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Alembic Club » Alembic Basses & Guitars » Archive through January 07, 2011 » Archive: 2009 » Archive through December 21, 2009 » SC Brown Bass compared to J style bass « Previous Next »

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Username: jeware

Post Number: 2
Registered: 8-2009
Posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - 10:43 am:   Edit Post

Can anyone compare the sound and playability of a SC short scale Brown bass with that of a J style bass such as the Sadowsky J bass or a Lakland Joe Osborn bass?

I like the idea of a short scale bass, but I've never heard the SC bass so I'm not sure if I can get the same sound from the SC as I can with a J style bass. I play mostly classic rock, funk, soul and R&B so the SC would need to sound at least as good as the J bass.

Also, what about the weight of the SC bass? My Lakland is just over 9 pounds. Is the SC in that range?

Lastly, is neckdive an issue with these basses?

Thanks in advance for any information provided.
Intermediate Member
Username: karl

Post Number: 166
Registered: 7-2002
Posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - 12:03 pm:   Edit Post

Wow, difficult questions! It's all so subjective! I'm sure others will chip in soon, but for my part, I'd say playability of the SC is far superior to any J-style bass I've tried, due to the short scale (and hence lower string tension) and narrow fretboard. Js feel big and clunky to me in comparison. But as I said, it's subjective: some people prefer a longer scale, a higher tension and wider spacing, and until you've tried an SC in person, you don't know which camp you're in!

Neck dive is usually noticeable in SCs, but adapt your playing position accordingly (I find I subconsciously use my right forearm/elbow to brace the bottom of the bass so the neck doesn't dive) and it ceases to be an 'issue'.

Soundwise, again, I can't speak for everyone, but to my ears, an Alembic always sounds like an Alembic. I've never heard one do a convincing impression of a Jazz. People tend to buy Alembics because they like that distinctive Alembic sound - it can be mellow, harsh, cutting, soft, punchy or pillow-like, but it always has a quality that it distinctively 'Alembic' and therefore very distinct from a Jazz. But the sound is versatile, and can certainly be used in all the genres you list (I use my SC in various bands playing the whole range of styles).

The best suggestion I can give is to have a listen to some recordings featuring a short scale Alembic: I'd recommend Paul Simon's concert in Central Park, featuring Armand Sabal-Lecco on Alembic bass for much of the set (he switches to a Jazz, I think, for a couple of the older numbers). None of the original (i.e. non-live) recordings of the songs in this live set featured an Alembic, so Armand sounds very different to the original bass players, but that's not to say his Alembic doesn't sound 'right' in that context. Just different. And again, in many cases and IMO, I actually prefer Armand's sound on these live versions to the recorded originals.

If you're dead set on the 'Jazz tone' for the songs you're playing, you may find that an Alembic shorty isn't for you. But if you're prepared to try something different, but which can work equally as well, then you may find that you like the Alembic difference!
Advanced Member
Username: eligilam

Post Number: 214
Registered: 2-2006
Posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - 12:41 pm:   Edit Post

I have both an SC sig deluxe and a few Jazz basses. You can come pretty close IMO to getting a "classic" J-bass tone on the SC, although, I agree with karl, it's not exactly the same. I find that the SC cuts through the mix better than the J's most of the time.

I don't have a problem with SC neck dive, and I wear mine up pretty high on the chest. The biggest adjustment for the SC is having to extend my left arm out further from my body to hit the first through fifth frets...takes some getting used to.

Weight-wise, the SC is definitely heavier than the J's.

Playability-wise, I have both the SC and the J's strung with super-duper light twangy strings and super low/light action. IMO, the SC and the J's are tied for ease of play...although the upper frets on the SC are obviously smaller and trickier to dig into during solo's.

Lastly, the SC wins in the sustain and "boom" department, probably because of the neck-through design (although those super-hot Alembic pickups probably help with that a lot, too).

Bottom line: Go ahead and get an SC!!
Senior Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 1780
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - 1:36 pm:   Edit Post

I have an SC Short scale and I've never been able to get the Jazz bass tone out of it at all. If I need that sound I tend to use my Europa as from that I can get very close to the Marcus Miller tone so maybe you could check out one of those. I'm not sure if there are any short scale or maybe medium scale versions though.


Senior Member
Username: keith_h

Post Number: 1442
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - 2:46 pm:   Edit Post

As has already been said the SC can come close to getting a JB sound but it still retains it's Alembic tone. Of course it also depends a lot upon what you consider the Jazz Bass sound. While the passive tone control is more or less on and off you can get a reasonable variation by mixing the pickup volumes. In my opinion any of my Alembic basses blow away a Fender JB. That being said there are also occasions I use my Jazz Bass.

I have no problems with neck dive. I use a 3" wide strap. I also play all of my basses, including my JB, up on my chest. One thing I think folks confuse with neck dive is the natural setting of neck in relation to their body. On the short scale, small standard body the neck sits more towards 2-3 o'clock as opposed the 1-2 o'clock of the Fender body.

I just weighed my Brown Bass and I would put it around 10 lbs. My fretless Orion is heavier at somewhere around 11 lbs. It is a set neck and has an ash body.

Playing wise the Brown Bass is my favorite and is why I ordered a Series 1 in the short scale, small standard body. I don't have large hands or long fingers so with the short scale I can reach further.

If you are looking for something closer to a Fender you might want to consider the Europa/Orion body shape. These come standard in a long scale neck and can be ordered with a Jazz Bass style pickup. You might also consider a set neck as they have more mid-range honk or growl than the neck throughs. I own an Orion fretless and can get the Fender JB bridge pickup sound very easily when I want it. The nice thing is I can also get away from that one tone to the point where I get a reasonable slapper tone or that James Jamerson Motown tone. These models also come standard with the classic taper neck which is very close to the Jazz Bass neck.

Username: jeware

Post Number: 3
Registered: 8-2009
Posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - 3:58 pm:   Edit Post

Thanks for all the great responses. Based on your comments, I really believe I would like the SC. I'm not locked into the J sound and I think the SC could be a really nice all around bass. I've got a Lakland Joe Osborn for when I have to have the passive J sound.

The problem for me is that I've never had a chance to play a SC. I am left handed and you don't find many left handed basses hanging is a shop, especially an Alembic SC. So I'm going to have to make a decision based on the comments I receive.

Again, thanks for the great help. Now if one of you is left handed and wants to loan me you bass...:-).
Senior Member
Username: tbrannon

Post Number: 1124
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - 4:26 pm:   Edit Post

Your profile says you're in Rome, Georgia. Atlanta Bass Gallery is about 70 miles away and they're an Alembic Dealer. I don't see a lefty SC in their stock, but they do have a brown bass and a SC Deluxe listed. If you could get a feel for balance, tone, etc playing right handed, it could be a good place to take a test drive.
Advanced Member
Username: mike1762

Post Number: 389
Registered: 1-2008
Posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - 5:16 pm:   Edit Post

Before you drive to Atlanta expecting to try-out one of ABG's Alembics, I'd suggest you call first and be sure they will be willing to let you play them (I'm speaking from experience). I've got lots of basses, 3 of which are Alembics. My experience is that you will be hard pressed to make an active short scale bass with neck-through design sound like a passive long scale bass with a bolt-on neck. But why would you want to? You've got the Lakland when you want a "Fender" tone. An Alembic is just a different animal... you won't be sorry if you get one.
Username: jeware

Post Number: 4
Registered: 8-2009
Posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - 5:36 pm:   Edit Post

I went to Atlanta Bass Gallery about three weeks ago and that is where I saw the SC Brown bass. They did let me hold it, but I wasn't able to plug it in and play with it. I was kneeling down when I held it, and it felt really good. I'm on the small side (5'7") and I really liked the short scale. I played a Gibson EBO in the late sixties and I liked the feel of the shorter scale. I wish I had the chance to hear it and play it through an amp.

I do have the Lakland for the true Fender tone. I have a Millennia TD-1 with a Bergantino IP112ER and EX112ER and I think the SC would match up very nicely, but I'm a bit nervous about ordering a bass that expensive without ever hearing or playing one.

That's way the comments I've received from you guys are so important. I think I'm going to have to make a decision on what to do based on the responses I am receiving.
Senior Member
Username: serialnumber12

Post Number: 593
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - 8:33 pm:   Edit Post

what ever U Do Just hammer the shit outta of it!
Senior Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 1781
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - 11:56 pm:   Edit Post

I think that kind of means, let Keavin break it in for you.....!!! :-)

Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 528
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Wednesday, November 25, 2009 - 3:30 am:   Edit Post

LOL, just as long as it is NOT mine ...!!!
Advanced Member
Username: pauldo

Post Number: 354
Registered: 6-2006
Posted on Wednesday, November 25, 2009 - 3:21 pm:   Edit Post

Yes - note the sweat on my brow in the picture above . . . if memory serves me I was trying desperately to keep up with Keavin and old # 12!
:-) Good Times!!!
Senior Member
Username: serialnumber12

Post Number: 597
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Wednesday, November 25, 2009 - 4:03 pm:   Edit Post

Ohh yeah we tore shit up that day!
Senior Member
Username: serialnumber12

Post Number: 598
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Wednesday, November 25, 2009 - 4:08 pm:   Edit Post

Texas style!!!65794.jpg
Username: willgunn

Post Number: 40
Registered: 2-2007
Posted on Wednesday, November 25, 2009 - 7:31 pm:   Edit Post

John - As one who has BOTH a "Brown Bass" AND an old "J"-Bass on hand, I'd be happy to discuss the differences with you. Feel free to contact me directly via my profile info.
- Will

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