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Alembic Club » Owning an Alembic » Serial Number / History Requests » Archive through December 16, 2015 » Archives » Archive 2008 » (x) California Special 6-string electric guitar [fake] « Previous Next »

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Username: silverfox

Post Number: 1
Registered: 8-2008
Posted on Monday, August 11, 2008 - 6:51 am:   Edit Post


My grandfather came across an Alembic California Special at an auction and ended up buying it and subsequently giving it to my father. He is the lead guitarist in our band, Federal Radio. He was interested in knowing more about it so I am taking the plunge to see if any info is out there.

It is a California Special six-string guitar, featuring a dark cream/light tan body. All electronics work and, when tuned, the guitar sounds great. The serial number we have is 927180.

This is the first Alembic instrument we've ever seen and any information would be greatly appreciated.

Username: davehouck

Post Number: 6884
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Monday, August 11, 2008 - 9:44 pm:   Edit Post

Hi Aaron, welcome to the board! Nice find! While Mica searches your serial number in the next batch of lookups, you might want to check out this page and this page if you haven't already. Plus there's tons of stuff on this board that I imagine you might find of interest. Enjoy!
Username: silverfox

Post Number: 2
Registered: 8-2008
Posted on Wednesday, August 20, 2008 - 2:31 pm:   Edit Post

Here's a couple of real quick pics. Just follow the links.

Full body


Don't mind the old strings on it. ;)
Advanced Member
Username: kenbass4

Post Number: 302
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Wednesday, August 20, 2008 - 4:21 pm:   Edit Post


First off, welcome to the club. I'm sure you'll find that this is a group of friendly, knowledgable folks always willing to help out.

And on that note, while i'm a member of the low frequency contingent, I believe that what you have is NOT an actual Alembic California Special. If you follow the links that Dave Houck provided, you'll see that while the body shapes are similar, there are vast differences. Alembic has NEVER made a bolt-on neck instrument, and the pickups look like Fender style single coils. Also, the Alembic logo is always either brass or inlaid silver with shell, never a sticker.

I do hope (for your father's sake) that I am mistaken, but there has been a rash of "Alembic Forgery" in the Dallas/Fort Worth area from what I've heard.

Advanced Member
Username: speicky

Post Number: 319
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Wednesday, August 20, 2008 - 4:33 pm:   Edit Post

I don't mind the strings at all, Aaron...

a heartly welcome to the club ! I have a problem with the motive at the photos, and I do not mean the green door. Your guitar has a decal reading ALEMBIC California Special, and the serial number you provided did not seem out of range for me or other members here. But unfortunately you do not own an Alembic, but a Fender copy that has been "tuned" by criminals. I am so sorry for you...

I have had the same experience when I joined the club a few years ago. I bid on an Alembic on ebay, paid, and was told that I bought a bass that was crafted by anybody, but not at Alembic. To add to that, when I tried to sell the bass six months later, it appeared that this instrument was stolen from the original owner (and craftsman). So I paid for it, and the police took it again...

So, I think I can imagine how you feel, my heart goes out to you. If you find the instrument plays and sounds well, that's great, even more important whether it may be an Alembic or Fender or Gibson or (insert YOUR brand here). Your guitar looks very vintage and the finish is really cool, enjoy playing that beauty !

I hope you are not too angry at me, it's almost two o'clock in the morning here in Germany and I have to get up at six, but I just had to let you know about my experience and feelings. I am truly sorry if any of my words hurt you...

take care, and please stay within this forum, WE might need YOU someday soon :-)

truly yours, Christian
Username: mica

Post Number: 5464
Registered: 6-2000
Posted on Wednesday, August 20, 2008 - 4:39 pm:   Edit Post

Ken's right, this instrument is a forgery. There's a list of details I posted about these here. I haven't seen one pop up in a while.

Sorry I didn't have better news for you. But it sounds like you are enjoying the guitar on its own merits. I'd appreciate it if you remove the Alembic name so there isn't future confusion about this guitar. And in the words of one of the most wise club members, "there will always be another" so keep looking!
Username: silverfox

Post Number: 3
Registered: 8-2008
Posted on Wednesday, August 20, 2008 - 11:21 pm:   Edit Post

Well, bugger.

At least it wasn't an expensive forgery. My grandfather bought it along with a handful of other stuff at the same shop. Only cost him about $40 altogether. I had my suspicions only because the peghead logo didn't match what I'd seen all over the web. That and the serial was non-standard. I figured I had to give it a shot, either way.

I suppose the real question now is thus: what exactly is this guitar? I have some work ahead of me to find out, just out of my own curiosity.

It's a terrible thing that my first encounter with Alembic was through someone else's deceit. I'll keep my eyes open for a genuine Alembic in the future. Though I doubt I'll be able to afford one, it never hurts to look. Strange thing is, the guitar shop my dad took it to to have it worked on said it was "genuine." I wonder what he was looking at...

I'll get to work removing the logos. I doubt it'll be all that hard...

Thanks all the same, however.
Senior Member
Username: elwoodblue

Post Number: 536
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Thursday, August 21, 2008 - 12:14 am:   Edit Post

Looks like a Mateo to me...just a guess.

at 40.00 it's a good deal anyway.

...and it brought you to the friendliest forum on the web IMO.

all my best
Senior Member
Username: fc_spoiler

Post Number: 728
Registered: 5-2006
Posted on Thursday, August 21, 2008 - 7:26 am:   Edit Post

Sell it to that guitar shop for $1000

Seriously: Best thing to do is as Mica stated, remove the Logo to avoid future misunderstandings ;-)
Intermediate Member
Username: gtrguy

Post Number: 148
Registered: 9-2004
Posted on Friday, August 22, 2008 - 9:31 am:   Edit Post

I have some Matao experiance, and they look like real Fenders (or Gibsons, or ...). They were also built in a pretty high end factory in Japan and were not afraid to show their name on their products, even though they were mostly copies. Which makes me believe this is not a Matao.

$40 is not a bad price. Enjoy!
Senior Member
Username: elwoodblue

Post Number: 540
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Saturday, August 23, 2008 - 1:18 pm:   Edit Post

...not quite the same ...but this fernandes has a similar look:
Username: silverfox

Post Number: 4
Registered: 8-2008
Posted on Sunday, August 24, 2008 - 3:05 pm:   Edit Post

We actually learned it was a Hondo Stratocaster copy from the late '70s. There were a lot of inconsistencies between it and an actual Fender and it prompted me to look harder. I had never even heard of Hondo before last week.

Why anyone would want to take a relatively sought after Japanese guitar (based on what I've read) and deface it with the Alembic name is beyond me. We had also learned that whoever had done so had actually painted the lettering on the headstock.

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