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Senior Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 4093
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Monday, June 30, 2014 - 3:55 am:   Edit Post

Last night I went to see Steve wonder in concert in London and it was fantastic. I got back stage passes so met Stevie and the band. I got on the guest list via the Dennis the lead singer of musical youth.
Anyway back to the point of the thread. On Saturday night Dennis and his wife went to meet up with Stevie's bass player Nathan Watts and Dennis mentioned that his bass player (me) uses Alembic basses and asked what he though of them. Nathan said that he used to use them a lot but found them unreliable and too delicate for touring so he stopped using them.

My reply was that I don't agree that they are unreliable as both Stanley Clarke and Jimmy Johnson have used them exclusively when touring for decades.
I'm sure it is inevitable that any instrument whether alembic or otherwise will have some issue over time if it is being used as a daily working too as things do wear out. But if it is maintained properly and components changed as part of that then just like having a car serviced it should be trouble free.

I'm not putting this up as an opportunity to bash alembic as I have no reason to do that. I just thought I'd share this with you guys.

Nathan has offered to fix up an interview for my radio show with him and Marcus Miller so if it comes off, I will take the opportunity to ask him about his experience with Alembic and other high end basses.
Senior Member
Username: jacko

Post Number: 3544
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Monday, June 30, 2014 - 5:00 am:   Edit Post

Famously, Entwistle's S2 exploiter packed up just as the Who were heading onto the stage at Live aid so he was forced to use his backup bass. I believe he sent the offending instrument to the hard rock cafe as a punishment.

I've never had a problem with any of my Alembics :-)

Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 2197
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Monday, June 30, 2014 - 7:19 am:   Edit Post

Every player is different, different ears, different expectations, different experience(s).

But I'd say what I always say: These things aren't for everyone. They can be demanding and unforgiving, and frankly, the whole world is full of lowest common demominator choices which are usually the 'default' setting for most people. And most players are not savvy technically, so it's no wonder on complex stages, serious FOH and monitor facilities, and the pressure of touring, lots of players and the tour sound contractors are more prone to say 'grab the Fender', give the bass player his usual 10-second stab at sound check: It's what they're familiar with.

Unreliable (too many knobs !) and too delicate (where's that funny cable?) I think are just bogus. 'Too different' for the player, the guitar tech, and the sound crew, when there's no incentive to rock the boat is how I'd see it.

And it's pecking order as well: Modern tours are packed with complex digital and computer-controlled devices, none of which are called unreliable and too delicate. They have to work, regardless. But by the time the sweat factor is exhausted by all the various problem children, nobody is going to spend much time on any problems the sidemen are having, who basically better NOT have any problems, including the bassist . . .

J o e y
Senior Member
Username: tmoney61092

Post Number: 934
Registered: 9-2008
Posted on Monday, June 30, 2014 - 7:35 am:   Edit Post

Graeme beat me to the Entwistle story :p

Senior Member
Username: terryc

Post Number: 2225
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Monday, June 30, 2014 - 8:02 am:   Edit Post

Joey..10 along as that!!. I once did a gig where everyone soundchecked except me so when I asked the reply was somewhere along the lines
'I'll adjust it when you come on stage'
Anyway when I started up the bass shot thru' the monitors like a missile until the said soundman panicked and managed to reduce the gain before the whole theatre was flooded with Alembic power!
He came up to me to in the interval and said he didn't expect that amount of gain. Maybe he learnt his lesson and not to diss bass players!
Senior Member
Username: hammer

Post Number: 520
Registered: 9-2009
Posted on Monday, June 30, 2014 - 8:46 am:   Edit Post

An Alembic bass (or any instrument for that matter) is only as "reliable" as are the people handling it.

While waiting for a flight recently I observed a luggage handler for a major U.S. airline attempt to toss a flight case (I hope it was not an Alembic contained therein) up to a colleague standing in the cargo bay of the plane. The colleague missed the toss and the flight case fell approximately 10-15 feet down on to the tarmac. Unbelievably, rather than attaching the luggage conveyor belt as they should have in the first place, they tried the maneuver a second time with the same results (who is it who stated that, "Stupidity is trying the same thing again and again and expecting different results?").

At that point I had to turn hurt too much to just watch what they were doing. Lesson learned: If I can't carry it on or buy a seat for my Alembic it's not going to be flying anywhere.
Senior Member
Username: lbpesq

Post Number: 5787
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Monday, June 30, 2014 - 9:10 am:   Edit Post


Was Nathan playing a Daion?

Bill, tgo
Senior Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 4094
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Monday, June 30, 2014 - 9:36 am:   Edit Post

I couldn't see the name on his bass but it's this one.
Senior Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 4095
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Monday, June 30, 2014 - 9:56 am:   Edit Post

I just did a search and he plays Bossa basses
Senior Member
Username: malthumb

Post Number: 564
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Friday, July 04, 2014 - 7:22 am:   Edit Post

I would just suggest that the more interacting parts you have the more chance there is for "things gone wrong". Some don't have the patience to troubleshoot "things gone wrong". Here are a couple of my "things gone wrong - Alembic related"....

* Got everything set up in a bi-amp setup. Only getting output from one stack. Spent about 20 minutes backtracking the setup to find one 6" cable was shot. Some would say "if you just plugged the instrument straight into the head you wouldn't have the problem"

* Running a setup with the DS-5R running into two F-1X units into two power amps and two sets of speakers. Getting diminished output out of one speaker. Swap speaker cables between the two speakers. Low output follows the cable. Put in a different cable. Still low output. Trace back through the power amp to the F-1X and eventually find that something is awry with the F-1X (honestly don't remember what it was). Dropped off with my favorite tech guy and it was fixed within a week.

There are other stories involving "stupid pet tricks / operator error" but the two mentioned above were specifically equipment failures.

Even though the failure was NOT the bass, some, including band members at the time, felt that if I had just taken a Fender and plugged it straight in, I wouldn't have to deal with all the complications of a gonzo Alembic / power amp / bi-amping situation. Could be where Nathan is coming from.


Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 2203
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Friday, July 04, 2014 - 10:42 am:   Edit Post

Adding to what James said, then do you balance doing a complex setup as he outlined above when they're likely going to shoot you through a direct box anyway?

As Jimmy Johnson has pointed out, he rarely uses an amp rig onstage: He can't overwhelm the monitors, bleed into everything else, and his self-derived setup simplifies his stage set-up and he can talk with the FOH and Monitor guys as to what he needs and what he's sending them.

Guys like Entwistle or Lesh, etc., have enough 'juice' to insist and get a large stage setup, regardless of what extra work it entails for the crews. But it may be counter-productive for the set-up as a whole. From my days as a 'go-fer' for little sound companies, I can NOT imagine doing John's sound: Incredibly loud, incredibly spiky tone, and oh, BTW, you have to blend it with a similarly explosive Townshend and Moon's drums. Those guys EARNED their money, and it's no wonder they all aren't suffering with Tinnitus.

J o e y
Advanced Member
Username: jzstephan

Post Number: 260
Registered: 1-2012
Posted on Friday, July 04, 2014 - 12:12 pm:   Edit Post

Which one of these is more reliable?

Senior Member
Username: keith_h

Post Number: 2021
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Friday, July 04, 2014 - 12:35 pm:   Edit Post

Well for plowing my garden I would say the one in the first picture. I also give the first one a point for being able to pull number two out of the ditch when the owner gets over confident driving those country roads. :-)

Senior Member
Username: hammer

Post Number: 523
Registered: 9-2009
Posted on Friday, July 04, 2014 - 12:50 pm:   Edit Post

Ah! the importance of context. I thought JZ was referring to which machine would be more reliable if one were attempting to pick up attractive young women
Username: coop

Post Number: 4
Registered: 6-2014
Posted on Tuesday, July 08, 2014 - 5:38 am:   Edit Post

Kind of a moot point - they're both Italian vehicles. ;-)

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