Relative value of different models? Log Out | Topics | Search
Moderators | Register | Edit Profile

Alembic Club » Alembic Basses & Guitars » Archive 2006 » Archive through May 08, 2006 » Relative value of different models? « Previous Next »

Author Message
csissom
New
Username: csissom

Post Number: 8
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Friday, April 21, 2006 - 10:47 pm:   Edit Post

I am in the market for a used Alembic bass, and I am trying to figure out the relative value of different models, not actual prices of specific instruments, but just in general, which models are more or less expensive than others.

I see most of the models on the price list Alembic publishes on the web site, summarized here:

Least expensive - Excel/Epic/Orion
A bit more expensive - Essence
Even more expensive - Rogue
Just plain expensive - Signature Standard
Quite expensive - Europa
Very expensive - Signature Deluxe
Extremely expensive - Series I
Insanely expensive - Series II

Now, my question is, where do all the discontinued and other models not on the current price list fall in this hierarchy?

Specifically, the Distillate, Elan, Persuader and Spoiler?

Any help in putting together this puzzle would be much appreciated.

Thanks!
Curt
bob
Senior Member
Username: bob

Post Number: 629
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Saturday, April 22, 2006 - 12:11 am:   Edit Post

I can't really help with the pricing, but just to advance the discussion - should we place the discontinued models in the list, as if they were being made new today?

Or are you more interested in used prices for all, which gets quite a bit more complicated, factoring in age, wear, custom options, etc.? If so, then you might suggest some guidelines, such as 5-10 years old with slight, but not excessive wear, ignoring any significant upgrades such as LEDs, and so forth.
csissom
New
Username: csissom

Post Number: 9
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Saturday, April 22, 2006 - 12:20 am:   Edit Post

Yes, I'm talking about used basses, that's why I'm interested in the discontinued models.

But no, I'm not asking for specific prices. I know those vary widely with age, wear, custom options, etc. But assuming those are all equal, what are the relative values of the different models.

For instance, is a Distillate one of the least expensive like an Excel, or is quite expensive like a Europa, or what? Where does it match up in the spectrum of models? See what I mean?
csissom
New
Username: csissom

Post Number: 10
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Saturday, April 22, 2006 - 12:27 am:   Edit Post

But if you want to take a shot at actual fair prices for each model, that would be cool too.

If so, your guidelines sound pretty good. Let's say, a standard model with no significant upgrades, 4 string, 10 or so years old, slight but not excessive wear, what would be your guess at reasonable prices for each model?
ajdover
Advanced Member
Username: ajdover

Post Number: 352
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Saturday, April 22, 2006 - 12:37 am:   Edit Post

Curt,

Based on what I've seen on Ebay, I'd suggest the following:

Excel/Epic/Orion - $900-$1500
Essence - $1300-$1500
Rogue - $1500-$2000
Europa (haven't seen one on ebay) - $2500-3000
Signature Standard - $2500
Signature Deluxe - $2500-$3000
Series I - $2500-$4000
Series II - $4000 and up, depending on age

These, of course, are only estimates. The price ranges will vary widely. If they have options, then things change as well.

I purchased both my Essences between $1100-$1300, so I can reliably say that you can get one of those if you desire for that amount (mine are "stock" without any options, e.g., LEDs, inlays, etc.).

Hope this helps,

Alan
csissom
Junior
Username: csissom

Post Number: 11
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Saturday, April 22, 2006 - 12:46 am:   Edit Post

Thanks Alan! That is indeed helpful.

Now, where would you put the Distillate, Elan, Persuader and Spoiler on that scale?

I'm especially interested in where the Distillate fits in, since there is one on eBay right now that looks interesting.

Thanks again,
Curt
adriaan
Senior Member
Username: adriaan

Post Number: 861
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Saturday, April 22, 2006 - 12:46 am:   Edit Post

First factor is set-neck v. neck-through.
The next factors are electronics and neck laminates.
Finally, Series instruments usually command higher prices.
Other than that, there's no accounting for lustworthiness!

There is no such thing as a discontinued model at Alembic. The basic construction features (aside from the above-mentioned factors) are much the same between models, and the distinctions rely mostly on body shape and electronics package.

Plus they'll build you an Elan, Distillate, Spoiler or Persuader if you ask them to. I'm pretty sure if you ask them for an Essence in the original shape (slightly longer body) then they will do that for you.
the_8_string_king
Intermediate Member
Username: the_8_string_king

Post Number: 147
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Saturday, April 22, 2006 - 12:57 am:   Edit Post

Of the 4 models you've named, the 2 most expensive would tend to be the Distillate and the Elan -with qualifications.

First -in case you don't know- the Distillate has electronics similar to the current Europa/Rogue package -with the main difference being that they have a pickup selector instead of the pan/balance switch. Nonetheless, with the 6 controls, it's probably the most versatile of the 4 models you've named. However, there are some Distillates floating around with only 1 pickup, and these are usually less desirable, and therefore should tend to command lower prices.

When Elans were discontinued, they had the next most versatile electronics of the models you've named: master volume, balance, filter & 2 position Q switch; this is superior to both the Spoiler electronics (which are the same except they have the less versatile pickup selector instead of the pan/balance) and the Persuader electronics (which have individual volumes and 1 filter but lack a Q switch).

However, some of the earlier Elans apparently have Persuader electronics (two volumes instead of 1 volume & a balance, and NO Q switch).

These are arguably less desirable and should tend to sell for less.

Spoilers and Persuaders... it's a toss up. With Spoilers you can turn the Q on/off, but Persuaders offer better mixing of the sound -with the individual volumes.

Anyway, all things being equal, Distillates and newer model Elans should tend to be the more expensive, older model Elans, Persuaders, and Spoilers should tend to be less expensive.
csissom
Junior
Username: csissom

Post Number: 12
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Saturday, April 22, 2006 - 1:37 am:   Edit Post

Adriaan,

Those are some good points.

Looking at the specs on the website, the Excel, Epic and Orion have set-necks, and all the other models have neck-through. So that seems to mark the low end (if Alembic can be said to have a "low" end). Looking at the showcase section, the Distillate, Elan, Persuader and Spoiler all look like neck-through, so that definitely puts them out of the low end, right?

As for electronics, to be honest, the range of different options has me somewhat bewildered at the moment. I'll have to think about that one some more.

Neck laminates? Looking at the specs, it seems that all models from Excel through Signature Standard have walnut veneers, while everything from Europa to Series II has purple heart veneers. That seems to break the list roughly in half. But I am not sure which the Elan, Persuader or Spoiler have. However, the Distillate on eBay claims to have purple heart, so that would seem to put it on the upper half of the list?

And yes, I have caught on to the fact that Series basses are the most expensive, but why? What is it they have that the others don't? Better electronics? Or something else? It might be a dumb newbie question, but there it is.

Anyway, thanks for all the thoughts.

Curt
csissom
Junior
Username: csissom

Post Number: 13
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Saturday, April 22, 2006 - 1:45 am:   Edit Post

8 String King,

No, I did not know anything about the Distillate electronics, or any of the others either, so your information was extremely useful.

Thank you!
Curt
csissom
Junior
Username: csissom

Post Number: 14
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Saturday, April 22, 2006 - 2:21 am:   Edit Post

More about neck laminates.

Browsing through the basses pictured and described on the forum here, the Distillates seem to consistently all have purple heart laminates in the necks.

The Elan, Persuader and Spoilers seem to mostly have no laminates in the necks at all. They look to be just three pieces of maple with nothing in between. A few of them have laminates and when they do, they appear to all be purple heart. Does this sound right? If so, where does that put them on the scale? Lower part of the middle? I assume the ones with laminates are more desirable than those without. Is that right?

Do these neck laminates have any significant effect on the tone, etc? Or are they mostly cosmetic?
ajdover
Advanced Member
Username: ajdover

Post Number: 353
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Saturday, April 22, 2006 - 4:52 am:   Edit Post

Curt,

I own five Alembics - two Essences, a Dragon's Wing, a Spyder, and a Europa. The Essences both have pure maple necks, While the others have maple-purpleheart lams. In terms of the tone, I find purely maple necks to be very bright on a neck through bass, and the maple-purpleheart lams slightly less so. I've been told that ebony lams have a big effect on tone, but since I've never played an instrument with that set up I can't comment.

I think the electronics have as much or more of an effect on the tone. Factor in your playing style, fingers vs. pick, etc., and there are any number of things which effect tone.

Really, you can't go wrong with any model Alembic if you want one - all depends on what you're looking for. I find that all my basses can get the "Alembic tone," while others can achieve more varied tones (those with Q switch). My custom Entwistle Replica will have Series II electronics, which feature single coil pick ups with a humcanceller and continuously variable Q-switches, so that set up will get very different tones than say, my Essences do.

Hope this helps,

Alan
bigredbass
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 749
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Saturday, April 22, 2006 - 12:04 pm:   Edit Post

CS, the Series basses are the height of ALEMBIC due to their pickups/electronics package: Offboard power supply, the single coil pickups with the humcanceller (what looks like a middle pickup) and the QSwitches. This offers a range of tone unapproachable by anything else on the market, and is the core of the ALEMBIC legend.
Naturally, these are NOT put in plain looking basses, so they will always be the most expensive.

BUT, these can be had generally in pretty good shape used in a $3-4000 as the Major pointed out above.

For me, the classic ALEMBIC recipe is a neckthru with purpleheart laminates, ebony fingerboard, and a medium weight wood body wing with a contrasting top. This could be any of the models.

But remember this is hardly Fender: You could look at twenty used Spoilers and see a great range of shapes and features: Some would be the traditional Spoiler double cutaway, but in different scale lengths, some would be different body shapes, etc. These vary a LOT more than looking at twenty used PBasses.

So you really have to think about what you need, and begin looking at what will and won't work for you. You can save a fortune on used ones.
I keep watching out for a Series One five-string
(why are they ALWAYS fours?) in the used market.

You could have a new one built for less $$ than you think if you're careful with the options on a month when their Monthly Special includes something special you can't live without.

J o e y
longhorncat
Member
Username: longhorncat

Post Number: 67
Registered: 8-2005
Posted on Saturday, April 22, 2006 - 7:48 pm:   Edit Post

The last Distillate on eBay went for $1900. The one currently listed is a nicer wood and in better condition.

Spoiler's have been going around $1500 and Persuader are up to $1200.
olieoliver
Advanced Member
Username: olieoliver

Post Number: 258
Registered: 2-2006
Posted on Saturday, April 22, 2006 - 8:41 pm:   Edit Post

Hey Curt, I can't offer much advice on the price ranges but I checked out your bands web site. Very nice. The Lone Star Country Club I saw in the photos, is that the one in Coppel? I used to play the Lone Star at its original location on Belt Line Rd back in the 80's. Was always a blast!
the_8_string_king
Intermediate Member
Username: the_8_string_king

Post Number: 148
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Saturday, April 22, 2006 - 10:59 pm:   Edit Post

Curt, since you're interested in opinions, I give you a few more.

Adding purpleheart and/or ebony is not merely cosmetic. Purpleheart is denser than the rock maple, and adds sustain and depth. Alan's experience is typical -that it's (maple/purpleheart neck) less bright than a pure maple neck. Ebony is even denser, and has the special characteristic of increasing overall sustain AND also the sustain of the lower partial(s).

My 6-string Elan Plus has the standard 11 laminates (6 maple, 5 purpleheart). My 8-string Europa has 6 ebony lams, 3 purpleheart, 2 rock maple and 2 flame maple. And I owned an all maple precision, and have played all maple neck Spoilers.

Purpleheart and ebony aren't JUST cosmetic... they're VERY functional; they increase strength, and -IMO- the quality of sound -which IMO is more complex as a result of the blend of different woods

Curt, I think one of the best things about Alembics -besides the beauty and quality of design and craftsmanship- is the combination of the legendary cleaness of signal combined with one of the more versatile electronic packages.

Not all Alembics are alike; not all electronics packages are equal.

For ME, the standard Elan electronics -and the Electronics of lesser models- like the Spoiler, Persuader, and Essence... are simply NOT satisfactory... they're not versatile enough... for me at least.

I regard the Distillate electronics as the minimun satsifactory Alembic package. The more modern Europa/Rogue electronics are essentially the same except for the Distillate pickup selector is replaced by a more versatile balance/pan switch.

Still, Distillates are quite versatile, and offer impressive tonal flexibility that can be achieved quickly by flicking little switches. Two pickups with a master volume, master filter with on/off Q switch and bass & treble boost/cut switches with a pickup selector -it's VERSATILE, and sometimes they go cheaply, perhaps because the electronics are slightly outdated. But ask anyone who owns one, and they'll tell you they're 100 percent Alembic, they kick butt, and they're VERY versatile.

Sometimes you can luck out and score a good price on an upgraded lower-end Alembic model; common examples are "Elan Plus" and Essence models that have Europa electronics. They tend to less often have purpleheart neck lams, though.

That's another nice thing about a Distillate; they tend to have purpleheart laminates, along with the benefits of beauty, strength, and sustain.

Check out the entries for Distillates in the showcase section, especially Ken's 5-string Coco Bolo Distillate.

Anyway, this model is in my opinion -for me at least- the minimum electronics package for the versatility I want from an Alembic.

Slightly better is the Europa/Rogue packet, rivaled by the Signature electronics -which offer INDIVIDUAL filters AND Q switches for each pickup (and are therefore more versatile in that respect) but lack the bass & treble boost/cut switchs (and are therefore less versatile in that respect.

The next slight upgrade is to the Anniversery electronics, which are similar to the Signature electronics but slightly more versatile.

Then it's onto the Series instruments, which are considered the top of the line.

The Series are Stereo instruments that have a standard jack but also a custom 5-pin jack that connects to an external power supply -to power the active electronics.

The Series I instruments offer individual volumes, filters and 3 postition Q switches for each pickup (and a pickup selector). This allows for detailed individually-processed tone-shaping for each pickup, when combined with the incredible performance of the Series pickups and electronics -can only be surpassed by the superior performance of the Series II, which adds a master volume and upgrades the 3 position Q switches to CVQ (continuously variable Q) switches -with superior range and tweakability.

Of course, some people get custom electronics with combinations of these things.

Anyway, I think I've covered the basics with regard to the various electronics of various models.

Oh, yeah, I don't consider the standard Epic controls adequate either.

Anyway, good luck on your quest for an Alembic. Take your time, do your homework, research, and be patient. When the time is right, go for it!
steve4765630
New
Username: steve4765630

Post Number: 6
Registered: 3-2006
Posted on Saturday, April 22, 2006 - 11:23 pm:   Edit Post

I got my 6 string Epic used for $2000. It is in near mint shape and has an insanely expensive top wood upgrade. Though 6 strings tend to be more expensive than 4, I think the price can greatly differ based on condition and options.
steve4765630
New
Username: steve4765630

Post Number: 7
Registered: 3-2006
Posted on Saturday, April 22, 2006 - 11:23 pm:   Edit Post

I got my 6 string Epic used for $2000. It is in near mint shape and has an insanely expensive top wood upgrade. Though 6 strings tend to be more expensive than 4, I think the price can greatly differ based on condition and options.
csissom
Junior
Username: csissom

Post Number: 16
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Sunday, April 23, 2006 - 12:11 am:   Edit Post

Wow! Thanks to everyone for all the great info! I'll try to keep the discussion going and respond to everyone, but if I miss someone, forgive me.

Curt
csissom
Junior
Username: csissom

Post Number: 17
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Sunday, April 23, 2006 - 12:22 am:   Edit Post

Alan,

Thanks for that insight, it is indeed helpful.

I figured the neck laminates had an affect on tone, but it is good to get some insight into how it affects it.

I find the whole concept of different woods contributing to the tone in different ways fascinating, but also rather mysterious. I clearly understand that each piece of wood in the guitar contributes to its tone in some way, but how any particular type of wood contributes, is a complete mystery to me.

But yes, I have been reading up here on the forum and website quite a bit about the electonics options over the last day or so, and I am starting to get a basic understanding of all the options, so yes, I can see there is a lot of difference in the models on the electronics side.

So much to learn. I love it.

Curt
csissom
Junior
Username: csissom

Post Number: 18
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Sunday, April 23, 2006 - 12:40 am:   Edit Post

Joey,

Yes, I can see now, how the Series basses have the best of it all. Unfortunately, even a Series I is beyond my budget right now, as is any kind of a custom order (at least for now). I do however like your recipe. That's the sort of thing I think I am looking for.

And yes, I know every Alembic is different. The one Alembic I already have, has lots of customizations and upgrades. I don't think there is any other one like it. If you are interested, this is it:

http://alembic.com/club/messages/394/22262.html?1132893134
http://alembic.com/club/messages/411/888.html?1106292108
http://alembic.com/club/messages/395/22139.html?1132194491

I love it, and wouldn't let it go for anything, but, playing it for the last 5 or 6 months has convinced me that I NEED a four string Alembic too! And with tax refund season being here, I find myself back in the market.

Curt
csissom
Junior
Username: csissom

Post Number: 19
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Sunday, April 23, 2006 - 12:47 am:   Edit Post

Longhorncat,

Thanks for that tip about the Distillates. That is very useful, since as it happens, I have been looking closely at that Distillate which is currently listed.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=7409227590&ssPageName=STRK:MEWA:IT

What do you all think about this bass? A good value? Do you see any problems with it based on the info there? (I am asking the seller for more details, better photos, etc.)

Thanks,
Curt
csissom
Junior
Username: csissom

Post Number: 20
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Sunday, April 23, 2006 - 12:57 am:   Edit Post

Olieoliver,

Yea, that's the place in Coppel off of Beltline Road. The place with all the sand volleyball courts out back. A nice little rockin club to play.

Oh, and thanks for reminding me that our site needed updating! I added our upcoming show (rare these days) and more pics from 2005. I hope you checked out some of the tunes too!

If any one is interested (shameless plug here):

http://dsn.nwemusic.com/home.htm

Lots of pictures of me and my black Rickenbacker in action, but unfortunately none of my Alembic yet, but soon there will be I hope. There are, however, lots of free MP3s, if you dig that sort of thing.

Curt
csissom
Junior
Username: csissom

Post Number: 21
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Sunday, April 23, 2006 - 1:01 am:   Edit Post

8 String King,

Thank you so much for taking the time to share all that information! That is great, and very useful.

And I'll tell you what, you about have me convinced to put a bid on for that Distillate on eBay. That sounds like just what I want.

Thanks again,
Curt
ajdover
Advanced Member
Username: ajdover

Post Number: 354
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Sunday, April 23, 2006 - 3:15 am:   Edit Post

Curt,

Joey's (bigredbass) post about the different electronics is right on. I own a "basic" package (Essence), Signature package (Dragon's Wing), Europa package (Europa) and Anniversary (Spyder), so I can vouch for what he's saying. They are all a bit different, each with their own voice. Couple that with wood choices and you have a very wide variety of tonal options indeed.

On the Europa, I wish, upon reflection, that the tone switches were rotary pots with a center detent rather than switches. I suppose Alembic could do this for you if you wanted; I bought mine stock. I just feel that the pots vs. the switches give you more versatility in the amount of cut or boost you can dial in. Of course, the filter makes up a bit for that, but I'd still like the pot over the switch if I could do it over again.

I find the Signature and Anniversary electronics fairly similar, but the Anniversary electronics, coupled with the woods in my Spyder (maple/purpleheart/walnut/flame maple) make the tone of that instrument piercingly clear. The Anniversary electronics are a bit "darker" if you will, but no less versatile.

The Essence is simplicity in and of itself. In a lot of ways, I find it preferable sometimes to the more elaborate electronics packages. If I could add or change a thing or two, it would be to delete the pan and add another volume (one for the bridge pickup, one for the neck pickup a la a Jazz Bass), and add a Q switch. I'd also add another preamp so I could adjust the level of output of each pickup. This would push it close to Signature electronics from what I understand, but would also make it more versatile in my view. Even as is, they're amazing instruments.

Anyway, glad we could all be of help, and I hope you find the Alembic of your dreams.

Best regards,

Alan
the_8_string_king
Intermediate Member
Username: the_8_string_king

Post Number: 149
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Sunday, April 23, 2006 - 9:52 am:   Edit Post

Curt, make sure it's a Distillate and not a Spoiler; I tried to look at the pictures and couldn't get an up-close, but I don't see the "boost-cut" switches, so again, you may wish to confirm that it is a Distillate. (The Distillate and Spoiler are virtually identical -except that the Distillate has the two other toggle switches... the bass & treble boost/cut switches).

Assuming it is... GOOD LUCK!!!

And I'm glad to help, hope it makes a difference!!!
csissom
Junior
Username: csissom

Post Number: 22
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Sunday, April 23, 2006 - 12:26 pm:   Edit Post

8 String King,

Thanks for that tip. The serial number the guy gave me is for an 82 Distillate. I have submitted a query to Alembic for it, but still waiting on response:

http://alembic.com/club/messages/394/27395.html?1145725863

But I'll look out for what you say anyway, knowing with Alembic it could be almost anything.

I have also asked the guy for close up pictures, and he said he would get some later this week, so we'll see. I'm not going to bid until I see a closer view of the bass.

Thanks again to everyone for all the great input!

Curt
csissom
Junior
Username: csissom

Post Number: 24
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Sunday, April 23, 2006 - 6:10 pm:   Edit Post

OK, the guy posted more pictures on the ebay listing for that 82 Distillate, including some close ups of the controls. It does have the three switches. From what I understand of what everyone has said here, it looks like the standard Distillate electronics.

In fact, after getting a closer look at the bass, I really like it, except...

It has intials, presumably of the original owner, inlaid in the fretboard at the 14th fret. And I'm thinking I would feel a little odd playing a bass with someone else's intials stamped on it. Is that crazy? I don't know, but on the more practical side, does this sort of very personal customization add to, or detract from, the value of a bass on the used market?

Any opinions or comments would be appreciated.

Curt
jalevinemd
Senior Member
Username: jalevinemd

Post Number: 408
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Sunday, April 23, 2006 - 6:33 pm:   Edit Post

Those initials are a real eyesore. I find it impossible to believe they were done by Alembic. I think decorative inlays are one thing, but I too would feel strange about owning a guitar with someone else's initials. I don't think I'd ever feel it were mine as a constant reminder of its previous owner would be there...always.
bob
Senior Member
Username: bob

Post Number: 631
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Sunday, April 23, 2006 - 7:39 pm:   Edit Post

I don't know, the wood is really pretty in the newer photos. If you think a Distillate would suit you, this looks to be a pretty nice one.

Sure, the initials would detract from the value, and it's a little interesting that there weren't any bids even before we knew about them.

If it were me, and this bass was just what I wanted, and I wasn't willing to wait indefinitely for another one to show up, I might go for it, as long as the price was reasonable. If I fell in love with it, I could always have someone remove the initials and stick some ebony in there... wouldn't be perfect, but a lot less noticeable, and I'd know it no longer belonged to this HG guy.

Or you could stick a U in the middle, and feel all nice and cozy about it :-)
-Bob
csissom
Junior
Username: csissom

Post Number: 25
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Sunday, April 23, 2006 - 9:14 pm:   Edit Post

Jalevinemd,

Thank you for finding the right word... eyesore. I wonder too if they were done by Alembic, they don't seem to really match the other normal inlays, seems like Alembic would have done it more tastefully. And if they were original, why not put them on a fret where there are supposed to be inlays, like the 12th or 15th? That alone makes me think they must have been added after the guitar was built.

Now I am very anxious to see what comes back from Alembic on the query for the build record.

Curt
csissom
Junior
Username: csissom

Post Number: 26
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Sunday, April 23, 2006 - 9:29 pm:   Edit Post

Bob,

Yes, the top wood is beautiful in that one close up, and I must admit, every facet of this bass seems it would suit me perfectly, except for those stupid inlays.

Dig them out and put some pieces of ebony in there? Then have a beautiful Alembic with a hacked up fretboard? I don't like that idea either.

I suppose I could send it back to Alembic and have them put a whole new fretboard on it. I'm not sure I like the idea of a project like that either, but let me just pose a few questions to the gang about that?:

- About how much would it cost to have a new fretboard put on a bass like this?
- About how long would it take Alembic to do that?
- Would doing that add to, or detract from, the value of the bass on the market?

I always hear that you shouldn't replace parts or recondition vintage guitars, because it will ruin their value. But then I see on this forum, lots of people talking about upgrading their Alembics and sending them back to the factory for this or that. So does this rule apply to Alembics? Do improvements like that add to the value of an Alembic, or detract from the value, because the guitar is no longer original.

I wonder about this, not only because of this bass, but also the one I already own, which was sent back to Alembic at one point for lots of upgrades.

As always, any thoughts or opinions are appreciated.

Curt
the_8_string_king
Intermediate Member
Username: the_8_string_king

Post Number: 150
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Sunday, April 23, 2006 - 10:38 pm:   Edit Post

Boy, that's too bad, Curt, it's a gorgeous Distillate, but those initials... all the charm of a girlfriend with her LAST boyfriends name tattooed on her -"fill in the blanks girl forever!"

I personally couldn't deal with it -what jalevinemd said...

One's things for sure... this won't be the last Distillate you see on E-bay.

Keep your eye on the Swap Shop column here on the Alembic site. You'll probably see one there eventually. Perhaps a member looking to upgrade'll hook you up!

Best of luck, again.
ajdover
Advanced Member
Username: ajdover

Post Number: 355
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Sunday, April 23, 2006 - 10:45 pm:   Edit Post

Curt,

I own 20 bass guitars of various marques, and I've never hesitated, regardless of age or vintage, to improve them or repair them to make them more playable to me. To wit:

I had both my '73 Fender Jazz Bass' and '79 Musicman Stingray's necks refretted and refinished.

I replaced the original pickups in my '73 Jazz with Seymour Duncans, replaced the original tuners with Schaller replacements, and replaced the original bridge with a Badass II.

I had my '74 Gibson Ripper completely refinished (it is a factory "second).

Like a lot of guys here, I'm a player, not a collector. I play all my basses, and I could care less if someone thinks that I've "ruined" it by modifying it in some way. I'm playing the instrument, not someone else. If I feel it needs something to make it more appealing to me, so be it. If I were a collector I'd be more concerned about keeping things "stock," but since I play my instruments, it is not a primary concern. The way I see it, these instruments were made to be played, not placed in a museum somewhere. Others feel differently, and that's cool. For me, I'd rather play it than look at it.

On the Distillate, if the only sticking point is the fingerboard inlay, I'd call Mica or Susan and ask them how much it would run to replace the fingerboard and/or fill in the inlays and sand it over. You might find that they can do it for a relatively decent price. You could also just buy the bass and have that kind of surgery done later when it's more financially feasible. finally, you could have Alembic replace the inlays with something more akin to your tastes, e.g. an oval or some other shape with your initials in another material. I haven't seen the bass on Ebay yet (I'm at work and our firewall won't let me see it), so I'll reserve further comment until I do.

Alembics generally don't go up in value - there have been many discussions on this in the club - but once used, they tend to hold their value at a certain price point (e.g., $900-$1100 for Epics, etc.). If you got the fingerboard replaced, I don't think it would detract much from the value of the bass - it might even add to it depending on what you do with it as it would be, in the eyes of some, an "upgrade."

Again, best of luck in your hunt for the perfect "Curt" Alembic.

Best regards,

Alan
jalevinemd
Senior Member
Username: jalevinemd

Post Number: 409
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Monday, April 24, 2006 - 6:45 am:   Edit Post

Curt,

This is what you need to keep in mind. As Alan alluded, this is not an investment grade instrument. It's not a vintage Fender or Gibson that there's a huge market for. If you're dream bass is a flame koa Distillate, buy this one and accept it for its imperfections (my wife does!) If you want it in as new condition, send it to Alembic and have them make it factory fresh. But do it to have the instrument of your dreams. Because with the current price hovering around $2000, you will most certainly not recoup your investment should you have this refinished and try to sell it later.

Regards,

Jonathan
longhorncat
Member
Username: longhorncat

Post Number: 68
Registered: 8-2005
Posted on Monday, April 24, 2006 - 7:45 am:   Edit Post

A black Sharpie marker would fix those initial inlays in 60 seconds.
That Koa top is very nice.
olieoliver
Advanced Member
Username: olieoliver

Post Number: 263
Registered: 2-2006
Posted on Monday, April 24, 2006 - 7:57 am:   Edit Post

Flip it over.
davehouck
Moderator
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 3686
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Monday, April 24, 2006 - 9:52 am:   Edit Post

My thoughts. I think the current price of $1,750 (no bids) would be close to the top end range for this bass were it not for the initials. I can't recall but I'm thinking that a complete fretboard replacement would be expensive. If it were me, I would call Mica and ask if it would possible to fill in just that fret with another piece of Ebony and, if it were possible, how much it would cost. Then add in the cost of shipping the bass to Santa Rosa and back. Of course on the plus side, as long as you are shipping the bass to Santa Rosa, since it's going to be there anyway you can consider having other changes made.
spliffy
Junior
Username: spliffy

Post Number: 33
Registered: 3-2003
Posted on Monday, April 24, 2006 - 10:05 am:   Edit Post

Hey Curt, I have an 82 Distillate, which I love. It is not as beautiful as yours, but she is amazing. I am waiting for history of mine too, although I have had her for a while. The one thing that I found fascinating about the 82 Distilate was that between the neck and the ebony fretboard, Alembic put a thin layer of wood. I believe they did this so that replacing the fingerboard at a later time would be easier to do! This may help if you purchase the axe and decide to change the ebony board.
IMO, I would buy the bass and have the inlay removed by Alembic. Alembic started out by modifying instruments, so why not modify an Alembic. Also, I feel the Distillate is a players bass and should not be kept as a collector piece. I do not use mine all that much because I am always afraid of it getting stolen if I leave the room (some places are just too shady and not worth bringing in the best bass)!
Also I noticed with my D was that at some venues the bass would pick up radio stations and it bugged me. I sent in the electronics to Alembic and they made some changes to it. It has worked perfectly since then. My only caution to that would be.... you need patience as it will not be done over night, week or month. Other than that You will be fine.
The bass on Ebay is beautiful!
If I had the cash and space I would purchase it... hmmm, and make it fretless.... a sister to my current model...... Oh to dream!!!

Good luck with your decision.

Al
csissom
Junior
Username: csissom

Post Number: 28
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Monday, April 24, 2006 - 10:43 am:   Edit Post

8 String King,

The tattoo on the girlfriend's butt is exactly the analogy that came to mind when I first saw this! The perfect comparison!

Curt
csissom
Junior
Username: csissom

Post Number: 29
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Monday, April 24, 2006 - 10:57 am:   Edit Post

Alan,

Thanks for that input. I sort of feel the way you do. I don't see the problem in improving a guitar and making it better.

And hey, that is amazing. I also have an early 70s Gibson Ripper, factory second, sitting in my closet. I'm not sure the exact year, since the serial number is bogus due to it being a second. But it served me well through my starving musician phase until I was able to afford my first Rickenbacker about 20 years ago. I figure the problem from the factory must have been something to do with the bridge, since someone had replaced it with a Badass bridge, and everything else on the guitar seems fine. Has anyone ever tried to Alembicize one of those? That might be interesting.

Anyway, I am with you, I am a player, not really a collector (some might say I am a very poor collector, and a somewhat less poor player, but you know how that goes). If I was a better collector, I probably wouldn't still have that Ripper in my closet. I just seem to have trouble letting go of a guitar once I have it.

So yes, I will try to get the cost for fixing the Distillate and factor that into my decision. Is calling them on the phone the best way to ask such things? I did leave the question on my thread asking for the history and build record, but am still waiting on a response to that.

In any case, thanks for all the great input.

Curt
ajdover
Advanced Member
Username: ajdover

Post Number: 356
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Monday, April 24, 2006 - 11:05 am:   Edit Post

Curt,

Say, you wouldn't want to sell that Rick, would 'ya?

Alan
csissom
Junior
Username: csissom

Post Number: 30
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Monday, April 24, 2006 - 11:06 am:   Edit Post

Jalevinemd,

I am not really looking at this as an investment, which I would want to sell later for a profit. Like I said above, I never seem to sell any guitar I have once I get it. I just want to make sure I am spending my relatively scant budget in the best way possible.

Curt
ajdover
Advanced Member
Username: ajdover

Post Number: 357
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Monday, April 24, 2006 - 11:08 am:   Edit Post

Curt,

I'd recommend calling them as opposed to email. Just my experience.

Alan
csissom
Junior
Username: csissom

Post Number: 31
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Monday, April 24, 2006 - 11:16 am:   Edit Post

Dave,

I must be getting the hang of this, because that's exactly what I was already thinking, that $1750 is about the top I would want to pay for the bass, if it didn't have those ugly initials inlaid.

So my current thinking is, I might just let the auction finish, and if someone bids that for it, more power to them. But if it ends without a bid, I might offer the guy whatever $1750 minus the cost of fixing it would be.

If he won't take that, or if someone else buys it first, I'll just keep looking.

Curt
csissom
Junior
Username: csissom

Post Number: 32
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Monday, April 24, 2006 - 11:26 am:   Edit Post

Al,

Thanks for those tips! That would be great if they could do an easy (and inexpensive) swap of the fretboard.

And I also saw something about that electonics shielding problem with Distillates on another thread, and it said Alembic could fix it easily.

Thanks again,
Curt
davehouck
Moderator
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 3693
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Monday, April 24, 2006 - 11:47 am:   Edit Post

Curt; that sounds like a reasonable approach.

Oh, and since the auction still has seven days to run, give Mica a chance to respond to your serial number post before calling on the phone.
csissom
Junior
Username: csissom

Post Number: 33
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Monday, April 24, 2006 - 11:51 am:   Edit Post

Alan,

I actually have two Ricks, a 1979 4001 I bought used about 20 years ago, it is in somewhat rough condition, but not too bad (it is no worse than the day I bought it). It is 100% original as far as I know. And a 1997 4003, which I bought new (I am the only owner). It has a couple of small nicks, I have played it a lot, but it is overall still in excellent condition.

I might consider selling the older one, even though that is probably the only thing I have with any vintage value in my meager collection. But I wouldn't want to sell the newer one, since that has been my baby for the last 9 years. And even if I become an Alembic-head, I never want to be without a Rickenbacker in my life. I still love them.

Curt
csissom
Junior
Username: csissom

Post Number: 34
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Monday, April 24, 2006 - 12:00 pm:   Edit Post

Dave,

That sounds like good advice. I am sure Mica is a busy lady. I will be patient for now and give her a chance to respond.

Curt
ajdover
Advanced Member
Username: ajdover

Post Number: 358
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Tuesday, April 25, 2006 - 2:18 am:   Edit Post

Curt,

I too have two Ricks, both 4001s - one is a '76 and the other a '77. The '77 is in pieces - I have all the original parts and stuff, but it has all the finish off the neck, and somebody began to strip the fingerboard. I intend to have it completely rebuilt/refinished by Jim Warwick of J Warwick Guitars (www.jwarwickguitars.com). He's the guy who did my Ripper, Jazz, and Musicman, and his work is outstanding. He also put a resistor on my Spyder (at Alembic's recommendation) - he's the only guy I would trust with any of my Alembics other than the folks in Santa Rosa.

Anyway, like you, I've always had a Rick in my stable, save for a few years when I was poor and didn't have the cash to have more than one bass. I suppose it will always be that way.

If you desire, I can send you some pics of my bass "stable." Let me know.

Best regards,

Alan
csissom
Junior
Username: csissom

Post Number: 40
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Tuesday, April 25, 2006 - 8:25 am:   Edit Post

Alan,

I would love to see pics of your stable. I would especially like to see what Warwick did with your Ripper, maybe give me some ideas about what to do with mine. Also, before and after pics of the job he does on your 77 Rick would be real interesting.

Curt
ajish4
Junior
Username: ajish4

Post Number: 44
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Wednesday, April 26, 2006 - 4:36 am:   Edit Post

Curt,

Having traveled a very similar road as the one you are on now, and being we have a LOT in common in regards to our instruments, I had to put my 2 cents in...

Too funny, my FIRST bass was a Gibson RIPPER, sure wish I still had it, and I also own a few Rickenbacker's myself. I'll be touching on a number of your posts.

I recently purchased a Distillate from a forum member who had it listed on Ebay not too long ago. I absolutely love the bass. Keep in mind that it is a MEDIUM SCALE bass. For me wasn't a big deal, but just keep that in mind. When I switch back and forth to my Rickenbacker, I have to remind myself of the change.

As far as Alembic basses go, I still own my first Alembic, an EPIC and have recently sold off my ESSENCE 5. Each Alembic I purchased (similar to a used car) needed a few things addressed. Some were cosmetic, some were not. I'm a bit OCD so I like to get my basses as close to original as possible. I was the same way when I restored cars years ago.

Anyway, I wouldn't be TOO concerned about the initials on the Distillate so long as the rest of the package is in good order. An alternative to swapping out the fingerboard is just having Alembic put an inlay in place of the initials. I had a price of $250.00 to replace all my inlays from Alembic. A future repair I will be getting done. Get a dove or a (oh I don't know, anything) in place of the initials. IF, that is, whoever did the initials, didn't do a butcher job and the finger board can't be saved. I'm SURE Alembic can do SOMETHING!

Don't be afraid to ASK the seller questions, ask for more pictures, INQUIRE as to the condition of the truss rods, frets, neck, bridge condition. "Kick the tires" and give it a good going over. I've been burned on two RICKENBACKER'S by not being through enough. One of them a VERY EXPENSIVE mistake, it is presently at the luthierís having the frets pulled, the neck planed and re-finished.

I have a love/hate relationship with my Epic. Well, I shouldn't say HATE, just a minor dislike. While I love the overall tone and the feel of the Epic, I don't like the fact the SUSTAIN isn't what I would like it to be. I play in a church in two different services. The first one (more formal) I use the Alembic, the second (more contemporary) I use my RIC. During the formal service, the music is slower so I REALLY needed (wanted) more SUSTAIN for the mellow music. Enter the Distillate. PERFECT. The neck through construction combined with the Purple Heart Lams and the SUSTAIN BLOCK....WOW, now that is what I call SUSTAIN! I still can't bring myself to sell the EPIC. I've become so accustomed to it, I feel awkward when its not with me. Looks like it will never go now!

Getting back to the "used car" scenario, most USED items need some tweaking IMHO. I've invested about $350.00 in COSMETIC work to my Distillate. I didn't like the "SATIN" finish, so I had it buffed out to HIGH GLOSS. I also had some fret work done and some inlay touch ups. Check out this link for a few pictures. I also want to replace the brass back plate one of these days. Like I said, Iím a bit OCD.
http://alembic.com/club/messages/394/27446.html?1146043696

I'm not a collector, so as was mentioned earlier in this thread, I play this bass for all its worth, I want it to look good, but I'm not worried about "resale" price. The money I've invested and will eventually invest, I'll know I'll never get back SHOULD I decide to sell it. I hope I never have to. It's THAT GOOD! The sound package is MORE than I'll ever need. The ONLY flaw that I can note is that due to a back injury, I have to sit when Iím playing. The Distillate has a PERFECT feel when standing, but it is a little awkward when sitting. The Epic & the RIC are most comfortable when playing in this position. But, I'm still getting used to the Distillate, she will work out great.

Being we have so much in common, I'm even built like you (saw a pic on your bands web site) I'm sure you will love the Distillate.

One last comment, you had mentioned an Alembicized Ric. There was one last year that only sold for about $700.00 on Ebay. I SHOULD have bid on that one.

My "DREAM ALEMBIC" is what I call an "ALEMRIC". WHEN I hit the lotto, or the kids move out, whichever comes first, I DREAM of having Alembic design a RIC inspired shape body (sort of a RIC shaped Spector Euro, I love those rounded bouts on the Spector), with the "S" body (no binding and rounded edges) with a highly figured Walnut top. Add the one Ebony and two Purple Heart stinrgers, on a birdís eye maple 7 piece neck with an ebony fingerboard with REAL MOP triangle inlays, coupled with some kind of Europa electronics.

Whew, ok, Iím done, as I'm sure everyone will be thankful!

Whatever you decide to do Curt, best of luck to you! I hope you can land that Distallite.

Tony

(Message edited by ajish4 on April 26, 2006)

(Message edited by ajish4 on April 26, 2006)
csissom
Junior
Username: csissom

Post Number: 50
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Wednesday, April 26, 2006 - 1:54 pm:   Edit Post

Tony,

That's a helluva post!

A few comments in response.

The Ripper... never thought I would be discussing that old thing on the Alembic forum! But it was not my first bass, my first one was a Peavey bass. After learning the crucial lesson, that one should never leave a guitar case in the back of a pick up truck, even when just running in for a quick pack of smokes, I then got the Ripper to replace the stolen Peavey.

Back on Alembics... I actually want to try a medium scale Alembic. I passed on an auction for a long scale bass I liked, just because I wanted to hold out for medium. And unless I am mistaken, the Ric scale length is actually 33-1/4 inches. So it is between an Alembic long and medium. So I think I will really like the medium scale.

Oh, and don't worry, I am not shy about asking the sellers whole lists of questions. I just sent this guy another list this morning.

With your Epic, why don't you send it to Alembic and have them add a sustain block? My 5 string Alembic is an Orion, but it has had a sustain block added. And man does it ever sustain! My band has a few songs that end with a big note we just hold and let it die out. But now, when the rest of the band has died out, there is my Alembic still singing away at full volume. I think it would go on forever if I let it. The problem is ending it without sounding abrupt. What a problem to have, huh!

Oh, and by the way, I am not a collector either, I am buying this bass to play. When I ask questions about resale values, I am trying to figure out how much I should pay, not thinking at all that I will resell it.

And I can't wait to see your AlemRic when it's done!

Thanks for all the comments,
Curt
csissom
Member
Username: csissom

Post Number: 51
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Wednesday, April 26, 2006 - 2:02 pm:   Edit Post

OK Gang...

I have an IMPORTANT new question...

The seller of this Distillate has contacted a luthier in his area, who says he can replace the inlays with ebony. I have talked to the luthier, and he seems competent, seems to know what he is doing.

Question is, how would you feel about going to someone local to do this kind of work? Or would you insist on sending the bass to Alembic to have it done?

Opinions and comments welcome...

Thanks,
Curt
bsee
Senior Member
Username: bsee

Post Number: 1142
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Wednesday, April 26, 2006 - 2:16 pm:   Edit Post

By the time you pay for extra shipping and repairs, you might as well find a better bass that doesn't need the repairs and pay an extra $500.
valvil
Moderator
Username: valvil

Post Number: 878
Registered: 7-2002
Posted on Wednesday, April 26, 2006 - 3:42 pm:   Edit Post

Routing out the inlay and filling it in with ebony is not difficult; I wouldn't send it here for something like that. A competent luthier should be able to handle it easily.

Valentino
csissom
Member
Username: csissom

Post Number: 55
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Wednesday, April 26, 2006 - 3:47 pm:   Edit Post

Valentino,

Thanks for the definitive answer!

Much appreciated.

Curt
csissom
Member
Username: csissom

Post Number: 56
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Wednesday, April 26, 2006 - 3:52 pm:   Edit Post

Next question...

I noticed the brass nut on this bass does not appear to be adjustable (or at least doesn't have the screwholes) like I am used to seeing on Alembics. What's up with that? Is this a common option with Alembics? Is it possible it is not the original nut?

Any thoughts?

Thanks,
Curt
valvil
Moderator
Username: valvil

Post Number: 879
Registered: 7-2002
Posted on Wednesday, April 26, 2006 - 4:04 pm:   Edit Post

The adjustable nut was not available when that bass was built. It's normal; my 81 Distillate did not have it either. I had the nut replaced with an adjustable one a few years ago.

Valentino
csissom
Member
Username: csissom

Post Number: 57
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Wednesday, April 26, 2006 - 4:46 pm:   Edit Post

Thanks again Valentino!

I think I have finally run out of questions.

At least until I get to see the official build record and history of the bass...

Hint Hint
davehouck
Moderator
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 3712
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Wednesday, April 26, 2006 - 7:57 pm:   Edit Post

Val; thanks for the answer on the inlay question!!
spliffy
Junior
Username: spliffy

Post Number: 37
Registered: 3-2003
Posted on Thursday, April 27, 2006 - 4:52 am:   Edit Post

Valvil, my 82 Distillate has one. Serial #92D2384!

Thanks
Al
bigredbass
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 754
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Thursday, April 27, 2006 - 10:27 am:   Edit Post

I'm with bsee:

There's no way I'd send my money off into the vacuum of EBAY and then besides that, have a luthier (the most overused term in the english language) I don't know work on a bass I haven't seen (you'll STILL see those idiot initials in ebony even IF it's a first rate job).

In the words of my friend palembic:

there will always be another one
there will always be another one
there will always be another one

J o e y
lbpesq
Senior Member
Username: lbpesq

Post Number: 1247
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Thursday, April 27, 2006 - 10:55 am:   Edit Post

Or you could just change your name to Hiram Goldblatt, Henry Goodfellow, Hubert Gross, or something else with the "HG" initials. Problem solved!!!!

(Personally I'm, with Joey and Paul, tbo: There will always be another one)

Bill, tgo
the_8_string_king
Intermediate Member
Username: the_8_string_king

Post Number: 154
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Thursday, April 27, 2006 - 11:45 am:   Edit Post

I think Joey's right Curt, you should probably wait.

You know, I was fishing around and saw this bass for sale months ago, some other place on the site, either in the showcase or swap shop sections. I think a club member was selling it, perhaps with some others. It has the initials. I just saw this yesterday, but was on pain-killers, so I don't recall exactly where.
valvil
Moderator
Username: valvil

Post Number: 882
Registered: 7-2002
Posted on Thursday, April 27, 2006 - 11:52 am:   Edit Post

Hello Al,

the adjustable nut was introduced in the early 80s; even so not all instruments had it; some people did not want it. A record of which instruments had it was not kept, however. What's likely in your case is that one of the previous owners had the adjustable nut added later, just like I did with mine.
Later on, as customers got more familiar with the idea, it became a standard.

Valentino
the_8_string_king
Intermediate Member
Username: the_8_string_king

Post Number: 155
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Thursday, April 27, 2006 - 12:06 pm:   Edit Post

Huh, I couldn't find it. Maybe I was wrong or just goofy. I thought I saw some old(er) ebay ad of the "HG" Distillate for same, but now I'm not sure.

Anyway, I'd hold off for another.

Also, keep your eyes open for Elan Plus models, as well as Essense models upgraded with the Europa electronics. These'll probably tend to be less common and perhaps a litte higher priced than Distillates, and make it a point when comparing to note whether any particular bass has the brass sustain block and/or purpleheart neck lams. I think Distillates usually have both, and I think a Distillate with the sustain block and purpleheart lams is better than an Elan Plus or Essense with Europa electronics that DOESN'T have these features -even though the pan/balance is more versatile.

Of course, if you buy a Distillate, you can also have Alembic retro-upgrade the selector switch to a pan...

But, yeah, the purpleheart neck lams and the sustain block are a big part of the Alembic sound, even more crucial than a pan vs. a selector switch -if you had to choose.
csissom
Member
Username: csissom

Post Number: 59
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Thursday, April 27, 2006 - 10:08 pm:   Edit Post

Well... gee whiz guys...

I was about convinced to put a bid on this Distillate, but now you have me second guessing myself again!

Seriously, I appreciate all the help everyone is giving me here, and I take it all very seriously. But in my normal confused state, I am still not sure why I should hold off on this one.

Here is where my thinking had led me until this last round of input:

1) First of all, with guidance from all of you, and a lot of research on this site over the last few days, I have really narrowed in on what I want in the next bass I buy. In fact, I am starting to be rather particular about what I want. And considering the whole package; neck construction, electronics, scale length, body style, price range, etc etc, the one perfect bass for me right now, is a Distillate. I can go into more detail about what I want and why, but suffice to say, any thing else would likely be missing something I like about the Distillate.

2) So given that, I think the only thing really wrong with this particular Distillate, is the stupid HG inlays (and a few minor marks on the back). Is someone seeing something else wrong with this I am missing?

3) Valentino said the repair would not be difficult, and that any competent luthier could handle it easily. Now, based on everything I am led to believe about the Alembic staff, I assume if this type of repair were bad for the bass, he would have said so. If the repair were tricky, or if I was likely to not like the results, I think Val would have said so. Val, if I am making the wrong assumption here, please let me know.

4) So, as I said before, my thinking is to negotiate with the seller, to cover the cost of the work within whatever I pay on the eBay auction. And that seemed like a good idea at the time.

5) So in pursuit of that, the seller took the bass to a local luthier to get an estimate. I got the luthier's number and spoke to him at length on the phone. He does seem competent and reliable, and has been in business in that same place for 25 or so years. He confirmed what Val said, that it would be an easy repair, and he assured me there would be no sign of the seams which could be seen without a magnifying glass.

6) Yes, he is a luthier I don't know, but any luthier would be one I don't know, since, well, I don't happen to know any luthiers personally.

7) Ummmm... what am I missing here?

Given all this, is it still such a bad deal?

By the way 8 String King, if there was another thread about this bass, I would sure like to see it. But at your suggestion, I spent a good while tonight searching out every post on this site which refers to Distillates, and I could not find anything that referred to this particular bass. I did however learn a lot. I did see that Distillates pop up for sale from time to time. But I also saw some long dry spells. I can wait, to an extent, but I really don't want to wait several months to move on with this purchase. (it looks like I missed out on one sweet deal in February, but oh well, I guess that was not my destiny... but other than that one, I really didn't see many deals a whole lot better than this one in the last couple of years.)

But, on the other hand, I do still worry about it, about things like, will those plugs pop out in the Texas heat or whatever.

As for doing business on eBay in general, I understand the risks, but I am somewhat comfortable in that mode, I have done a good bit of business there, and have had pretty good luck. I bought my first Alembic on eBay and it turned out wonderfully. Of course the seller was also a Club member, and I realize that makes some difference.

So... I continue to agonize over my decision...

And I'm sorry for cluttering the board with this huge post, but, as always, any comments are welcome and appreciated.

Curt
bob
Senior Member
Username: bob

Post Number: 635
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Friday, April 28, 2006 - 12:49 am:   Edit Post

Curt, I want to be careful to be clear here. I'm not you, I'm not looking for a bass at all at this time, and in particular I hate disagreeing with Joey :-)

But based on what you've said here, I think you should proceed.

Personally, I would have preferred to get a reduction in price, and find a local luthier to replace the inlays. But since you've spoken to the guy and seem comfortable with it, I think that's fine. Like Val said, it's not a big deal.

You probably will be able to see it (even without a magnifying glass), but only if you look - and I think you'll be having too much fun playing to bother.

Don't worry about the length of your post. It resulted in a lot of useful, summary information in the early stages (possibly worth referencing in the FAQ section?). I would suggest that in the future, you might be a little more patient, and combine your responses into a single post rather than 2 or 3 in a row, but that's a small thing.

Analyze all you like (that can be worthwhile), but in the end I suggest you trust your gut instincts, and it sounds to me like they say go for it.
-Bob
lbpesq
Senior Member
Username: lbpesq

Post Number: 1249
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Friday, April 28, 2006 - 7:09 am:   Edit Post

Curt, you convinced me. If you're comfortable with the bass and the price, go for it and good luck! Heck, why not even keep the initials: "Happy Guy"! LOL

Bill, tgo
csissom
Member
Username: csissom

Post Number: 61
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Friday, April 28, 2006 - 7:15 am:   Edit Post

Bill,

The seller speculated it might be Jerry's lesser known cousin, "Harry Garcia" ...

Curt
davehouck
Moderator
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 3720
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Friday, April 28, 2006 - 7:25 am:   Edit Post

Curt; for me, Val's post about the repair carries a lot of weight. And in your summary post it sounds to me that you have carefully weighed all the facts and have come to a reasonable decision.

The one point about using a local luthier is that you could actually walk into the shop and the luthier could show you the pieces of ebony to be used for the repair, and you would be able to see how well they match up before hand. But it sounds like you have done your homework and that you are comfortable with the luthier with whom you have discussed the repair.

Again, I found Val's post on the matter to be quite helpful. I think that his statement that "a competent luthier should be able to handle it easily" is reassuring.
lbpesq
Senior Member
Username: lbpesq

Post Number: 1250
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Friday, April 28, 2006 - 10:30 am:   Edit Post

No, not Harry Garcia. This one obviously belonged to Harry Gondorf, lead con man in "The Sting". So you didn't know Alembic was making electric basses in the 1930's? This is a little known fact. Perhaps people aren't aware that Alembic made instruments back then because nobody had invented the bass guitar amp yet!

Bill, tgo
the_8_string_king
Intermediate Member
Username: the_8_string_king

Post Number: 156
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Friday, April 28, 2006 - 12:37 pm:   Edit Post

Your reasoning seems clear, and you've done your homework. So by all means, follow your best judgement and grab the sucker if that's what you want. Your plan seems sound, and only you can say what is best for you.

Again, best of wishes.

PS, I THOUGHT I'd seen a prior post having that bass for sale on some prior thread while I was just recently fishing around; but I tried to find it again, and I couldn't, and I'm currently doped up on painkillers, so it's possible my mental efficacy was comprimised and I "blended" infomation or made some error in reasoning. At this point, I'd say either case could be the truth.

But hey, it's cool you did some fishing too, and found out a little more info about Distillates.

You'll be very happy when you score one, they're awesome, and one of the best Alembic electronics packages. Again, the Europa/Rogue electronics are the modern version of the Distillate package, simply upgrading the pickup selector to a full pan/balance control. This is probably Alembics most popular electronics package -due to the tremendous combined versatility of the Alembic low-pass filter and Q AND the additional flexibility/tweakability of the bass & treble "quick-change" "boost/cut" switches. It's pretty hard to beat for a basic package; the only real upgrade is to go custom and/or Series. The EMW package is similar, but has the improved flexibility of bass and treble KNOBS.

Anyway, best of luck with your quest for a Distillate, and whatever decision you come to. A Distillate will serve you well!
bigredbass
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 756
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Friday, April 28, 2006 - 6:13 pm:   Edit Post

And hey, it's none of my business!!

It truly sounds like you've done a BUNCH of homework on this deal (speaking to the principals on the phone, etc.) so if you feel good about it, GO for it, and hope it turns out to be a great deal for you.

Bob, you can disagree with me any time you want, I've certainly come to value your advice.

J o e y
csissom
Member
Username: csissom

Post Number: 71
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Monday, May 01, 2006 - 3:38 pm:   Edit Post

Oh well... it looks like some other bidder valued the HG Distillate a bit more than I did, so I wish him well with his new Alembic.

So that means I'm still in the market!

I also wanted to say how much I appreciate all the sharing of knowledge in this thread. I now know exactly what I am looking for in my next Alembic. I hope you all realize what a good thing you have going here with all this access to experienced owners, players and company staff. This type of community is rare.

Curt
the_8_string_king
Intermediate Member
Username: the_8_string_king

Post Number: 160
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Monday, May 01, 2006 - 8:38 pm:   Edit Post

You're sure right about that Curt. There is a wonderful community here, and it's super cool that people can share their experiences, insights, and perspectives. I believe it's a great benefit to us all -and it makes sense especially considering the NATURE of Alembic.

Alembic is a wonderful great experiment (at least to some extent) -and an interactive and collaborative experiment. (One I'm sure we'd all agree is a resounding success!!!)

One of the primary benefits of civilization is the ability for people to acquire and share information (and experiences).

Alembics experience -based on experiences with other customers- was invaluable in contributing to me getting my dream bass. I'm in debt to countless people I don't even know.

It's nice to give a little back, and to share with those who sincerely appreciate it, and who will use it to help get their dream instruments. I'm sure I'm not the only one who sees it this way.

Again, best of luck. Be patient, "all things come to he who waits." (Well, maybe not ALL things, butcha'll get'cher Alembic when the time is right).

And again, also keep your eyes open for the occaissional Essence and/or Elan with the Europa upgrades, which, depending on specs, might be as good or better -and only you can say.

Take care!
michoid
New
Username: michoid

Post Number: 6
Registered: 4-2006
Posted on Tuesday, May 02, 2006 - 4:56 pm:   Edit Post

Well guys I have put my Elan for trading here last week. Got an offer for trading with an Epic, and another offer from a gentlemen who would buy it.

I had no idea of the value of my Elan. Today, I had the bass evaluate by a couple of stores who frequently sell Alembic since I had an offer from a potencial buyer. They go around for between 1500 to 1900$ market value and sometimes much lower.

______
store 1-Your used Alembic Elan 5 string bass could probably be sold used at this time for approximately $1999.00.

store 2 -I will tell you that the last Used Elan 5 with LEDís sold for about $1200-$1500 and took a long time to find an interested party.
___

I paid 2,429.99 in 89 for that thing. Just found my invoice. It's obvious it wouldn't be wise to sell it, regarding the quality of it. There is no way I'm gonna get a similar instruments with 1500$ in my pocket. I would have to add at least 2000$.

I contacted Alembic a couples of years ago to have it convert to 4 strings, they asked just about the actual value of it to do the job!

My Elan:

Elan 5 strings
with the original warranty card. Bought new in 1989 at Steve's; in Toronto. Serial num: 88H5062 date: 9-9-88
- two-tone burl walnut top
- maple body
- maple neck fully laminated purple heart, maple.
- chrome GOTOH tuners
- brass bridge and bird tailpiece
-P and J pickups. 3 knobs 1 q switch.

THE NARROW NECK. Pretty much a 4 strings neck with 5 strings. Fast and solid but no-way to slap with it.

There is no way I'm going to sell that fine instrument for the price I just bought my G&L 4 strings a month ago, wich is certainly not in the same league as my Elan, regarding playability and overall craftmanship!

Now I really don't know what to do anymore.
Fact is , I need an alembic 4 strings.

Desparated Michel, Montreal.
mica
Moderator
Username: mica

Post Number: 3277
Registered: 6-2000
Posted on Tuesday, May 02, 2006 - 5:15 pm:   Edit Post

There is more than one way to convert to a 4-string. When you ask us about retrofit work, we give you a detailed estimate about the price and the exact nature of the work.

Since we are a manufacturer, we approach jobs like this as "remanufacturing" -- to make it as if we had made it like that in the first place. I would usually quote this job to include plugging the holes in the peghead, reveneering the peghead, refinishing the peghead, and redrilling. That isn't a small amount of work. Plus you need all new hardware.

Probably the best thing to do is to find a good local repair person that you can trust. They can buy any parts they need for the job from us. Then you won't have added freight costs and customs hassles either.

If you want to get this done more cheaply, you can
buy a new tailpiece, bridge and string nut for around $550. You can probably use 4 of the existing tuners, and make posts to redirect the angle coming off the tuners. This isn't how we would do this kind of repair, but I have seen other basses with treatments like this.

The other way is to be a little patient and see if there's another Alembic owner out there that is looking for your bass that has a similar 4-string to swap with you. It may not be instant, but I have seen many happy swaps take place on this very website.

Good luck - there's always more than one way to solve a problem.
bigredbass
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 767
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Tuesday, May 02, 2006 - 9:37 pm:   Edit Post

I'm with Mica - there's always a way.

I don't know if you're under some sort of time constraint to get this done NOW, I get that impression, I could easily be wrong.

I believe the common experience of most of us here is one of two ways: Either you've got the $$ to order a custom or buy an in-stock piece at a dealer, or you're going to look in the used market, like I have.

When it comes to hunting for just the right piece used, it just takes a while. No two of these basses are exactly alike. Your Elan is a perfect example: Not a lot of Elan 5s with deluxe laminates, but certainly desirable for anyone looking for a PJ5 Alembic.

It's NOTHING like looking for a gold-top LP or any other production instrument built in large numbers. And I've been buying and selling my own basses for over 20 years, and never once traded a bass for another with an individual. I think you can get this deal done, but it's gonna take a little time and investigation to get yourself to a situation that's right for you.

J o e y
michoid
New
Username: michoid

Post Number: 7
Registered: 4-2006
Posted on Wednesday, May 03, 2006 - 4:30 pm:   Edit Post

Thank you Mica and Joey for your reply,

As I mentionned, I have been thinking to have the Elan convert for quite a while, years in fact. I don't know if that would be a good thing really , still struggling with that..

I had never really wanted to part with it, the sound of it, the solidity, and losing the Low D. I love my Elan for the low D and the overall quality.

That is why, I bought the G&L, 4 strings, thinking it would do the job for the moment for slapping, and keep the Elan. But the G&L does not do the job.

Not that I ever thought the G&L would substitude for the Elan, but gee, when I go back to the Elan, that ebony, solid fingerboard, and vibrant body. ngnngngngggggg

I need a 4 string Alembic to progress with my slapping technic.

I cannot afford another Alembic for now,(wich would have been a used serie one, medium or short scale).

If I have the Elan convert or sell, I lose the low D, and still, cannot afford a 4 strings. I'm stuck, stuck, stuck.

So, I'm going to be patient. Maybe here or on ebay an affordable Distillate or serie 1 will appear. Then I suppose I would take a shot at it.

And maybe, just maybe, if I am very lucky, somebody here will be in need of a 5 strings, narrow spacing , and will offer a used Serie 1 or the equivalent in exchange. You never know...

Then I'd move, and forget about the Low D.

One thing I have decided though, I'm not going to settle for anything that doesn't level with the Elan. And it's a darn fine bass.

I'm going to sell the G&L though it's also fine instrument for the money.

Michel, Montreal.
bsee
Senior Member
Username: bsee

Post Number: 1144
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Wednesday, May 03, 2006 - 7:50 pm:   Edit Post

It's all in the eye of the owner. I have a Persuader 5 with deluxe laminates. I would say that it is every bit the bass that your Elan is as a player, though undoubtedly it has seen a bit more wear in its day. I wouldn't object to an offer of $1900 for the bass, but I didn't buy it new.

I appreciate your position, but you have to accept that the original owner of any Alembic bass takes a value hit. The typical Signature Deluxe bass of similar age sells in the $2500-3000 range where those instruments were in the $5000 range when purchased by their owners. You value your Elan above what the rest of the market does and that is fine. In fact, it's the same reason why most of us keep the instruments we have.

Here's where your logic goes a little off, though. You're talking about spending another $1000+ to turn your five string into a four. I don't believe that kind of major surgery is ever a good idea on any instrument. After spending your $1000, you will have created an Elan that is worth LESS on the open market than the instrument you started with. Check with your dealers, they will tell you that an Elan 5 goes for a few hundred more than a 4, new or used.

Of course, you've been discussing dealer sales. The dealer always gets a cut. You might see as much as $2500 from your bass if you sell it privately or on eBay, though that would be a stretch. You also might be able to pick up a similar bass in four strings for the same money. You're going to pay $200-500 to the dealer to sell your bass and that again when you buy a replacement. That could put you $1000 out of pocket for what should be an even trade in private deals.

With regard to a trade, you speak of Distillates or Series 1 instruments. A Distillate would be about even for an Elan, but a Series bass would have been double the price. You may want to recheck your expectations there. Also, there are a number of other models that would be more in line with your market. Rogues, Europas and Signature models are still "above" the Elan on the model chart and much closer in value than a Series instrument in good shape would be. The Essence is a fairly common instrument that would be about even, and probably the easiest for you to find in excellent shape at something like an even swap.

I wouldn't take the financial hit or risk of having your bass rebuilt into a 4. In your position, I would test market my bass privately in the price range that I would accept and see if there are any bites. I would also aggressively seek out trade offers or possible three-way deals around here to see if you can come out about even with an instrument that would satisfy you.

I'll give you one last thought. Bass Northwest has had an unusual Alembic 4 for at least a couple years. it is a painted finish bass that has lines similar to the Spector/Warwick, basses that were very common in the hands of serious slappers. I've never asked them about it, but I suspect that they might let it go for something around $3K, if not a couple hundred less due to the time it has spent on their wall.

-bob

Topics | Last Day | Last Week | Tree View | Search | Help/Instructions | Program Credits Administration