Dream Bass Let-Down

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Kevin Teed, Jun 20, 2019.

  1. Kevin Teed

    Kevin Teed Guest

    Mar 8, 2013
    (First-off I want to state that this has nothing to do with the instrument. It's strictly a personal "feeling".)

    Ever since I was a kid seeing pictures of Jones or Entwistle with their Alembics, I considered their basses the absolute tops. Then when they came out with the Distillate, I'd thought that would be the perfect dream bass. They seemed smaller and simpler. I remember my brother bringing the new guitar player mags home with the ads in there and just drooling over them. Unfortunately, the local guitar shops have always been pretty lacking in quality inventory and I'd never been able to actually try one out. Fast-forward 35 years and I finally had the opportunity to take the plunge. The one with the right wood, scale and nut width came up at a time I actually could afford to buy it. It looks, plays and sounds really good ... But ... It doesn't do a thing for me. I've been a Fender and Rickenbacker guy all my life and this just feels too different. I've been playing it every day for a month and I just can't get used to it. I've really tried, but I'm coming to the realization that it's probably just not for me.
    Has anyone else gone through something like this?

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  2. garp


    Feb 7, 2009
    Connecticut USA
    No shame to be had. I think we all go through experimental phases, even if they're over decades. I know I did.

    Beautiful bass, though. Someone else out there will surely appreciate being its next owner.
  3. alembicbones


    Nov 10, 2000
    Seattle, WA
    I'd have to say your situation is the same for me regarding Steinbergers. I've always been intrigued with these basses, owning 3 and ended up selling each one. Sorry to hear this Distillate isn't working for you. I agree with garp that you shouldn't have much trouble selling this bass.

  4. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    That's a beautiful bass. Totally OK that it's not for you. Someone will love it.
  5. Brad Maestas

    Brad Maestas Sono est omnia Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2003
    Petaluma, CA, USA
    Absolutely. For me it has usually come down to string spacing. I tried two different Alembics, one four and one five string and both were just way too narrow for me. I know you can get them at 18 or 19mm spacing but I bought them used with their 'normal' narrow spacing. My vintage Hofner was narrow as well but I was able to cope with it. I also tried Warwick Thumbs and a Series II and they were too narrow for me as well. Every so often I have found an instrument that's acoustically dead. In other cases I just couldn't vibe with the electronics (EMG P/Js in a Fodera Emperor) or sometimes it was the woods (heavily lacquered maple FB on a Precision).
  6. I think basses are like cars. Every one feels different.

    I’m reminded of when I used to do a lot of business travel. I’d rent a car and drive it for a week. It always felt weird. But invariably, when I returned home and got back in my car, then IT felt weird! Every time you drive a different car, it feels weird—not because it is—it’s just different from what you’re accustomed to. Every time I ever got a new bass, it felt weird. But you can accommodate to anything.

    Just because you drive a Chevy, doesn’t mean you can’t drive a Porsche. They do the same basic things, they just feel different. And your body acclimates eventually.
  7. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    I'm guessing plenty of people have gone through that. I remember a similar thread from just last month.
    The good news is, you shouldn't have any problem selling it.
    bholder and jamro217 like this.
  8. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    I've played a couple of Alembics, and they felt a bit 'cold', if that makes sense? For all the beautiful wood they weren't warm woody-sounding basses. The charm was in the electronics, and therefore they were a bit too much of a blank canvas for me. Tonally the wood seems to be out of the equation, and it is all about how you dial in the filters etc.
  9. Bassmike62

    Bassmike62 Punch'n Ooomph Supporting Member

    We choose our instruments, but I also believe they choose us.
    Connection didn't happen :(.
  10. rickster4003


    Feb 15, 2013
    Sorry to hear that. You can send it to me where I will provide a loving home and promise to polish it everyday!
    SirMjac28, danesdad and Loring like this.
  11. soflbass


    Mar 2, 2013
    S Florida
    I also dreamed of an Alembic. I got an older Essence a few years ago, and I absolutely love it. Took a while to get used to the filter vs non filter on all my other basses. But I love it and it's my #1. It just hits all of the right buttons for me. The previous owner just wasn't into it.

    Play and enjoy what you like. No sense in holding onto something that you're not fond of.
  12. Jigmay


    Mar 24, 2004
    Can you say what it is that you don't like in more detail? You didn't ask for 'fixits', but here's my unsolicited advice.

    I have a bass w/Alembic pups. I know what your talking about. I've felt like its missing 'something'. Then I tried various strings on it and I think I've found two kinds that make it great. Also, have you tried an amp to warm up the sound? Wickersham seems to have envisioned these basses to be played through tubes, and they originally came stock with Pyramid flats (a pretty dead flat). Those crisp, detailed electronics do well with some toning down. (But lots of players love it that way as well.)

    I'd also ask if you've played it live? Now, that is where these things can really shine.
  13. southpaw723


    Oct 20, 2013
    Man I know the feeling. I spent a year saving up for a midnight blue rick and it was my absolute dream bass. Finally got it and I was underwhelmed. It was the most gorgeous bass but I didn’t like the sound or how it played so I sold it, I ended up with D’angelico hollow body that I dig.
  14. sleddogn


    Sep 8, 2013
    Love My Dogs
    yep me too, i had a ric, sold it, missed it, bought another, tried to love it, sold it, bought another one, tried to love it, now have it for sale, i really tried, lol there are more switches than spocks computer panel on that alembic
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  15. Element Zero

    Element Zero Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2016
    I totally understand. I lusted over a Pedulla Pentabuzz for over a decade. Finally I was in a financial state that I could have Mike build me one. It was beautiful. Effortless playability and tone to die for.

    After a year I knew it wasn’t meant to be. But I tried to force love it for another 6 months. Then I put it up for sale. Went to a good home. I felt guilty for a couple days, but got over it. I’ll always have the pictures and the memories. Onward and upward.
  16. I had the same experience with a Rick Turner Renaissance. Gorgeous instrument, but I just couldn't love playing it.
    Kevin Teed likes this.
  17. bluesblaster


    Jan 2, 2008
    Alembics are stunning craftsmanship, top shelf all the way, beautiful in every sense. That being said I find them very heavy for the most part, really Hi Fi sound and obviously very expensive. Love to look at them but that's as far as it goes, not my thing either.
    Garret Graves, Kevin Teed and bdplaid like this.
  18. thetaxmiser

    thetaxmiser Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2002
    Cincinnati, OH USA
    I went through a phase about 10 years ago where I bought and sold a bunch of used basses. Kept them for a few months and sold them for another bass. Gave me a chance to try a lot of different brands. I thought a MTD was going to be the "be all, end all" bass for me. It was beautiful, perfect construction, but the sound and feel left me cold. Same with a Pedulla Rapture. Terrific bass that was just didn't work for. It was a great learning experience.
    James Urbaniak and Kevin Teed like this.
  19. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    I have played several Alembics that I found in random music stores and rarely liked any of them. I have played lots of Rickenbacker and Music Man basses in random music stores as well, and had the exact same results. But when you find the right one, it's magic....perhaps, you just need to find the right one.
  20. dave hope

    dave hope

    Dec 16, 2016
    I had the same experience in the late 70s. Having never seen one in person, I order an Alembic from the factory. On the day of its arrival, I pulled it out of the case and maybe played it 5 minutes.
    I disliked it the moment I touched it. It had a lousy feel and my arms were not long enough to reach the first fret. I then put it back in the case and under my bed, never to be played by me again. I later gave it away. Expensive lesson.