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Alembic Elan 6 questions before buying

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Adam Groves, May 17, 2019 at 7:53 PM.

  1. Adam Groves

    Adam Groves

    Aug 12, 2018
    Hey TB,

    I met and played an Alembic Elan 6, from 1991, which I am interested in purchasing. It hasn't had the easiest life but it was restored. There was a head stock separation which was repaired--the repair looks great. Intonation is fine. Neck is straight. For some reason the original Alembic preamp was changed to John East Retro. An extra toggle switch was put on. It was refinished. Woods in the neck look like 3 purpleheart. Ebony fretboard and top. Thinking maple elsewhere, not too sure.

    I like this bass a lot. I own an Alembic and have for over 20 years. It is the best bass I have ever owned. The seller wants 2k USD for it. And clearly I would want to replace the preamp back to the original.

    I have mixed feelings about the price, I think it's too high. There's no hard case. It doesn't seem like this guy is hurting financially, so perhaps he'd let it go for less. He was pretty upfront about the bass's life history. What do you think?
    Last edited: May 17, 2019 at 8:10 PM
  2. DeltaPhoenix

    DeltaPhoenix Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2011
    I think it is too high. The preamp won’t be cheap from Alembic
  3. Adam Groves

    Adam Groves

    Aug 12, 2018
    Thanks for the input. What do you think is a reasonable selling price? 1750?
  4. CaseyVancouver


    Nov 4, 2012
    IMHO a ‘restored’ Alembic bass is like a molested Alembic, unless Alembic did the work.
    Pics will help.
    Skip Chucker, lfmn16 and Adam Groves like this.
  5. DeltaPhoenix

    DeltaPhoenix Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2011
    I was going to say $1700
    Adam Groves likes this.
  6. CaseyVancouver


    Nov 4, 2012
    I follow the Alembic prices and that bass must be perfect to get anything near that kind of money. A 5 string Elan sold tb classifieds for around $2450 earlier this year. It was like new.

    If you’ve played it and love it, it’s worth to you what you are willing to pay.
    Last edited: May 17, 2019 at 10:22 PM
  7. Garret Graves

    Garret Graves website- ggravesmusic.com Gold Supporting Member

    May 20, 2010
    Arcadia, Ca
    Alembic has used East pre amps lately, or at least they did so on a restore of a very important bass, one of the earliest Alembics made had an East pre amp installed by Alembic for a restore, which says a lot about East! Read about that here
    EDIT: The restore wasn’t done by Alembic, but by an early associate-sorry
    Last edited: May 17, 2019 at 10:30 PM
    Adam Groves likes this.
  8. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    No indeed. An Activator preamp runs between $1000 and $1200 last time I looked.
    Garret Graves likes this.
  9. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    The EQ01 preamp East did with ACG is very similar to Alembic’s preamp.Very nice preamp.
    Adam Groves and Garret Graves like this.
  10. CaseyVancouver


    Nov 4, 2012
    That East pre amp getting installed on Alembic #001 sure got some folks upset over at the Alembic Club website. Myself included.
    Garret Graves, Loring and Adam Groves like this.
  11. Adam Groves

    Adam Groves

    Aug 12, 2018
    Thanks everybody for the feedback. It really helps. I do feel strange about the changes and no, the restoration work was not done by Alembic but the bass looks great and plays / feels right. If the East preamp is solid like you say, I am alright with it. And I think 1700 is a fair offer to the guy. I guess I am just a bit hesitant about the headstock having been snapped off and set back on. The repairs look very good. So if there are no reservations about that, maybe I'll make the guy an offer. I have never owned a bass that has had that type of damage / repair before.
  12. Manticore


    Feb 27, 2016
    They don't come up often, but an Alembic Elan+ six in pristine condition from the early '90s will typically trade in the $3,000 to $3,500 range. I own several early '90s Elan sixes, including the one I bought new in '92. An early '90s Elan six has a neck constructed of six maple and five purple heart laminates. It is really difficult to image what could have been done to snap the headstock as described. Given a pristine example is comparatively affordable, I'm wondering if such a damaged example is worth consideration at any price...
    Last edited: May 18, 2019 at 2:15 AM
  13. Adam Groves

    Adam Groves

    Aug 12, 2018
    It looks great, sounds pretty good. You think 1700
    USD is right in terms of its history?
  14. mikewalker

    mikewalker Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2017
    Canada, Eh!
    Sounds like a rare bird... short of John Entwistle, offhand I can't think of anyone who has ever smashed an Alembic in anger... :)
    Adam Groves and EddiePlaysBass like this.
  15. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    I wouldn't pay any more than !,700. I can tell you that it will be really hard to sell if you decide to get rid of it. Most people just don't want an instrument with that kind of damage and "restoration."
    Adam Groves likes this.
  16. EdwardofHuncote

    EdwardofHuncote I Still Dream of Jeannie Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2013
    Southwest Virginia
    Whatever $ you put into the bass, figure the corrrect activator electronics will cost about $1100 to completely replace, though less if you don't need the pickups. I would definitely call Mica directly about this... she can help you determine exactly what you need, and even discuss upgrades that have been developed for that circuit since it came out. You mentioned an extra toggle switch had beed added, if it's me, I'm adding a Q-switch to the standard Vol./Pan/Filter circuit for Elan. The best news is, you can do it yourself, no solder required, all modular plugs. I did this to my own 1989 Persuader 5-string at her suggestion.

    Neutrik cable.

    The bad news- a broken scarf joint at the headstock, even if well-repaired makes the bass much less valuable on the resale market, to say nothing of just being hard to sell. Nothing wrong with John East electronics either, but they will not sound or feel like their Alembic counterparts. I have a Broughton resonant low-pass filter with a sweepable Q I use with a couple non-Alembic basses. It sounds fantastic, but nothing like an Alembic. Just makes them behave in a similar way. If you have another Alembic (mentioned you did) it will always sound and feel a little bit odd to you, just in the way it responds. You might be just fine with it, and dig the difference. Or you might decide to restore it and sell the J/E parts to defray costs.

    Either way, if your intent is to keep it and play it, then you're probably good if you stay south of $2K The further south the better.

    Good luck. :thumbsup:
    Adam Groves and packhowitzer like this.
  17. bassman10096


    Jul 30, 2004
    I agree. Not only will replacing the Alembic electronics be expensive (I’d expect Alembic would only do it if they did the full job), but as well done as the restore might be, it’s not original. By the time all’s said and done you could get a fully original Alembic for the same outlay.
    Adam Groves likes this.
  18. HeavyJazz

    HeavyJazz Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2013
    With repairs like that I'd say $1200 is about the mark.
    Adam Groves and el_Bajo_Verde like this.
  19. Ampslut


    May 15, 2017
    The fact that it has been modified and refinished makes its' value questionable. It is worth whatever you are willing to pay. Offer him $1500
    Adam Groves likes this.
  20. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    Make an offer based upon what your $$$ desire for the bass is. If the seller refuses, you’ve spent the emotional capital (and financial) you were willing to and not lose sleep.

    Only time folks here lose sleep over a bass is if they didn’t offer enough to own & wish they really had. Or, if a bass was stolen or if they regret selling a bass.
    Adam Groves likes this.

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