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big mistake? (Alembic)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Yvon, Sep 11, 2004.

  1. Yvon

    Yvon Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2000
    Montreal, Canada
    For the first time today I tried an Alembic. It was the essence model. For some reasons I always thought that Alembic where really sterile...
    But today I tried one and it was really really great sounding!!
    A great hi-fi tone, great clarity in the highs and they where not sounding sterile at all. Great bottom also.
    The bass was really simple, volume, pan and a tone control. You could get lots of great tone with only those knobs.

    It was mahogany wings, maple neck and cocobolo top, very beautiful.
    I was/am on the market for a modern sounding 4 string. I was thinking about a Sadowsky metro or maybe a Nino or a warmoth.
    I was also thinking about a Montreal luthier building me one. I was thinking about putting around 2000 canadian on it...
    But I found exactly what i was looking for in the Alembic.
    The problem is....it's 4000$!!!! Twice what i was thinking to put on a bass...

    I shouldn't have tried that bass!!!
    can you say GAS???
  2. AlembicPlayer

    AlembicPlayer Im not wearing shorts

    Aug 15, 2004
    Pacific Northwet, USA
    I don't know what led you to believe Alembic was sterile.
    The Essence is a nice model, but nothing like the top of the line Series basses.

    I have a friend who's selling a 5 string Essence for a sweet deal..about a quarter of what you're looking at.

    good luck in the quest!
  3. JPJ's Alembic rips live, and on the recordings.

    I want one. But with less narrow string spacing.

  4. Well, yes...not a good idea to try an Alembic when low on cash. I'll tell ya though...that's WAY too much for that bass! The list on it is only $3800! An Essence should be had for $1900-$2200...even if you have to order it from a stateside store and go for a ride...you're better off!
    I'm sure Mica Wickersham would kill me if she heard me say this, but...IMO, Alembic is only an Alembic at the Distillate (now called the Europa) level. And really, the only instrument I would begin to invest in from Alembic would be a Series I. (Or Series II, if you just want to throw cash out the window.) But the sound is just like nothing you've ever heard with the series basses!
  5. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    4 grand for an essence?
    who are they kidding?
    btw, the essence is one of my favorite basses (in the 4 string flavor), just needs a Q switch
  6. My wife is going to pharmacy school while I support her every need. Guess what I'm asking for after she graduates and lands her gig?
    MO...if you're spending under $5000 - Sadowsky. Over that...Series I or II. ($5K would be a very basic model Series I at that!) - And I'll have mine in the pre-1980 configuration please.
  7. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    Or you keep your eyes open for a nice used Alembic. I've seen Essence basses sell for as little as $800 on the used market.
  8. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    For one, Yvon's probably talking CDN dollars, I think. From what you say it still sounds a little high.

  9. Yvon

    Yvon Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2000
    Montreal, Canada
    Yes I was talking canadian $
    The price was 3699$, +15% (taxes) it's pretty close to 4000$.
    I guess I could deal it a little...
    I guess i'll wait for a used one.

    On the web site the cocobolo top is a 1000$ option though...maybe that's why it was that expensive?
  10. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    Sinny, Oztraya
    Alembics are awesome basses. I own two and one thing I've <i>never</I> thought of the tone is sterile. I agree with the others that the prices is way too high, as I paid much less than that for a Series 1 secondhand. Keep an eye on ebay, and you'll be able to find one at a better price. Distillates can be had for even less and are thru neck usually with the purpleheart in there. The fancy tops are nice to look at but I personally wouldn't pay much of a premium for one, but would in the neck - my S1 is maple faced and sounds great. Would it sound 'better' (different, yes) if it were cocobolo? Dunno but I wouldn't pay a grand for it.
  11. sargebaker

    sargebaker Commercial User

    May 2, 2004
    Montreal QC CA
    owner/builder, ISLAND Instrument Mfg.
    Was it at STeves? Anyhoot, as for the montreal luthier, speak with Pierre Laporte, you can PM me for address/phone # etc. apparently his work is borderline godly, and when i talked to him he seemed super nice, fair pricing too.
  12. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City

    Was that bass at Steve's Music in Montreal? I may have played that back in July. I seem to remember Steve's having a number of Essence basses when I spent an hour or so there one day.

    As for the price, if it is new with cocobolo top, the asking price may not be that much out of line. $4000 CDN is about $2,800 - 2,900 US. New Essence basses with no options list for $3,800. That means you could probably get a dealer to move one for about $2,800 - 2,950 . More with a cocobolo top. You would still have room to deal if you absolutely had to have that particular bass. You can get really nice used Essence basses on eBay for anywhere from about $900 US to about $1,800 US.

    In my experience, cocobolo does make a pretty big difference in tone on Alembics. My cocobolo Series II sounds totally different from my walnut Series I.

    Hope I've helped,


  13. Fire-Starter

    Fire-Starter Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2002
    In my experience, cocobolo does make a pretty big difference in tone on Alembics. My cocobolo Series II sounds totally different from my walnut Series I.

    Hope I've helped,



    Hey James, could you turn me on to sound sounds clips of the series basses, I have a Rogue and I am curious what the series 1 and 2 basses sound like in comparison.

  14. Yvon

    Yvon Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2000
    Montreal, Canada
    Yes it was at steve's. I usualy don't go there, service is really bad, but I was walking right in front of it, so I stopped.

    Next time, you come in montreal, let me know!

    And, yes you helped.
    Thank you

    If I find a used one I will try to find one with cocobolo...it's really beautiful!
  15. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    I got my Essence from BassAlone, used, but in almost perfect condition for $895, including the hard case and new strings. I would NEVER consider buying a new Alembic - they lose too much value. On the other hand, for under a $1000, it is a GREAT bass, capable of a lot of different tones.
  16. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    I agree 100%. IMO new Alembic's are very overpriced. They're much like buying a new car, you've lost money once you've finalized the deal! I'd personally keep an eye on Ebay, I see Series-I and Series-II basses show up quite often. If you can resist the GAS long enough, I believe you'll find one in your price range. I also agree that the Series-I(or if you can afford it, the Series-II) is the real deal. My Europa is a great bass, but once I tried out a used Series-I....wow. IMO Alembic's are a treat to play, they sound really defined and they're very responsive. If I play my Europa too long I get spoiled, it's like it plays itself.

    Best wishes, A.P.
  17. Franklin229


    Jul 25, 2004
    Northeast USA
    I had an Essence 5 for quite a while, then sold it. Wish I never did-it was an awesome bass-did a lot of gigs with it. They are not that expensive and come up on eBay, as stated earlier. This might seem wierd but I liked it a lot better than my '80 Series 2 that will soon be for sale-granted to tone on the S2 is more "Alembic", it just has too many knobs/adjustments for me.
  18. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    I also prefer Essence to Series I or II - it has perfect balance (unlike many Alembics), it is not heavy (also unlike many Alembics), price is right, it does retain that Alembic sound, perhaps with not all the bells and whistles, but it is also easier to dial in what you want in a hurry.

  19. Hey James, could you turn me on to sound sounds clips of the series basses, I have a Rogue and I am curious what the series 1 and 2 basses sound like in comparison.


    It's REALLY difficult to put inot words the difference in tone between the mono instruments and the Series I and II's. Similar 'tone' but....power and response is night and day; like I said its tough to describe - but you'd know immediately the difference when plugged in.
    As for the wood variances changing the the timbre of the bass...the Series I and II's are semi hollow to accomodate the monsterous electronics package inside. (These guys were doing printed circuit boards back in the 70's!!!) - So, you're gonna get more of the top/back wood tone present as opposed to a solid 'sandwiched' instrument.

  20. My God man...don't do it! I made a couple of whacked out decisions with a couple of Alembics and to this day regret my actions! Fine, you like and Essence, get a used one...but DO NOT let that Series II go! Ya know, my experience is...despite the extreme ability to shape the tone on the Series basses (esp. the SII), was to run the bass fairly flat with minor adjustments here and there. They just sound soooo good, lots of fiddling isn't necessary.