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Alembic V Warwick

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by nipperooney, Jul 23, 2007.

  1. nipperooney


    Jul 5, 2007
    Hi Guys

    I am going to treat myself to a new bass for my 40th and up until a couple of days ago I always thought it would be a Warwick Thumb NT. However, after hanging around here for a bit Alembics have started getting my juices pumping again (after initially drooling over them from about 20 years ago when I wasn't even a bass player). I currently have a Warwick Corvette standard passive 4 string, which has served me well for the last ten years, but I'm not so precious about it to not switch brands if necessary.

    It seems I can pick up an Alembic Orion or even the Essence for similar money to the Thumb. My question is thus - which is the better bass, the top(ish) of Warwicks line or the lower end of Alembics? I know so much depends on what kind of sound I want, etc, but if you can offer me any thoughts, I'd be grateful.

  2. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    I think the lower end of Alembic's quality would far outshine even the higher end Warwicks, so if its a question of build quality I would go with the ALembic. However, the sound difference between an Almbic and a Thumb-NT is so different that you would really have to factor in what sound you were looking for. What's the point in having a top quality bass that can't produce the sound you want it to?

    If you like the Warwick growl but want it into a top quality package (with a lot more flexibility) you could look into a used MTD 435.
  3. phippsyg


    May 28, 2007
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar Amplification, Optima Strings
    I own both and they are 2 very different basses. Personally I really like my Alembic. For a long time the Warwick was the sound I wanted to hear, but I turn to it more now for it's specific tone, whereas I find the Alembic to be more of an all rounder. Either way they are both great well-made basses. But I can't help but feel I'm holding something really quite special when I pick up my Alembic (it's an Europa). Don't really want to be bias as they are both great, but.....
    End of the day, it doesn't matter what the brand is, buy something you like the sound of.
  4. Baryonyx

    Baryonyx Banned

    Jul 11, 2005
    Marathon Man
    Well, they're both going to provide different sounds, and both will do well. However, in terms of overall quality I'd lean towards Alembic in a big way, but thats just my preference.
  5. funkybassplayer

    funkybassplayer Commercial User

    Sep 16, 2003
    Longview, TX
    Nordstrand Audio, Epifani
    I shall recomend a VINTAGE Warwick. I have and '88 Thumb NT and a '86 Streamer. I dunno what it is but when comparing them to new versions of the same bass it seems like the older warwick had a bit more nurturing and care in them. Don't get me wrong. i love the new Warwicks and am wanting to order a quilt maple Thumb NT.
  6. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    Are you gonna spend your money on an incredibly well made instrument with many options available, and fantastic electronics: Alembic
    Or arer you gonna spend your money on a more or less mass produced instrument from a maker who made their name building Spector knock offs: Warwick
    Sorry If this comes across a little extreme;)
    But in my book they are in two completely different leagues.
    I am referring to new instrument.
    I agree that warwicks of twenty years ago were somewhat different animals than those made today.
    Still I'd go with Alembic if I was to chose between the two.
  7. nipperooney


    Jul 5, 2007
    Thanks guys. I think that's what I was wanting to hear. As far as sound is concerned Mark talks about the 'Warwick growl', but I can't say that I've experienced any 'growl' particularly from my Corvette, but that's probably more to do with my lack of ability maybe...

    I'm a bit crap about the sound of basses, to be honest and I've never bought a bass based on its sound. I know this is not good, and maybe some of you reading this think that I don't deserve either and should spend £100 on a cheap copy, instead.

    However, I recently bought a PJB suitcase combo and it has shown me how a decent sounding bass sound should sound (albeit iin a quiet and weedy kind of way!). Hence my desire to get a quality bass and then get a quality rig to put it through. I've never cared about sound before, but now I want to sound good and take pride in the sound of my bass, rather than just chugging away at the bottom end.

    Is there a site that anyone knows of which has audio clips of different makes of bass, so that I can hear the difference myself?
  8. lamarjones

    lamarjones Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    there are a lot of alembic pros here, so I'll just chime in with MY personal opinion.

    The lower line alembics are very well built, but have never suited me. I have always found their necks to be kind of chunky, and ironically I find the series ones to be pretty small, so I may just no be an alembic guy. Also, the sounds I got from the epic, essence, and orion's I have tried were ok, but once again I am stating it is not for me.

    But, the one thing I will say about them is that they work for some people, and this is one of those makes that I really suggest you get a chance to try, or you get something that you factor you can flip if necessary.

    However, whoever said vintage Warwick NT is right on the money.
  9. tbrannon


    Jun 11, 2006
    I'd say go for the Alembic- the Orion, Essence and Epic are GREAT basses- and if you pick one up used you can always turn around and sell it without a loss.
  10. ggunn


    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    I heart my Epic 5.
  11. bottomzone


    Oct 21, 2005
    You need to spend time with both, playing them through the same amp/speaker. I am blessed to have a 1982 Alembic Spoiler and a 2001 Thumb 5 BO.. They each have their own sound and feel. The weight differences need to be considered, too. The Thumb, with Wenge fretboard, Ovankgol neck and body, has a serious mid-range presence at really cuts through the mix and of course, the "Warwick growl". The Spoiler, with maple neck, Koa body and ebony fretboard, has a clean and refined top-end and full "old school" bottom and a warmer sound. Also being a neck-through, the Spoiler sustains forever.............

    The bottom line (pun intended) is that it's your money, your hands, your ears and ultimately, your desicion!

    Keep God First!:hyper:

    A Groove is a Terrible Thing to Waste!:cool:
  12. funkybassplayer

    funkybassplayer Commercial User

    Sep 16, 2003
    Longview, TX
    Nordstrand Audio, Epifani
    thanks lamarjones. i have loved all my vintage Wick NT's especially my thumb with the old style bubinga/wenge neck. that combination seems to bring out the growl in my NT thumb.
  13. melt


    May 16, 2007
    I've never owned a Thumb but I've owned a '91 Streamer Stage 1 and Dolphin Pro1, a '96 Dolphin Pro 1, and a bolt-on Dolphin Pro 2. I've also owned a '91 Alembic Stanley Clarke, and currently own a custom-built Triple O Signature. The Alembics are far, far superior for me. It's not even close. I find them far more versatile, far easier to play, far better built, far better sounding; you get the picture. I find the cheaper models are not as good for me, but I think they still may edge the Warwicks (although ironcally I bought my bolt-on Dolphin - arguably my favourite of my Dolphins despite its inferior reputation - in preference to an Alembic Epic). However, I'm not you. The only person who can decide is you, by playing as many examples of both as you can lay your hands on.
  14. In terms of quality, I'd stack my Streamer Stage II against a cheaper Alembic model any day.

    The high end Alembics, however, are a different story...tough to beat them in terms of quality.
  15. TFunkadelic


    Apr 9, 2006
    Oh wow, I'm on the verge of getting a Warwick (thumb) and I started reading this and got all depressed...Then I found out how expensive Alembics are!
  16. :eyebrow:

    I've owned an Orion, an Elan, a EVH Signature and a Series I, and I've come back to an Orion.

    The quality of 'cheaper' Alembics is equal to their most expensive instruments.
    Makes sense, as they're made in the exact same way by exactly the same people.

    I wish more companies worked from the same philosophy.
  17. lamarjones

    lamarjones Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    in 94-95 I ordered a corvette with the fretless ebony/wenge neck, and a friend had the fretted version.

    I have to say both of those basses were awesome instruments and had every bit of quality that any other great warwick I have ever had possessed. I definitely have played underwheleming ones, once they decided to pump out model after model like we see today, but in those earlier days, most of the warwicks were VERY nice basses.
  18. I've played tons of newer Warwicks. I really don't see the quality as being much less (if any) than the older ones (and I own 2 of the older ones). They are different, yes, mainly due to different woods (wenge vs. ovangkol), but that's a preference issue. The problem that I've personally seen is that most Warwick dealers (namely GC) don't do anything in terms of setup with these basses. I've played some 'Wicks at GC that had some of the worst setups I've ever seen. Many people play a bass with a poor setup and automatically think it's of poor quality. It also doesn't help much that GC lets punk kids bash the crap out of those basses and then does nothing about it. I've seen Warwicks at GC with missing knobs, knobs that don't work, etc.
  19. 82Daion


    Nov 14, 2006
    I've played both, and I'd say that you would definitely have to play them both before making a decision, as they are two completely different beasts. The Orion is a great bass, and the one I played had a nice, slim Jazz neck. Very open, organic sound, with a lot of variation depending on your hand placement, and excellent workmanship. Blows Warwicks out of the water, IMO.
  20. bassman10096

    bassman10096 Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2004
    To each his own. If you have an Alembic built (by far the most costly way to come by an Alembic), you can get virtually any scale, radius, board width, neck thickness you ask for. This applies to all Alembic models. That could be why the Series 1 necks you played felt different. The other difference is that the standard high end Alembic basses come standard with a neck that doesn't taper much from nut to heel. The newer and lower cost models come standard with pretty much the same taper as a Jazz bass. :ninja:

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