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Senior Member
Username: palembic

Post Number: 620
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Thursday, September 25, 2003 - 11:15 pm:   Edit Post

Brother Quincy (Bishopqdog) asked -hidden in a threat with a complete other reason of being- if I could describe what the differences were between playing series and non-series.
This is what I answered.
Maybe other people can fill in some gaps better to give him the good info.
***sigh*** I KNOW it's looo-ong!


Wew ...
THAT's a question!
I WILL answer WITH the risk I got all the blasfemies of brothers and sisters over me but ... what the %&*****>)--///* I care.

You have to understand that Series electronics are build around SINGLE COIL pick-ups and the other electronics around HUMBUCKER-type PU's (That's NOT the good word for it: Susan and MIca call them Humcanceller PU's. I understood that the technique is different as Humbuckers: so you can cancel hum or you can buck it....euh ....yeah???)
The best thing you can do is ring your colleague musicians and 1: ask a dude 1 for a tiny guitar practive amp, 2: ask another dude for a Gibson Les Paul or PRS, 3 the last dude yoyu ask his Fender Strat.
Now put up the amp with 1 of the 2 guitars to a sound that you really like (I hope you play SOME chords, otherwise you ask the dudes WITH their guitars). The best thing you can do is select 1 PU, if possible the neck PU. Please put the tone knob and volume at "full open". Now do the same with the other guitar without touching the knobs on the amp. Do the same with the tone knob "closed".
You hear the difference?
I bet you do!
Now take notes of the setting of the amp settings for guitar 1. Now try to adjust the settings ON THE AMP for an acceptable tone for the 2nd guitar. Or better to IMITATE with the 2nd guitar the 1st.
This routine (yes-yes I know I'm talking too much) will give you insight in the difference between "single coil" and "Humbucker". What are the sounds you seem to bother. MOst of the cases I did this routine and people say to me "There is 'somthing' with the highs".
I always comparise sounds of guitars with "triangles" (I have to write a thread about this once but I still don't have the courage ...but will come one day).
Without discussing the volume or shape of the triangle, one can say that single coil PU are triangles with rasor-sharp corner edges, normal Humbuckers have more "rounded" corners. So Humbuckers always sound a little bit more "wooly". Single coils are ...well ..sharper. There is no other word for it. The difference is in the treatment of the HIGH (even super high) sounds.
You have to understand that there is a REASON why S1's and S2's have a "dummy humcanceller" that is in fact a NOICE GATE! If you compare the single coils on a Strat and hear the "hiss" they naturally make due to the magnetic field they have. A PU for a Series bass is about 6 to 8 times that magnetic surface. Can you imagine the "hiss" without the dummy humcanceller?? Back in time Ron W. wanted the characteristics of a single coil with the magnetic force of a Humbucker WITHOUT the "hiss". Well is THAT trick that makes the Series Elctronics so expensive and ...special. You have to realize it's a concept of about 35 YEARS OLD!!!!!!
Alembic DON'T MAKE HUMBUCKERS THE WAY THE OTHER BRANDS DO! So returning to my triangle concept: the corners of an Alembic "non-series" PU-sound are A LOT more "edgy" than a standard humbucker! And really, I DO admire them for achieving this! But alas is physically impossible to have the same sound on a non-Series as on a Series. Again the dude-and-them-guitars-with-one-tiny-amp-trick.
Now, about the knobs being in "Tweak Peaks".
Considering the fact that those Series are "special" in treating the "highs" (because of the simple fact they are "Single coil"). Now if you all take a look at your Alembics (HA ...that's why we're here no???) you will see that thoses basses (AND guitars) have LOW-PASS filters.
( In fact they imitate on an active way the passive electronics. So you say: why not use passive electronics? Answer: because of the extended range you can control.)
Yessir-indeed sir, because of the simple reason that Alembicians start from the concept of the "neutral PU sound" a rasor sharp, full range pickuping PU (that's not English Paul). The low pass filter "tops off" what the PU delivers in sound and (originally) that sound info has A LOT of highs! Also, for those brothers who have Q switches on their basses (Q or VQ not important) you will notice that also THAT device threats the ...highs!!!!
Now this is in "guitarland". Now for those who are lucky enough to work with a SF-2 (like this lucky bastard) you will notice that that "ting" is nothing more than a Series with AN XXXXXXXXXXL RANGE (and some more "focus" abilities to work with well chosen frequencies).
(HAAAAAAAAAA at last ...he's going to stop)
Do I like the non-series electronics?
Yes, with a preference for Europe/Rogue who are basically the same.
Are they the same as Series?
No way, but they are the closest you can get!
Where do they differ?
In the threatment of the high frequencies.
Is an Alembic Humbucker different from other humbuckers (other brands)?
Yes ..tremenduously! In the same domain: they threat the highs differently. More: it is a completely different sound shaping concept based on magnets who are diffenently made.
Beware ...this is pure "gut feeling", just my heart and ears speaking. It could be that Ron find this the biggest rubbish ever written about his invention but again ...well ...the ears are mine!

And now ... I'm going back to work!

Paul the bad one

Pffffffffffffffffffff ...they should me paying for this!

(Message edited by palembic on November 03, 2003)
Username: senmen

Post Number: 66
Registered: 7-2003
Posted on Friday, September 26, 2003 - 1:31 am:   Edit Post


wow, a great job you did!
Hard to read through but great information :-)

Hope to see you soon...
Senior Member
Username: palembic

Post Number: 621
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Friday, September 26, 2003 - 1:42 am:   Edit Post

Yeah ...I always want to sketch things or use diagrams but this medium is so limited for this. On those moments also my verbal abilities -in writing- are SOOOO poor. There are ways to use simpeler words but I don't have them.
Username: mattheus

Post Number: 53
Registered: 5-2003
Posted on Friday, September 26, 2003 - 3:08 am:   Edit Post

Hi Paul, what a study. This is indeed the way an Alembic works. I don't know if all the details are correct, perhaps Mica can fill that in.
But there are also other things to consider about a bass-sound! First of all: YOU, YOURSELF and YOU alone!! I've ownede both a S2 and a 'conventional' Alembic. And indeed they sound different. It's the personal taste what makes it happen. What kinda sound you want? On a S2 you have a very, very big variety of sounds at your disposal. The S2 sounds very big, also depending on the woods you use.
I also have a Spoiler, which has much less knobs to tweak, and still has a very big variety of sounds onboard. And very strange somehow I've always preffered the sound of the Spoiler. It had that 'twang', that 'Pop', and that agressive 'bite', but also that 'zoooooom' which I couldn't make with my S2. On the other hand, with my S2 I could make a 'wall of sound', and drive the rest of my band nuts (Ha, ha, ha).
So what I mean to say is, try all kinds of Alembics. They all sound very different, but they all have that specific 'Alembic-voice' in their tones. I'm sure a world of Bass-sounds will open itself to each and every-one. I've done it, and played on every Alembic I could lay my hands on. From the Essence's, Elan's, Persuader's up to the Series 2. And I can tell you, you think you're in Bass-Heaven....

Senior Member
Username: palembic

Post Number: 622
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Friday, September 26, 2003 - 3:27 am:   Edit Post

yep Mattheus!
My long-time friend Koen muttered when played my Alembics (in that time I had a MK signature -now living and well in Italy- and the S2 5 string):
"mmpff ...ts-ts ...there is ALWAYS the sound of breaking glass in there!"
Well ..talking about an Alembic "voice".
Username: bishopqdog

Post Number: 22
Registered: 7-2003
Posted on Friday, September 26, 2003 - 5:55 am:   Edit Post

Well, I think this thread has really shed some light on many of the questions that I'm sure a lot of us had regarding the differences in the electronics configuration.
Intermediate Member
Username: dean_m

Post Number: 187
Registered: 7-2002
Posted on Friday, September 26, 2003 - 8:04 am:   Edit Post

Brother Paul,

Very well done!!!! Outside of sitting down and comparing a bunch of different Alembics. This show the difference best.

Thank you!!!
Dino (bptfo/tafkad/ktf)
Username: 811952

Post Number: 9
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Tuesday, October 21, 2003 - 1:38 pm:   Edit Post

I recall reading that the Alembic pickups in the Series I and II basses have flat response up to 17kHz. There aren't many guitar pickups that go that high, if any...

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