Post Number: 904
|Posted on Monday, May 09, 2005 - 7:53 am: |
This is one of those custom Essence/SC model basses and it should be arriving to me this afternoon or tomorrow. I believe I know most of the specs, but am wondering if you have any details on the custom neck dimensions in the archives?
1.5" nut width
PH neck laminates
Small Standard body and Crown headstock
Series pickup positioning
Post Number: 908
|Posted on Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - 7:08 pm: |
This bass arrived a few hours ago and all I can say is, "Wow!" Here's a mini-review and the rest of the important measurements:
The string spacing at the bridge was a major surprise, though. It is extremely fast for fingerstyle, but a little rough to do anything more than very basic slap. Of course, I don't do more than basic slap on any spacing, so that matters little...
The digital micrometer tells me the bridge string spacing measures 1.75" center-to-center from E to G. The individual strings are spaced at almost exactly .53" side-to-side (how do they get it so precise?). If this were my custom bass, I would be happy. I could go a little wider, but definitely not any closer. After playing this baby, I definitely don't want to go as wide as I was originally thinking, though.
The neck is a bit rounder than I would prefer, but that may be a necessity for strength with such a skinny neck. The .81" at the 1st fret is great, but it jumps to just over .99" at the 12th fret. I would probably aim closer to .95" at the 12th if it wouldn't sacrifice rigidity.
The tone is awesome, though. I think I have been playing non-stop for about three hours. I have been finding some settings that I like and playing around. With the filter about 25% closed and soloing the bridge pickup, I get a real vintage Ric sound. I love the intro to Red Barchetta, and it sounds perfect on this bass (through an iAMP800 into a Schroeder 1212).
This instrument has that Alembic signature ability to really show off the tone in your fingers. I love that I can go from a round, even bass tone to a real trebly growl without touching the controls by changing my fingering attack and position.
This bass has Europa electronics, and the bass/treble quick switches are almost too powerful on the boost settings. Certainly, if I combine full neck pickup with a bass boost or full bridge pickup with a treble boost, it is overpowering. Using them more tastefully, though, does add to the tonal options. The fact that the controls will let you go too far means that you definitely have the range to find what you're looking for.
The string tension feels great, but the fundamental could be a little more solid on the lowest notes. This could just be a bit of getting used to the feel and electronics to keep it tight. It could also be the light strings. The round-wounds on there now measure 37-56-75-92, so we'll see how it does with a set of DR Fatbeams on it in a few weeks. They are nominally 45-65-85-105 and should hold a bit more tension and meat on the bottom.
I was surprised that, in spite of this being an '03 bass, there is no change in volume as the pickups are panned. I thought that fix came late in '04, but I couldn't be happier.
I almost regret that I have a custom on order; This bass is that good. I was initially going to order a five string, and I should have left it that way. Then I'd have the perfect pair of Alembics. As it stands, this instrument will probably be for sale when my custom is done in 4-5 months. If you're a small-handed player or have a short reach, you're going to want a shot at this bass when that happens.
Post Number: 1697
|Posted on Wednesday, May 11, 2005 - 4:46 am: |
Congrats!! Sounds like a great bass! Great review too! On the "overpowering" tone switches, I'm wondering if reducing the pickup heights might help; but then that might also negatively affect other aspects of the tone that you like.
Post Number: 910
|Posted on Wednesday, May 11, 2005 - 8:47 am: |
Just to clarify...
When I say overpowering, I don't mean "too loud". Rather, soloing the neck pickup plus the bass boost is just too much bass. Maybe it is a bit too loud. The neck pickup is about 2" closer to the neck than is standard, and that provides a natural bass boost as well.
Just to throw out an idea, I think Zon has some dual-function toggles in their electronics. What if the bass quick change switch simultaneously provided a cut at 250Hz and a boost at 60Hz? It could balance the overall volume impact while moving the tone. The treble switch would then do something like boost at 3KHz and cut at 500Hz.
On the other hand, I didn't mean it as a criticism in the original post. If you start with a tasteful tone and apply the toggles, the results are very nice. The point was just that the electronics are so strong that they let you go too far to the bass or treble end if that's what you want to do. I suppose that, if you were playing through a lesser rig, you might even need to do that to get the tone you're looking for. Fortunately, I don't need to push those limits.
That said, I definitely will continue playing and expect my opinions on the matter to evolve with experience.
With regard to pickup heights, the first thing I did was to reset them. This was another instrument that arrived with the neck pickup set so high that the strings would hit it when played above the 17th fret or so. I guess most of us don't play that far up the neck.
Post Number: 1702
|Posted on Wednesday, May 11, 2005 - 9:13 am: |
Bob; yes, I realized you didn't mean "too loud". My thought was that in lowering the pickup, the tone changes; and therefore the effect of the boost should change as well. But since you had already lowered the pickups, it's a mute point <g>.
Post Number: 913
|Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 9:01 am: |
After a few days of playing, I think I am getting a feel for this bass. It does need more setup work that I haven't done yet. Even the very light strings on it are bending the neck. The bass was shipped tuned well down and felt good initially after being brought to pitch. After a couple days, though, there is a neck bow forming. Is this because of the climate change? Toronto to MA? I doubt it. Maybe the warm-up is having an affect, but maybe it is the nature of the ultra-thin neck, or this was how the previous owner liked it. I am concerned about what it will be like when I put on some heavier strings, but time will tell.
As a righty, I first played this bass in a seated position with it sitting on my right leg. In that position, it feels great with a nice short reach to the lowest positions. The short scale is very fast and it seems the perfect bass for someone with a shorter reach and small hands. But wait! I have since applied the strap and played in a standing position. It's VERY different. It's more like playing seated with the bass positioned on the LEFT leg. Because of the way the instrument hangs, the reach to the lower positions is actually even further than on my 32" Spoiler. Sure, the frets are closer together, but the hang of the bass puts the nut pretty far away. Looking at Stanley, it should be no surprise that this body style puts the bass in perfect anatomical position for a tall player to slap. That doesn't make it right for a short-armed fingerstyle player. If you want to go short scale for a comfortable reach, I might have to recommend that you consider an alternate body style with an upper horn. Maybe a 3/4 size balance body, I am not really sure what works well with the short scale. Hanging the bass lower than I normally would fixes the position issue a bit, but I think I'd rather have an upper horn to do it in a more natural fashion.
One last note on playing position. This bass is known for hanging relatively flat, but the 4" Alembic/Moody strap makes it stay put wherever I hang it. I can hold it at about a 1:00 position without difficulty.
As I get more used to playing this bass, I would probably not go quite as narrow at the nut either. Yes, it is very fast, but it does take a bit more concentration right now. I do expect that I will adapt to it over time, though. I bet that splitting the difference between the factory standard and this bass would be great. What would that be, 1.625" at the nut to 2" at the bridge? One thing this is proving to me is that one should really do all that is possible to play a bass thoroughly before buying.
In terms of tone, this thing is a monster! The Europa package is great. If you are playing covers and need to move your tone around to match, you can't beat this package. With the filter about 25% closed, the pickup pan pot becomes a great tone control to get close. From there, the Q switch acts like a boost to the high mids and the bass/treble boosts are very useful. Q off and panned toward the neck creates a great classic blues tone. Q on and panned a bit toward the bridge really cuts nicely. Q off in the same position sounds sweet for slap. Compared to my Persuader, this is much more versatile. The Persuader could get the same tones by adding EQ at the amp, but this is far superior for live work.
If I were searching for my ultimate tone, I would probably go with Signature or Anniversary electronics over Europa, but you can't beat this package for live work. Maybe the EMW package with variable bass/treble knobs gets you a little more, but these are very easy and repeatable.
I am sure more things will come to me the more I play this thing. It's a vrey inspirational instrument that has me applying myself and concentrating on technique.