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wfmandmusic
Member
Username: wfmandmusic

Post Number: 70
Registered: 1-2012
Posted on Thursday, July 03, 2014 - 10:10 am:   Edit Post

I need some advice from the good people that have been around Alembics for a while. I recently picked up a series 2 from a board member. It's a great bass. Today I spent a lot of time playing with the electronics and experimenting with different sounds. Since I have never played a series 2 before, I don't have anything to compare it to, other than my series 1 fretless. I was using an old boogie 400 and a 215 and 210 cab. I was having difficulty in tuning the tone I like on the 2. I tweaked the eq on the amp and got it pretty close. I left all the settings on the amp the same, and grabbed the 1 and plugged it in. Boom, huge difference in tone, volume, and sustain. So I guess my question is, is this just the difference in the electronics? The difference in basses? Set up differences? As far as I can tell the electronics on the 2 are functioning properly but before I dig into it and check pickup outputs and what not, what do you guys think? Are these just different beasts all together? Thanks for your input!
gtrguy
Senior Member
Username: gtrguy

Post Number: 767
Registered: 9-2004
Posted on Thursday, July 03, 2014 - 10:38 am:   Edit Post

I am no expert, but I do think every series bass I have played has its own sound and character. I also think whenever I get a new amp or guitar or bass that the first thing I try to do is get it to sound like the last one I had (I don't know why, since I would have bought it for some sort of change).
davehouck
Moderator
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 11403
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Thursday, July 03, 2014 - 11:19 am:   Edit Post

As far as tone, the differences in woods, primarily in the neck but also in the body, will effect the tone and sustain.

Sustain is especially affected by neck woods, with ebony neck lams having the most noticeable effect. Purpleheart is also a popular choice for adding more sustain to a neck.

In my view, there is, for instance, a noticeable difference in tone between two basses that are the same except that one bass has Walnut top and back body lams and the other bass has Maple.

The main difference in the electronics will be that the CVQ at its highest setting will boost the cutoff frequency by 15db, where the top boost on the 3-way Q switch on the Series I is 9db, thus at 15db it is louder at the cutoff frequency and has a different tone.

As for output, check the positions of the preamp gains, the two outside trim pots mounted on the control cavity plates. It could be that these trims are at different settings on the two basses.

Other factors that affect both tone and output are pickup height and strings.

Now that I think about it, different woods may also effect output. If I recall correctly, woods, rather than adding to tone, actually filter out different frequencies.

And then of course ears; differences in output level are often accompanies by perceived differences in tone, ie louder sounds better.
jazzyvee
Senior Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 4107
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Thursday, July 03, 2014 - 11:30 am:   Edit Post

I have both series I and II basses and if for a moment you ignore the woods the basses are made of, then the main difference between the two is the CVQ's and master volume on the Series II instead of Q-switches no master volume on the series I. So if you are having differences in the output then I'd suggest you check/adjust the trim pots on the back of the bass for comparison.
I think if you set your bass rig at a suitable volume leave the Q-off on both basses, filters fully open and volumes on max, you should then be able to adjust the trim pots in the back so that both basses have the same output if that is what you are aiming at.

As for them being different beasts, if I can continue your beast analogy analogy.
With the series I, the Q switches will give you a lick, mild bite or a big bite out of your leg depending on which position you use the switch. With a series II you can pretty much choose the bite anywhere between a lick and removing your leg using the Q.

With my two basses, the woods are pretty much similar, same core and top woods but the main difference in the two is the neck recipe and the location of the neck pickup. The series I has a the neck pickup right on the edge of the truss rod cover and as a result has a lovely warm heavy bottom end that I just love. The Series II has 3 ebony neck laminates and seems to have less warmth on the bottom end but has a bit longer sustain and a crisper edge to the tone and a stronger attack.

gtrguy is correct each bass has it's own character and I for one would not be bold enough to say either model of bass is better than the other. I think if you want/need to find tune your sound precisely, then on paper a series II will give you more of an ability to do that compared to any other alembic bass. Whether you hear the subtleness is another thing. My experience is that for the music I play mostly subtle use of Q is not always immediately audible on-stage. It's a lot easier to hear the two positions on a series I on stage.

Jazzyvee

(Message edited by jazzyvee on July 03, 2014)
davehouck
Moderator
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 11404
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Thursday, July 03, 2014 - 11:55 am:   Edit Post

Ah, yes; I neglected to mention pickup placement's effect on tone.
wfmandmusic
Member
Username: wfmandmusic

Post Number: 71
Registered: 1-2012
Posted on Thursday, July 03, 2014 - 1:53 pm:   Edit Post

Thanks guys for the great info. David L I agree with you completely. I just like to have a tone I'm use to or like to start off with, then branch out from there but your point is well taken. Dave you covered most of what I was thinking, but when Jazzy mentioned the difference in pickup location and described the difference in tone it creates for him, that is exactly what I believe I'm hearing. Yes I thought the same thing that on paper, you should have more flexibility on a S2, but if the pickups are in a different location it will always be different. I actually hadn't realized that. So with that theory, even if you put S1 electronics in a S2 bass, it's not going to sound that much different?
hieronymous
Senior Member
Username: hieronymous

Post Number: 1392
Registered: 1-2005
Posted on Thursday, July 03, 2014 - 7:22 pm:   Edit Post

I don't think I have too much to add, maybe just a few observations/questions.

1. Are you hearing changes in tone or volume? Do you run your basses with the volume at 100%? Because with an Alembic you don't have to - and perhaps shouldn't. Unlike a passive bass, the sound Alembic electronics put out should be the same at any setting on the volume pot. Of course, the way the gain hits your gear may result in a different sound. But you should be able to match the volume between your two basses to take sheer gain out of the equation (as if that is actually possible, but you get the idea)

2. Also, the Series II usually has a master volume (does yours?), so you may be getting different interactions.

3. I believe that the trim pots are partly there so that you can adjust volume with pickup height. The pickups closer to the strings will sound different than further away - another factor in the sound of an instrument. With trim pots you can experiment and yet still get comparative output level.

4. Due in large part to the sensitivity of the Alembic electronic system, I am willing to believe that two Alembics will sound different depending on the various variables mentioned in many of the posts above.

5. Finally, I would ask what kind of strings you are using on both basses. If roundwounds on the new one, then I would suggest putting on fresh strings - this could create another HUGE variable, especially if you put on different strings than are currently on it. From differences in gauge & tension - which will potentially result in differences in setup that may need to be addressed - you will also get differences inherent in the string itself (stainless steel vs. nickel, etc.)

Hopefully your voyage with this new bass will be interesting and fruitful!
malthumb
Senior Member
Username: malthumb

Post Number: 565
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Friday, July 04, 2014 - 7:39 am:   Edit Post

For the most part echoing the advice that the others have provided. I will suggest that the best way to get a true comparison is if both are wearing the same strings and working through one pickup at a time (ie - eliminated the sweeping volume blend of the Series II).

I have a Series I and a Series II, different body wood recipes. I have often described their voices as follows....

The Walnut / Mahogany / Walnut Series I provides the clearest piano tone of any bass I have ever played. If it were a person, I would say that the tonal quality is like Phil Collins.

The Coco Bolo / Maple / Mahogany / Maple / Coco Bolo Series II has a thickness to the tone that sort of diminishes the piano like quality (though it is still there). As Jazzyvee said, it has so much power it could tear your leg off. If it were a singer it would be Barry White.

I had a Zebrawood / Mahogany / Zebrawood Series II before I had either of these basses and I would characterize its tone as being closer to the Series I that I still have. My current Series II sounds like nothing else I have ever played. That's part of why its my main bass.
wfmandmusic
Member
Username: wfmandmusic

Post Number: 72
Registered: 1-2012
Posted on Friday, July 04, 2014 - 8:42 am:   Edit Post

The power to tear your leg off is what was missing. I figured something was askew. I am a really happy camper this morning because I checked the pickup heights and they were off. Yes, set way too low. I raised them to match my Series 1 and magic happened. Now it sounds like it should and totally will tear not only your leg off but vibrate the screws out of the drywall. Not that you would ever do that unless you are playing with a band called Kashmir :-)
Thanks for all the suggestion folks. This baby is signed, sealed, and delivered!
wfmandmusic
Member
Username: wfmandmusic

Post Number: 73
Registered: 1-2012
Posted on Friday, July 04, 2014 - 8:45 am:   Edit Post

Oh yea, actually the neck pickup on my Series 1 is 1/16th of an inch further away from the the heal of the neck than the Series 2.
jazzyvee
Senior Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 4111
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Friday, July 04, 2014 - 10:46 am:   Edit Post

Glad to hear that all is running smoothly now with your bass.

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