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hammer
Intermediate Member
Username: hammer

Post Number: 191
Registered: 9-2009
Posted on Wednesday, August 01, 2012 - 6:48 pm:   Edit Post

After a year of dreaming of having an Alembic bass built for me while my son’s Further was under construction, the process has finally started. It was just too much for me to take watching him enjoy his guitar without having a new bass of my own.

Lots of thinking took place before I made the decision to go with one of the more traditional shapes and medium scale build. I considered the SC, Darling, and Balance K bodies. Though there are aspects of all of the Alembic body shapes that I appreciate, I do like the traditional look and I’m not a fan of long upper horns. The bass is therefore going to be a ¾ size Signature Deluxe with a Standard Omega Heart body (think Featured Custom Heart in Sonoma body type). The neck will be a maple/purpleheart sandwich with a central ebony laminate with side LEDS of course.

The core is going to be the traditional mahogany, and the top and back walnut. Since my current Distillate is already walnut, I needed to make something about this bass special so after consulting with Mica and Susan decided to go with Superb Crotch Walnut. I was a bit hesitant about not getting the look I wanted and tried to describe exactly what I desired.

True to form, however, the good people from Alembic came up with something that far exceeded my expectations and wildest dreams (see pics). Mica referred to the piece as having “high degree of crotchiness.”

Crotch Walnut
Top Wood Layout

The most difficult decision to make was whether to go with the continuous wood (which I really wanted) or brass backplates. Susan did her best to convince me that the wood was the way to go and though I love the look, attempting to stay within my budget was the challenge. After a lot of indecision and trying to sell (unsuccessfully so far) an expensive time trial/triathlon bike to help finance this aspect of the build (any small triathletes out there looking for a barely used bike) I ended up deciding on the brass. I guess it all came down to form versus function as I would have needed to give up either the ebony laminate or the side LEDs to pull off the wood backplates and I just couldn’t give up sound and functionality for an enhanced “coolness.” I realize that I’m probably talking about adding a pound to the bass this way but trade-offs sometimes have to be made.

The only other additions I’ve decided to include are 3-way Q switches and a FATBOY pick-up for the bridge.

Construction has just started and I’m already anxious to get my hands on it even though I know it’s going to be months before she’s in my hands.

(Message edited by davehouck on August 17, 2012)
artswork99
Moderator
Username: artswork99

Post Number: 1771
Registered: 7-2007
Posted on Wednesday, August 01, 2012 - 7:26 pm:   Edit Post

Congratulations Brian, enjoy the build!
jacko
Senior Member
Username: jacko

Post Number: 3226
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Thursday, August 02, 2012 - 4:29 am:   Edit Post

congrats brian. That's a fantastic piece of walnut. One of my dreams is to have a walnut Alembic. Someday....

Graeme
hammer
Intermediate Member
Username: hammer

Post Number: 194
Registered: 9-2009
Posted on Friday, August 03, 2012 - 6:36 am:   Edit Post

Just sold the expensive TT bike and now trying to decide (quickly since work will be held up) whether to spring for the crotch walnut back and continuous wood backplates.

I had originally ordered flame walnut and brass plates for the back in order to save a bit of $$$) and because Susan indicated that the wood gods would smote me if I tried to put anything but the wood backplates on a piece of walnut as beautiful as what the folks at Alembic had found for the top.

Trying to figure out if the upcharges ($750 for the plates and another $600-700 for the Crotch versus the flame walnut) are worth it (I could always use the saved $$$ to upgrade my rig). For those who have had both brass and continuous wood versions of the backplates...will I really feel the difference in weight? and do those who have sprung for the extra $$$ necessary to match the front and back body laminates think it was worth the extra cash?

One additional thing...How does one get a build thread going and if I do...is it going to drive me crazy while I'm waiting for my instrument?
jacko
Senior Member
Username: jacko

Post Number: 3228
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Friday, August 03, 2012 - 6:49 am:   Edit Post

I can't comment on the weight issue but if I ever do manage to have a walnut bass built it'll be bookmatched front and back with continuous wood backplates, pickup covers and truss rod covers. I reckon it would be a real shame to interrupt the wood you posted at the top of this thread.
As for a FTC thread, you could email Mica asking for one (if she hasn't already seen this thread).

Graeme
tubeperson
Advanced Member
Username: tubeperson

Post Number: 346
Registered: 5-2005
Posted on Friday, August 03, 2012 - 6:58 am:   Edit Post

A crotch is always nice to grab, as long as it is not your own (and the person being grabbed is to your liking). Always get continuous matching back plates. If you want the wood so badly, why miss out on some of it. That cannot be easily matched up later. If you do not want those pieces, I will contact Mica and purchase them just to hold them for you (at an inflated price of course as a teaching lesson). Good luck and great wood, great crotch etc. Oh no, Moderator alert!!!!!
jzstephan
Intermediate Member
Username: jzstephan

Post Number: 106
Registered: 1-2012
Posted on Friday, August 03, 2012 - 7:24 am:   Edit Post

Its practical (weight saving)
its beautiful (figured walnut)
bookmatched to center front and back
with continuous wood backplates, pickup covers and truss rod covers.

If you don't, you''l be sorry.

And, the FTC will drive you crazy.
tbrannon
Senior Member
Username: tbrannon

Post Number: 1522
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Friday, August 03, 2012 - 7:40 am:   Edit Post

My $.02

You only get one chance to build this bass. Any upgrade you can afford to make, I would make. You can upgrade your rig at any point in the future, but you only get one chance at the bass.

I'd do the wood backplates.
lidon2001
Senior Member
Username: lidon2001

Post Number: 491
Registered: 4-2005
Posted on Friday, August 03, 2012 - 8:23 am:   Edit Post

I have all three, brass, wood, and plastic. I'd suggest plastic. I replaced my brass cover with one I made from pickguard material and removed 8 oz. from the weight of my bass.
cje
Intermediate Member
Username: cje

Post Number: 116
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Friday, August 03, 2012 - 9:00 am:   Edit Post

Susan is right - wood like that BEGS for continuous plates. It really is a gorgeous, understated feature. The decision, of course, is yours to make. I know what I'd do.

Besides, do you really want to be smote?!?
lidon2001
Senior Member
Username: lidon2001

Post Number: 492
Registered: 4-2005
Posted on Friday, August 03, 2012 - 10:28 am:   Edit Post

Other suggestions: fret wire size - choose your favorite, and HipShot Ultralight tuners. Used on Stanley's new bass, they might shave a few ounces off the neck for balance.
5a_quilt_top
New
Username: 5a_quilt_top

Post Number: 7
Registered: 6-2012
Posted on Friday, August 03, 2012 - 11:35 am:   Edit Post

Seeing that wood (especially with the body shape template on it) makes the answer a bit of a "no-brainer" - continuous plates.

I agree with tbrannon - you only get one chance - so do it the way you really want it done.

Re: rig upgrade - hey, it's an Alembic bass with an ebony lam in the neck. That combination will make ANY rig sound great!
hammer
Intermediate Member
Username: hammer

Post Number: 195
Registered: 9-2009
Posted on Friday, August 03, 2012 - 11:38 am:   Edit Post

Thanks for the input guys. I think I'm going to bite the bullet and go for it if the final price for this upgrade is what Will G. estimated.

I do wish my insurance would get back to me quickly about the phil jones cab I recently had disappear while playing out. If it's covered it would make the decision easier. If not I guess I can just borrow a friend's cab until I have the $$ to replace it.
5a_quilt_top
New
Username: 5a_quilt_top

Post Number: 8
Registered: 6-2012
Posted on Friday, August 03, 2012 - 11:48 am:   Edit Post

UDAMAN - it's going to be awesome.

FWIW: I just started my build yesterday & had to make a similar choice re: back plates, so I understand your budget concerns.

I looked at it this way: I have two other Alembics (both with brass plates) and I kept asking myself, if I could change only one thing about either of them, what would it be?

Answer: install continuous wood plates.
hammer
Intermediate Member
Username: hammer

Post Number: 197
Registered: 9-2009
Posted on Friday, August 03, 2012 - 1:51 pm:   Edit Post

Good Point! That's the plan right now. The question has come down to whether I can afford to upgrade to the crotch walnut back or will go with the original flame walnut backside.
5a_quilt_top
New
Username: 5a_quilt_top

Post Number: 10
Registered: 6-2012
Posted on Friday, August 03, 2012 - 2:30 pm:   Edit Post

It appears that we're also getting very similar neck "sandwiches": maple, purple heart, maple, ebony center, maple, purple heart, maple.

I'm a sucker for flame maple, so I bit the bullet for that on the outside neck laminates.
hammer
Intermediate Member
Username: hammer

Post Number: 200
Registered: 9-2009
Posted on Saturday, August 04, 2012 - 9:01 am:   Edit Post

I would have loved to have done something special like you for the neck and gone with the flame maple, but assumed that the costs would be too much (do you know what the upgrade charge was for this addition?).

The cost of adding the ebony laminate itself shocked me, but I justified it because of its impact on the low fundamentals.

Are you going with a 5a or a 3a quilt for the back of your bass? and is it going to be book matched. Personally, I actually like the look of the through neck on the front side.
jazzyvee
Senior Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 3079
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Sunday, August 05, 2012 - 3:31 am:   Edit Post

I hope you have better ears than me Hammer. I can't actually consciously hear the three ebony lams in my series II neck. But I trust that there is something there to hear because others on the forums can clearly hear the difference. Mica showed me the signal on the scope at the office so I can see there is an effect but I cannot isolate it when listening. Fortunately the bass sounds great so whatever it is doing is contributing to that regardless as to whether I can identify it or not.

As it was on a pre-loved instrument I didn't have to justify the additional expense for it.

However. If I was having a custom made bass I would want to do a side by side check to determine if I can actually hear the difference it imparts on the sound before deciding to splash the extra cash.

I look forward to seeing your bass as it goes through construction.

jazzyvee
hammer
Advanced Member
Username: hammer

Post Number: 203
Registered: 9-2009
Posted on Sunday, August 05, 2012 - 8:29 am:   Edit Post

Jazzyvee.

Thanks's for the input. You bring up some excellent points.

I have been able to indirectly compare two non-alembic basses owned by a friend of mine one of which has ebony lams in the neck and the other of which does not. They were both thru-neck, custom basses made of similar woods, however, they were from different manufacturers.

Being a researcher by profession, I first played them with and without amplification and thought I heard and felt a difference (I emphasize the word thought since I was expecting a difference and the mind often perceives what it expects to perceive). Interestingly, the difference was more noticeable (to me at least) in the non-amplified mode.

I then had my friend play both instruments out of my sight both in amplified and non-amplified mode. The difference, if there was one, appeared very subtle.

So overall, my personal experience was that there was a subtle difference (I think). It appeared much more noticeable: (a) in non-amplified mode and (b) when I was actually playing the bass (i.e. holding it).

It was obviously a far less than perfect comparison as there were a number of confounding factors which I was unable to control (including the fact that the bass with the ebony lams had 3-ebony lams as opposed to the one that I am getting). By the way, my friend is 6'6" tall and weights about 240 lbs. The only way I could have ever played that bass for more than 5-minutes was in a sitting position.

In the end, I decided to go with the ebony laminates on the basis on what Mica had told me more than anything else. In my dealing with her and others at Alembic I have found that, if anything, they are incredibly honest.

By he way I did decide to go with the Crotch walnut front and back and the continuous wood backplates. Made the decision more on the basis on not wanting to regret leaving anything out since this will probably be the bass that sits next to my coffin when I eventually go to the never ending jam in the sky.
jazzyvee
Senior Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 3081
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Sunday, August 05, 2012 - 10:00 am:   Edit Post

Yeah I agree Mica has good ears and a good heart. She did also warn me about hearing a certain harmonic which she finds unpleasant. When I was at the factory I could not hear it but within a short period of getting the bass home and in my own bass rig I could hear the said harmonic as clear as day. I still am not sure if it is a problem or not.

I've read here on the forum that most of the impact that ebony brings to the sound is available with one laminate. It's worth remembering too that there is a huge slab of ebony fretboard so there is quite a bit of ebony in the neck construction even with one through neck laminate.


Jazzyvee
tubeperson
Advanced Member
Username: tubeperson

Post Number: 348
Registered: 5-2005
Posted on Sunday, August 05, 2012 - 1:38 pm:   Edit Post

Mica has told me that one ebony center neck laminate gives about 80% of the benefit of 3 laminates. One center laminate, plus the decision to have wooden backplates will make you happy I am sure. Now how about bookmatched to center front and back? Sorry, I love spending OPM! That is also worth it, it just gives such a finishing touch along with all the others, especially with such fine Crotch Walnut. Good luck and enjoy!!
5a_quilt_top
Junior
Username: 5a_quilt_top

Post Number: 13
Registered: 6-2012
Posted on Monday, August 06, 2012 - 10:50 am:   Edit Post

Hammer -

Flame maple upgrade was $800 for both sides of the neck. I justified it because I didn't choose upgraded wood for the top & back of the body.

The body will be a "hippie sandwich" of figured vermilion top & back - no book match - with a purple heart core and two flame maple laminates.

Like you, I prefer the neck-thru look. Plus, I wanted to see the purple heart and flame maple neck laminates against the vermilion.

Continuous wood back plates were chosen for both appearance and weight reduction.

I allowed myself one last little "perk" - a continuous wood truss rod cover. The neck pick up is being moved 1/2" further away from the finger board and more of the neck will be visible, so this made sense.

Tubeperson -

Yes, I was advised the same. One ebony center laminate = 80% of the benefit of three. That, coupled with the two purple heart laminates should be pretty formidable.
tubeperson
Advanced Member
Username: tubeperson

Post Number: 351
Registered: 5-2005
Posted on Monday, August 06, 2012 - 11:06 am:   Edit Post

Your Quiltiness, and cost effective as well. We all have a budget to adhere to, plus there is always a price to performance ratio and diminishing returns as one gets closer to the higher end of things. It will be a great bass, no doubt about that.

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