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Alembic Club » Alembic Basses & Guitars » Archive through March 10, 2010 » How much does the Alembic Brass bits add to the weight of an instrument? « Previous Next »

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Senior Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 1803
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Wednesday, December 09, 2009 - 1:20 am:   Edit Post

There is a fair amount of brass on our alembics and I know it's quite a heavy metal. Today I saw an alembic sustain block with bridge for sale on the net and it looks huge. So that got me wondering, what is the weight of the individual brass structures on alembics?

I know it will be different for different stringed instruments but I wonder also what percentage of that weight contributes to the overall weight of the instrument?

What does a bridge weigh?
What does a brass sustain block weigh?
What does a tailblock weigh?
And the nut?

I've read some owners dismantle their brasswork for cleaning so maybe if you are about to do that you could pop the bits on a kitchen scale or maybe Mica has some average values.

Advanced Member
Username: briant

Post Number: 390
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Wednesday, December 09, 2009 - 9:25 am:   Edit Post

A lot. That's what all that brass weighs.

Smartassed comments aside - I've actually thought about having plastic back plates made for my Rogue and my JPJ to cut down on their total weight some. I would guess that those plates alone are ~1 pound.
Senior Member
Username: ajdover

Post Number: 782
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Wednesday, December 09, 2009 - 9:36 am:   Edit Post

Having just received my custom, and having had a bass somewhat like it previously, I can say that the brass backplates add a lot of weight. My custom has wood backplates, and it significantly cuts down weight. It is far more comfortable to me weight wise than my Spyder was.

Advanced Member
Username: gtrguy

Post Number: 260
Registered: 9-2004
Posted on Wednesday, December 09, 2009 - 11:10 am:   Edit Post

I don't know, I have pulled them out of my series ones and they add a pound or a little more. I think Alembics are heavy and every little bit seems to add up by the end of a gig. I also have big Yamaha neck-throughs that I can't wear all night long anymore. I have a 6 string Elan without the sustain block and it's still a heavy beast any way you look at it. I am thinking that some more working out is the way to go for me in terms of wearing these bass guitars in a gig. Also, be sure to take them off during a break and use a good stand and walk around. Then you might also take a lighter backup bass and trade on a set.

They really are solid instruments and it's a combination of everything adding up. A good strap is a must.

Intermediate Member
Username: peoplechipper

Post Number: 179
Registered: 2-2009
Posted on Thursday, December 10, 2009 - 12:38 am:   Edit Post

When I got my Fernandes lawsuit series I copy(which soon led to my beloved Distillate, so let's give the instrument it's due) it had brass knobs and backplates...I took them off and it was more than a pound of excess weight, soon replaced by plastic(and a Distillate!) Tony
Advanced Member
Username: southpaw

Post Number: 240
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Friday, December 18, 2009 - 4:17 pm:   Edit Post

Hey Jazzyvee, I had the same question a few years ago... When my '86 Distillate was taken apart for cleaning, I took all the brass parts to my local post office and weighed them on their digital scale (yes OCD is funny at times, thankfully there was no one there to laugh at me...) Here are the results:

Sustain block - 09.7 oz.
Back plate - 07.7 oz.
Bridge - 03.8 oz.
tailpiece - 03.4 oz. (standard "bird" shape)
Truss cover - 0.7 oz.
TOTAL weight: 25.3 ounces = 1.5 lbs.(roughly).

Sorry I did not have the nut with me but I believe that is only an ounce or two. I cannot say if this is true for every brass part, as they are hand made and vary in size & shape over the years, some basses have multiple back plates and custom tailpieces, etc... but it should give you a good average. The sustain block was the heaviest at over a half a pound!
All that brass is good for sustain! I have a friend who teases me about the weight of my Distillate, I simply say; "that's a bass for men, if it's too heavy for you, set it down Mary!!" I love my Distillate...

(Message edited by southpaw on December 18, 2009)

(Message edited by southpaw on December 18, 2009)

(Message edited by southpaw on December 19, 2009)
Username: rjmsteel

Post Number: 18
Registered: 7-2008
Posted on Friday, December 18, 2009 - 7:05 pm:   Edit Post

Didn`t realize the brass in my Distillate weighed that much!

Mine was at the Chicago gathering too! `81 Distillate 4 (Purpleheart); you had the Dark Coco Bolo beauty.
Advanced Member
Username: southpaw

Post Number: 241
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Saturday, December 19, 2009 - 10:38 am:   Edit Post

Hi Richard, yes the super dark, lefty coco bolo Distillate is mine. Your '81 is a beauty too. Enzo had his new (to him) Distillate there as well... there were so many great basses at that gathering... what a great time it was.
To reduce the weight, a friend of mine, Ted (he was at the Chicago gathering too) made a sustain block from a piece of coco bolo for me. Also I believe Mica mentioned plastic back plates for some models are available. Changing a couple of pieces should lower the weight by at least a pound or more. The weight does not bother me, I'm having too much fun playing to think about it. Also I am NOT playing a 3 hour gig, so that makes a big difference.
It was nice to meet you Richard, I look forward to seeing you at the next gathering.
Advanced Member
Username: southpaw

Post Number: 242
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Saturday, December 19, 2009 - 11:05 am:   Edit Post

My lefty Distillate and Orion are at the bottom left corner of this picture, hidden in the second row, of course...I'll try to find a better picture. If you think bass players don't get any respect, try being a lefty bass player! sometimes I feel like a red headed orphan in a Dickens novel! Oh well, such is life.
Chicago gathering basses

(Message edited by southpaw on December 19, 2009)
Username: rjmsteel

Post Number: 19
Registered: 7-2008
Posted on Saturday, December 19, 2009 - 12:59 pm:   Edit Post

I am actually 100% left handed... but learned bass as a righty player. I do hope to see another Alembic gathering like the one hosted by the good people at Bag End again this upcoming year; as I have a Custom Build in the very early stages of production, so maybe I`ll have the opportunity to bring it, if completed, by and if a gathering is planned. Both Enzo`s and your Distillate are beauties! And both have the longer upper Horn, very cool.
Senior Member
Username: mario_farufyno

Post Number: 411
Registered: 9-2008
Posted on Sunday, December 27, 2009 - 5:57 pm:   Edit Post

Could some good soul measure how much weights a ordinary bridge like the Fender Jazz ones, or the famous Badass? Just for comparision sake...

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