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billostech
Junior
Username: billostech

Post Number: 11
Registered: 1-2011
Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011 - 12:38 pm:   Edit Post

I am new to Alembics and about to make a purchase. I have narrowed my choices down to an 92 Elan and 2004 Essense. Both are 5 strings. I need your help in informing me of the diferrences between the two. Any help would be appreciated.
artswork99
Moderator
Username: artswork99

Post Number: 1371
Registered: 7-2007
Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011 - 12:46 pm:   Edit Post

There could be a number of upgrades made to the models you are comparing. The links below can help you determine some of the differences. Hope that this helps.
Elan Control Info
Essence Control Info
Essence Product Page
Alembic Reference Page
billostech
Junior
Username: billostech

Post Number: 12
Registered: 1-2011
Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011 - 1:06 pm:   Edit Post

Thanks Art,
The above info does help. Here are some specs on the two.
92 Elan:
1992 Elan long scale 5 string bass
Quilted maple top
walnut pinstripe
maple body
Elan electronics
plastic oval inlays
plastic backplates
7 piece maple/purpleheart neck
ebony fretboard
Alembic Gotoh chrome tuners
brass hardware
bronze logo

2004 Essence:
Buckeye Burl, Alembic Q switch upgrade
artswork99
Moderator
Username: artswork99

Post Number: 1372
Registered: 7-2007
Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011 - 1:59 pm:   Edit Post

Very subjective subject. The addiction starts... why not buy both (just kidding). Are they geographically close enough to try? That would really help of course.

Good luck and have fun with the decision! Art
billostech
Junior
Username: billostech

Post Number: 13
Registered: 1-2011
Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011 - 2:04 pm:   Edit Post

Art,
That's the unfortunate part. The are not close.
I think I am having an anxiety attack. LOL
I want to go with what should have the best sound and flexibility. I wish I had the pockets for both!
lembic76450
Advanced Member
Username: lembic76450

Post Number: 267
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011 - 3:38 pm:   Edit Post

Bill
With the added "Q" switch, the controls seem the same. The Essence body is likely smaller than the Elan. As you know I have the Essence, minus the "Q" switch and I find the sound with Alembic strings very piano-like. Maybe one of the Elan owners can speak for the shape which seems a little more, excuse me here, Fender-like with the contours and tummy tuck. Does that seem right to you guys?
thumbsup
Intermediate Member
Username: thumbsup

Post Number: 166
Registered: 7-2008
Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011 - 5:14 pm:   Edit Post

ah !....the F word Shame Shame!
Elans may be the only body style Alembic makes that comes close to a (F) style shape but they are way cooler in my opinion.And then they are Alembic!

I only have two Alembics ...a Rouge and an Essence. I don't have a Q switch on the Essence but honestly I like them both equaly when it come to sound.
I bought the rouge a couple years ago without even getting a chance to try it out. I had never played an Alembic til the day it arrived.
I bougth it strictly on Alembics reputation and am glad I did!

I was freaked out just a bit because I was use to a jazz neck. Now I've gotten so used to it and when I picked up my p bass with jazz neck ..well that kinda freaked me out to. Guess its all what you get used to.. I do believe the Alembic will make you a better player.

bottom line..you are fixin to enter a whole new world..you will be amazed at which ever one you decide on!
Hum....an Elan...maybe my next Alembic :-)

Good Luck Brother
Steve
thumbsup
Intermediate Member
Username: thumbsup

Post Number: 167
Registered: 7-2008
Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011 - 5:31 pm:   Edit Post

ah !....the F word Shame Shame!
Elans may be the only body style Alembic makes that comes close to a (F) style shape but they are way cooler in my opinion.And then they are Alembic!

I only have two Alembics ...a Rouge and an Essence. I don't have a Q switch on the Essence but honestly I like them both equaly when it comes to sound.
I bought the rouge a couple years ago without even getting a chance to try it out. I had never played an Alembic til the day it arrived.
I bougth it strictly on Alembics reputation and am glad I did!

I was freaked out just a bit when I first got it because I was used to a jazz neck. Now I've gotten so used to it (the Alembic neck) when I picked up my p bass with jazz neck ..well that kinda freaked me out to. Guess it's all in what you get used to..
I do believe the Alembic will also make you a better player too.(well it did me anyway)

bottom line..you are fixin to enter a whole new world..you will be amazed at which ever one you decide on!
Hum....an Elan...maybe my next Alembic :-)

Good Luck Brother
Steve
tbrannon
Senior Member
Username: tbrannon

Post Number: 1267
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011 - 5:53 pm:   Edit Post

Bill,

As others have mentioned- the Q switch added to the Essence gets you basically the same electronics package, though perhaps the Q switch is a 3 position switch, rather than the standard 2 position one?

The other big difference that I see sound-wise is the fact that the Elan has a maple body, whereas it appears from the pictures in the other thread that you're dealing with a Mahogany body on the Essence. Most people seem to agree that maple bodies tend to be lend themselves to a brighter tone, whereas the mahogany bodies tend to be a bit warmer. Mica says it better than I do though, so check the descriptions on the body wood page- http://www.alembic.com/info/wood_body.html

The purpleheart neck lams in the Elan are a very nice upgrade too- you can read the descriptions of those here: http://www.alembic.com/info/wood_neck.html

Personally, I love the Elan body style and think that the upgraded neck lams in that one would push it over the top if I was making the decision. That being said, if the buckeye burl floats your boat on the Essence.... Shoot, you sure you can't afford 'em both? :-)

Good luck- I really don't think you can go wrong with either.

Toby
bigredbass
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 1587
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Friday, January 14, 2011 - 12:43 am:   Edit Post

I'd approach this from the other direction before I'd advise:

What are you playing now, what basses have you had previously, are you missing something you hope to find in an Alembic, etc.
A little gear history and your playing/music styles might help us a lot.

J o e y
billostech
Junior
Username: billostech

Post Number: 15
Registered: 1-2011
Posted on Friday, January 14, 2011 - 3:45 am:   Edit Post

I would first like to thank everyone. Now I may have to sleep on the couch for the next 3 months for entertaining the thought of getting both. 3 years if I do so... LOL

I am a novice player that started playing bass only 2 years ago. My work schedule prevented me from playing with my band full time. I play mostly blues and jazz, although the band I play with when time allows is Christian rock.

I have rencently thinned the collection from five 5 stings to 1 five string and 2 four stings: Music Man Stingray 5 string, Fender American Jazz 4, and a PRS 4. Pics below(Les Paul belongs to my daughter).

I reaaly apprecaite all the sound adivce I agetting from you. I may have to part with the PRS If I decide to go for both.

My main concern is having a bass that can cut through nicely with my band without being the loudest bass they never heard ... LOL

Can someone explain the advantage of having the extra preamp in the Elan.

I may have to go shopping for a nice comfy couch.Current Collection
adriaan
Moderator
Username: adriaan

Post Number: 2744
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Friday, January 14, 2011 - 4:07 am:   Edit Post

The difference is that Essence has one preamp for handling both pickups, while the Elan has one for each pickup.

The nice thing with a single preamp is that you can set the output level to match that of other instruments you're using through the same rig.

The nice thing with two preamps is that you can set the pickup height to get the sound that you prefer (closer = hotter) and then use the trimpots to match the output levels between the pickups (and to other instruments).

With a single preamp, you may have perhaps a little less room for manoeuvring when setting the pickup heights, since the height will affect the output level of the pickup.

Either way, you'll have plenty of glorious Alembic sounds to choose from!
keith_h
Senior Member
Username: keith_h

Post Number: 1670
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Friday, January 14, 2011 - 5:36 am:   Edit Post

I would not let the presence or absence of the Q-switch bother you. It is a fairly inexpensive upgrade and can always be added to the Elan if you decide to go that route.

Keith
bigredbass
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 1588
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Friday, January 14, 2011 - 5:49 am:   Edit Post

Thanks, Bill, the picture tells me a lot.

Essentailly, the Elan would feel (weight/size) more along the lines of the StingRay Five. Wood varies, but in all maple it may be just a bit heavier. The Essence would be closer to the Jazz, physically, though the neck will be noticeably wider, as a five-string. They can get get slightly neck heavy with the small cutaways. I don't know your size, but if the MusicMan feels like a BIG bass to you, the Elan would also. The Essence is closer to the Jazz overall.

Control-wise they're essentially the same, and they'd have a noticeable 'family resemblance' tone-wise. The difference would be in the woods' effect on the tone (all-maple is brighter than a maple/mahogany blend) and in the pickups' shell/coil sizes: The bigger AXY's (the Elan) would 'sense' bigger lengths of string vs. the smaller MXY's (the Essence). Think of this in terms of your MusicMan's tone vs. the Jazz Bass. How much of a difference would be subjectively down to the axes in question, as wood just varies . . . Alembic pickups are very neutral and ultra-clean. Think studio monitors instead of home stereo speakers. You WILL hear yourself doing things you never heard before, and these dang things have a way of MAKING you play better, 'cause you can just hear more. They aren't especially 'bassy' sounding to the uninitiated. They can also make your favorite amp suddenly sound like a cheap radio in some cases.

The bigger difference to me is the single preamp vs. double preamp. With the double preamp, you can set the blend of the two pickups relative to their tone and output; think of it as a two-channel mixer between the pickups and the output jack. Alembic pickups have a moderate output which allows you to run your pickup heights strictly by personal preference. You then open up the back cavity, and each preamp has a trim pot to set each output separately: Set them identically, neck-heavy, bridge-heavy, whatever you want the arrangement to be vis-a-vis your fader knob out front. The Essence would, in effect, allow you to set the output 'globally' only.

In my experience (I own a P/J Elan Five and a Spoiler Five) I would have to have the double preamp setup. With it I set the blend exactly where I want it when the fader knob is at 50/50.
This is one more of Alembic's genius moves: All bass pickups change tone in a subtle fashion as you raise/lower them to the strings, as well as output. The trim pots in the preamps allow you to set the blend/outputs exactly as you want to hear it, a feature not available on anything else I can think of.

I'm demanding, set-up wise, and the deluxe laminates in the Elan (plus the double preamps and that terrific price IF it's as clean as it looks) make this a no brainer IF it were ME: I'd take the Elan. But I would not presume to answer for you. The triple purpleheart lams with the ebony fingerboard would make this VERY stable set-up wise. With the one-piece bridge, double truss-rods, and the adjustable nut, they're a breeze to set up.

In terms of 'cutting through a band': Your MusicMan is certainly the PBass of five strings, but can get fat sounding, and the PRS is beautifully dense: Light sounding they're not. The Jazz is a Jazz, but if you've sold off a bunch of fives, and you're looking at another one here, I don't imagine you spend a lot of time with it.

Finding your spot in the mix, irregardless of guitar or amp, is a skill not easily learned, SO dependent on the whole band and you learning your spot. It could certainly be done with the axes I see in your picture, but after thirty years of playing and who knows how many axes, I can tell you there is nothing like an Alembic, and nobody like the Wickershams.

I can also tell you they're not for everybody. Lots of guys do a lot with a lot less, and couldn't hear the difference at gunpoint. Don't understand why they need a 'coffee table' bass instead of an old Fender. The genius of the axes is lost on more than a few, and that's OK.

Me? I flirt with other things from time to time, but I'm just RUINED by these things. I think you would be too.

J o e y
adriaan
Moderator
Username: adriaan

Post Number: 2745
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Friday, January 14, 2011 - 6:26 am:   Edit Post

If I may just add a short note to Joey's excellent post ... The AXY and MXY are very much the same pickup on the inside: the only difference is that the AXY has a wider housing.

Joey may have been thinking of the Fatboy pickup, which has a magnet and coils that do match the full size of the AXY housing. In my experience, the Fatboy is a lot "louder", but also just a bit less bright sounding than an AXY/MXY.
bigredbass
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 1590
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Friday, January 14, 2011 - 6:57 am:   Edit Post

Yes, Adriaan, I forget that I updated the BigRedBass with FatBoys from its original AXY's.

J o e y
eligilam
Advanced Member
Username: eligilam

Post Number: 295
Registered: 2-2006
Posted on Friday, January 14, 2011 - 7:18 am:   Edit Post

Also, Bill, if you sell the PRS, please note that they are going for pretty premium prices these days on eBay and elsewhere (because of good sound and discontinued/rarity status)...make sure you thoroughly research what your selling price will be---and pardon if you knew this already!
billostech
Junior
Username: billostech

Post Number: 16
Registered: 1-2011
Posted on Friday, January 14, 2011 - 8:28 am:   Edit Post

Thanks again everyone.
I think I have made up my mind. BTW I forgot to mention that I gave up the Five 5 strings for a Roland G8 for my youngest daughter among other studio items needed for their band. My oldest plays guitar and drums. When their band practices at the house it was quickly realized the need for an electronic drum set and a Jam hub for silent practice. After it was all said and one I was 5 basses short. I prefer the 5 string over the 4 but I held on to the PRS and Fender for sentiment.
The 1988 PRS is a Curly 4 10 top with birds in flight. Not great for tone but awesome to play. The Stingray has piezo pickups and is my favorite bass to play. Itís good to know that the Elan is about the same weight.
After reading your generous responses, I have decided to be patient and just go with the Elan and spend a lot of time with it. I will use the PRS to assist with the next Alembic purchase down the line. (I my patience allow)
billostech
Junior
Username: billostech

Post Number: 17
Registered: 1-2011
Posted on Friday, January 14, 2011 - 11:36 am:   Edit Post

Update!!!
Just put the deposit down on the Elan.
The seller and I will complete the transaction in Chicago (half the distance between us. We plan to bring our wives along and try to get by Buddy Guy's Legend. If all goes well I will make a formal introduction as an Alembic owner. In the mean time I will browse around the forum and to learn as much as I can.
Thank you all for your time.
artswork99
Moderator
Username: artswork99

Post Number: 1373
Registered: 7-2007
Posted on Friday, January 14, 2011 - 12:02 pm:   Edit Post

Congratulations Bill. Nice chatting with you last night too. Play it Healthy! Art
bigredbass
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 1591
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Friday, January 14, 2011 - 9:50 pm:   Edit Post

Man, am I gonna feel like a tool if he hates it . . . .

J o e y
tmoney61092
Senior Member
Username: tmoney61092

Post Number: 637
Registered: 9-2008
Posted on Sunday, January 16, 2011 - 11:55 am:   Edit Post

Joey, if he hates that bass then there might be something wrong with him :p, i'm kidding of course since sound is a personal taste but congrats on getting it!

~Taylor
billostech
Junior
Username: billostech

Post Number: 23
Registered: 1-2011
Posted on Sunday, January 16, 2011 - 12:50 pm:   Edit Post

Taylor,
I have seen it in action on YouTube. I am sure I will enjoy it. Thanks again for being so generous with your time and thoughts.

BTW if anyone has a 5 string Alembic bass they may want to part with, I have an American Jazz, a MM Stingray and cash. LOL

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