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Alembic Club » Alembic Basses & Guitars » Archive 2006 » Archive through May 08, 2006 » I get the point now about tone woods..... :-) « Previous Next »

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Advanced Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 384
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Sunday, March 26, 2006 - 2:45 pm:   Edit Post

I have an SC Deluxe bass with cocobolo top and continuous back, mahogany body and some maple looking laminates to make the sandwich body and purpleheart neck laminates.

I have never played another one since yesterday.
I went into a music store and they showed me an alembic SC Standard model which they were selling second hand.
I had a play of it. It had,i think, rosewood top laminage and a mahogany body with metal backplate and two pinstripes in the neck.

This is the first opportunity I have had to check out another alembic similar to mine.
Observation No:1 the standard bass was much lighter than my bass seemed about 30% difference or more in weight.
No:2 the tone of the bass though very good, was nowhere near as meaty, crisp, full or as defined as my own bass.

Now based on the fact that the electronics are the same, the difference in sound can only be due to the woods I have on my bass in comparisson.

I was really impresssed/surprised the difference the basses have and I guess the biggest difference is probably due to the the body woods and coco bolo being the largest part of that.

I've heard many things said about the various woods on alembics doing this and that to the tone and fundamentals, sustain etc etc blah blah blah. and to be honest I didn't really pay that much attention as it sort of sounded a bit nerdy.

Now I take those thoughts back and can appreciate the audible difference between woods used and why buyers are so particular about what woods to use.

I never doubted the wood selection made a difference to the sound of an alembic thats pretty obvious, but I didn't realise it was THAT much different and clearly audible.

Senior Member
Username: lbpesq

Post Number: 1156
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Sunday, March 26, 2006 - 4:09 pm:   Edit Post


Did you play both basses through the same rig? I would think that would have a substantial effect on tone.

Bill, tgo
Senior Member
Username: bsee

Post Number: 1109
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Sunday, March 26, 2006 - 5:58 pm:   Edit Post

Actually, I have several Alembics now. Between these and others I have played, I can say that the largest difference in tone for neck-through basses is in the neck laminates. The typically available bass on the street either has purpleheart neck lams or is all maple. The walnut pinstripes on some models don't count for much. The purpleheart laminated necks make for a much thicker tone in every case. It's true that some of the older basses had different wood recipies, as do many current customs. Heavy and dense woods will always make a difference.

Bill, rigs certainly can make a difference, but there's a real tonal difference from the woods as well.
Intermediate Member
Username: the_8_string_king

Post Number: 110
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Sunday, March 26, 2006 - 7:12 pm:   Edit Post

My understanding is that coco bolo and rosewood (and also tulipwood) have nearly identical tonal characteristics -as they are all members of the same family. Makes me think that the purpleheart in the neck is probably the main factor responsible for the difference... the one you played in the store didn't have any purpleheart in the neck, just maple with the ultrathin walnut veneers, right?

Do you own any Alembics with ebony neck laminates? THAT will produce a HUGE and highly noticeable difference in tone. My custom Europa has 13 laminates in the neck -6 ebony laminates, 3 purpleheart, 2 rock maple, and 2 flame maple. The sound is by far the best I've ever heard on any bass. I tend to think my awesome and complex tone is also the result -at least to some extent- of having 4 different woods in the neck. I think this produces a special, "genetically enhanced" tone.
Senior Member
Username: richbass939

Post Number: 586
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Sunday, March 26, 2006 - 9:23 pm:   Edit Post

I didn't hear anyone saying anything about the strings that were on the basses. I don't pretend to know much about woods but I notice huge tone differences with different types of strings.
Senior Member
Username: bob

Post Number: 600
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Sunday, March 26, 2006 - 10:03 pm:   Edit Post

Thanks, Rich, I was curious about the strings too (as well as the rig).

I have no doubt that woods make a difference, but it's always nice to be clear on the variables.
Advanced Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 385
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Monday, March 27, 2006 - 9:00 am:   Edit Post

The rig was not the same as I use at home. However it is one I have used in the store before (Ashdown which I'm not keen on anyway), when trying out some effects on my bass. ( fortunately I decided to stay clean),

I'm not saying I know the specific reason for the difference in sound. I was just amazed that the difference was so profound. I'm glad I've got the deluxe model now. :-)

I think my Europa also has purpleheart neck laminates although I'm not 100% as they don't look as purple as my SC neck laminates. I'll check the build record.

Thanks for the input, I wasn't trying to call anyone a nerd or start off a long thread on body woods as that has been done many times before on the site. It was more of a confession of my sins, and now I feel fine........... :-)
Enjoy your day.

I'm off to work.

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