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Username: trekster

Post Number: 17
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Thursday, December 30, 2004 - 5:40 am:   Edit Post

Greetings all:

Since I don't have an Alembic yet, I can't compare -- so I'd like some opinion. Line6 has followed up on thier digital modeling guitar with a new bass, which models both classic and new basses. I was thrilled to notice that they included Alembic (based on a 1978 Long-scale)in this! (Kudos for calling it the "Alchemy" sound, along with the Steinberger bass) However, I have not seen anyone mention it here before. So...

1) Mica/Val/et al ... was this sanctioned/approved by Alembic?

2) Has anyone gone to the Line6 site and listened to the sound examples to compare? Does it really sound like an Alembic, or something close?

3) I'd ask if anyone has actually tried it, but I don't *think* that it's out yet in least not in the DC area.


Username: lothartu

Post Number: 84
Registered: 8-2003
Posted on Thursday, December 30, 2004 - 6:53 am:   Edit Post

Well I went over and gave it a listen. I owned an 88 Series I until very recently and while the sound sample they have does sound "Alembic-y" it doesn't sound as "open" as a real Alembic does to my ears. Where I hear it most in the sample is on the pops.

The whole idea of the instrument is interesting. I can see it being a godsend for live gigs if you're in a band that needs a large number of different sounds (what comes to mind is an 80's cover band where you could use a ton of different bass sounds). I think it would probably also be perfect for a guitar player who had a small home studio and needed a bass to record with. However, I don't really buy their idea of walking into a pro studio session with one of these basses to be used as an all-in-one replacement.

- Jim
Intermediate Member
Username: jlpicard

Post Number: 123
Registered: 7-2002
Posted on Saturday, January 01, 2005 - 10:18 am:   Edit Post

I have heard the wavefiles on the Line6 site and in general, I really liked what I heard on many of the presets. Will this ever replace the real thing? I don't know. It depends on the individual and how much of a purist he/she is. Bass players as a rule have been more accepting of new ideas and improvments to the instrument. Keep in mind that this unit and the Roland V-bass are really first generation modeling products as far as bass is concerned and with enough interest in this type of product and technological development these "toys" will get better and better. What I see developing is another classic battle as in the "tube vs. solid state" war that has been raging ever since the transistor appeared on the scene. I think this type of unit (line 6) will eventually become a very usefull item to have in the sonic arsenal but the one thing for me that no amount of electronic wizardry will ever replace is the tactile response of a well made instrument, which of course is going to be different for each individual. For some people that might even be a Fender! ( although God only knows why!! Sorry Fender fans ).
An Alembic, as we all know so well, is more than just the wonderful electronics that Ron has given us. It is the total experience that we have from the moment we open the case. The Alembic to me succeeds on so many levels; Audible, visual and tactile ( I haven't taken to sniffing or licking my bass.....yet)! In order to truly make my best music, the bass that I play must cease to be an external tool and in a certain sense become a part of me that I can manipulate like I would any other appendage. It should give no surprises ( excepting pleasent ones of course! ). It should respond in a predictable manner to a given input. My Alembic of course does this for me like no other. What I'm getting at with this lengthy discourse, is that one bass can never be all things to all people. Perhaps Roland has the better idea. Strap on a pickup and make your favorite bass become all other basses? They need to find a less cumbersome way of doing it. I don't fancy adhesive (double sided tape) or screwholes in the body of my Alembic, do you? One more observation; my Alembic is me. It's Home. It's the musical identity that I wish to present to the world. When I play another any other bass, even it's the most appropriate bass for the particular gig, It always feels like I'm play acting or wearing a mask or a costume in a certain sense. Fun on occasion but not me. It's these sorts of intangibles that you can never, IMHO bottle up into one instrument.
O.K. my soap box is cracking so I'd better get off now.

P.S. Whew! that was almost an Ed Roman-like rant! Sorry if I bent anyones ear too much but I find this a very interesting topic! thanks Mike
Username: dgcarbu

Post Number: 70
Registered: 6-2004
Posted on Saturday, January 01, 2005 - 10:53 am:   Edit Post


Are you planning on getting an Alembic at all?, there's nothing like the real thing. It's a nice thought, being able to "model" the sound of other instruments, but if you really think about it, it's kind of like "sampling". Whatever the case, I hope you have the opportunity to actually get your hands on an Alembic to hear one and judge for yourself...who knows, you may end up owning one after all.

Happy New Year,
Username: 4u2nv

Post Number: 39
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Saturday, January 01, 2005 - 1:01 pm:   Edit Post

Well is like fake boobs, they look nice but there not "The Real Thing" lol , i tried the variax gtr and it sound horrible to my ears, i have a little collection of vintage and new instruments that i can compare to the variax also i use the Vg-88 (with and without the GK-2A) so the Variax is just a cheap way to try to emulate those guitars, but nothing close to the real thing.

Keep in mind that the sound is not only the electronics, its also the woods, construction (bolt on, nech trhu, glued in), string gauge, type of hardware, finish, so i think is more a tool or toy.
Username: trekster

Post Number: 18
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Monday, January 03, 2005 - 5:20 am:   Edit Post


Yes, one day I do plan on getting an Alembic.. that is a fact. I know it seems from previous postings about the VariAx as well as my current affinity for other basses such as Ric's and vintage Aria Superbass's that I'm always looking for anything but Alembic. Truth is, I'm just taking baby steps towards the day I put in my order -- no used Alembic for me -- I will know what what I want, try to visit the factory is I can, and even send in or take in a favorite neck to be duped! THAT to me is the beauty of Alembic and it's people.

That being said..the comments have been helpful so far. Keep 'em coming!

Advanced Member
Username: 811952

Post Number: 338
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2005 - 8:33 am:   Edit Post

Back in the day when I ordered mine new, there were precious few used Alembic long scales on the market. I think if I were to do it over again now, I'd own a a couple of used ones before placing the order for my perfect bass. There are so many things about Alembic basses that are pleasantly surprising that after spending some time with one your concept of the perfect bass may well change considerably. My bass is a wonderful, wonderful part of my life, but after playing it for a while I recognize that I ordered it the way I did based upon OTHER basses's shortcomings (which the Alembic Series I simply doesn't have), rather than based on the things Alembic does acutely well. In other words, while my bass is very nice, I reinvented the wrong wheel in some ways by trying preemptively to fix things that weren't going to be a problem. Next time, it's 5 strings, ebony lams and maybe the Valentino body style in Cocobolo with maybe an Ash core. But then I really do think the standard point defines Alembic.... At any rate, it is really hard to go back to anything else after playing an Alembic - even an old one (just ask Dela).
Username: trekster

Post Number: 19
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 6:20 am:   Edit Post

Just as a FYI, I did get some email from Line6, in response to a question someone had posed me on a different site. The sound samples of the different models were recorded direct-to-board, the ensemble peices were recorded via a Line6 Bass PodXT.

And in reference to my original question, I'd still like to know if the Alembic modeling had the blessing of Alembic itself.

Advanced Member
Username: effclef

Post Number: 287
Registered: 1-2004
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 7:18 am:   Edit Post

Trekster - I don't know if Line6 would need the blessing from Santa Rosa, especially if they dodge around calling it Alembic by name. That's why the POD calls things "Flip Top" etc.

But I'm not a lawyer. Maybe lbpesq will chime in. :-)

Username: dfung60

Post Number: 52
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 7:35 am:   Edit Post

trekster -

811852 makes a good point, and it's something to think about. My bro is very serious in the vintage stuff and owns a lot of very elite dream guitars.

He used to live on the east coast and moved out here a number of years ago. He had most of his collection transported, but shipped out a number of the really valuable guitars to me ahead of time (yes, that may sound backward, but it was more secure this way since the movers had to carry a declaration of what they were carrying for insurance purposes).

He had me check them out when the arrived to make sure they made it through. One of the instruments was truly amazing - an 50's Les Paul Goldtop with P90s. It looked pretty tired, but felt nice so I plugged it in to give it a spin. Absolutely the best guitar I ever played, beautiful, rich tone, suprisingly light, and eternal sustain. If you follow the vintage guitar prices, you can imagine that this was a very expensive guitar (like multiple Series II basses!).

I called him and told him that they had made it OK and that this guitar was really incredible. There were actually two goldtops, and the other one was beautiful to look at but not particularly soul-stirring. I asked him whether all the goldtops were as good as the good one.

And now, I finally get to the point of this story. His answer was that the good goldtop was really extraordinary. Once you get into the right circles, you'll see a number of these guitars. They're all expensive, but you really need to play it to find out how it turned out. And the real trick to getting a fantastic instrument is to not buy a bad one!

He's a big believer in this philosophy and it really does make sense. There's nothing like the feeling of designing your instrument, seeing it built, then opening the case for the first time. But, because they are built of natural materials by human beings, it really can be a crapshoot as to how it will all turn out. If you want a 37" scale or a samurai inlay on the body, it'll have to be a custom, but in a lot of cases, your money might be better served by looking at instruments (new or used) that are already built. Pick it up, play it, and if it's not right put it back. What could be more fun than searching?

Now, this is much easier to do if you're looking for a Mexican Strat that a Series bass since you have very little chance to bump into one unless you live in a big city. But you actually can try this with Strats or Jazz Basses or whatever. Go to a store that has 5 of them hanging on the wall and try them out. They'll probably be pretty consistent and pretty similar. And one will probably be better - perhaps the setup happens to be better because of the humidity that day, or you lucked out on pickups. Wouldn't it make sense to buy that one? Comparing robot-made Strats with Alembics is sort of silly, but the same truth holds true there. If you can swing a trip to the factory someday, it's quite an eye-opening experience to try out so many different instruments.

Of course, there's another factor at play here too - what feels right and sounds best to you is not an absolute. Take two guys in to try Strats, and they may well walk off with different instruments. But, if we're really judging by tone and feel, I wouldn't be all that surprised if they end up fighting over the good one too.

I have four Alembics, two which I had built for me. If you sat and played the four of them, you certainly would spend most of your time staring at one of my custom-built ones. But if you were going to take one home, you might be surprised at which one you'd pick.

David Fung
Advanced Member
Username: lbpesq

Post Number: 231
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 8:05 am:   Edit Post


I haven't done any copyright law since law school (where I took it with the Beatles' original lawyer! Great story - he was a young lawyer working for a big firm in NYC when his boss told him they were assigning him to a new client, "some musical group from England called the buttles, or the bootles, or something like that". He retired in his mid-forties, moved to California, played golf for a while, then got bored and essentially represented every 60's era San Francisco band except the Dead).

Anyway, with that caveat, I suspect that Line6 probably does not have a licensing agreement with Alembic - hence the sound is called "Alchemy" - close, but no cigar. I looked at the Line6 website and could not find a listing of the specific basses used, though I suspect it's there somewhere as I have seen such a list for their Variax guitar. (As another aside, I have read reviews of the Variax guitar that complain that it is an interesting system installed in a cheap guitar). I don't believe you can copyright a particular "tone". You can certainly patent a pick-up design and copyright a name, logo, etc.

The guitar industry is rife with copycats. One could reasonably argue that 80% of the guitars out there are either Strat or Les Paul copies. By the way, the whole cult that has grown around "lawsuit" Japanese guitars of the late 70's/early 80's is based on an old wive's tale - there were actually very few, if any, lawsuits. After all, you can still find almost exact copies of Fenders and Gibsons hanging in Guitar Centers and other stores all over the place. Ever wonder why they don't get sued if the Japanese companies allegedly were sued and had to stop? Because it never happened.

Bill, tgo
Username: trekster

Post Number: 20
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 9:07 am:   Edit Post

Well, while the "name" on the knob is something else, the description for each of the sounds states the real name -- Jazz Bass, Steinberger, Alembic, ect.. Interestingly enough, the only blurb at the bottom mentions the TM for Rickenbacker.

Senior Member
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 1153
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 9:08 am:   Edit Post

Bill; the specific basses are listed here:
There are 24 settings shown; 12 green and 12 red. When you click on one of the settings, the heading tells you what instrument the setting is based on, and the text tells you a little something about that instrument. For instance the green "Alchemy" setting is based on a "1978 Alembic Long Scale".
Advanced Member
Username: effclef

Post Number: 288
Registered: 1-2004
Posted on Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - 9:09 am:   Edit Post

Thanks for the clarification, Bill.

I used to have a Bass Pod and sold it to a friend. But from what I remember of the manual, Line6's claim to fame is that they use real hardware and analyze how it works. I am picturing known sound going in an amp and the results out of the speaker being digitized, and the software being built around the response. So I would think they do something similar for their guitars.

As for the lawsuit guitars, I think John Hall of Rickenbacker is still pretty aggressive about that, if he's still around/active on the Rick newsgroup.

Now back to Line6 talk...

One question I'd have, is would the variax bass get any kind of tonal change - in the emulation section - from a different set of strings, or would it not matter?


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