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Kawai "Alembic" style basses. How are they??

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Bobbo 77', Jan 28, 2006.

  1. Hola Y'all,
    Question. Has anyone out there owned, or played those Kawai 4 string basses that kinda resembled Alembics? (did they make a 5 string model?) Just wanted to know about the tone, and craftsmanship on those models. By any chance, any sound-clips? Any pictures?

    Bobbo 77"
  2. eqvolvorama

    eqvolvorama Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2000
    Arlington, Virginia
    I had one of these several years ago. They're basically Alembic clones, taking the good with the bad.

    Pros: Mine was a beautiful bass - exotic woods, nice laminated body - neck-through construction. The bass was powered by two independent preamps, one per pickup, and had a pan switch in addition to two separate 'voicing' filters for each pickup. Each of these filters were three way switches that would help you get a softer, brighter, or straight open tone. Pretty versatile, and I was tickled pink to play the opening to 'School Days' and achieve the EXACT SAME TONE from the record (if not the technique and feel.) The weight was very manageable.

    Cons: As is the Alembic Stanley Clarke, my Kawai 'Eagle' bass was 30" scale. This felt different at first, and one of the reasons I ended up selling this bass was that playing it too often made it hard to switch back to my Precision copy.

    One other thing that annoyed me - the active circuitry had a fair amount of 'hiss' - this wouldn't normally be an issue live on stage, but seeing as I did all my playing in a dorm room with headphones, it really got to me. Filtering out the higher bands to eliminate the hiss only served to 'muffle' the sound.

    Bottom line - I bought the bass for $199, which I'd gladly pay again if I saw one hanging in a pawn shop somewhere. I've seen them on sale for $800, which is ridiculous IMO, but I think they're a reasonable deal for $400-$500. Be prepared for the short scale, though.
  3. I played one at a Guitar Center. It seemed well made, but this one was lacking in tone. Just a generic cheap bass tone, though the switches and knobs could get you some different varieties of cheap bass tone. The neck was a little thick - but so are many Alembic necks - and it had less than 24 frets.

    Being an old bass, it's totally possible that this one had been through some hard times that left it sounding not as good as the one mentioned above.
  4. Baryonyx

    Baryonyx Banned

    Jul 11, 2005
    Marathon Man
    I would snap one of these things up in a second if I could...

    maybe stick in some Alembic electronics, since I'm a millions miles away from being able to afford the real thing!
  5. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    I have one in nice condition. Picked it up last year. IIRC active pickups with passive controls. Pretty versatile.
  6. [​IMG]
    Just for reference :D !


  7. Dan, the Kawai F2-B's - the Alembic look-a-like - has a 34" scale. It always has and there's no mention of any other scale being offered on the Kawai site. As for the pre in the F2-B's, they are like most any other except there is a lot of external wiring. Mine is perfectly quiet in every volume or eq position. Your's probably would be too but I bet there was something simple wrong with it.
  8. eqvolvorama

    eqvolvorama Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2000
    Arlington, Virginia

    That's interesting about the scale lengths - I distinctly remember noticing the different fret distances on the Kawai, then pulling out the tape measure to get the 30" scale measurement. Mine looked precisely like the one two posts up - so I'm thinking there may have been two versions offered.

    Thinking more about it, I remember that the pre-circuitry was embedded almost entirely in the pickups themselves. Mine may indeed have had something wrong with it, because I spent a significant amount of time looking for replacement pickups and/or noise gates. The amount of noise or 'hiss' was equivalent to what you'd get from a low-grade guitar pedal effect.
  9. soholounge


    Aug 11, 2004

    Attached Files:

  10. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    Sinny, Oztraya
    I have an FIIB and it's a great bass. Big, full tone, lots of flexibility, modest neck dimensions, beautifully built and stable as hell. I have two Alembics (both 30.75") and after buying the Kawai, I wouldn't bother with getting a 34" Alembic with anything less than a 'Signature' feature set and electronics. And that's a lot more money than I plan to spend on a bass in the near future.

    Here's a pic of my near mint FIIB (with the early bridge design)

    Attached Files:

  11. mike sancho

    mike sancho SANCH

    Feb 10, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    I had one back when they first came out. I used it for about 4 years and then made the switch to 5 string. The bass was great for tone and played well and was balanced nicely. I used it live and in the recording studio. I had the frets pulled and used it for fretless. I traded with a fellow TBer last year for an Eden amp. Great basses for the money!
  12. joegeezer


    Mar 9, 2005
    Northern Wisconsin
    Avatar Club#12 Eden Club Lucky# 13--USA Peavey Club#37 Carvin Club#5
    They are a really nice bass. I have one of the red ones, that I would sell, if anybodys interested. It has EMG 35DC's , and a EMG BTS EQ in it now. When I got it the pickups were fried. It sound great with the EMG's in it. They really hold a set up better than any that I've ever owned. Holds a tuning for weeks.
  13. Pickebass

    Pickebass Supporting Member

    Jul 12, 2004
    San Antonio, TX
    My is identical to Dharmabass'. It's a good instrument. Solid construction. The EQ is not as flexible as some of the new stuff like bartolini and aguilar. But if you consider when it was made, it is an exceptional instrument. Not crazy about the mids... wish it had a more standard bass/treble setup. My has vol/vol/tone/tone and three waymid selector switches
  14. jake_tim


    Jun 28, 2005
    North Carolina
    so how much do these things cost, j.w

  15. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    Sinny, Oztraya
    Anywhere from $US400 - 700 or so depending on condition, case etc.
  16. Baryonyx

    Baryonyx Banned

    Jul 11, 2005
    Marathon Man
    I'm interested in buying one, check your PM's Joe!