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Username: henny

Post Number: 1
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Friday, March 18, 2005 - 7:22 am:   Edit Post

Hi guys - I'm a Rickenbacker player (4004)...

...However, I'm a MAJOR fan of Alembic basses - and having played many It's time for me to get one.

I've got my eyes on an Essence 4, Ruby Red - with LEDs.

What can you tell me about these? Pros? Cons? What they sound like?

I have a beautifully mint 4004 Cheyenne II which I may part-ex (permitting) for the Essence.

CII's are real rare, especially in the Trans Red colour.

Cheyenne II -

Alembic Essence 4 -

After some advice (if anything) from seasoned Alembic playes like yourselves.


Username: davehouck

Post Number: 1508
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Friday, March 18, 2005 - 7:56 am:   Edit Post

Hi Mark, welcome to the group. I have an Essence 4 and an Essence 6. Both, in my opinion, are wonderful instruments. For a description of Essence electronics go here. The bass you are looking at has the addition of a Q switch, a significant upgrade. For a description of how the Q switch works in conjunction with the filter control, read the relevant parts here.

There are a number of members here in our forum that, in addition to Alembics, own Rics. However, I'm not one of them; so I don't have an opinion of your Cheyenne other than to say that it is certainly one of the nicest looking Rics I've ever seen.
Intermediate Member
Username: rklisme

Post Number: 182
Registered: 5-2004
Posted on Friday, March 18, 2005 - 9:53 am:   Edit Post


I have that exact bass minus LED's and oval inlays and I love it. I almost sold it recently and then I came to my senses. I have had my Essence for about 12 years and it still shines. I upgraded to add Europa electronics and Fat boy pickups and I am still amazed at the great tones. I have three Alembics with the fourth being built and all of them sound fantastic. I think you will love this bass if you make the purchase. The only thing that I will mention is the body is really small if you are use to a large body bass then you might want to try it first to see if it works for you. Otherwise the Essence is a wonderful instrument that will give you years of enjoyment!

Username: elwoodblue

Post Number: 34
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Friday, March 18, 2005 - 10:03 am:   Edit Post

Welcome Mark,
Both are beautiful basses.
I've never owned a Ric; that has to be the cream of the crop.
tough dilemna...

Advanced Member
Username: effclef

Post Number: 302
Registered: 1-2004
Posted on Friday, March 18, 2005 - 10:17 am:   Edit Post

I think the oval inlays are also an upgrade
from a stock Essence.

I think you will like the Essence even more than
the Ric.

Can you get to superbass and try it out in

Username: mauibassplayer

Post Number: 13
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Friday, March 18, 2005 - 10:39 am:   Edit Post

Aloha Mark, that is a really great looking Ric. I play a 1986 Spoiler through SWR equipment. I played a Ric a long time ago before I had my Alembic. As I recall the only issues I had with the Ric was the pick ups, I had a hard time getting the sound I was wanting. But that might have been partly due to my inexperience and the amp I was using at the time. As far as adding an Alembic into your coral of basses, I say why not. Have a great time with your alembic.
Intermediate Member
Username: gare

Post Number: 168
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Friday, March 18, 2005 - 3:34 pm:   Edit Post

Welcome Mark
Your Ric looks great. I've had my 4001 since 1971, and it's served me well. I've also owned an early Spoiler and now an Excel. I'm actually preferring the Alembic neck over the Ric. The Alembic is also far easier to and more adjustable. The electronics packages cover a far broader spectrum. You'll love the Essence.
And later if you get all misty eyed and nostalgic..whip out the Ric !
Go for it!

Senior Member
Username: rami

Post Number: 464
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Friday, March 18, 2005 - 4:36 pm:   Edit Post

Hey Mark,

Welcome to the club!

A long time ago, I learned a VERY important lesson, don't get rid of something you can't replace.
I've never been a big fan of Ric Basses, but that's a really nice one. If it's not a financial hardship to keep it, I think you should. Although the Essence IS a great Bass (which I highly recommend), it's still a different animal with it's own voice and feel. One is not necessarily better or worse than the other, just different.
I love my Alembics, but sometimes I find there's no substitute for a good old Jazz Bass. I've played Jazz Basses for over 25 years. Of course you cannot compare them point by point to an Alembic, but every single Jazz Bass that I've ever parted ways with I come to miss dearly. I just keep them all now. This way, there is no guilt or regrets.

Good Luck,

Advanced Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 378
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Friday, March 18, 2005 - 10:19 pm:   Edit Post

I'd agree that's the nicest Ric I've seen in a while.

But that's a LOT of Essence, with the LED upgrade (RED, of course), and with the Q*Switch, you go front-pickup, crack it open about half way, use a pick, and you'll get that clavinet/Chris Squire tone in SPADES.

You'll find the ALEMBIC build-quality/finish quality is past most anything you've seen before. The Ruby Red finish will pull you right in. The electronic package is mil-spec, and the adjustability of your EPIC will amaze you. It is a relatively small body, if that suits you.

I agree with Rami, I would keep your Ric. Instrument buying is NOT rational, it goes to the heart. I own two basses besides my Ruby Red Spoiler strictly for sentimental reasons that are deeply satisfying, even though they aren't the instrument my ALEMBIC is.

Plus, how often in this life can you own a LEGEND? Get it, pull it out at your next gig and watch the jaws drop! !

Best Wishes,

J o e y
Intermediate Member
Username: bigbadbill

Post Number: 172
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Saturday, March 19, 2005 - 5:38 am:   Edit Post

Mark, considering getting rid already???? Welcome to a fellow Rick Forumite! It's a difficult question to answer really, but as you may not be too attached to the CII yet, I'd consider it. I still maintain my Triple O is the best all round bass I've played. However, nothing else can really duplicate the sound of a Rick. I wouldn't get rid of my 72 4001 or my CS, even for another Alembic because sometimes I need the Rick sound (in fact most of the time, seeing as my Ricks are the basses I use in my current band). However I have the luxury of having both; if it was one or the other it would be a difficult call. My advice would be, if possible, to keep the CII and then see if you can stretch to the Essence. If that's not possible, and you feel your P-Bass can more or less cover the Rick's ground, then the Essence is a great bass (lovely example too!); light, pretty comfortable, and appears very versatile, like most Alembics. BTW, I won't mention it on the Forum, don't worry! :-) What about shifting the P-Bass instead?

All the best

Username: henny

Post Number: 2
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Saturday, March 19, 2005 - 7:02 am:   Edit Post

Guys - thanks for the excellent feedback, a great welcome + sound advice, thanks! :-)

...I don't believe it...


Hey mate!

Well, the only thing REALLY stopping me shifting the CII is how it looks... it.. is...stunning. Daft I know. :-)

As for it sound - I just can't dig it... She's the perfect moody blues bass, but her walnut sandwich is oh so deep and warm... I need that good old treble back.

As for shifting my 76 Precision, no way, I like it too much, perfect rock bass.

This Essence is really growing on me, the gentleman at Superbass seems cool and is definitely game for a part-ex.

Gonna use my noodle and think it over some more.
Intermediate Member
Username: bigbadbill

Post Number: 173
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Saturday, March 19, 2005 - 8:23 am:   Edit Post

What's the chances eh?? LOL!!

Nothing wrong with hanging onto a guitar for looks! That's the first thing I usually consider..after all you've got to want to pick it up right? Everything else comes after for me (although obviously if it looks great but is rubbish forget it!).

So you'd say the 4004 is much warmer sounding than a 4001? Hmmm. I'd probably have the same problem as you then. If you want more treble (in fact more of everything except the old Rick sound)the Essence should be a safe bet. Plus as I say that is a REALLY nice example.

Had a feeling you'd say that about the P-Bass! All in all, I think I'd go the Essence route; it's just a shame you can't try it first. Although there's always that Burg 73 4001 on UK ebay (just kidding..or am I :-))

my Triple O

By the way, this is my Alembic...hoping to post some more pics soon....I know the Triple Os are an acquired taste but I absolutely love 'em!
Intermediate Member
Username: richbass939

Post Number: 187
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Saturday, March 19, 2005 - 8:38 am:   Edit Post

Mark, welcome to the club. That's quite a decision you have to make. I tend to agree with Rami. Don't part with something and regret it later. My first good bass was a new Rick 3000 short scale, first year of production. I sold it 3-4 years later. I had no idea what I had until I tried to find another one years later. There were even some Rick dealers who didn't know they made a 3000 until they looked it up in a Rick book. I've stopped kicking myself about it (that was 25 years ago) but I wish I still had it.
If you really want the Essence now and can afford to get it without selling the Rick then do it. That Rick is stunning. If you decide to sell it later you will probably have no trouble finding someone who really wants it. Sell it now and regret it later, well that stinks big time, especially for just money. Money goes in and out of our hands all the time. We can always get more of that. Fine, rare instruments on the other hand do not show up every day. Good luck with your decision.
Intermediate Member
Username: rklisme

Post Number: 183
Registered: 5-2004
Posted on Saturday, March 19, 2005 - 9:03 am:   Edit Post


I guess my question to you is, are you a collector or player? If you are a collector I would agree with the advice that has been given in some of the previous post. If you are a player and you don't even like the way the thing sounds it seems an easy choice to me, sell it and move on to something you can play and admire at the same time.
I have never been a Ric fan no matter what it looks like so my post maybe a little bias. It sounds to me that you have a beautiful piece of art that you can admire but not play. When it is all said and done give me something I want to play!
In the big picture women, cars, money, and basses come and go but we manage to keep on living still the same!

Intermediate Member
Username: rklisme

Post Number: 184
Registered: 5-2004
Posted on Saturday, March 19, 2005 - 9:08 am:   Edit Post

(Message edited by rklisme on March 19, 2005)
Username: jetbass79

Post Number: 9
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2005 - 1:21 pm:   Edit Post

I'm going to have to agree with the non Ricky fans in the room...even though that one looks really cool. I would drop the Ricky for an Alembic in a heartbeat. Who can play them without a pick? I always found myself not being able to find a comfortable spot for my right hand. I would rest my thumb right against the bridge pickup itself only to find a lot of black goo on my thumb from the pickup. Most annoying. I didn't own that one very long.

Yesterday I played an old Peavey T-40 that sounded much like a 4001 but a little fatter. I found myself playing 2112 stuff on it and it was pretty Ricky-like. And I could put my right hand somewhere on it! I wouldn't ever show up to a gig with one of those but it's more playable than any Ricky I have played, setup or not.
Intermediate Member
Username: bigbadbill

Post Number: 174
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Sunday, March 27, 2005 - 6:44 am:   Edit Post

John, you'd be amazed how many people continually discuss the "pick/fingerstyle on a Rick" issue on the Rick Forum. I personally play my Ricks about 90% with a pick, but many people on the Forum play fingerstyle and have no problems whatsoever. And Geddy Lee seemed to manage ok....The problems usually arise if you're used to playing another, possibly very dissimilar make(Fender springs to mind) before you try a Rick. They are a completely different animal and require a different approach. I learnt to play on a Rick, and so tend to find basses like Fender/Musicman etc extremely awkward to play, as their feel, sound and response are quite different. Ironically though, one of the things I like about Alembic is that they feel not dissimilar to my Ricks; I find them probably the 2 most comfortable types of bass to play. Note that I prefer the classic neck taper though, not the wider taper as on a Rogue.
Advanced Member
Username: rogertvr

Post Number: 330
Registered: 1-2003
Posted on Sunday, March 27, 2005 - 9:27 am:   Edit Post

I've just got to throw my ten pen'oth in here.

Firstly, welcome to Henny :-) You'll find all sorts of helpful and intelligent people in this Club if you stick around more than a few seconds!

Secondly, I own a 1980 Rick 4001 in Azureglo. It was my first name bass (as opposed to copies). I learnt to play on a copy Fender Jazz, but I found I could never get my right hand in the correct place to get my fingers fully comfortable when playing it. I also had that trouble with a Musicman, so in these respects, I have to agree with BigBadBill.

I have to fully disagree with JetBass79 though - I'm completely the opposite - I can't play mine comfortably with a pick, only with my fingers.

Something else I have to say is that I own the 4001, Alembic Dragon's Wing, Status Stealth and Status Buzzard - none of them can sound like my 4001. It just doesn't seem to be possible.

When I saw that picture of your 4004, my first reaction was 'Ooooo - nice!' and my second one was 'Ooooo - very nice!'. I've shown it to my other half, who's reaction was 'That's lovely'. I wouldn't be parting with it if it were mine - if it's a financial issue, I'd wait until I could afford an Alembic if that is what you want. In fact - that is exactly what I did!

Incidentally, I had the neck profile of my 4001 copied by Alembic, who made a spot-on on job of replicating the drawings that RockAndRoller generated for me - the neck profiles are pretty much identical.

I hope this helps!


Username: bassdr

Post Number: 12
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Tuesday, March 29, 2005 - 10:16 am:   Edit Post

Mark- I hope you get that Essence! I bought my Flame Koa Essence 93K7816 last fall and love it. I have played Ricks since 1971 and still have my '79 Fireglow 4001 and I won't part with it for love nor money even though I haven't played it hardly at all since I got Flame Koa. If you havn't tried Rotosound swing bass 66 strings on your Rick, do try them. I have always loved the sound of them on my Ricks. Michael
Username: southpaw

Post Number: 18
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Tuesday, March 29, 2005 - 11:00 am:   Edit Post

I too have a red translucent CheyenneII, the lefty one from Mike Parks website and I have an lefty Orion, my lefty Cheyenne has been seen on the site. Do not get rid of the Cheyenne. As Rami stated you will regret it. The Alembic is the superior bass hands down, no competition! But as you know, Rick-o-philes are a fanatical bunch and your red Cheyenne is climbing in value everyday, especially if it has the flame maple top (mine is from 2000, looks just like Scott Doseck's). Rick-o-philes will pay big $$ for old, out of production basses, so think of it as a retirement package (i.e. V63, Chris Squire, 4002, Tom Petty signatures....)
Two different basses, two different sounds totally; save your cash and get the Alembic without parting with the Rick... Also Steve at Superbass is a great guy to work with.
Advanced Member
Username: richbass939

Post Number: 203
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Tuesday, March 29, 2005 - 11:12 am:   Edit Post

I would like to address the "how to hold the instrument comfortably" and "where your picking hand fits" question. First off, I would like to say that most of you will not like it at all. But some of you may really like it. I had to do it for medical/injury reasons and after 30+ years I can't imagine doing it any other way.
You can see a picture of how I strap on the axe on the "Alembic bass and guitars" "Spring break in SLC" thread (the bottom picture). It's not entirely clear from the picture. I have both ends of the strap attached at one point near the neck. The front of the strap goes up and over my right shoulder, around my neck and back, and comes out under my left armpit. In the picture it is hard to see it coming out under the left arm. I wear it pretty high on the chest. This puts my right forearm holding the body against my chest. Sometimes I swing the body around under my right armpit. This way has the neck kind of sticking out in front rather than to the side, but it is really stable against the body. Anchoring it against the chest leaves the left hand free to play rather than support the neck. It also puts my right thumb comfortably anchored against the top of the neck. Having the right hand picking that far away from the bridge does make the tone a little bassier.
All of my basses seem to balance pretty well on the pivot point where the ends of the strap meet. My Epics 4 and 5 balance really well there.
I know that most people who have been strapping on a guitar the conventional way could not get used to this. But it works very well for me.

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