Biography of one of your basses...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by tplyons, Nov 27, 2005.

  1. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Pick a favorite bass of yours, tell us how you ended up with it, how it managed not to leave you, and all that you've been through. I know there are some strange relationships between some of you guys and some pieces of wood...

    Brownsville ABG-2C RBS Acoustic - Either referred to as "the acoustic", "Brownie", or "SS" because of the Chevy SS emblem covering a scratch in the faux figured top.

    It was a regular day walking around in New York City, and right before we jumped on the train to head home, my girlfriend and I made the usual 48th Street stop... real quick through Manny's... there were four bassists up in the little room, and four girlfriends just standing around while we noodled -- strange how that happens... And after a quick gaze in the window at Rudy's, I ran into Sam Ash, played everything and came back. For those of you who don't know Sam Ash on 48th Street, it's in different buildings. One for keyboards and pro audio, one for drums, one for band instruments and sheet music, and the last for guitars and basses. The Guitar and bass building is seperated into a room of electrics and a room of acoustics. I usually never bothered with the acoustic room because I kept falling in love with Tacomas, Martins, Taylors, and other expensive guitars.

    I made my usual trip up and down the aisle, looking at everything, quick diddy with the Roland V-Bass setup in back and I was on my way out, not too impressed. And for some reason, I felt an urge to go into the acoustic side of the store. Sitting there, were two ABG's, kind of ugly, kind of homely, but both priced at $120. I couldn't resist, I picked up the one with four strings and three bridge pins, as opposed to the other mistreated one that had three strings and four bridge pins. I picked it up, hit an open E and it was rich, full and sustained. The open G wasn't too nasally, so I really was impressed. Turns out that Brownsville (Sam Ash brand) was changing out the ABG-2C's and made a small change. These were discontinued so the prices dropped, AND floor models, so a $400 bass was down to $120, and a bit mistreated. Fingerprints were all over, but I couldn't put the thing down. I plugged it into an acoustic combo in the back, and it sounded okay, but I unplugged and smiled from ear to ear. This bass was leaving the store with me, no matter what.

    I went over to the sales monkey, told him I had one hundred dollars cash, and if let me have a bridge pin from the other bass, and the bass for $100 out the door, I'd take it. He agreed, and I gave him the cash, tore up my reciept, and slung it over my shoulder for the subway trip back to Penn Station. While waiting for the subway, I started playing on a bench, and as a joke threw my hat out. Collected $2.36 in about five minutes (a miracle at that) so in retrospect, I only paid $97.64 for the bass that has been unable to leave my side. When I got home, I put on some new strings, some five dollar Hartke strings, and a Chevy SS emblem to cover a paint chip that showed through the nasty "figured maple" veneer, drilled a strap peg into the butt of the neck, and wouldn't put the thing down.

    After about a week or two, the thing started to have rediculous fret buzz, so I took it into the shop, who raised the action and told me that the neck was twisted, nothing could be done. He told me this AFTER I paid for the setup and was furious, and tried to sell the bass. My girlfriend was upset at this and offerred to take it into her home, I reluctantly obliged, and got the bass back after our recent breakup. Plays better than ever, I guess a few months of abuse really makes basses play better because it's like butter now.

    Almost sold it to a friend here on TB, but as soon as I sent the info, I became sad, withdrew my offer, and played my bass. It's by my bedside every night. Along with my acoustic guitar, neither will EVER leave my posession. This one is truly a wife to me.
  2. primus_55


    Dec 28, 2004
    My 04' MIA deluxe P. Name: Amber.

    I was lucky enough to buy this last year around june sometime from the bass centre in melbourne. I went into the shop looking for something around the $2000 mark, and i walked out with this thing for $2800. I fell in love. I was on the bass centre with my dad at the time and i asked Guy (the owner) what maple fingerboard' fenders he had in stock. So, he showed me the deluxe P. Played it, and died. I had to have it!

    We haven't been through that much, ive only had him for 1 1/2 years. But i have gigged it extensively and i can say that it has exceeded my initial thoughts. It keeps getting better! Its has a fair few dings, but i care for it like a baby.

    Just before one of our school band tours, the thing died! My input jack was loose, and it had disconnected some wires. So i had to take it down to melbourne (2 hour drive from where i live) to get it fixed. We were driving down the highway at about 5:00 and i rang the bass centre to ask what time they closed (this was a saturday). I just happened to catch Guy who was on his way out as they had been closed for 30 mins. Being the awesome person he is, he arranged with us to drop it off at his apartment. I got the bass back a few weeks later, and the problem was fixed. That is the only problem this thing has given me.

    I have no intention to sell this bass. Nothing will stop me from keeping this baby. I love it!
  3. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    First of all, I acknowledge that I am over the top in my appreciation of Alembic basses. Here's the story of two of them

    Story #1: Orwell

    I had recently acquired an Alembic Stanley Clarke Signature Deluxe and was looking for short scale strings. Hard to come by in Detroit. I stopped at a music store that I just happened upon in Waterford, Michigan. While the sales guy was calling his suppliers to find details on ordering me some strings, I sort of wandered around the shop. Waaaay back by the repair area, I saw a bass that looked very similar to my Alembic, but older and beat to crap. It had EMG pickups and no headstock logo. I couldn't find the serial number where I was used to looking for the serial number. I was concerned that it might be a Fernandes or a Kawai. Both have done some fairly convincing rip-offs of Alembic designs and detail. I went home and called Mica Wickersham at Alembic and described the instrument. She told me where I could find the serial number on some of the oldest basses they had built. I went back the next day and found the s/n right where Mica said it might be. Serial number 74-84. This meant it was a Series I bass built in 1974 and was the 84th instrument produced by Alembic. Stanley Clarke's "Brown Bass" that he recorded "Schoold Days" with was serial number 74-80. The store owner said he would take $950 for it. Used Series I basses were going for about $2 -2,500 back then. I explained to him that it might not even be an Alembic and didn't have the Series I pickups. I pulled out $450 cash and said "now or never". He said $500. We agreed on $475. I brought the bass back to near original condition, kept it a few years and eventually sold it for about $2,300. There's a long story with that sale, too, but maybe another time.

    Story #2: Stan the Man

    I guess one of the reasons I like Alembics is that I like Stanley Clarke. Can't play like him, but I like most of his stuff. In 1992 I managed to get 2nd row seats to a Stanley Clarke / George Duke concert. Stanley came off stage and stood on the 1st row seat in front of me and my girlfriend (now wife) and totally went off on a solo. I got a close up view of his technique and the bass he was playing that night. It was not the short scale Brown Bass that he recorded "School Days" and other hits with. It was a larger Alembic Series I with the Omega cut-out instead of the trademark Point. Fast forward to May 2000. I had had no luck finding a used Alembic Series I or Series II 5 string, so I ordered a new Series II. During the last few agonizing weeks of waiting for it to be completed, I found out through the grapevine that Stanley Clarke was selling off ALL his gear. This was required to settle the final terms of his divorce. He even sold the "Brown Bass, serial number 74-80". Victor Wooten bought that. I contacted Stanley's engineer, Dan Humann, who was coordinating the sale for Stanley and made an offer on one of the basses. Dan ran it by Stanley and Stanley accepted the offer. The bass arrived 2 days before the 5-string I had ordered new, so needless to say, that was one helluva week. The bass I bought from Stanley was the one he played that night in 1992.

    Here's what my music room looked like after that week. Orwell is in the middle, "Stanley's" bass is the 4 string on the right. The Series II 5-string that came the same week is the one on the left. I still have the 5-string and the Stanley bass.