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Alembic Club » Dreaming... for now » Archive through July 12, 2006 » Best Model for first Alembic and Which Power Amp? « Previous Next »

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Username: mip

Post Number: 1
Registered: 7-2006
Posted on Friday, July 07, 2006 - 9:29 am:   Edit Post

Hey Gang,

I'm new to this board, but I've been lurking for a bit. I'm about to purchase a fretted 5-string, and think I really want an Alembic. I'm pretty close to getting a Mark King Standard. The electronics seem versatile, and I want to avoid neck dive (though in truth, I prefer the non-balanced body shape of alembics - there's something very cool to my eye about those).

First question: is the nect dive pretty substancial? Is the balanced K much lighter?

I really like the beefy sound of Phil Lesh's playing in the early 70s, and play fairly (perhaps overly) melodically.

It just occurred to me that I should hear from you folks before I make my purchase.

Second question:

Are the signature electronics the way to go? I read a little about the pan vs separate volumes, and think I would prefer the separate volumes if possible, but I don't think that's in the cards now (seems like an expensive upgrade, and non of the basses I've been seeing at the shops have them). Oh yeah - I live out in Western CO, and haven't been able to play an Alembic. There are none to demo anywhere near me. I'll have a couple of days to demo the unit I purchase, and would only lose shipping and 3% restocking fee (a little lame, I think, but I'm not thinking I'll have to return it).

Third question:

So - any thoughts? My current band consists of a good drummer (tasteful, jazzy but can certainly rock when needed), acoustic guitar (clean - percussive), and electric guitar. We play "folk with stubble" but lately it's getting more jazzy, groovey, and rocking with the new tunes. I really want a clear, deep, and articulate sound. I play finger style exclusively (on my Carvin fretless 5-string) but am looking to get more into slapping and popping when the music calls for it.

My rig is about to change, but so far is an SWR sm400s, running in bridge mode to an Epifani UL-310. It's nice and deep sounding, but I'm leaning toward a component system F 1x, and either a Crown K1 amp, or a QSC PLX2 1802 (or maybe a 2502). I'll keep the cab - I really like it, and it's nice and light.

Fourth question:

Can any of you comment on the sound differences/ reliability between the Crown and the QSC? It's looking like I can get either of the power amps for between $800- $900. Am I right in thinking that I can get a more full range sounding rig with the components than with my swr head?

Anyway, thanks in advance for any advice you might have on the choice of bass and the amp.

Looking forward to joining those of you who play Alembics!

Username: 90k6259

Post Number: 49
Registered: 5-2005
Posted on Friday, July 07, 2006 - 2:21 pm:   Edit Post

Hey Mip
Welcome to the forum
I play an all maple Essence and run it through a 1992 Ampeg svp pro and on to a DBX 160t compressor. I then send the signal to my sm 400 in mono using the on board preamp. my cab is a 4-10 swr loaded with Eaden speakers this becomes my stage sound.
If you need more power than don't over look a stewart power amp as an option
Intermediate Member
Username: edwin

Post Number: 158
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Friday, July 07, 2006 - 7:23 pm:   Edit Post

Where in Colorado are you? I live in Boulder and sometimes play further west (just played State Bridge, Crested Butte and Telluride) and I would be happy to let you check out my Series I.

Username: mip

Post Number: 2
Registered: 7-2006
Posted on Friday, July 07, 2006 - 10:35 pm:   Edit Post

Hey Edwin,

I live in Carbondale. I would *love* to play your Series I. Is it your favorite bass? Do you mind the (purported) lack of balance?

I'm not a pro, but I absolutely love playing, and have been able to play more and more since moving out to CO. Life is good.

Do you know how the new Alembics compare with the ones of old?

Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 884
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Saturday, July 08, 2006 - 6:09 pm:   Edit Post

Well, mip, it's great you found us, and believe me . . . you'll get lots of opinions and even a few answers!

1) I play a long-scale, Series shaped instrument. I had to have it, as the shape IS Alembic to me. It does NOT balance like a conventional shape, BUT it is certainly NOT uncontrollably neck-heavy. I use a broad strap, play it about chest high, and park my right elbow/forearm along the top edge and it's fine. Doesn't require constant up-pressure to keep it in hand. Of course, the longer-horned shapes (Balance K, Rogue, etc.) balance better. Or if you get a medium scale Series shape, it's no concern at all.

2) The electronics are a funny thing inasmuch as they're so unbelievably clean yet smooth. The sigs are a handy setup for two pickups, would NOT sweat the bal vs. two volumes, Alembic does it right. The biggest adjustment is filters, and once you find your way in them, you'll quickly forget treb/bass cut/boost: Leave that stuff to your amp/preamp. The Anniversary or full-tilt Series packages build on this, a Spoiler setup distills it. It's amazing in that you can switch the filters/Qs out of the circuit and have passive tone AND active electronics.

3) A Mark King would do really well at what you're describing. But so would any of them from this standpoint: There are no cheaper or de-contented Alembics. They all are built to the same spec wood-wise and electronically: The price goes up as the woods/construction/electronics combinations become more and more expensive. I always recommend neck-thrus over the set necks. But having said that, you could hardly go wrong with an Excel or Orion.

4) Crown or QSC? Hard to go wrong with either, though I think a lot more of us use QSC. But K1s are a real E-ticket for bass, so it's up to you. Of course an F1X will pack a crossover if you would want to add a subwoofer later, and it's got tone for days. And don't overlook the SF2, unbelievably different and irreplaceable for what it can do.

I don't know what you're playing now, or played previously. But the change to Alembic is an experience. You are quite suddenly going to hear things in your technique, the sound of each note, be able to hear huge differences from one brand of string to another, your amp will sound different, EVERYTHING is going to change. It's a very cool, hifi sound. And the instruments are just different. Virtually no wood screws. Workmanship seldom found anywhere else. You quickly have a sense that these were REALLY built by someone who knew what bass was supposed to be. You turn it up, it just gets louder and louder and the tone doesn't change. The knobs feel like they're spinning in oil. The finish, the woodwork, the metal work (they make their own bridges, tailpieces, pickups/electronics, and the adjustable nut).

And they're built by the nicest people on earth who treat even used instruments as their own children.

What are you waiting for?

J o e y
Username: mip

Post Number: 3
Registered: 7-2006
Posted on Saturday, July 08, 2006 - 10:38 pm:   Edit Post

Thanks Man,

I'm getting pretty psyched about it. I have heard that folks new to Alembics hear their playing differently, and that most of them find they clean up their technique somewhat. I'm definitely looking forward to it.

THanks for the advice on the electronics. I'm still trying to figure it all out. It's nice to know that all of them sound good, and that there are tons of good sounds virtually no matter how they're dialed in.

I think I'm going to go for the K1 - mostly b/c I've heard that they have better damping, and they don't use fans. We usually practice quietly enough that I can hear the fan kicking in and out on my SWR.

I'll keep y'all posted.


PS: What do y'all think about LEDs? There are some basses out in the shops that sport them and those that don't (which are usually a fair bit cheaper).

Are they worth the extra shillings?
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 4056
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Monday, July 10, 2006 - 1:57 pm:   Edit Post

Hi Mip, welcome to the group. I pretty much agree with everything Joey said except that I've never compared a Crown to my PLX and thus can't comment there. I also don't have LEDs and can't comment there either except to say that most everyone that has them loves them for playing on dark stages.
Senior Member
Username: kmh364

Post Number: 1948
Registered: 9-2003
Posted on Tuesday, July 11, 2006 - 5:08 am:   Edit Post

FWIW, while they do sound good, the main reason most many pro users (players and sound reinforcement)go with QSC (or Crest) is because they are US companies and/or the products are made domestically and, therefore, parts and repairs are easy to come by.

Personally, not having auditioned many amps, I went with QSC partially based on recommendations made here and the fact that they are designed and fabricated here in the US thereby limiting my aggravation if the product is/becomes defective. QSC gave me a doubled warrantee gratis as part of a promotion as well.
Username: mip

Post Number: 4
Registered: 7-2006
Posted on Tuesday, July 11, 2006 - 2:17 pm:   Edit Post

Cool - I didn't know that qsc was made here. That counts a lot in my book. I hate to think of folks slaving away for nothing for nice, boutique gear for us.

There are some great deals on QSC now on ebay. I love the double warranty too. Do you happen to know if anyone can get that as long as they've purchased it from an authorized dealer, or was your promotion somehow facilitated by the shop that sold you the amp?
Senior Member
Username: keith_h

Post Number: 492
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Tuesday, July 11, 2006 - 2:50 pm:   Edit Post

For the last two QSC's I bought through authorized dealers both had the extended warranty from the factory. The certificate was enclosed in the box.

Username: mip

Post Number: 5
Registered: 7-2006
Posted on Tuesday, July 11, 2006 - 7:47 pm:   Edit Post

In general, do you like them? Are the fans very noisy? WHen I practice (alone, or just with the acoustic guitarist), I don't play that loudly and hear my fan in the SWR go on. It's not too bad, but I kind of liked the idea of the Crown K1 not even *having* a fan.
Username: 90k6259

Post Number: 54
Registered: 5-2005
Posted on Tuesday, July 11, 2006 - 11:25 pm:   Edit Post

I have a friend with the K1 and when he played through my stewart 1.2 he had to have it and so I sold it to him. The 1.2 has no fan and he bought another for the power. I then purchased a 2.1, the crown jewell of the line. However it does have a fan. I would suggest that if noisless operation is a priority that you don't bypass these awesome amps. A mere 11lbs
They run on a switching system that really reduces the weight. no transformers.
Senior Member
Username: bob

Post Number: 677
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Tuesday, July 11, 2006 - 11:43 pm:   Edit Post

I've never tried a QSC, and don't have that much experience with amps in general, so I can't really offer any comparisons.

However, I share your enthusiasm for the concept of not even having a fan. I happen to be a living room player, often late at night, and a fan would drive me nuts. Bass needs power, even at low volumes, and especially for driving something like an 8 ohm ELF cabinet.

It sounds like you may have a specific budget in mind (often a good idea...). I'll just mention that I started with a K1, and was lucky enough to be able to "upgrade" to a K2 a few months later, for full value. If you find yourself leaning toward the Crown, I suggest you get out your calculator, look at the power ratings, and come up with a number of pennies per watt per day over the anticpated time you own the amp.

But again, lots of people here are very happy with QSC, and they are *much* lighter.
Senior Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 497
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Wednesday, July 12, 2006 - 3:51 pm:   Edit Post

I too have been considering an upgrade to a component system for my bass rig.
Currently I have a Mesa boogie setup and an SF-2. I have been considering an FX-2 and a Power amp and sell off my mesa boogie walkabout.

It's not that I need loads of volume at the gigs where I play bass, but I like the fact that I can get loads of quality at normal playing volume. I bought my Europa off a guy in London who had a fantastic rig. I think Aguilar speakers and SF-2, FX-1 and a QSC amp and that sounded amazing.

In reality the price of all that will probably scare me into sensibility. lol

For a practice amp I have recently got one of those Phil Jones Bass, briefcase combo's which I am really impressed with even though its got diddy 5inch speakers.
Its good even on the low B as long as the volume is not too loud.

So I will listen with interest on how you guys rate that setup.

(Message edited by jazzyvee on July 12, 2006)

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