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Username: henny

Post Number: 3
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Saturday, November 18, 2006 - 12:01 pm:   Edit Post

Hello guys!

New here, a recent Rickenbacker convert. A fantastic forum you have, I hope I'm welcome.

I'm looking into purchasing an Alembic Elan 4, with the soapbar-esque low-impedance pickups. The body/neck is maple, it has three pots and a selector switch with a standard jack output.

In a couple of sentences, could you describe to me the sounds a bass of this kind might be cabaple of? Could it approximate the Rickenbacker sound to a good degree for example, or perhaps a throaty P-Bass sound?

I know Alembics are renowned for being very hi-fi, clean-sounding instruments, but if I am to acquire one, I'll need it to attain the trebly, growl-like, often overdriven tones which my greatest influences achieved over the years, Chris Squire and John Wetton being a couple.

Thanks for your insights in helping out a new guy. :-)
Senior Member
Username: keavin

Post Number: 956
Registered: 12-2002
Posted on Saturday, November 18, 2006 - 12:32 pm:   Edit Post

They sound'll love it Man!....oh & welcome!.
Senior Member
Username: 57basstra

Post Number: 500
Registered: 4-2005
Posted on Saturday, November 18, 2006 - 5:27 pm:   Edit Post

Welcome to the club, Mark .

I have never played an Elan, so I'm not the one to address that question. I am sure they are really top notch.
Username: inthelows

Post Number: 50
Registered: 11-2006
Posted on Saturday, November 18, 2006 - 6:57 pm:   Edit Post

Welcome to the club henny! I've had p-basses and still have a 72' 4001. Alembics have their own sound and like all instruments, each has unique qualities. The bottem end is clean and big. The high end is very crisp and to overdrive it would take a preamp. A tube one works very nice for overdrive. In alot of Wetton's tunes it's not so much the fact it's overdriven as much as it's the separation of low and high ends most people weren't used to hearing and with a hard percussive attack those strings really rock. Oh by the way I use a spoiler!
Happy Hunting
Advanced Member
Username: the_8_string_king

Post Number: 219
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Saturday, November 18, 2006 - 7:35 pm:   Edit Post

Hi Mark. Welcome to the club. At this point, I have 1 Alembic, a custom 8-String Europa -COTM (custom of the month) June 1999. But I'm planning on ordering my second soon, which will be a replacement for my stolen 6-string Elan Plus, which was an awesome bass.

The Elan is a great bass -as are all Alembic neck-thrus. First of all, the High Priestess of Bass, Mica, has told me that neck-thrus tend to naturally have the "smile" (eq) curve... that is, the highs and lows are pronounced, while the mid-range is less emphasized. Ricks are famous for this sound... and it is largely a function of having neck-thru construction. I believe that Ricks also have maple necks. The Elan was built standard with maple for the body material, and I think a 3 piece rock maple neck was standard for the Elan -although I think I've seen a few that have 5-piece necks with 2 purpleheart laminates. (Most Alembics have mahogany bodies).

Maple is known for being consistently bright; so Elans should tend to have a "smile curve" type of sound with lots of brightness; this was certainly the case with mine -but that also had a (quilted) maple top.

Keep in mind, that on Alembic basses, the electronics and the neck materials are the two biggest components of the sound... and then the body material, and then the top wood.

Unless you've happened upon some sort of custom variant, it's virtually certain this Elan would have an all-maple neck and a maple body, so it would be adept at having a Rick-type sound.

It would probably tend to sound a bit brighter with the Q on and the filter in the extreme treble position, but if you were to roll the filter a little, it would likely sound close to a Rick.

Alembics are EXTREMELY flexible tonally; the low-pass filter and Q switch they use as their main tone control setup allow them to capture the sound(s) of many different basses.

If you roll the filter a little farther down, with the Q on in the mid-range, it can pull out a pretty Fender-esque sound.

By the way, you referred to a "selector switch." This is probably the "Q" switch. While some of the older Elans had ONLY 3 tone control knobs (I think they were volume/volume/filter), most Elans have 3 knobs (master volume, balance, filter) and a 2-position toggle switch, which is the "Q" switch. The Q is not a selector switch. If you don't know what it is, ask around, 'cause it's an essential part of the Alembic sound.

Elans are great basses; but if you're considering one, you might want to educate yourself about the differences between the Elan, and the Europa -which is generally considered superior, and more versatile- just to make sure you get what you want.

The main differences between the 2 (other than the Europa being more in-demand, and having a higher price tag, in general) are: (1) the Europa has a mahogany body, which is considered warmer/rounder but less bright; (2) Europas have 2 extra "quick change"/"boost/cut" switches (which can boost/cut the bass and treble frequencies +/- 6 db; and (3) most Elans do NOT have the brass sustain block that is standard on Europas and most other Alembic neck-thrus -and so the sustain, while probably better than most other non-Alembics, would not be as good as Alembic models that DO have the sustain block.

The Elan is a great bass, far superior to 99.9 % of the other basses floating around out there.

And I can tell you from experience that it should be reasonably capable of coming close to the sounds of the Fender and Rick basses.

It would be a big step up.

P.S. one other thing I didn't tell you much about is the effect of the top wood on the bass. While considered one of the least significant factors, it does influence the sound. If you tell us the topwood, we might be able to give you a little more information...

Take care, good luck, best wishes, keep us informed!


(Message edited by the 8 string king on November 18, 2006)
Username: chuck

Post Number: 29
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Saturday, November 18, 2006 - 9:00 pm:   Edit Post

Mark. as the owner of an elan 4 I can truly say that i have never owned a more versatile bass. Mine is the plus model which is equiptet with euorpa electronics.I have owned a lot of basses in 45 years of playing.I am not a very techinal person but with my ampeg svt 3 pro amp with built in tube pre amp and equlizer I have never not been able to produce any sound I wanted. Mark is right about elans being bright but with a little work and the right amp you will get the sound you want.The maple neck and body give the bass a very fast attack even when you are playing at the very low end of the spectrum I use pyrimid gold flats and even with these the punch is great.------------chuck
Username: henny

Post Number: 4
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Sunday, November 19, 2006 - 2:17 am:   Edit Post

Fantastic posts, cheers guys!

chuck - Nice to hear from other Elan 4 owners!

the_8_string_king - Exactly what I needed to hear, thanks a lot. :-)

Indeed, I've got a lot of learning to do. Alembics are so technical! As fortune would have it, I found myself playing the Elan just last night and I must say I was astounded at the array of tones it could conjure.


I'm definitely going to pull the trigger as it seems the right Alembic for me at this time. :-)
Advanced Member
Username: pace

Post Number: 279
Registered: 4-2004
Posted on Sunday, November 19, 2006 - 6:27 am:   Edit Post

Go for it Henny!

Compared to a standard issue P or J bass, you're going to find that there's a lot more harmonic content in an Alembic thanks to the electronics, so anything "throaty" "overdriven" or "growly" might be hard to dial in w/out help from your amp or EQ...
Username: gtrguy

Post Number: 99
Registered: 9-2004
Posted on Monday, November 20, 2006 - 8:50 am:   Edit Post

I like my Elan (a six string) and I would say it really has 'piano-like tone'. Very pure. It has a wide variety of tone shift with the controls. It is squeaky clean sounding and needs to be played according. It does not sound like a series Alembic
or a Ric. Lots of folks buy them and end up selling them a year or two later for some reason. The action and neck are superb, but the neck is too narrow for a six string for slap for me. I also have a Yamaha TRB 6P six string neck-through and a TRB 4P and love them to death. Both are great, just differant.
Intermediate Member
Username: keurosix

Post Number: 123
Registered: 10-2005
Posted on Monday, November 20, 2006 - 7:04 pm:   Edit Post

Welcome to the club. I am a former Rick convert, being a Chris Squire fan from way back. You still want that sound? Easy. Stick with Rotosound round wounds, and the Elan will knock your socks off! 8-String King Mark has said it all! You won't find a better more eloquent expert in this club! My 2 cents: I have a 6 string Europa with a quilted maple top. It's really bright sounding. I chose Alembic's own string the CX-3, which has an elliptical wrap. It's most like a pressure-wound string with the final wrap not being perfectly round. I believe it is also a nickel string, at least the outer wrap, but it performs like a round wound. They last a long time, and are gentle on frets. It works for me. One thing you will notice about Alembic electronics: They are very bright - loads of top end response, and clean, clean, clean! You can easily compensate for dead strings by adding a bit more high frequencies through with the Q filter control. For "Rick" sound, a maple top would do really nice, but an Elan should be as close as you can get with the maple neck and body. Ricks have a Rosewood fingerboard - most Alembics have an ebony board which really strengthens the tone. I think Rosewood might be a bit more mushy in the mids. Whatever wood differences, the Alembic electronics more than make up for it. One guitarist I jammed with heard my Dean Edge bass, then my Alembic, and he commented the Alembic sounds "processed". You can definitely get the trebley growl with just a tweak of the filter knob. For the overdriven sound, there are a lot of amps on the market with a tube preamp and pre and post gains. These can easily overdrive and get the sound you want. For example, I have an SWR SM400 and an SWR Workingman 12 amp. Both can get really overdriven by boosting the pre gain. Check here in the club postings for what amps are used, and you will see many different rigs.
Go for it! You won't be disappointed!

(Message edited by keurosix on November 20, 2006)
Username: ghost

Post Number: 7
Registered: 9-2006
Posted on Tuesday, November 21, 2006 - 12:45 am:   Edit Post

I have had a 5 string Alembic Elan for around 5 years, an played it in Salsa Bands, blues Rock bands and currently country/folk band. Even though I now use an alembic 6 string custom for most gigs i still take the Elan out ocassionally.
Its tonal range is good (not quite as good as series 2 electrics), but I love the tight crisp sound that I get from it and the bass really cuts though. I dont slap bass so can't say what it would be like for that. The neck is a dream and with the low action it really suits the finger style that I play.
Username: henry_crun

Post Number: 1
Registered: 12-2006
Posted on Saturday, December 30, 2006 - 3:21 pm:   Edit Post

Hi all
I've recently replaced my Rick 4001 with a 1989 Elan 5-string. It's magnificent - a worthy successor to the much-loved 4001!
Using Rotosound strings as recommended above. Similar sound-style to the Rick but I've had many comments about my improved sound. Using SWR 350X and Goliath 3 rig.
Intermediate Member
Username: keurosix

Post Number: 142
Registered: 10-2005
Posted on Saturday, December 30, 2006 - 6:13 pm:   Edit Post

Hi Grant,
Welcome to the club, and Alembic ownership! When you get a chance, post a new thread in the "Introductions" to introduce yourself officially to all the club members. Also, post a pic as soon as possible of your Elan 5 string in the "Showcase" section. I bet you know already how much the Elan has improved your sound over the Ric. More clarity, power, tonality, balls, etc.. Your SWR rig will do it justice!
Senior Member
Username: dannobasso

Post Number: 433
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Saturday, December 30, 2006 - 8:32 pm:   Edit Post

I have an Elan 6 w europa upgrade a bunch of other Alembics and a 4003 w ric o sound. While the Ric is good to have, it pales in comparison to my Alembics. I really have to mess with the superfilter on my rig to make it sound as full as my other basses. i do jam along with prog stuff with the ric but i don't gig with it. You will embark on a whole new world of tone. It also forces you to refine your technique. You can't cheat on one of these babies. I've often let guys try mine out and they usually sound really bad on them. Then they get miffed when I tell them its their playing. Enjoy and be warned..... they are highly addictive. Hi my name is Danno and I'm an Alembiholic!
Advanced Member
Username: the_8_string_king

Post Number: 293
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Saturday, December 30, 2006 - 8:59 pm:   Edit Post

Another Kiwi with an Alembic, eh? Congrats, the Elan is a great bass, and a 5-string is a wonderful thing. I just ordered a replacement for my stolen Elan 6-String.

Welcome to the club!
Username: henry_crun

Post Number: 5
Registered: 12-2006
Posted on Sunday, December 31, 2006 - 11:07 am:   Edit Post

Hi all

Pic and intro on introductions page.


Username: eligilam

Post Number: 29
Registered: 2-2006
Posted on Monday, January 01, 2007 - 7:32 am:   Edit Post

I keep my Alembic Stanley on one stand and my old beat-up Ric 4003 right next to it.

In my opinion, there is no way to duplicate the "Cygnus X-1" sound on anything but the Ric...the Ric sounds downright offensive and raunchy.

However, the Alembic fills out the rest of the entire tonal spectrum beautifully. As far as I'm concerned, they're both heads of the Cerebrus of bass.
Username: dtrice

Post Number: 13
Registered: 10-2006
Posted on Friday, January 12, 2007 - 7:11 pm:   Edit Post

I admit I love my Alembic Spyder's feel and balance.
Before I purchased it my main bass was my '77 Rick 4001 with a toaster pickup in the neck position, its tone is awesome as Rick-owners know. The problem is I can't copy it with my Alembic. If I could get this Alembic to have the Ric sound I would have the ultimate bass (to my ears). Anyone know of where I should start as far as EQ or overdrive to get closer?
Username: o1967442

Post Number: 12
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Tuesday, January 16, 2007 - 9:20 am:   Edit Post

I would say that each ALEMBIC has it's own identity. Although compared to most other basses the ALEMBICS have outstanding clarity in the tone.
I am bias - I have three ELANS and always keep an eye out for more...
One has the PJ setup, no switches - sweet tone great slapper! Hard rock maple and burl walnut woods.
Each of the others have sopabar pick-ups. Each different in thier configurations but always true to the tone!!!!!!
Good Luck!

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