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Advanced Member
Username: flaxattack

Post Number: 323
Registered: 4-2004
Posted on Friday, January 14, 2005 - 8:47 am:   Edit Post

There is a saying: You cannot keep something unless you are willing ot give it away.
So for all you folks that placed custom orders during the sales of november december.
This is from a guy who has done it the wrong way (occasionally) and tried to do it the right way.
Alembic is a small company and its actually better this way as shown by the quality of work
Things may not happen when you expect them or want them to.
When they have a photo to post into FTC, They will set up a post. Its a courtesy and it is time consuming when you think about all the orders alembic has
Every time we call alembic it means someone stops working, be it val, mica, susan, mary etc.
and i confess my guilt on this too.
The best advice i can share with you is unless you want to make a change on your order, let them be and let em work.
I am not trying to be pompous as i have been a royal pain sometiimes, and usually ended up feeling guilty, especially after mica would dump a photo of my direwolf into FTC.
my order is not quite ready yet as imay have gotten held up by all you nice people rushing to get your customs placed, BUT i am getting the bass of my dreams soon. :-) and i have been playing bass for 40 years
When i finally do hold it in my hands, EVERY moment of every day and every month i have waited will have been worth it.
Good Luck to all of you and may your notes be pure and true
Advanced Member
Username: lbpesq

Post Number: 265
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Friday, January 14, 2005 - 9:39 am:   Edit Post


If I get one of "THE FINEST BASS GUITARS MADE ON THE PLANET" I'm going to be VERY dissappointed. However I will be patiently awaiting the arrival of my GUITAR (also the finest in the world IM-not-so-HO!


Serioulsy though, there is another old saying that is applicable to this issue: "You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar." Alembic is not only a small company, they are virtually an extended family. They pay more attention to customer service than any business I've ever dealt with. The personl touch is the direct result of the fact that Susan, Mica, Val, et al., are downright nice people. And what's the best way to deal with nice people? NICELY!

I am lucky enought to live a long stone's throw from Santa Rosa, and often drive by on my way to and from various courts in Nothern California. When I have the time, I stop by. I know they are busy and never expect to be given the red carpet, and yet every time I stick my head through the door, it's like being with old friends.

I was there yesterday to pick up a couple of boxes (absolutely beautiful) and discuss a couple of ideas I had for my Further-in-progress. The folks there are just an absolute pleasure to hang with. I really don't believe getting pushy could possibly make them work any faster or better than they already do. And, to tell the truth, I'm much more interested in having my axe built absolutely perfectly and up to Alembic standards, than I am about getting it fast. Want an instrument fast? Call PRS or Fender or Gibson, etc. Want it right? Call Alembic.

Last, but certainly not least, I am serious when I say that I want to grains of the wood in my guitar absorbing good vibes as it is evolving into my dream instrument. Jeff offers some very good advice. Be patient, let the Alembic elves work at their own pace, keep smilin', and, when it's meant to be, Alembic will deliver you something that will undoubtedly keep you smiling for a long time.

Bill, tgo

Username: dfung60

Post Number: 55
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Friday, January 14, 2005 - 1:39 pm:   Edit Post

I'll chime in too. Nothing can be more frustrating that waiting after you've decided what you want and you know it's in process.

But once it's done, it will be yours forever! So if it takes an extra week, month, or (gulp) year, that will be a small amount of time in the grand scheme of things. Somebody has to carve your heart omega, or inlay your chicken skeleton. Some mornings they'll get up and they'll just know that this is not the day to do it. The great part about Alembic is that they're committed to doing the impossible and taking the time to do it right. It's worth every minute.

The inlay that is now called "Alchemy" was first done on my bass. I dug around in dusty bookstores in Berkeley to find some artwork ideas. Sent 'em up to Mica. After a long while, I was rewarded with a beautiful fax of the neck and inlays at full size with the concept from Mica and Susan. After another long while, my bass was finished, and I went up to Santa Rosa to get it. When I first saw it I was blown away, but Mica made a point of showing me all these tiny details in how the pieces of pearl were cut and laid out - the kind of thing that you can only see from 6" away. One of the symbols ("the torrefaction of gold") looks like a fancy cross on a circle. When you look at it up close, you see that the four arms meet perfectly at the junction of the cross like four tiny daggers. Another symbol ("to purify") looks like a string looping around an arrow. When you look at that inlay close up, you see that the pearl is actually cut so that it crosses in front and behind the arrow in the proper places. There's not a spot of filler visible anywhere (contrast that with a PRS where the birds look like they're dumped into a big oval shaped gouge, even on the big bucks axes).

You paid dearly for the magic. While it's being birthed, allow it a full helping and a little on the side too!

David Fung
Senior Member
Username: bsee

Post Number: 691
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Friday, January 14, 2005 - 2:10 pm:   Edit Post

This whole thread is too funny. Maybe there's some inside knowledge that led to the initial post of which I am unaware, but I haven't witnessed anyone on the boards who has been pressuring Alembic for FTC updates or faster instrument delivery, except maybe Jeff. ;)

Seriously, though, I know I sent a lot of email back and forth and had a few phone calls in nailing (and re-nailing) the specs of my custom order. This is a pretty big purchase for most people and getting it right is important. If I screwed it up, I live with the consequences rather than just ordering another.

Now that the order is in, I intend to stop by and pick out some wood, discuss a few fine details like a custom inlay, and then let them do their thing. If they post progress pictures to FTC every so often, that's great. If not, that's fine too.

Advanced Member
Username: flaxattack

Post Number: 326
Registered: 4-2004
Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2005 - 10:13 am:   Edit Post

bsee- yuo finally broker down, stopped complaining and bought something?!?!?
wowie wowwow lmao-
yes a little birdie told me that one of the newies called for an ftc within a week after placing the order...so i thught i would share and try to help with some advice... my 2 cents worth-from someone whos got about a dollar invested haha
hey seriously man good luck with your custom-i missed changing to bookmatch to center by about 10 minutes after i saw vals beauty- they cut the top right before i called- but i still love the way it came out and i did change my body woods about 4 weeks into the order and was able to go from mahogany/maple/coco to,ash,maple,walnut/maple/coco sandwich feel free to say hi to my bass. tell him we are waiting for him and we love him already
ps- glad you thought it funny- it was meant to be tongue and cheek14924.jpg
Intermediate Member
Username: pace

Post Number: 119
Registered: 4-2004
Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2005 - 5:07 pm:   Edit Post

>>>>yes a little birdie told me that one of the newies called for an ftc within a week after placing the order...<<<<

I figured the same when I placed my order this past April (my dealer said, "oh, they're excited about this one, they're gettin started on it right away"). I figured by the time I was out in CA two months later it would be too late in the process to pick out woods!!!! This is my first time through the whole process. All I can say is until you actually experience it first-hand, your perception of what goes down on the ftc threads as well as at the factory may be a bit aschew....
I try not to be a pest ~ half the time I spend on the phone w/ Mica & Susan Im apologizing for calling in the first place.... But, one funny thing that has happened twice; I'll call the factory for an update, and Susan will say "I see you got my e-mail", even though I didn't even check my e-mail yet.... how's that for telepathy?!? lol...

I've learned it's a matter of letting things run their course. There are instruments that will be ordered later than your's and delivered sooner~ it holds true for just about everyone here, and there's definitely a silver lining to be found. Good things come to those who wait, good vibes= good guitars, plus there's always the Swap Shop & E-bay to feed that jones!!!!

Advanced Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 359
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2005 - 6:21 pm:   Edit Post

These posts about waiting for your custom have always get a laugh out of me, and I'll tell you why:

When I first moved to Nashville, I worked at Gibson on the production line. I've seen guitars cranked out in a week or two, and that's just what you're going to get in guitar building on an 'industrial' scale. And don't get me wrong, there's just as much difficulty cranking out lots of them as there is making small numbers of VERY good ones.

Couple this with the all the variables (employees, the vagaries of wood working, paint, humidity, the lunar cycle, etc.), and jack the costs (both financial and reputation) sky-high for a small output, high overhead business like ALEMBIC, and I am surprised most of you get them as fast as they are delivered.

I can't imagine that they get it all done without unplugging the phones 23 hours a day!

I've often thought they need to build a 'pallet' ALEMBIC like Bob Taylor did, just to cool off this hair-splitting. And introduce a 10% discount if you NEVER call them until it's finished!

J o e y
Username: byoung

Post Number: 3
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Sunday, January 16, 2005 - 10:21 am:   Edit Post

I think that, for me, the exact opposite effect is happening. I'm more concerned that the my bass is going to be started/past the point of no return before I get a chance to "finalize everything".

Now, I'd normally not be quite so uptight, but it happened that I came in to some unexpected money, and the specials were great, etc. I wasn't really willing to wait for the price increase, either.

So (and I sincerely hope that I haven't been a pest), I've had several things change since the original order, in truly "nailing" the specifications. I suspect that there'll be several more things that change before everything is finished.

But no pressure! I think I'd feel better if Alembic said, "Your bass is on hold." Well, at least until I get to make a factory visit.

$.02 from a first time custom, first time Alembic orderer.

Advanced Member
Username: lbpesq

Post Number: 278
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Sunday, January 16, 2005 - 10:40 am:   Edit Post


Let 'em know! I'm sure they have other things they can do - be assured they are not all sitting around in Santa Rosa twidling their thumbs with nothing to do until they start on your instrument. I suspect they are very familir with this syndrome. When I stopped by last week to run a couple of ideas by Susan, she lauaghed and told me they hadn't started cutting wood on my guitar yet as she knew I was still formulating my final order. I'm still kicking around a few ideas for inlay, knobs, etc. that at least can wait for a final decision. Just let Alembic know where you are at, do it nicely, and I'm sure you will find them very accomodating.

Bill, tgo
Username: mgirouard3

Post Number: 27
Registered: 5-2004
Posted on Wednesday, January 19, 2005 - 7:42 pm:   Edit Post

Just wondering about the saying: You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Who want's to catch flies anyway? Sorry, had to ask.
Advanced Member
Username: bob

Post Number: 355
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Wednesday, January 19, 2005 - 10:34 pm:   Edit Post

No thoughts on the flys, but a couple of (unusually) brief comments on the waiting...

- I ended up with at least 2, maybe 3, improvements on my bass, that I would not have had time to come up with had it been done sooner. So for that, I'm thankful that it took so damn long :-) I'm also in the camp for whom this is likely to be a one time thing, so putting work on hold if you have any doubts is a great idea.

- At some point, I figured out that the better question to ask was, "How long are you sure it will *not* be done?" This is a much easier question to answer, with greater accuracy, and gets you out of the mode of thinking some miracle will occur and it will show up tomorrow. Then you can get on with the rest of your life, let the people at Alembic do their thing, and then tough it out for a few more weeks before bugging them again.

Username: wideload

Post Number: 78
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Thursday, January 20, 2005 - 9:34 am:   Edit Post

Actually, if its flies you want, BS works best! otherwise, try the other approach.

Advanced Member
Username: lbpesq

Post Number: 285
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Thursday, January 20, 2005 - 11:19 am:   Edit Post

Remember, flies are often attached to pants. The type of things that we may want to attract are often found wearing the pants to which the flies are attached. Many of us started playing rock 'n roll to attract such types, undo the flies, and get them out of the pants. In such a situation, I believe that honey will be more useful than vinegar. (Admittedly there is often plenty of room for BS in this equation, too).

Bill, tgo
Senior Member
Username: bsee

Post Number: 705
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Thursday, January 20, 2005 - 11:34 am:   Edit Post


I will be looking at your bass carefully if I can. The wood selection is very attractive and I hope it sounds the way you have it pictured in your mind. Mine should look similar to yours in woods from the top, and one of the things I am thinking about is how to get the most homogenous appearance with the purpleheart neck lines. I am thinking about a piece of cocobolo that has a sort of natural sunburst effect going from lighter red/orange near the neck to darker at the edges. I wonder if the PH will still brown up under the current finishing materials. If it does, then it should look great with an orange-tinted cocobolo. If it stays that bright purple, though, it will need a redder tint to complement it. Questions to be answered at the factory, I suppose.

I was torn between ordering a mirror image of it (minus the wolf, of course) and ordering a toned down version of the SC 30th anniversary bass. I went with the latter. I am still considering a custom inlay, though smaller than yours, but I'm otherwise pretty locked in. The only thing that I want to see in person other than wood selection is the headstock shape.

I am visiting next week and hopefully will nail everything and then just watch the rest of the process passively. I also hope to play some 34" basses with long upper horns if I can, and maybe touch a Skylark again. I am hoping that a regular scale 5 with a long/balance upper horn will be comfortable for me and provide a better B than the shorter scale I have been playing. That would open up more instruments to be available on the used market if I want to upgrade my 5 without going back to the factory. Maybe if I get a new gig running, I will splurge on another custom bass, who knows?

Advanced Member
Username: flaxattack

Post Number: 335
Registered: 4-2004
Posted on Thursday, January 20, 2005 - 1:08 pm:   Edit Post

thanks bob
yes please take a look at my baby when you go there- i am SOOOOOOO jealous. one day i will go visit after i order my second- lol
as an fyi
i believe val has a bass similar to my sandwich
when i spoke to mica on this- the ash is a more mid sounding wood- the walnut adds some punch- the maple a tad on the highs (and that was more comsmetic) and coco- well its coco. but remember a neck throughs sound is 90% from the neck, thus the reason for adding the ebony lam for more sustain.
i dont think ph moves colorwise like a vermillion does. i could be wrong
overall- it looks great- more "philing" lol
word has it the inlay work will start shortly
Advanced Member
Username: flaxattack

Post Number: 336
Registered: 4-2004
Posted on Thursday, January 20, 2005 - 1:11 pm:   Edit Post

just a thought-
how about cherry wood- purple heart neck?
that might get that 'flow" i think you are looking for
bookmatch to center and cover the neck lams
Username: jseitang

Post Number: 52
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Thursday, January 20, 2005 - 1:26 pm:   Edit Post

all i have to say is this:
good things come to those who wait.
Intermediate Member
Username: dgcarbu

Post Number: 178
Registered: 6-2004
Posted on Thursday, January 20, 2005 - 1:37 pm:   Edit Post

Patience is a virtue......to a new Alembic
Advanced Member
Username: flaxattack

Post Number: 337
Registered: 4-2004
Posted on Thursday, January 20, 2005 - 3:01 pm:   Edit Post

its not a virtue- its a requirement
Senior Member
Username: bsee

Post Number: 707
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Thursday, January 20, 2005 - 3:45 pm:   Edit Post

With regard to the woods, the PH lams on older basses brown up a lot. For example, the PH lams on my 1990 Persuader are something between orange and brown. I was told that the finish that is used has been changed over the years and that the woods no longer change color in the same way as they once did.

I really don't want to make any more changes to the bass. I certainly wouldn't trade out the PH for looks if I thought it might impact tone. I would like the thickness of the various laminates to show the ebony a bit fatter, maybe 3/8" or 7/16" compared to 1/4" for the PH lams. The three PH lams on my Persuader are all at 3/8", but that's a 5. I will probably play with photoshop a bit to crystallize my ideas. I would hope to emphasize the ebony as the main color while showing the purple as more of an accent. Again, I wouldn't want to compromise the fat tone that this bass should get from the dense neck woods. I suspect that the actual dimensions will be entirely left up to the factory and that they will optimize the concept better than if given thickness specifications. For reference, I am thinking of something like the Jan 2002 featured custom, though maybe not quite so skinny on the outside stripes.

On another topic, I'll see how many pics I can get while I am out there. We haven't seen the website updated with new price info yet, and I suspect that's higher on Mica's priority list than taking FTC pics, so maybe I can help out. Of course, I'll probably be taking shots of the instruments where they hang, so the quality might not be what you're used to from Mica.

There are probably some secrets in there as well, like the SC 30th was. Things that a visitor can ogle, but for which photos shouldn't be published, so I will be getting permission for every pic I snap...
Username: jacko

Post Number: 96
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Friday, January 21, 2005 - 1:02 am:   Edit Post

you lucky, lucky guy. Seeing Stanley Clarke in concert AND visiting the Alembic factory! Things we Europeans can only dream about unless we win the lottery ;-(
Keep an eye (and lens) out for my rogue ;-)


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