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Valentino Villevieille (valvil)
Username: valvil

Post Number: 15
Registered: 7-2002
Posted on Thursday, October 17, 2002 - 1:49 pm:   Edit Post

This bass has an unusual history. It was born "unofficially" at Alembic, meaning that a former Alembic employee built it for himself from different parts laying around. What he built was a fretted Mark King signature deluxe bass with a satin finish complete with logo, but with a few unusual features. He took the upper body wing of a standard and mated it to the lower body wing of a small standard and had the traditional alembic point at the end. Then he moved the upper body wing a bit further up than usual to give it a better balance. He also routed for and installed a "dummy hum canceler" simply because he liked the look of it; I don't think that poor pickup is gonna get any dumber than this. Also, for some reason, the headstock was not in cocobolo like the top and back of the bass, but in Koa.
At some point in the midnineties the former employee sold it to me and it lived happily with me for the next 3-4 years.
Then one day while at an Airport the strap of the gig bag I had it in snapped from its ring because it was a cheap plastic hook, and the bass, which was on my shoulder a moment before, went down smack on its head. I won't tell you what it feels like when your baby is going down and you know it..and you can do nothing about it but be horrified & pray...well, at first glance it looked like I had been lucky and that nothing had happened, but once back home, while playing the bass a couple of weeks later I noticed a scratch along the neck right by the fretboard at the first fret..then I realized it was not a scratch but a crack that went for about 1 1/2 inch into the neck.
Obviously I was not a happy camper, although at least I had my Distillate which kept me from being totally miserable.
A little later, once I had the money I called Mica to see if Alembic would help me get it fixed even though it wasn't 'really' one of theirs.
Mica was as usual helpful, so I told her I'd like a new neck, since I could not bear the thought of any of my Alembics to be less than perfect. So the old one was cut off, and a new one made; since I was at it I decided make a couple of other changes as well. I decided to get rid of the point for weight reasons and because I kept hitting everyone with it. Mica figured out the best way to cut it and still make the bass look right, so it ended with a slanted bottom instead of the even one sported by standard/smalls standard type bodies.
Then, since I already had a fretted Alembic Distillate, I figured why not make this one fretless and further, since my hands are fairly small, I thought, why not fender Jazz neck dimensions. which makes it even lighter & less neck-heavy. And last, the headstock finally got the cocobolo to go with the body. Mica told me afterwards that I could consider it a true alembic, though it has no serial #. Not that it really matters, since I'll never sell it.IM000085.JPG
Username: haddimudd

Post Number: 30
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Wednesday, June 30, 2004 - 12:49 am:   Edit Post


I am a little late for commenting on this beauty but I happened to browse through the gallery just now.

That is one BEAUTIFUL fretless bass! I like the shape a lot, even the missing pointy end makes it look nothing less than a true Alembic.

It looks like every change you made on this instrument really turned out great.

Of course now you got me curious about the original look. Do you still have pictures of the old version, with the pointed end and the original neck? A before-and-after comparison would be cool!

Thanks a lot!

Username: valvil

Post Number: 480
Registered: 7-2002
Posted on Wednesday, June 30, 2004 - 12:23 pm:   Edit Post

Hello Hartmut,

thanks for the compliments. Unfortunately I never did take any pictures of the bass in its previous incarnation. I should post some new ones though, since I've made some other changes to it. This bass has blue side leds now, an overlaid logo on the headstock, which looks really cool and Anniversary electronics. This shape was the basis for the my series I in this custom folder. The difference is that the series I had to be made a little bigger to accomodate the electronics and I added a pistol grip as well.

Username: haddimudd

Post Number: 34
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Thursday, July 01, 2004 - 1:25 am:   Edit Post

Yes, the shape reference to your series I is obvious. Cool design, really!

Since you mentioned the templates for this bass were one half of the small series body and one half of the large: Isn't that the way it is on the large series body anyways? I always thought the short horn side on a regular large series body was the same as on the small series body.

It's a cool idea in any case.

I wonder why you had to make the shape bigger for your series bass. If your frettless really used the one half of the small series body then it should be capable of carrying the full series electronics, shouldn't it?

I am really curious about this, because while dreaming of my next Alembic supposedly being a short scale series model, I am trying to find a shape with a longer upper horn to compensate for headstock weight. On the other hand I would love to stay as close as possible to the original small body shape.
I guess, your approach is the right direction for what I have in mind. It still looks more like the large series body than the small one, but that still is a great looking shape. And the pistol grip on your series bass looks really well-fitting, unlike some other models I have seen.

Let's see some new photos! How expensive is it to re-equip a bass with new LEDs?


Username: graciamcgoverngmailcom

Post Number: 1
Registered: 9-2011
Posted on Sunday, September 04, 2011 - 8:43 am:   Edit Post

Is this bass for sale?
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 10364
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Sunday, September 04, 2011 - 4:12 pm:   Edit Post

Hi Gracia, welcome to the board. This is not the For Sale section of the board. The For Sale section can be found here. Enjoy.
Intermediate Member
Username: that_sustain

Post Number: 173
Registered: 8-2012
Posted on Friday, June 07, 2013 - 11:05 pm:   Edit Post

....and one more to add to my personal "greatest hits" collection.

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