Post Number: 51
|Posted on Saturday, January 14, 2006 - 10:39 pm: |
Well, the details are almost nearly complete on my custom order, but I am still of two minds on a couple of details. One is scale length. I have it specced as a 34" scale with 2 ebony neck laminates. The bass it will be replacing is a Modulus Q5, which has a graphite neck a 35" scale. While rehearsing the other day, I was playing in G and ended up basing the lines from the 8th fret B string. Suddenly, it occurred to me that I do this quite a bit and would miss the clarity, punch and girth of those notes if it was lacking. For those of you who have (or have played) Alembics with both 34" and 35" scales, what do you think? Is the 34" going to deliver?
Second is the configuration on the electronics. I am in all the way now, with SII's. What I am wondering is (a), what would be the liabilities/advantages of going with a volume/blend configuration with no selector switch instead of a switch/vol/vol/master vol, and (b), if I decide to keep the selector, is there any reason not to have the selector switch in the old lower horn location (it's a Balance K body)? Seems like it'd be easier to reach there, but they must have moved it for a reason.
I primarily use 3 basic sounds when playing live-a punchy/growly fingerstyle bridge tone, a punchy/bassy fingerstyle neck tone, and Phil-Lesh-inspired picked neck tone, all of which are actually blends of both pickups. I switch between these sounds depending on the song, or even part of the song, that I am playing, so it has to be pretty seamless. One of the things I frequently do in practice is zero out the blend and 3-band eq and find the sound again. This way I know how to get the sound I want quickly and repeatably.
I have read the articles in the FAQ's and the biggest argument against the traditional switch/vol/vol/master arrangement seems to be the difficulty in finding repeatable sounds. Can anyone tell me that you have learned to do this with your Series? Have you been able to develop a process by which you switch quickly between tones, or is it just too much to do live?
Thanks for reading,
Post Number: 47
|Posted on Sunday, January 15, 2006 - 6:26 am: |
I received my Balance K with series II electronics and a 35" scale about three weeks ago. I also have a Q5 with a 35" scale and that is why I had the Alembic made at that scale length. I feel really comfortable with the transition between both instruments, but the neck on the Alembic is the winner by a long stretch. This is the fastest neck I have ever played. There is no "drag" as you have on the graphite neck.
As for the electronics, I have had no problems with setting a sound, but have not played out with it yet so I have to wait and see. I don't see any problems making changes on stage.
If you would like to see my bass, look in the FTC thread at Peter's custom 5 string. It is based on Phil Lesh's modified Guild, so that is the sound we went for. Go with your gut feeling on these questions, and don't cut any corners. Your not going to build one of these basses every year.
Post Number: 280
|Posted on Sunday, January 15, 2006 - 8:16 am: |
I have a Series I Standard Point 34 inch scale, Series II short scale Small Standard, Essence 34 inch and a 6 string Balance K being built. I can answer only one of your questions the pickup selector gets in the way if you are doing any slapping at all. It seems you are a fingerstyle player so I don't see that it would be a problem for you. I have the blend on my Essence and for me it is not quite as versatile as having the two seperate volumes. I on the other hand look for new tones and I guess I would fall under the tweaker catagorie. Other than that I would agree with Pete, get what you want because this is a special purchase. On my Six string it is a 34 incher and I have anniversary electronics which are like the Series without the pickups. If I had to do over I would have upgraded at least to the Series I. I can tell you this I am blown away by the bottom end and clarity of my short scale bass. I only mention this because there is a big difference in scale legnths in my basses but my ears are not hearing a significant difference in Sonic capability. Alembic seems to do a wondeful job in making whatever bass you get work! Good luck with whatever you decide.
Post Number: 38
|Posted on Sunday, January 15, 2006 - 8:20 am: |
I am easily able to find my tones quickly with my selector, but I have no experience with a blend control on an Alembic. Seems like it may make it more complicated.
I do have an opinion on the placement of the selector switch. My older Series 1 has the switch on the lower horn, and it is slightly in the way, if you slap. You've really got to be careful when attempting Wooten-esque lines, because your right hand can easily hit the point on that switch. I've actually been cut as a result of this. If I were building a new one, I'd get that out of the way.
Post Number: 3015
|Posted on Sunday, January 15, 2006 - 9:28 am: |
Andy; you can turn the pointer upside down so that it won't cut you. It's held on with two small hexhead screws. Loosen both screws just a little and it will come right off.
Post Number: 351
|Posted on Sunday, January 15, 2006 - 9:43 am: |
I'm a "slap happy filter freak" and my vol knobs are always in the way so i've adjusted my playing to a floating slap style,imagine slapping this Big baby all night!!!
Post Number: 312
|Posted on Sunday, January 15, 2006 - 4:42 pm: |
While I don't have Series electronics I do have a Brown Bass with the traditional switch/volume
controls and two basses with the pan control. I slap a reasonable amount and did have to change my technique slightly to avoid the pickup selector switch. It was not a major change and now feels totally natural. I don't think it is any different than the little adaptations you make for any instrument. I will say that the pan control does have some advantages over separate volume controls. This mostly has to do with making quick repeatable changes in a performance situation. For me the pan is much easier to use.
To try to answer your question about getting quick, repeatable changes from individual pickup controls:
In general I don't adjust the volume controls very often. I have found a balance that sounds good to me and for the most part leave it there.
I rely upon the Q-switches quite a bit. They will change the sound of the bass dramatically and quickly. I also rely upon the filters themselves since I can change one pickup and hear a noticable effect in the sound. I plan another bass in a year or so and at that time will be looking to go to traditional Series electronics as I feel it is the better overall system.
One thing I haven't seen anyone discuss was moving the pickup selector to the upper horn. It would be out of the way for slapping and still within a reasonable reach.
Post Number: 52
|Posted on Sunday, January 15, 2006 - 9:25 pm: |
Guys, thanks for the responses so far. I'm still wondering about the 34" vs 35" on the B string. What would be ideal is if someone had a Modulus 5 and a 34" Alembic 5 and could describe the differences between them for me. My dilemma is that I have small hands, and 34 is easier to play, but as a bass player I feel that having a solid and definitive tone is my most important job. If there is a dramatic difference, then I will settle for somewhat reduced playability in order to have better tone. Seems like it's a wash on the ease-of-adjustment issue. I almost never slap the bass, so the selector switch location could be okay either way, too.
Pete, I absolutely love your bass, and as I have said before, it was what gave me the idea to use mahogany in my neck. I didn't realize it was a 35"; I bet it sounds amazing! What kind of strings are you using, and when are you going to post some pics? From what you are saying, can I assume that If I go with 35" the playability will be enough of a step up from my Q5 that it will seem like a 34" ?
Keep the advice coming, and thanks again,
Post Number: 53
|Posted on Sunday, January 15, 2006 - 9:53 pm: |
(Message edited by crgaston on January 15, 2006)
Post Number: 54
|Posted on Sunday, January 15, 2006 - 9:54 pm: |
Pete, another question for you...
I notice that your pickups look a bit smaller than some of the other Series II's I've seen. Are those the ones they usually use on 4 strings?
Post Number: 565
|Posted on Sunday, January 15, 2006 - 11:49 pm: |
Charles, I sympathize with your agony (angst?) over the 34 vs 35" decision, but maybe you're worrying too much, or about the wrong things - at least, I'm pretty sure there is no simple answer.
We have people here who are perfectly satisfied with the sound they get from a low B on a 32" scale instrument (you might find some old threads by searching). Personally, I think by the time you get to a string that heavy, you should have at least 34, and 36 wouldn't be a bad idea.
In deciding what I wanted to do, I actually calculated the string tensions for a few different string and scale lengths, and an inch (or two) really does make a difference.
Nevertheless, I don't think you should consider the choice between 34 and 35 as a make-or-break issue. I would personally be a little skeptical about going down to 32 for a five string, but I think the odds of hearing a big difference between 34 and 35 are negligible - as far as the instrument itself is concerned.
There are other factors that are likely to be more important: your choice of strings, amplification, and most critically, your playing style. Regardless of the scale length you decide on, you might have to "baby" the B just a little, maybe pluck it closer to the bridge or with a little different attack, to get a tone as similar as possible to the rest of your strings.
If all these things are working together, and otherwise identical, I seriously doubt you could hear much (if any) difference between a 34 and 35, at which point your decision should be based more on comfort. I'm not exactly a huge person, but even playing fretless I don't really notice the difference between 34 and 35.
(My 5 string Alembic is effectively 35.5", and while I also have a 34" 4 string strung BEAD, it's not an Alembic, so I can't make the direct comparison you are looking for.)
I guess my advice would be this: if you think you can physically handle the length, more is clearly better (although here you can also run into other odd problems, like a smaller selection of strings!). But if everything else is in place, it's very hard to believe you would be dissatisfied with a 34".
Post Number: 48
|Posted on Monday, January 16, 2006 - 4:54 pm: |
I am flattered that you like my new bass. I wish you lived closer to me so you would have a chance to play on a 35" scale Alembic before yours is started. If you are comfortable on the Modulus 35" scale, why would you want to go to a different scale length? How far are you from the Orlando area? Maybe you could see what Bass Central has in stock. I chose the 35" scale for my bass because I felt comfortable on the Q5 and I have no regrets. As for pictures, I hope to get some up in the showcase section soon.
I know you are an english teacher, so please excuse my less than proper grammer.
Post Number: 56
|Posted on Monday, January 16, 2006 - 7:00 pm: |
Thanks, Pete. I appreciate the invitation. My girlfriend's parents live near Allentown, PA, so maybe a visit isn't out of the realm of possibility in the next few years. I drove down to Bass Central and They didn't have any 35" 5 string Alembics in stock at that time. There was a Rogue 6, but it was a bit tougher to guage playability on that for me, with the neck being both thicker and wider than what I'm used to. I have small hands and can get around better on a 34", but am starting to think that after 10 years with a 35", there really isn't a reason to change. I spent a long time on the phone with Mica today discussing scale lengths and string spacing, and that helped me clarify some things in my mind. She was really proud of your bass, too.
Pete, your grammar is great. I wish all my students did as well as you. The funny thing is that your only mistakes are in the sentence where you ask me to excuse your "...less than proper grammer." English has a capital E, and grammar has an "a" instead of an "e." ;-)
Other than that, you get a 100!
(Message edited by crgaston on January 16, 2006)