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Username: rockbassist

Post Number: 84
Registered: 8-2005
Posted on Saturday, August 05, 2006 - 8:02 pm:   Edit Post

About a year and a half ago I purchased a 97 Epic 5 string. I love this bass so much that I bought another one. I love the tone, feel, features and style more than any other bass I have ever played. While playing live and in the studio, I have never received so many compliments on my playing and on my tone. My question is if I upgrade how much better will my tone be? I like a bass with a full bottom and plenty of punch, AKA Marcus Miller's tone. I have played some of the Marcus Miller Fender Jazz Basses but they are very tinny sounding. I also have a 1976 Fender Precision which is great for certain songs in the studio. Just wondering what other Alembic players who also love Marcus' tone are playing. What basses, amps and settings?
Senior Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 524
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Sunday, August 06, 2006 - 3:58 am:   Edit Post

Although I'm a Clarkee fan primarily, I do love the sound and punch that Marcus gets from his fingers and his bass.

Last year i bought an Europa 5 and that has what I call a more "modern" Alembic tone. It has a bocate top, mahogany body, two purpleheart neck laminates and the Europa electronics package.

On the Europa I can get an exceptionally good Marcus Miller tone which I'm pleased with.

As for settings. I have the Q-switch off, pickups blend knob just past the middle detent towards the neck pickup, the filter about 8/10ths of the way to fully open.

One of the things I noticed about both Stanley and Marcus's styles is that they do dig in quite hard on the strings when grooving and they get that additional attack and percussive edge to the note before the full tone develops. With the Q-switch on I find that extra punch can be a bit overpowering to the sound.

I don't know much about the Epic basses as to whether they have the filter electronics or the bass and treble. I had the opportunity to try out an Orion bass which had bass and treble controls and although it sounded fantastic, it didn't have the tonal capabilities of alembics with the filters. If you are thinking of upgrading to those they I would recommend it.
Senior Member
Username: 811952

Post Number: 791
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Sunday, August 06, 2006 - 7:00 am:   Edit Post

I would recommend finding Alembic owners in your area and getting together for an Alembic fest. A/B as many different models as you can. Shouldn't be too difficult where you are. You may find that a Europa or Series is what you are looking for, or it may be that the Epic is the one for you. I would hate for you to sell the Epic to buy something different, only to discover that you like the sound of the Epic more. I agree with Jazzyvee that the filters give you FAR more flexibility than bass and treble controls. Good luck and keep us posted!
Username: jorge_s

Post Number: 90
Registered: 8-2002
Posted on Sunday, August 06, 2006 - 8:10 am:   Edit Post

Hey Kevin: I too love Marcus' sound. That guy has been an inspiration for many years. I've tried to imitate his tone but I just know that the sound is in his fingers. If you read the liner notes in his albums, he pretty much tells you what he uses. To my ears, it doesn't matter what brand of bass he is playing (Fender, Sadowsky, F-bass, etc..) it still sounds like him. Even with different amps, SWR, or EBS it is still Marcus. As far as an Alembic bass that is similar to his Fender with Sadowsky electronics check this one out.
The shape, bass and treble cut/boost, jazz bass p/u are similar to Sadowsky. A body made from Ash should also help. A set neck is a bit closer in sound to a bolt-on (I think). Plus it still has a filter giving the cool Alembic sound canvas.
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 4193
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Sunday, August 06, 2006 - 10:15 am:   Edit Post

I like Jorge's example. It seems to me in reading the posts to this forum over the years, that folks who own both tend to think that the set neck Alembics have more "punch" than the neck throughs. And the same can probably be said about Ash as a body wood. Here's what Mica has said about Ash:
Ash bodies are popular on many brands of bolt-on basses and guitars, and contributes to the focused midrange that folks who play these instruments enjoy. The effect is the same for Alembic instruments as well, and is greatest on our set neck models. Ash is found in a great variety of densities, and this will affect the tone greatly. The more dense, the brighter and snappier the sound, especially in the upper midrange.

You stated of your Epic that you "love the tone, feel, features and style more than any other bass I have ever played". So perhaps an Epic with an Ash body might be worth a try.

(Message edited by davehouck on August 06, 2006)
Advanced Member
Username: lidon2001

Post Number: 201
Registered: 4-2005
Posted on Sunday, August 06, 2006 - 10:42 am:   Edit Post

I second Dave's advice. Despite being neck through, my custom bass with an Ash body really does have a more Fender-like tone when compared with my Vermilion bodied MK. A very close P-bass tone on the solo neck pickup with Q swtich off, and it nails a J-bass on the bridge pickup, with varying degrees of mid boost using the Q and filter. Of course, I can get it to sound like an Alembic too, though my MK defintely has a more classic Alembic tone.

Since you are happy with your current basses, might an SF-2 help in your quest for the tone?


(Message edited by lidon2001 on August 06, 2006)
Senior Member
Username: keith_h

Post Number: 527
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Sunday, August 06, 2006 - 11:43 am:   Edit Post

As Jorge brought up a lot of the tone is in the fingers. An Ash body will help with getting a punchy-growly sound. This why I went for Ash on my fretless Orion. I don't know how much cavity space the Epic has but upgrading to EMW electronics might be an option. This will basically add a filter and Q switch to your existing controls extending the tonal range. As several folks have suggested you might try to play a few of the different models before deciding to get rid of the Epic. The amplifiers EQ will also have a big effect on the sound. A lot of slappers scoop the mid-range to give a full low end and a bright high end. So playing around with your rig might be more rewarding than changing basses.

Intermediate Member
Username: jseitang

Post Number: 165
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Sunday, August 06, 2006 - 12:42 pm:   Edit Post

hey has any one else have any experiences with an alembic with a cherry body? id like to hear from you guys.

(Message edited by jseitang on August 06, 2006)
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 934
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Sunday, August 06, 2006 - 5:44 pm:   Edit Post

Cherry would remind you of maple, but it's heavier generally.

Ash (especially Swamp Ash) is WAY overlooked in our end of things, amidst cocbolo, etc., but it's no wonder EXCELs pack QUITE a punch, pairing a FatBoy and an Ash body.

I'd think a template chasing a Marcus sound from a build standpoint would include the white woods (maple, ash, etc.) and 'narrow aperture' pickups such as AXYs/MXYs or of course the Activator J's in a set neck instrument.

J o e y
Username: rockbassist

Post Number: 85
Registered: 8-2005
Posted on Friday, August 11, 2006 - 9:16 pm:   Edit Post

I like John's post (aka 811952) The problem is that I am the only Alembic user that I know. I recently sold another Epic to a guy who graduated from Berklee College of Music but we are the only Alembic users that we know of. He loves the bass that I sold him but I like the one I kept better. I love the sound, design and feel of my Epic. I realize that it is not even close to being a "Top Of The Line" Alembic but it is still the best bass I have ever played. Thanks for everyone's input.
Username: rockbassist

Post Number: 86
Registered: 8-2005
Posted on Friday, August 11, 2006 - 9:23 pm:   Edit Post

I realize that a lot of tone is in the fingers, Also, Marcus uses EBS Amps and Cabs while many of us use Ampeg, Eden, Ashdown or Gallien Krueger. None of us will ever truly duplicate the tone of our favorite players. I am just looking for some suggestions as to what works for some of the "veteran" Alembic users. Personally, I love the style, feel and tone of my Epic and wouldn't trade it for a bass costing 5 times as much.
Username: worldfamousandy

Post Number: 68
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Saturday, August 12, 2006 - 9:18 am:   Edit Post

The EBS MultiComp pedal has a setting on it called "multiband," and they definitely could have labeled it "Marcus Miller setting." It surely aims to mimic his sound. Of course, his voice really comes from inside him, but he certainly employs compression to help him acheive his trademark sound. I've tried it through several different rigs, and it always reminds me of Marcus's tone. If you really want that punch, a 4X10 cab is probably your best bet.

Username: keurosix

Post Number: 57
Registered: 10-2005
Posted on Tuesday, August 15, 2006 - 9:41 pm:   Edit Post

I currently own an Europa 6 string and an Epic 5 string fretless. I previously owned a Series 1 4 string and the John Judge doubleneck Series 2 now owned by Speiky. I find the Epic to have an infectious pronounced mid-rangey tone not present in the neck-thrus. While the bass & treble controls don't quite have the tonal meat of the Q filter, you can rely on your preamp to bite deeper in the sound if needed. An SF-2 would be best to get the tone you are looking for. I have to disagree with you statement that the Epic is not even close to being "Top of the Line" - It's an Alembic - it plays like no other, and there are finite touches in the craftsmanship equal to the Series guitars. A whole lot of tone can be had from some minor tweeking of P/U height, trim-pot adjustments, and action settings. The set-neck has warmth for days - something a bolt-on just can't do.
Username: rockbassist

Post Number: 87
Registered: 8-2005
Posted on Thursday, August 24, 2006 - 5:26 am:   Edit Post

Thanks for all the input. I am going to try to find some Alembic owners locally and get together.
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 989
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Thursday, August 24, 2006 - 6:13 pm:   Edit Post

As there are SO many used Jazzes out there, find one you really like and update it with Jazz Activators!! THEY sure as hell won't sound tinny!!

J o e y

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