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Alembic Club » Alembic Basses & Guitars » Archive through February 24, 2005 » Interchangable fret boards « Previous Next »

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Username: mgirouard3

Post Number: 30
Registered: 5-2004
Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - 2:32 pm:   Edit Post

There is an Alembic on E-bay that has three interchangable fret boards. One fretted, one fretless ebony and one fretless metal. Was this once an option that Alembic offered or is it an aftermarket job? Sounds like a cool idea.
Senior Member
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 1263
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - 2:53 pm:   Edit Post

Maxime; here's a previous thread on this bass. Shawn suggested it was an aftermarket mod.
Advanced Member
Username: kungfusheriff

Post Number: 252
Registered: 8-2003
Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - 3:54 pm:   Edit Post

Yeah--I've heard people who have owned Novatone-equipped basses say the fingerboard tends to slide around a bit.
Senior Member
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 1264
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - 5:28 pm:   Edit Post

I went looking and found the following from The Bottom Line.

Roger Sadowsky wrote:

"I think the main reason they went out of business is that they destroyed every other neck [they] installed their system on. Removing the fingerboard removed all the compression support above the truss rod and made the neck more flexible. So the rod had to be tightened more and because it had no wood above it, the rods pushed up out of the neck. I saw too many necks destroyed like this in the early 80's. An idea whose time hadn't come!!"

Roy C. Vogt wrote:

"I was one of the Novatone Product Specialists in the mid-80s (I always called it "Bass Amway" because the Fretboards were only sold from players to players). I installed the boards on an old Modulus 5 string bass I had. It worked well with some reservations:
If you ever dropped a board, it would dent or ding at the top of the fingerboard and be impossible to repair. Imagine a nice flange at the top of a fretless board and you can see the havoc this would cause."

Dan Fredman wrote:

"the longterm lack of neck stability and inconsistancy of the string action (and oh yeah, a difficulty with intonation) were the biggest problems."

Phillip Brown wrote:

"All was well for a couple of years, but eventually the glue holding the fretted board to the magnetic backing started to come loose, making some frets buzz."
"Tony Lenin .. e-mailed me that he stopped using his NOVATONE neck because NOVATONE removed too much wood during the modification and it is no longer stable."

John Evans wrote:

"I played one bass with this and found it unworkable. The components of the fingerboard and the poor connection between the 'board and the neck made the bass sound muffled and 'dead' no matter which fingerboard we used. I also have heard that the necks tended to be unstable since so much wood had to be removed. I imagine some necks would have had the truss rod exposed due to the planing."

(Message edited by davehouck on January 26, 2005)
Username: bigbass

Post Number: 53
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Friday, January 28, 2005 - 9:34 am:   Edit Post

I owned the three fingerboard Alembic that is being auctioned on ebay. The concept was great, but it didn't work on that instrument. Who ever did the original installation on this instrument didn't make the surface flat enough to accept the flatness of the boards. The surface is bowed in the center. The boards are flat and somewhat bendable but not to the extent of the pitch to the adhesion surface. You could play up the board and feel hollowness under your fingers, a excessive amount of dead spots, minor buzzing and a tone & feel change compared to a 'nornal' neck. This was only because the fingerboard was not setting flat against the neck. The only way to fix the problem would be to replace the adhesion surface with a flatter and thinner one. You would still have that nasal sound effect though. The instrument was very neck heavy due to the thickness and wieght of the metal surfaced neck.

I also had a Fender style bass fitted with this system and it worked great. The truss rod was removed on installation. It was set up to do 1/4 and 1/3 tone intervals (24 and 31 notes or frets per octave) as well as standard 12 tone fair. This allowed me to play music and intonations of other cultures when needed just by switching fingerboards. I also played in a blues band that played in 31/octave that was way creative and out-there. The guitar player also have the magnetic fingerboard system.
Advanced Member
Username: 811952

Post Number: 367
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Friday, January 28, 2005 - 1:08 pm:   Edit Post

I would imagine the elves could install a new fingerboard without much ado, rendering it a perfectly useable instrument again...
Senior Member
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 1274
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Friday, January 28, 2005 - 2:06 pm:   Edit Post

David, thanks for posting about your experience with this bass. And your 1/4 and 1/3 tone setups sound fascinating! Do you have any pictures of the Fender with those fretboards attached?

John, I agree; that would be a good solution. Unfortunately, Guitar Center is looking for $2,200; and add to that the cost of the neck repair and shipping.
Advanced Member
Username: 811952

Post Number: 368
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Friday, January 28, 2005 - 6:09 pm:   Edit Post


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