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Alembic

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Quizzo, Aug 10, 2002.


  1. Quizzo

    Quizzo

    Aug 10, 2002
    Upstate SC
    I was playing with the idea that if i sold both of my basses, a carvin 6 string and warwick thumb 4 neck thru and saved up till christmas i could but and alembic Series 2. unfortunatley the only alembic i have had the pleasure of playing was an orion. any suggestions or expierence with these basses would be highly appreciated.

    thanks
     
  2. BassFelt

    BassFelt

    Mar 26, 2002
    How come you want a bass you haven't tried, felt & heard played by yourself, to the point you want to sell all your babies in order to obtain it?

    Even if you get "go for it" advice from those who have, that still doesn't mean it's THE bass for you.

    It is common knowledge Alembic builds quality instruments, but you have to like them.
     
  3. I'm with BassFelt, you definitely want to try one first so you know what you're getting into. I bought an Alembic years ago as an impulse buy, based on reputation alone. It didn't have the sound or feel I was looking for at all.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking Alembics. It just wasn't the bass for me. It would probably be the perfect bass in someone else's hands. Make sure you know what you want and what you're getting before you go plunking down a lot of cash and selling off your other basses. Of course, this should be the case whether the bass in question was Alembic or any other higher-end bass.
     
  4. RAM

    RAM

    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I also agree, especially for two reasons:

    First of all, Alembic Series II basses are among the most expensive production basses you can find! It's not that they are or aren't worth the money; in fact, IMO, they're among the nicest basses around. They're pieces of art. But, for that kind of money, you really need to know it's for you.

    Second of all, Alembics are truly custom-production basses. They have some basic guidelines, but don't follow all rules regarding such basic things as scale length, neck profile, fretboard radius, all of which have a huge impact on personal comfort.

    I'd recommend contacting Alembic and telling them of your dilemma, that you want to buy one but have never tried one. They might be able to put you in touch with a dealer who has one so you can see what you like and what you don't. That way, at least you'll have an idea of what you're getting yourself into with these.
     
  5. alembicbones

    alembicbones

    Nov 10, 2000
    Seattle, WA
    Quiz,

    I've owned 3 Alembic's and they are my most favorite bass (surprise, surprise). I started with an Essence, then moved to a Europa, to the present where I just picked up a Series II. Each of these basses were (are) 5 strings, and I bought each one used. There was clearly a step up in class at each stage, with the Series II delivering the most incredible tone I've every had the pleasure of playing. This definitely comes at a heavy price tag, however.

    If I'm not mistaken, Series II basses are built as custom orders come from individual players, and they are very personalized. For a 5 string Series II, with no real upgrades, you're probably looking in the $8K range. Obviously, this goes up as the goodies are added.

    An interesting feature of Alembics is their very low resale value. This is why I feel the used market is by far the way to buy these instruments. That being said, the lower to middle Alembics pop up all the time, and you can swing a great deal. Even older Series I four strings come up with regularity and they can be had for the $2K - $3K range. Series II's, however, tend to be a much rarer bird in the used market. This is likely due to the personalization, and poor resale value. I think most owners order the bass, fall in love with it, and carry it to their grave. Not to say they don't come up, but you really have to be in the right place at the right time. I really wasn't in the market for one, but I saw this bass on the net, the price was right, and I moved on it.

    I really think you need to play a few Alembics to see if they are your cup of tea. They are heavy, and many models have significant neck dive. You mentioned that you played an Orion. Did it have a low pass filter (an upgraded Orion), or were the tone controls just bass and treble? I think the essence of the Alembic tone comes from the low pass filter. If this Orion had a low pass filter, I think you were getting an idea what Alembics are about. As you go up through their higher end instruments, the controls get more sophisticated, but they're just enhancements upon the low pass filter concept. If not, try one that has this feature before plunking your money down.

    Best Wishes on your search,
    Bones
     
  6. RedGrange

    RedGrange

    Jun 11, 2000
    Springfield, IL
    I love Alembics, but I can't afford them... I might get an Excel, but only a 4 string... the headstock is way too big on the 5 in my opinion
     
  7. I at one time had a Series I and have kicked myself for years for selling it. I just bought a used Epic and am already in love with it. NO ONE makes basses like Alembic!!!!!:D :D :D :D
     
  8. malthumb

    malthumb

    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    Quizzo,

    I'll try not to echo everything Alembicbones said, 'cause he's right on the mark. You'll probably be hard pressed to play a Series II before buying one 'cause they are so rare. Once upon a time I picked up a used 4 string for $1,900. Loved it but wound up selling it for about the same because I ordered a 5 string.

    It is possible to get your hands on a used Series I and maybe play before you pay. Especially if you deal with an online store or dealer that has a return policy. That will give you a chance to play one with the option of sending it back. They are not everyone's cup o' tea.

    There are very few differences between a Series I and Series II if they have the same body types and wood choices. The differences are:

    * Number of neck and body wood laminates
    * Series II has a master volume dial in addition to the volume dials for each pick up
    * Series II has continuously variable Q controls, Series I has two 3-position switches.

    Nowadays there are a lot more differences, like continuous wood backplates, side LEDs, and recessed MOP logos, but it'll be a while before you see one of those used at a reasonable price.

    Another way to get close to a Series I / II sound is to get a Signature bass (Mark King Signature or Stanley Clarke Signature) or a Rogue or Europa. Pick up an Alembic SF-2 Superfilter (@ $300 - 350 on eBay) and go for it. You can usually get a Rogue, Europa, or Signature used for $1,800 - 2,500.

    Peace,

    James
     
  9. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Alembic has been joined by most high end basses in the latest slump that's hit resale values. Then again, they get hit particularly hard when you factor in retail vs. resale prices.
     
  10. Wombatesque

    Wombatesque

    Sep 29, 2000
    San Jose, Ca.
    I bought an Alembic four years ago, on reputation alone. It was a stupid thing to do, considering the amount of money and the need to have a bass that was 'right' for me. But... I got very lucky. My Alembic turned out to be exactly what I wanted, and I haven't looked back since. My main concern in giving advice would be that Alembics have a feel that is quite different from the other basses I have played. You should find out if this feel suits you.