Alembic Series 1 Review.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Whafrodamus, May 6, 2005.

  1. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA

    Here's a picture of my lovely series 1, and now for the review.

    ..But first here's a little background.

    I was talking to Benjamin Strange last night, and he mentioned this ALembic that has been sitting in his store for years upon years. I said "Hrm.. I have a good feeling about this Alembic". I ask "How much?".. He said "$3500". A few minutes later, I have it for $3250.00 sihpped with flight case and power supply. I was happy. I had never played this bass before, but I had a good feeling. The bass is in 8/10 condition, which is amazing for the age. There was a little oxidation on the brass hardware, and a buncha dings on the back fromt he previous owner, and some minor dings here and there. He took a few pics, hardly noticable. I knew that this would be my next bass. I put down a downpayment, and started paying off for the next few months. Well, I finally got the bass and I give major props to Ben for his marvelous work as a saleperson and musician. He was honest, and always there to answer quesitons or help me out.

    Now for the review:

    Tone: 100000000000/10

    It's an Alembic... Series 1. The tone is that of the voice of god. There are so many tones to choose from with the filters and the Q switches and everything. All the tones sound unique, and they are all useable and just delicious. I am having trouble picking up my other basses.

    Playability: 9/10

    The bass was setup by Ben, he did a good job. THe intonation needed a little work, but that's easily fixable. THe action was low, no buzz except on the 5th fret of the E string. I assume it's partially because of the old strings. I'm getting a set of .040-.100 DR High beams that'll make everything play better. The strings currently on it were too stiff for my tastes, but it plays amazing. The neck is VERY weird. No taper or contour. I thought it might be problematic, but it's easy to play. Also, this is a BIG bass so it takes a little getting used to, but the reward for learnign how to play this beast outweigh the awkwardness of it's design.

    Ease of use: 10/10

    At first, I didn't know what any of the switches or knobs did. I thought I would be sitting here for years trying to figure out how to get a tone that I liked. Honestly, the controls are very easy to get the hang of. I love it.

    Electronics: 100000/10

    First off, I have to give props to Benjamin again. He sold me a diamond in the ruff. I was talking to Mica at alembic, and they said that 90ish% of the basses that can get/would possibly need to get the electronics upgrade actually need it. My bass is one of the minorities whos electronics are flawless. Even inside my house, are silent. The pickups and electronics sound amazing, and as I said above, they're pretty easy to use.

    Physical condition: 8/10

    The bass is in okay condition. Some indents from a belt buckle or something in teh back, the fretboard has some dings around the body, and the headstock has a few dings. I talked to ALembic, and I might send'er away to get a restoration in a few months. The bass is in beautiful condition as is. I just want it to be perfect because.. well.. it's a freakin' alembic. I'm also going to get the silver tuning keys replaced with gold ones (to match stuff.

    Weight/Ergodynamics/Aerodynamics: 10/10

    This bass is extremely light for its size, especially compared to my fender and my warwick. I think it's my lightest bass. The body is HUGE, and the neck is offset to the left (so the neck seems very long). Still, it is easy to hold, play, and hit people with :-D.

    Overall: I want more Alembics/10

    This bass is killer. Anyone who sees a Series 1 lying around for a great price, BUY IT. You won't regret it.
    TheDialog likes this.
  2. Mike McGibney

    Mike McGibney Not impossible ... Inevitable

    Apr 13, 2005
    Essex, UK.
    Great review, thanks. Through Mr Stanley Clarke the sound of Alembics are really growing on me. Played one once but it was very heavy, and the electronics were confusing so it wasn't the ideal way to get introduced to them.

    I'll definately check a few out when I'm in London next.

  3. Scottie Johnson

    Scottie Johnson

    Sep 8, 2004
    Nice review. I know what you mean about the neck. The neck on my ASAT feels longer because of where the strap pin in located. You'll get used to it quickly and then your other basses will feel like the neck is shorter.

    You've got a great bass. Rat's off to ya. :bassist:
  4. abngourmet

    abngourmet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2004
    Great review, but I'm not surprised at how much you like your Series I. I own three Alembics, and they're just amazing. Mine aren't Series instruments, but they're just astounding nonetheless. I've posted reviews of them in the gear reviews section here, so take a peek. Mine are the Spyder, Europa, and Dragon's Wing. The Wing, BTW, is just amazing sounding - can't begin to tell you how great it is.

    Congrats, and enjoy, Whofra.

  5. pointbass

    pointbass Semi-Retired Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    Congrats Whafro .... nice review and great bass :cool:
  6. smperry

    smperry Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Martin Keith Guitars
    I've played your bass a couple of times :spit:

    :D It's a great one! Lucky for me and you, I wasn't gonna get it because it's a four string. I did get asked to play with two different bands while checking that bass out. :bassist: It sounded that good.

    Enjoy! Marshall
  7. Jmann


    Apr 29, 2003
    Lexington, Ky
    THANK YOU SO MUCH! :spit: Now im gassing for an alembic. Thats just great... *thinks to self* pay off magnum, get an alembic, pay off magnum, get an alembic.

    nope, no sleep for ol' Jmann tonight :crying:

    Really, Congrats man :D
  8. j-raj

    j-raj Bassist: Educator/Soloist/Performer Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jan 14, 2003
    Atlanta, GA!
    pro review + nice bass = enjoy
  9. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    Sinny, Oztraya
    Good review Whafro. Glad you like it.

    I also have a Series 1, and it's definitely my best bass. Agree 100% with your opinions regarding tone and electronics. Mine also has some dings and other cosmetic issues, but I quite like it's funky mojoness; looks like it's been played for it's 25 year life and I don't see any need to mess with that. No one comments on my 'fancy boutique bass' because, well, it doesn't look all that boutique anymore, more like an uptown girl slumming it.

    Mines really heavy, even though it's a 30.75" (all purpleheart and maple), but through a lucky quirk of fate, it hangs beautifully with both ends of the strap on the front strap pin, and balances perfectly.

    Now you have one Alembic, you'll need another so it doesn't get lonely.
  10. AlembicPlayer

    AlembicPlayer Im not wearing shorts

    Aug 15, 2004
    Pacific Northwet, USA
  11. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    NOW YOU TELL ME!!! ;)


    That was an excellent review Whafro. Sounds like you kinda like it a little bit. I'm not surprised you found it to be very light, especially considering its size. My 4 string Series I (the one on my foot in the picture) weighs less than 10 lbs. It weighs less than a small body 32" scale Series II that I used to own. The large body Series basses are chambered inside. Since they're not solid, they can be lighter than they look. Now, that 5 string I have strapped up in the picture weighs in around 13 1/2 lbs! Huge difference in weight between similar sized basses.

    Keep enjoying it. Hopefully you're using the power supply and 5 pin cable. That or you own stock in Duracell. Those sweet electronics come at a price.


  12. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City

    Interesting idea. I'd have never thought to try that. Do you use straplocks or do you have another failsafe? It would seem that a slip would be catastrophic.


  13. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    Sinny, Oztraya
    I'm speaking from hard personal experience myself. And if I found another I liked, such as my old Distillate, or another nice 32, I'd probably buy it.

    Don't you find it hard to play the two of them at the same time?

    My S1 is about 11lbs, my SC about 9.
  14. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    I'm glad I could help. Has anyone tried DR High Beams with their S1? These strings that are on there right now suck mucho.
  15. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    Sinny, Oztraya
    So far it's only been used at home in this way, using the original strap pin. However, I'm thinking of ordering another strap to match the wide leather/sheepskin one I have, and screwing it directly into the back, leaving it on there permanently.