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twocan
New
Username: twocan

Post Number: 7
Registered: 9-2013
Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 - 6:33 am:   Edit Post

I am the happy owner of a 98 Epic. I have been looking for some time to add another Alembic to my stable that is both neck through and has a filter v. the bass and treb knobs on the Epic. I've been eyeing both the Essence (similar size and shape) and a full scale Distillate (appears to have more options and very cool looking). Comfort and playability are key for me - which would you recommend and thanks!
flpete1uw
Advanced Member
Username: flpete1uw

Post Number: 215
Registered: 11-2011
Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 - 7:05 am:   Edit Post

I have a Distillate and to date this is my go to Bass. Ease of operation and diverse sounds it creates on the fly will make her hard to beat. I say this as a Series 1 owner as well. I like the quote Alembic uses on its Rouge page "The controls are easy to navigate on a busy stage, but versatile enough to cover a broad range of sounds." (The Distillate Electronics are almost the same except the Rouge's pickup selector is a pan The Distillate is a switch) Note: my skills are approaching the time that the Series might dethrone my Distillate. You cannot go wrong with either, however I found the 32 scale on the Distillate and the extra on the fly switching would give the Distillate the edge. IMHO
pauldo
Senior Member
Username: pauldo

Post Number: 1098
Registered: 6-2006
Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 - 7:20 am:   Edit Post

Distillate.
The only other Alembic that I 'know' is an Exploiter.

Distillate feels like home.
flpete1uw
Advanced Member
Username: flpete1uw

Post Number: 216
Registered: 11-2011
Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 - 7:35 am:   Edit Post

Pauldo,
Distillates really do Feel like Home don't they? This is the Bass I judge all others.
Peace of the Seasons,
Pete
sonicus
Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 3171
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 - 8:53 am:   Edit Post

I have had both an Essence and a Distillate hanging on me at a gig. ( but not at the same time) LOL ___

First off, my 1991 all maple Essence is long scale ; 34" scale.
My 1981 single pickup Distillate is medium scale ; 32". Most Distillates are 32" scale except for a few exceptions ( there is one currently on eBay).

I love both of mine. With the medium scale ,double and triple stops (bass chords ) are sometimes easier . The Essence has a size and design that makes it exceptional from an ergonomic standpoint if you have four sets to play and remain standing. The Essence also has a big punchy voice despite its more demure appearance. I would love to find a 34" lined fretless Essence. That would be sweet . It is the smallest 34" bass that I have played, it hangs well .

I also think it would be interesting to build a custom stereo Distillate utilizing completely discrete Distillate electronics for the bridge and neck pickups with a master volume control and a stereo mono switch. The" Super Distillate" ______ ! or perhaps the " Sonicus Distillate" :-) The "Sonicus Distillate " might be a Distillate shape with a point on the bottom , it's a cute little critter ____

Happy Holidays and Peace & Love To All !!!!!!

Wolf ___
hammer
Senior Member
Username: hammer

Post Number: 441
Registered: 9-2009
Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 - 9:36 am:   Edit Post

Steven: I'll begin by saying I own a medium scale Distillate which I'm selling (PM me if you're interested) but its probably smaller than what you want if by full scale you mean long scale.

I love my Distillate. The only reason I'm selling is that I've got two Signature Basses and I'd like to acquire either an Alembic fretless, a Starfire to rehab, or one of John Brown's Frettedless basses.

Although a very nice bass, from what I understand the Essence has a single preamp with volume, pan, & filter controls.

The Distillate controls are volume, rotary pickup selector, low pass filter, Q switch, bass boost/cut switch, treble boost/cut switch.

From the topic board is the following:

"The tone switches are bass and treble. Each switch provides 6db boost, flat, and 6db cut. The filter control adjusts a low-pass filter tunable from about 350Hz - 6KHz. Where you tune the filter is the cutoff frequency. Only frequencies below the cutoff frequency are passed."

IMHO. The Essence a very nice bass with a smallish body (think somewhat lighter weight) that I've recently seen going for anywhere between $1,600-$2,600 (the latter seems too pricey unless something special has been added). It's got that Alembic tone, but based on a brief experience I had playing one, I personally think it's somewhat limited in its flexibility (unless of course you're playing it through an SF-2).

In my opinion, I think you get a lot more flexibility and ability to experiment with your sound with a Distillate (they do however, have bigger bodies and weigh more than than the Essence). I've recently seen Distillates going for anywhere from $1,600 (looked like a beater) to $3,600 (has been up for a very long time so I think we can assume it's overpriced for the current market). Over the years, I've seen nice looking Disillates that appear to have been well cared for going for anywhere from $1,800-$2,600 depending on the wood recipe, whether it's a model with a longer horn, has had LEDs installed, etc.). It's a bit more expensive investment to purchase an Distillate, but I think it's worth it. The good thing you have going for you is that by looking at previously loved Alembics you won't experience the price drops that those of us who purchased new inevitably experienced.
twocan
New
Username: twocan

Post Number: 8
Registered: 9-2013
Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 - 9:48 am:   Edit Post

Thanks to all for the advice/comments - it's been very helpful!!
twocan
New
Username: twocan

Post Number: 9
Registered: 9-2013
Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 - 9:48 am:   Edit Post



(Message edited by twocan on December 24, 2013)
bsee
Senior Member
Username: bsee

Post Number: 2655
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 - 7:01 pm:   Edit Post

There are very few 34" Distillate basses out there. Most were made in the medium 32" scale, as were many Spoiler and Persuader models. Other than the SC model, most of the more "modern" models tend to favor the 34" scale length. The Distillate stopped being a standard model back in '90 and the Europa sort of replaced it in terms of controls with a pickup blend instead of a selector switch.

I disagree with Hammer on the question of weight. Some Distillate bodies were shallower than the current models. I found this out when discussing the options for electronics upgrades in an old one I came across that was in bad shape. The Distillates I have come across have been lighter than the average Alembic. The Essence shape (as opposed to a bass labeled an Essence) is small, but the additional depth makes up for it. Also, wood recipe is a huge factor in weight. Two identically sized and shaped SC model basses could vary by three pounds with the woods that are used. I have a mid-weight and a heavy.

As far as value, they vary significantly with time and condition. The Distillate is similar in control features to a Rogue or Europa, though the preamps aren't identical. That would put it a model up from the stock Essence, but age and condition have regularly had them trading at similar prices. If you go back several years, Distillates, mostly from the 80s, were trading in the $1200-1500 range. The Essence basses, being generally under 10 years old at that point, were in the $2K vicinity. In recent years, used Alembic prices have come up significantly for models at the lower end of the range. You can't find a Persuader or Spoiler for $800-1000 any longer, and you won't find a $1200 Distillate either. The only time I've seen a Distillate seriously offered in the $3K vicinity was for one that had been back to Alembic for a recent refinish. You should be able to find a decent example of either bass in the low to mid $2K range. Since they are all unique, though, you may find one that you really like and have to part with a few extra dollars. While there is always another one out there, there may not be another one exactly like it, or at least not anytime soon. I have paid more than the typical market value for a model that had a few unique features and am happy to have done so. Try not to do it if you're not sure you're going to keep it, though.

Because Alembic does custom work, there really are no hard and fast rules. The Essence, in particular, is a model name that exists in the market in dozens of flavors. Because of the way pricing worked in the late 90s and early 2000s, it was a base model from which quite a few customs were built. I have seen Essence basses with Signature electronics, and I personally own one that is SC-shaped and has Europa electronics. These variances allow for significant valuation errors in the marketplace when one or both parties to a transaction don't fully understand all the optional goodies. You'll occasionally find a great value or a seller asking an unreasonable price, and you'll come out better if you can recognize which is which. Body shapes, serial numbers, electronics packages and wood recipes won't always match the stock specifications.

I have played all the standard scale length and string spacing options offered by Alembic. The 32" scale does feel a lot more comfortable to a smaller set of hands than the 34" standard and can be the thing that makes it feel like home. I have a couple shorties and they seem so much faster because of the shorter distances to move. Alembic construction allows you to take advantage of the shorter scale lengths without weakening the tone.
charles_holmes
Advanced Member
Username: charles_holmes

Post Number: 282
Registered: 3-2009
Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 - 7:28 pm:   Edit Post

My advice,
Go to the Mothership and try out some basses. If you don't know what you want you gotta try them to get a reasonable idea of what fits your needs. As for me, I knew that I wanted a short scale series and with that in mind, 6 yrs ago Bass Northwest had an Alembic that had the two main things that I wanted (Series,shorty) and it happened to be a distillate ta boot! I showed the Distillate to my wife and jokingly said "Now that's what you can get me for Christmas!!" And the rest is history!!Stanley uses a shorty and I'm sure you know he navigates his way around the shorty superbly!!!, I'm 6'3" and Stanley towers over me (he gave me a danged complex about my height when I met him backstage at the Tower Theater in Philly some 30 yrs ago.) Anyway go to the Mothership!!!!! Merry Christmas!!! PS Go to "Chalie's Distillate " if you want to see my axe.
lembic76450
Advanced Member
Username: lembic76450

Post Number: 350
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 - 9:38 pm:   Edit Post

Steven, while I do not own a Distillate, I do own an Essence and a Rogue and they are 2 very different animals. My Essence can really get a very nice piano tone, especially with rounds. The piano tone is easy to get without a lot of knob twisting. I find that my Rogue has a darker tone, though, in theory with the boost switches in the neutral position it should be like the Essence, but, I do not find it so. This more likely a result of the neck woods and neck sizes. Both of these basses are 34' scales, but, with different tapers. Both basses hang very comfortably and even with small hands are easy to play... Hope this helps
hammer
Senior Member
Username: hammer

Post Number: 443
Registered: 9-2009
Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 - 9:40 pm:   Edit Post

Flying to Santa Rosa from Steve's location (approx. $450-$600) renting a car (approx. $35/day for 2 days), a stay at a reasonable hotel for a night or two (@ $100/night, visiting the mothership...priceless. On the other hand, unless one flies for free and has a place to crash, the expenses associated with a pilgimage just about cover the price difference between an Essence and a Distillate if one is patient enough to look for a good deal.

Of course that doesn't take into account the biggest danger associated with making a trip to Santa Rosa. I went with my son to see the guitar I was having made for him and ended up with a custom build myself as well as the need to acquire two other Alembic instruments.

As far as weight goes, the mothership site indicates that a standard Essence weighs approx. 9 lbs. My 86 Walnut Distillate weighs in at 10 lbs. Although 1 lb. might not seem like much, and as boob suggests there are going to be differences in weight based upon the options people select for either bass, having that additional poundage hanging around your neck for several hours at a time makes it feel like a lot more than that. I wonder what a Darling or Little Darling bass would weigh in at. The guitars are listed as 7 pounds for the Little Darling, 7.5-8 for the Darling. There it goes again, another idea for for another bass.

I totally agree with Bob on a number of things: (a) all Alembics need to be looked at carefully because of the wide range of options from which people have the opportunity to choose when building an instrument; and (b) the medium scale versions are easy to play, seem faster, and there is, to my ears, no noticeable difference in tone when compared to long scale Alembics.
flpete1uw
Advanced Member
Username: flpete1uw

Post Number: 218
Registered: 11-2011
Posted on Wednesday, December 25, 2013 - 7:01 am:   Edit Post

I realize this should also be posted elsewhere but if I were in the market for a Distillate I would be looking closely at this one. Good Luck!!

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Alembic-Bass-/261359423398?pt=Guitar&hash=item3cda3c4fa6
twocan
Junior
Username: twocan

Post Number: 11
Registered: 9-2013
Posted on Wednesday, December 25, 2013 - 7:10 am:   Edit Post

Bingo ;)

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