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jalevinemd
Senior Member
Username: jalevinemd

Post Number: 990
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Monday, May 25, 2015 - 8:46 am:   Edit Post

I apologize in advance for the lengthy post. I just received my fourth custom guitar from Alembic last week. The third arrived almost a year ago the same day. For the last two I didn't ask that a Factory to Customer thread be generated. In fact, for the latest one, I saw only a drawing and nothing else during its entire build…not even the woods that were to be used. I simply asked Susan to pick me out a nice piece of walnut. I had complete faith in their abilities.

So here's the story behind the latest one. The first three I had done to commemorate the birth of each of my three children. I told them that if they play guitar, they can have theirs once they are old enough. My youngest is almost seven, so there was quite a long time between the second and third builds. Not Alembic's fault. Life just always seemed to get in the way. It wasn't until my daughter began asking where her guitar was that I realized I had to do something.

Now, while having guitars built to honor your children and to "pre-humously" bequeath them might sound like a wonderful thing, for me it kind of backfired. Not only did I never take them out of the house for fear of damaging them, even when I played them at home they didn't seem like mine. It always felt as though I was borrowing them and so I never bonded with either of the three. I know…pathetic. But it didn't really matter, because I never played out of the house anyway. In fact the only time I jammed with anyone since high school was the three Alembic Gatherings that I attended over the last few years. But that all changed two years ago. Our local School of Rock organized a modified adult program and they got six of us to form our own group. So now I'm playing every week and four or five shows a year. For the first time, I needed an Alembic of my own. And so began the journey of what's affectionately come to be know as "The Beater" because it will be mine to play the hell out of!

Each time we built a guitar, we started with a completely new body shape…something that I've found very challenging. Let's face it, drawings can only convey so much. Even in progress pictures don't tell the entire story. Here's a montage of the four guitars. I stole three of Mica's photos because my photography skills are sorely lacking. The chronological order (oldest to newest) is top left, top right, bottom left, bottom right.



When the first guitar was delivered, I was shocked at how small it really was. When I came time to build the second, I asked that we retain the same overall shape but that the body be much more substantial. I thought I liked the horns on that one until I saw a picture of a custom bass from the 70's with these lovely curled horns. I wanted to incorporate those into the third build, whose body is a bit of a departure from the other two. After the third, I realized that I prefer longer horns, so I asked that we basically build a guitar that has all of my favorite elements from the first three. And that's precisely what they did. Not that I don't love the other three, but this one is essentially the vision I had more than ten years ago when I first started my journey with Alembic. But it's wonderful to see this natural evolution…the features of each of my children's' guitars reflected in my own.






The third guitar was the first of mine to have a volute and I requested that this have one as well.



As far as electronics are concerned, all of the others had the basic Skylark package, which seemed to work just fine at home. After playing live for quite some time, I realized what works best for me. On the "Beater" we went with a three way blade which makes pickup selection so much easier, because I can leave one in the bright position without it being activated. Then we have normal/bright switches for each pickup as well as individual volume and filter knobs. The monthly special when I ordered this was free LED's, so we've got those as well. The switch and knob closest to the bottom are for a boost on/off with variable gain setting. Typically the latter is controlled by an internal trip pot, but I asked that it be on the outside for easier real time adjustment.



(Message edited by jalevinemd on May 25, 2015)

(Message edited by jalevinemd on May 25, 2015)

(Message edited by jalevinemd on May 25, 2015)

(Message edited by jalevinemd on May 25, 2015)

(Message edited by jalevinemd on May 25, 2015)
jalevinemd
Senior Member
Username: jalevinemd

Post Number: 991
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Monday, May 25, 2015 - 8:51 am:   Edit Post

Each of the four guitars has its own headstock shape (knobby, crown and fan for the first three). So for this it seemed only natural to go with one of my all time favorites…the bump.



(Message edited by jalevinemd on May 25, 2015)
jalevinemd
Senior Member
Username: jalevinemd

Post Number: 992
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Monday, May 25, 2015 - 9:19 am:   Edit Post

I'll post some better non-iPhone photos of some of the details once the camera is finished charging.
jalevinemd
Senior Member
Username: jalevinemd

Post Number: 993
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Monday, May 25, 2015 - 9:21 am:   Edit Post

I'll try posting better, non-iPhone photos of some of the details once my camera has charged.
lbpesq
Senior Member
Username: lbpesq

Post Number: 6065
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Monday, May 25, 2015 - 10:27 am:   Edit Post

Jonathan:

Sweet! I actually saw your new baby a couple of weeks go hanging on the wall in Santa Rosa. Love the horns and unusual peg-head shape. And very interesting electronics. Is the "boost" essentially a tunable blaster? Also, I'm curious about the choice of normal/bright switches over Q switches. Play it in great health.

Bill, tgo
jalevinemd
Senior Member
Username: jalevinemd

Post Number: 994
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Monday, May 25, 2015 - 12:19 pm:   Edit Post

Bill,

Thanks. I guess I never considered Q switches. Not even sure what they do honestly. Really the only time I use the bright switch is to get an amplified acoustic tone or occasionally for a more convincing bridge pickup Strat sound. With the filter all the way up and the bright switch on, it's as convincing as any piezo pickup I've ever heard…especially if both pickups are set that way. And yes, the booster is essentially an adjustable blaster. In fact, the way Ron wired it, as long as it's turned all the way down, the switch can be in the "on" position and it's unity gain. Most times I have it up nearly all the way and flip it on to boost my clean signal, which I find gets lost in the mix a lot, since most of the time I've got an overdrive pedal of some sort kicked on.
adriaan
Moderator
Username: adriaan

Post Number: 3241
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Monday, May 25, 2015 - 12:42 pm:   Edit Post

Clear case of family resemblance. :-)
davehouck
Moderator
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 11761
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Monday, May 25, 2015 - 1:08 pm:   Edit Post

Wonderful guitar!!
enzo
Senior Member
Username: enzo

Post Number: 483
Registered: 4-2009
Posted on Monday, May 25, 2015 - 1:23 pm:   Edit Post

Clear case of awesomeness!!!
mica
Moderator
Username: mica

Post Number: 8531
Registered: 6-2000
Posted on Tuesday, May 26, 2015 - 3:32 pm:   Edit Post

Here's the archive picture that I took just before Mary boxed it up:

14461

It's a really sweet instrument!
5a_quilt_top
Senior Member
Username: 5a_quilt_top

Post Number: 529
Registered: 6-2012
Posted on Tuesday, May 26, 2015 - 4:27 pm:   Edit Post

What a great piece of walnut.

And I also like the offset "horns".

How 'bout a performance review - ?
sonicus
Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 4210
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Tuesday, May 26, 2015 - 5:17 pm:   Edit Post

Congratulations , I love it . This shape with the point, and other aspects of the shape look perfect to me from a standpoint of a classic Alembic beauty to ergonomics. It seems to be all there .
jalevinemd
Senior Member
Username: jalevinemd

Post Number: 996
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Tuesday, May 26, 2015 - 8:34 pm:   Edit Post

Mica...now that's a nice picture! I'm almost sorry I posted mine. Really shows off the subtle contouring around the horns.

Thanks for all the kind words guys. It really is a fantastic piece of walnut. Has everytihng going on. Susan did a great job picking out this one.

Wolf, you're spot on with the beauty and ergonomics. It balances effortlessly and access to the upper frets is so easy.

David...as with the others, I can get almost every tone imaginable. The Skylark electronics are very simple and yet so versatile. I can't recommend the three way blade enough. I'll start playing it out next week. We have a show this Saturday but I've got all my effect and amp settings tweaked for my Strat.


(Message edited by jalevinemd on May 26, 2015)
bigredbass
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 2377
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Wednesday, May 27, 2015 - 10:36 am:   Edit Post

Good on you, Jonathan. When I had my green Elan built, like you, I told Susan what I wanted, and promptly forgot about it until I saw about it 11 months later. I had this feeling that I'd never tell Mario Andretti how to drive, Emeril how to cook, and I saw no point in worrying them or me to death over this or that. They've been doing this a long time, and I knew I'd love it, and I did. I figured it was a complete no-brainer to leave it to Alembic once I was sure we were on the same page. Aren't you amazed that Susan can pull what you're thinking almost out of the ether?

Wonderful guitar, spectacular walnut, and for me, that brass surround for the 3-way just says ALEMBIC. Enjoy !

Joey
hammer
Senior Member
Username: hammer

Post Number: 708
Registered: 9-2009
Posted on Wednesday, May 27, 2015 - 8:57 pm:   Edit Post

In contrast to Joey, after talking things over with Will Gunn I knew exactly what I wanted with respect to electronics neck, etc. everything but the top and back lams. And then I saw a photo of an Alembic bass hanging on the wall in a guitar shop in Japan. It was EXACTLY what I wanted. I copied it and sent it along with a few other photos of examples of crotch walnut to Mica and Susan. I waited 6-months and when my bass arrived the wood grain looked exactly, like the bass in the shop in Japan. The fact was, either Mica and/or Susan recognized the grain pattern and after looking through the shop found the slab of crotch walnut from which the bass in Japan had been cut and took some additional slices for my custom Signature. There is NO other maker of fine instruments of which I am aware who would go to that length to provide a customer with exactly what he/she desires. Alembic, they are truly one in a million (the good people that is).
sonicus
Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 4222
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Friday, May 29, 2015 - 5:35 am:   Edit Post

I Absoulutely agree ! :-) ( The good people)
jalevinemd
Senior Member
Username: jalevinemd

Post Number: 997
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Sunday, May 31, 2015 - 8:41 am:   Edit Post

Here's a slightly revised montage, including Mica's much better photo of the "Beater."

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