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Alembic Club » Alembic Basses & Guitars » Archive: 2007 » Archive through January 09, 2007 » Reaching 1st fret on Balance K vs Europa « Previous Next »

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Advanced Member
Username: the_8_string_king

Post Number: 291
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Saturday, December 30, 2006 - 9:19 am:   Edit Post

I have an important question for club members.

Ideally, the question is posed specifically to other members who have both a 34 inch Europa, and a 34 inch Balance K (assuming normal/standard setups on each).

The question is simple: is the "reach" required to access the 1st fret equal -or does one of these models require more "reach"?

I want to make sure my new custom -which I've spec'd as a Balance K with standard placement for pickups, bridge, and tailpiece- will be easier to access than my extra-long 35 inch 8-String Europa.

Because (despite the extra-long factor) the tailpiece on my Europa (and most others from pictures I've seen) is real close to the end of the body, and the tailpiece on the Balance K seems to be "in" several inches from the edge, it seems natural to wonder if greater reach would be required, and if I should consider asking them to reposition the fingerboard in further at the expense of the Omega (which I'd hate to do).

But there are other considerations that affect reach; I know the Balance K has a longer horn (which brings the 1st fret closer). But then the other point of contact for the strap on the body, and the length/shape/specifics of the body(ies) must be a factor too, right?

That's why I'm asking any who KNOW... preferably anyone who currently owns each of these, and who therefore is in the optimal position to comment

Can anyone tell me whether a standard 34 inch scale Balance K requires -to reach the 1st fret- MORE reach, the SAME amount of reach, or LESS reach -than what's required to reach the 1st fret of a standard 34 inch Europa?

I'd really appreciate feedback on this, as it's an essential point of my custom -which is on hold till I get this question answered!!!
Senior Member
Username: bsee

Post Number: 1427
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Saturday, December 30, 2006 - 9:49 am:   Edit Post

Here's what I believe to be true...

The longer the upper horn, the shorter the reach to the first fret. You could go for the Val-like extended upper horn to reduce the reach further than on a standard model.

At the other end, the further the lower strap pin is beyond the bridge, the longer the reach should be. I'm not sure where they put the strap pin on an Omega bass.
Senior Member
Username: bob

Post Number: 791
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Saturday, December 30, 2006 - 9:50 pm:   Edit Post

Yes. And to expand on that, what it really comes down to is where the body hangs or sits on you, right to left.

Clearly, for the same scale length, the distance between your right and left hands will be the same when playing. Take the same bass, put a longer horn on it, play it standing up (so it's hanging from the strap), and it will shift to your right, assuming you're right handed. This will reduce your reach to the first fret, but also put your right hand in a different plucking position (probably more comfortable).

On the other hand, if you mostly play in a seated position, the only thing that really matters is where the curve is in the lower body wing. That will determine how far the bass is shifted right or left relative to your reach and plucking positions.

For the strap hanging case, you can also fool around a bit with the lower/bottom strap button position, as well as the horn length, but this is a little tricky and not many people seem to do it.
Advanced Member
Username: the_8_string_king

Post Number: 295
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Saturday, December 30, 2006 - 11:47 pm:   Edit Post

Bobs, thanks for the replys.

I pretty much already understood the points of post 791, though. And, at the risk of sounding ungracious or smart-alecky (and I'm neither, honest!) it didn't help. (Please don't take it the wrong way, I really appreciate you responding, and also the input of other club members, who I wouldn't want to scare off!)

It's just that... the question remains... is the reach required to play the 1st fret of a long scale Balance K more, the same, or less than that required for a Europa.

But hey, Bsee, I do appreciated the idea of extending the horn -which, duh, seems kinda obvious... but it didn't occur to me. So I'm glad you mentioned it!

Yeah, I should be able to keep that Balance K with the Omega that I want. I've seen Alembic work enough wonders to know adding a little length should be easy for 'em -especially since they've done a couple recently.

I've warmed up to the pistol grip thing, which initially didn't charm my personal subjective aesthetics; but I'd probably prefer the cheapest and simplist extention that didn't detract from the design aesthetic.

Anyway, I appreciate BOTH you guys responding. Thanks. I still need an answer to the question, but I appreciate you pointing out an obvious solution that hadn't dawned on me -assuming there's a need for a "solution", maybe there isn't a problem.

I don't have it in front of me, but Mica actually E-mail and/or posted the "horn/fret placement" of the 2 models, and I believe the Balance K has the horn reaching 1 fret closer to the nut; but then it seems like the other strap-point must be "further" (from the nut) -since is goes an inch or two further "out" from the tailpiece (than on the Europa)... it looks like the best it could do would "balance out" (no pun intended).

And/but there might be other factors that I'm not taking into account, things I don't know, and/or errors in reasoning that I'm making! I've had these things happen upon occaision, and while I'm happy to report exceedingly low incidence, I can't say it's 100%!

So that's why I'm asking if there's anyone out there who DOES KNOW, who can answer.

Answer, great ones, answer!!!

Thanks again, all.

PS. Bsee, you mentioned on another thread (the one about pickups, I think?) that'cha thought the reach was about the same, didn't 'cha? Can you give me any more detail/info?
Senior Member
Username: olieoliver

Post Number: 1040
Registered: 2-2006
Posted on Sunday, December 31, 2006 - 6:07 am:   Edit Post

Hi Mark, I don't have a Europa but of the Alembic I have I will say that the extended upper horn really makes it more comfortable to reach the 1st fret. Expecially on the lower strings.
I have a Balance K 5 and a Standard Omega with an extended upper horn that are both very easy to play the lower range. I also have a Standard Point Body -5 and you can really the reach differnce after 45 minutes of playing.

On a side note, I oftened wondered the reach factor on the Dingwall's with fanned frets. I always thought they should be fanned wider at the 1st string. Seems the reach would be easier that way. But what do I know, I just play don't build 'em.
Advanced Member
Username: the_8_string_king

Post Number: 300
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Sunday, December 31, 2006 - 4:32 pm:   Edit Post

Thanks for adding your thoughts, Ollie. Though no one has really answered my question/given me the definitive answer I was looking for, it is starting to sound like I'm going to need to be discussing extended horn options with Mica.

I'm confident, given whom I'm dealing with, that it shouldn't pose much challenge for them to come up with a slightly longer horn, if necessary. Hopefully a simple solution could be formulated that would fit with the design aesthetic while being simple and requiring minimal or no additional labor/cost.

Anyone else? Any Alembic owners who own both a 34 inch Europa and a 34 inch Balance K, and who can give a comparison? I'd think there'd be at least a couple, with the many multi-model owners here.

As a side note, these two are my favorite Alembic shapes of all time. I absolutely love the Europa, and it was my favorite until the sculptural beauty of the Balance K Omega (and Heart Omegas, Stinger variants also, to be sure). (The old Scorpian Omega would be a very close 3rd favorite.)

I just think the Balance K has the most absolutely awesome look. It simultaneously does several significant things visually.

First and foremost, it has a distinct ALEMBIC look to it; it captures the classic Alembic look, feel and style; but it has a futuristic, highly-evolved appearance which just screams "ultimate blend of form and function." At least that's what it looks like. But the many testemonials and raves from members/owners here leave little doubt that it is as awesome functionally as it is aesthetically/visually.

So I'm happy that, worst case scenario, I should be able to keep the Balance K Omega body, and just extend the horn a little! Real happy!

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