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nameless_v2
New
Username: nameless_v2

Post Number: 5
Registered: 1-2014
Posted on Sunday, March 23, 2014 - 1:59 am:   Edit Post

Hello 'Alembicists'.

I'm the happy owner of nice Spoiler since a few months which is beautiful and sounds great. Decades ago, when I was hearing Stanley's records, I was already dreaming about those beautiful instruments. Now that I see that "the Alembic sound" suit to me... I'm looking to buy one of those higher end piece of wood.

Is someone able to explain me the main differences (construction, size/confort, tonality or sound color, electronic, ...) between MK, SC and Brown models ? Maybe, it'll help me to pre-screen my inquiry on the second hand market.

Kind regards and may the Music be with you.

Thomas
earsplit
New
Username: earsplit

Post Number: 6
Registered: 2-2014
Posted on Sunday, March 23, 2014 - 5:49 pm:   Edit Post

MK and SC are mostly identical except for the body size, weight, and scale. The SC have a lower string tension and that adds a little "zing" to the string, and feel more sensitive to lighter touch. The MK has more tension, and takes a bit more effort to play, but the sound is a little deeper.

Now in terms of the Brown Bass vs SC, the BB will have a more punchy midrange woody tone, and the SC has a brighter more piano like tone, thanks mainly to the neck wood? The brown basses I've played are also a bit lighter in weight.

Stanley doesn't play these models, but I think his first alembic was more similar to the Brown bass, and his more recent ones have been more similar to the SC deluxe. Of course, amplification and recording technology have changed a bunch over the years so this is kind of an extreme comparison:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSksWyHsYw8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSJ_OxTSyWA

If you want some more examples, every recording and performance these guys do has a SC deluxe:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxSVpbxqmg0

Best of luck! Its a tough decision that's taken me at least 8 months of back and forth.
lidon2001
Senior Member
Username: lidon2001

Post Number: 530
Registered: 4-2005
Posted on Sunday, March 23, 2014 - 6:33 pm:   Edit Post

Brown Bass has Anniversary electronics: Two vols, filters, & q switches and stereo/mono switch for the quarter inch jack.

MK & SC have Signature electronics: Vol, Pan, two filters, two q switches, mono only.
nameless_v2
New
Username: nameless_v2

Post Number: 6
Registered: 1-2014
Posted on Monday, March 24, 2014 - 11:22 pm:   Edit Post

Hello,

This will help me. For example, I was not really aware of the difference between Anniversary (which seems even better) and Signature Electronic. Based on your description, I feel the Brown Bass should be my preferred choice. Moreover, I'm looking for a short scale which I'm not sure is easily available for MK on secondhand market. Of course, it starts by an extensive test... probably the most challenging task to achieve as Alembics are not so present in our old Europe.

Best for you

Thomas
jazzyvee
Senior Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 3923
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Tuesday, March 25, 2014 - 2:19 am:   Edit Post

I think you are more likely to find a MK in a medium 32" scale rather than a 30.75" short scale. Although I can't think of any that have come up for sale shorter than 34" scale.

Jazzyvee
lidon2001
Senior Member
Username: lidon2001

Post Number: 531
Registered: 4-2005
Posted on Tuesday, March 25, 2014 - 6:31 am:   Edit Post

Short Scale MK's do exist, but like you said, it will be a long wait to see one for sale. Here's mine, but you'll probably have to read my obituary to know when I'm ready to let it go.

bass
mike1762
Senior Member
Username: mike1762

Post Number: 1031
Registered: 1-2008
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2014 - 9:36 am:   Edit Post

I currently or have owned all of those models. The SC and BB are (with few exceptions) short-scale small bodied instruments. The SC will have Signature electronics while the BB will have the Anniversary package (I never used the stereo function). The BB has a defined wood recipe, thus they will all sound pretty much the same (a little bit on the dark/warm side). The BB body (I believe) is the same thickness as a Series instrument: therefore, is heavier than most SCs (but they tend to balance much better because of that). A SC might have any number of wood recipes; therefore, each instrument will have a relatively unique tone. Neck-dive can be a frustrating phenomena with the SC (and to a lesser degree with the BB). I have a long-scale 4-string MK (BalK) that I recently traded for a 5-string... the 2 instruments couldn't have been more different!!! Neither party was happy with the trade and we wound-up trading BACK!!! You have to remember that these are custom built instrument... your milage may vary.
hammer
Senior Member
Username: hammer

Post Number: 467
Registered: 9-2009
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2014 - 11:05 am:   Edit Post

I have two Signature basses and have played a brown and basically concur with Mike. For the Signature basses, you really need to look at the neck recipes to get an idea as to its tone. One of mine has a neck that is maple, ebony and purpleheart. That bass sounds VERY different from one that has a very similar body sandwich but a neck that is mahogany with walnut and purpleheart stringers. The latter has a that more mellow, woody tone that's perfect for the blues. My custom Signature with the ebony stringer sounds very different with much more sustain in the lower register, and a brighter tone. As a matter of fact it was so bright that I quickly removed the strings with which it came and installed TI flats to mellow it out a bit. Together with the Superfilter I use I can now get the two basses to sound pretty much the same with a bit a tweaking or revert back to a brighter sound for the non-blues based stuff I play in which I'm more often than not using a pick.
hieronymous
Senior Member
Username: hieronymous

Post Number: 1349
Registered: 1-2005
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2014 - 11:22 am:   Edit Post

There are a whole bunch at Bass Central in Florida so you can look and see what some of the options are. Many that are listed have been sold, but it's still a great resource. They have an amazing selection selection listed, including some of the "inside-out" Brown Basses, as well as Standard & Deluxe Signatures (SC versions on the page listed).

One big difference with the basses that Stanley plays is that his are Series I. Another thing to be aware of is that you can also keep an eye out for older "Small Body Series" basses (Series I or II) - of course, these are much more valuable and probably more rare.

I personally own a 5-string Stanley Clarke Signature - it was basically a Standard with upgrades (continuous wood-plates, upgraded top & back woods), that I further upgraded to Anniversary electronics. I prefer having a pickup selector instead of a blend pot, but I have never used the stereo option. I was also fortunate enough to take it to Alembic while one of Stanley's basses was in for work and managed to take this pic:

cousins
keith_h
Senior Member
Username: keith_h

Post Number: 1985
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2014 - 11:29 am:   Edit Post

I recognize that bass on the right.

Keith
nameless_v2
New
Username: nameless_v2

Post Number: 7
Registered: 1-2014
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2014 - 1:13 pm:   Edit Post

Hello,

Thanks for all that comments. It seems that thoses basses are definitively highly desirable (despite a quite high quote)... I'm in a hurry to test one of those 'beauty' and see how it's different from my Spoiler and evaluate how the 'investment' is justified.

Thomas
hammer
Senior Member
Username: hammer

Post Number: 468
Registered: 9-2009
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2014 - 2:17 pm:   Edit Post

Thomas:

From the standpoint of justifying your investment...that's a lot easier to do with a used Alembic (this coming from someone who has purchased two new ones and two that were pre-owned) than a new one. Used alembics hold their value quite well in my opinion. New one's, like cars, do not. Whether new or used, however, Alembics play and sound like no other basses I have ever owned and are a joy to use.

As far the difference between a Spoiler and the basses you have been discussing, it going to come down to your personal preferences and tastes as well as the degree to which the bass in question has been customized. Unless you are talking about a Series bass, when it comes to tone, you could probably get your Spoiler to sound pretty close to an SC or BB if you ran it through a Superfilter. These things IMHO provide the ultimate in tone shaping. As for playability, its really personal preference that comes in to play. For example, in addition to the SC and custom Signature I have in my stable, I also own a very nice, medium scale walnut Distillate. I don't find myself playing it all that often nowadays because I really prefer the shape of the necks on the Signature and SC to the Distillate. They are all very easy to play and incredibly high quality basses. The latter, however, just doesn't seem as comfortable in my hands.

Good luck with your search. If you are prepared to be patient, I'm sure you'll eventually find that for which you are looking.
hieronymous
Senior Member
Username: hieronymous

Post Number: 1352
Registered: 1-2005
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2014 - 2:34 pm:   Edit Post

Thomas, I forgot to mention - my first Alembic was a Spoiler too! (Exploiter shaped but same electronics)

One of the biggest differences is that the Spoiler only has one filter for both pickups, whereas the Signature and Anniversary electronics (and of course Series) have separate filter for each pickup, which adds a lot of flexibility.

As Hammer notes, the SF-2 provides a lot of flexibility, which can also be applied to other instruments, so that could be an option too.

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