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Username: mgirouard3

Post Number: 28
Registered: 5-2004
Posted on Friday, January 21, 2005 - 4:57 pm:   Edit Post

What is the optimal height for strings to be above the pickups on Alembic basses? I have an Essence.
Senior Member
Username: bsee

Post Number: 715
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Friday, January 21, 2005 - 6:54 pm:   Edit Post

1. At least high enough so that the strings don't hit the pickups.

2. Wherever you like the sound the best. (This is the official recommendation, though I can't quantify how a change in height affects tone.

There is a gain pot inside the control cavity that allows you to adjust the balance between the pickups so that they are even once you set the heights.

On one of my basses, I have the bridge pickup up about as high as it will go. The neck pickup is relatively low since it is almost right against the neck and I need the playing clearance.

On the other, both pickups are set pretty high because the neck pickup is in the standard position and I can play between the pickup and the neck when I need the clearance.

I do admit that I haven't really played with moving them lower to compare the tone. I just figured that the closer to the strings the better. Maybe someone more in the know will straighten me out as well.

Senior Member
Username: hollis

Post Number: 608
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Friday, January 21, 2005 - 7:07 pm:   Edit Post

Hi Maxime,

This is very subjective. It depends on the style of music you play, how hard (or soft) you play the string. Do you use a pick? Do you slap the strings? What type of sound are you shooting for?

Personally, I like the strings very low. But I've had friends pick up my bass and have a hard time with it. "Too low", they say. And for them, it is. When I first got my Persuader, I had to raise the bridge a little, but I've recently brought it back down very close to the fretboard. I have a much lighter touch (something my Skylark taught me)than I did when I first got the bass, so, now the strings don't buzz when I play them set up as they are. But when others play it, they buzz all over the place. I'm sure there are as many answers to this question as there are Alembic basses and their players. I guess what I'm getting at is, I have mine set up for my optimum playing comfort. It's taken a little time to dial it in, but it's worth the effort.

Now, when real bassists come along, they'll offer more educated advice I'm sure. In the meantime, I hope this helps a little.
Advanced Member
Username: bob

Post Number: 358
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Friday, January 21, 2005 - 7:48 pm:   Edit Post

Setting aside the "real bassist" issue... it sounds to me like your question is really about the distance between strings and pickups, and Bob gave the right answer.

I'd suggest you try searching here on "pickup height", because there have been a number of interesting discussions. I tend to spend quite a bit of time angling them to get a more even response across the strings; Joey (as I recall) favors uniform distance from all strings. Overall height certainly makes a difference in tone - even after adjusting for volume, using the pots - but as Bob says, it's hard to quantify, or even describe very well.

Read what some of the others have said, and then just sit down and play with it for an hour. Pan so you're only using one pickup, be careful to play consistently, and move it up and down. I'm sure you'll hear differences, though it may take you a while to decide what you prefer.
Username: mgirouard3

Post Number: 29
Registered: 5-2004
Posted on Sunday, January 23, 2005 - 4:19 pm:   Edit Post

Thanks guys, I have my action set the way I want it which is pretty low. The reason I ask about the spacing between the pickup and strings is becuase when I purchased my Carvin fretless, they recomend the bridge pickup to be 5/32" and the neck to be 4/32" below the strings. They state that this is for the best overall pickup performance. I was wondering if Alembic pickups had a recomended spacing for optimal performance. I will do a search on pickup height and try out a few postions. Thanks.
Senior Member
Username: hollis

Post Number: 611
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Monday, January 24, 2005 - 1:23 pm:   Edit Post

Maybe if I actually read and understood the question prior to going into my spiel......

Sorry.... Now that I get it, "what they said."
Username: frank_orlando

Post Number: 65
Registered: 8-2002
Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - 6:55 pm:   Edit Post

Bob, you spoke of a pot that adjusts the balance between the pickups. The trim pot in the cavity on my Essence just raises and lowers the overall gain. I adjust the balance with the pickup pan knob. Were you referring to an Essence? Frank
Senior Member
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 1265
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - 9:52 pm:   Edit Post

Frank is correct. The Essence electronics have only one trim pot in the cavity.
Advanced Member
Username: kungfusheriff

Post Number: 253
Registered: 8-2003
Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2005 - 1:54 am:   Edit Post

Carvin basses, like Alembics, are made at least partway by hand. The difference is that Carvins are made with lasers and CNC machines. Alembics are hand-made by real people, which in part accounts for the price difference.
I've heard of few manufacturers specifying setup tolerances for their instruments. I doubt Alembic will be joining these anytime soon.
Hollis was right, basically, but aside from the player and their preferred strings and attack, not to mention desired tone, one must also consider the individual instrument's tolerances. I once had an '85 Spoiler that got along best with high action, but my current '82 S2 sounds best within a very narrow and low range of action.
That's part of the fun of having such a highfalutin' bass--there is no such thing as rote dictation, but success will be found by honest conversation between musician and instrument through which both may reach their potential in congress. Specs mean nothing, what matters is that the bass sings sweetly for you.
Advanced Member
Username: 811952

Post Number: 366
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2005 - 7:18 am:   Edit Post

Username: mgirouard3

Post Number: 31
Registered: 5-2004
Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2005 - 2:58 pm:   Edit Post

Thanks KFS,

I am going to do some experimenting tonight with both basses. I will ignore the specs on the carvin and see what I get.

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