    The control cavity:

  18. exactly. i was expecting a high end alembic to be somewhere in the $10k range or more.