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Alembic Club » Alembic Basses & Guitars » Archive through May 26, 2010 » Which new alembic approximates phil lesh's tone « Previous Next »

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Username: hgregs

Post Number: 1
Registered: 4-2010
Posted on Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - 12:41 pm:   Edit Post

hi ... new member here, but long time lurker. i'm at the point where 1) i need a new 5 string and 2) it's going to be an alembic.

i'm a big fan of lesh's mid-70s tone. but i'm not sure what combination of body/electronics/etc is going to get me close to that sound.

i've searched the web and this site, and recordings of basses... help please..

Intermediate Member
Username: afrobeat_fool

Post Number: 190
Registered: 7-2009
Posted on Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - 1:13 pm:   Edit Post

There are others here that know a lot more than me. With that being said, I would say a series 1 or 2, with a SF-2 superfilter would do the job. Good luck!

Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 875
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - 1:45 pm:   Edit Post

We recently had a thread here regarding tone;
Welcome to the Club forum .

I am also fond of that tone ! But it is just one of the many sounds that I like to use . Much of tone is in your hands and mind .
Equipment wise :
Mr.Lesh mostly played the Alembic Modified Guild Starfire and the Alembic Osage Orange Bass in this time frame plus some others from time to time . Both with various electronics that would be " state variable filter like ". If you get an Alembic Series II Bass and an Alembic SF-2 Super filter I think that you would be very pleased .
Strings that were used on those instruments may very likely have been Pyramid Gold Flats.

To emulate such tone as you refer to you must emulate technique playing style /mind set / mentation / and too many things to list besides being Mr. Phil Lesh him self.
Tell me exactly what instrument he was playing and strings that he was using and signal processing that he had and amplifier and speaker combination that was used and you will have your answer. I am really trying to be honest with you .I still sound like me regardless of what I do BUT I can get close .

What I recommend to you is get a Series II Alembic Bass and a SF-2 Super filter and F-2B preamp or FX-1 preamps . For speakers he used infinite baffle type design enclosures( no port such as" Hard Truckers" ) with JBL K140 and Gauss 15 and 12 inch speakers . Last obtain a good rack power amp with about 300 watts per channel @ 8ohms .
Sonic Regards! ______________
Username: hgregs

Post Number: 2
Registered: 4-2010
Posted on Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - 2:09 pm:   Edit Post

hey guys, thanks for the responses. yeah, i read "tone" post and knew it would haunt me in this post. however, phil definately had a different sound during his modulus days than during his alembic days.

given that a series is hard to come by (as is the scratch for one), how far off the mark (or hopefully close to it) would a signature standard be. i found one that i like on paper... but the sound? i have no clue.

i don't have any local places to try one out - thus my plea for advice.
Username: artswork99

Post Number: 1097
Registered: 7-2007
Posted on Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - 2:38 pm:   Edit Post

Welcome to the forum. As there is certainly a difference between Series and Signature I would have to say that Signature (standard or deluxe - same electronics) is one of the next best choices. Best of luck with your search.

ps: I am by no means an authority on Phil's tone.

(Message edited by artswork99 on April 27, 2010)
Username: keith_h

Post Number: 1599
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - 3:25 pm:   Edit Post

There is a definite difference between the sound of Series electronics and the Signature/Anniversary electronics. Both have what I would call the Alembic sound. To me the Series electronics have a more open sound to them. I think this is due to the single coil pickups. I have a bass with Anniversary electronics and to me the sound is a woolier. Not distorted but not as clear as the Series. Again I think this has to due more with the pickups which are hum canceling. Of course the wood in both basses also affects the sound.

If the cost of a Series bass is too much I don't think you could go wrong with a Signature bass with Anniversary electronics. These are a variation of the Signature electronics. They have a volume, volume, filter/Q-switch, filter/Q-switch and stereo/mono output.

Senior Member
Username: pace

Post Number: 528
Registered: 4-2004
Posted on Wednesday, April 28, 2010 - 3:56 am:   Edit Post


Used SI or SII Alembics come up often and are IMO a real value for their price. But, if you're gonna piece together a complete rig, then start w/ buying a Superfilter and a F2-B.... With those two units, who knows?... an EB-3 or Starfire with Fred Hannon's pickups might suit you just as well.
Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 877
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Wednesday, April 28, 2010 - 8:39 am:   Edit Post

I was very intrigued at the time by the sound of the Bass's such as those such as the Starfire & the EB3 with the Guild / Hagstrom pickups. I would agree that Fred Hannon's "Darkstar Pickups" on a Bass with an F-2B & SF-2 would be a good set of tools to work with for the "Sound". I remember the thunder from that modified EB3 on "Hard to Handle ", and that delicate introspective sound of the Starfre on "Dark Star".
THE Sound !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ______________________ .
Advanced Member
Username: bassjigga

Post Number: 375
Registered: 8-2005
Posted on Wednesday, April 28, 2010 - 10:21 am:   Edit Post

I'm not sure if you're referring to live sound or records, but I have become very cautious about entertaining the idea of buying certain gear because I like how it sounds on a record. The reality is you usually have no idea what all went into a recorded sound. Even if a guy plays a particular bass on stage, many times records a recording is done with a different one. Or even if it is the same bass being used, many other pieces of electronic do-dads might have been used to influence the sound on a recording. Just a precaution....
Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 880
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Wednesday, April 28, 2010 - 11:23 am:   Edit Post

Live my friend ! So live I could feel the "Sonicimpact" of the Bass in my cheast ! I was there _______with my Ears and my Eyes and my Mind !
Sonic Regards !
Senior Member
Username: crobbins

Post Number: 595
Registered: 6-2004
Posted on Thursday, April 29, 2010 - 7:34 pm:   Edit Post

Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 884
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Thursday, April 29, 2010 - 8:22 pm:   Edit Post

"Searching for the Sound " is Highly Recommended !
I have the Audio CD Book version ______read by the author himself !
Advanced Member
Username: hifiguy

Post Number: 217
Registered: 10-2006
Posted on Friday, April 30, 2010 - 12:17 pm:   Edit Post

Phil's book is great! I read it last summer and give it a 10/10. Wildest parts are Phil's accounts of the pre-1967 San Francisco subculture. Those were some weird and wonderful times and no one was more a part of it than Phil.

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