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Username: navbass

Post Number: 2
Registered: 4-2006
Posted on Monday, April 17, 2006 - 12:20 am:   Edit Post

Hello there,

I recently purchased my first Alembic, a used '88 Elan, here in Japan. I don't know much about the woods or electronics used (I've put a serial number inquiry in). I just know that I LOVE IT.

I've always been one of those 'Leo Fender got it right the first time' type of guys, until I picked up my Alembic. I've been a full time musician with the US Navy for the past six years (Navy Band Southwest 2000-2005, US Seventh Fleet Band 2005-present). I had an image of Alembic as some kind of overpriced, elitist, boutique bass. Wow was I ever wrong. Now I can't put mine down! I just got back from our spring tour, playing in climates ranging from Hakiado (northern Japan) all the way to Thailand and Singapore. The neck needed absolutely no adjustment the whole trip. My jazz bass would have been unplayable.
I'm very happy with this bass and I'm seriously considering my own custom order. I'm glad to join the community here at the Alembic Club!

Richard Bruns

Playing my Alembic at the Botanical Gardens
in Singapore

Me and my j-bass at the Black Ship Festival in
Shimoda, Japan
Username: navbass

Post Number: 3
Registered: 4-2006
Posted on Monday, April 17, 2006 - 12:54 am:   Edit Post

Another pic, My Alembic and I with the band in Hong Kong last month.
Intermediate Member
Username: the_8_string_king

Post Number: 139
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Monday, April 17, 2006 - 9:19 am:   Edit Post

Welcome to the club, Richard!

The fine folks at Alembic, while justifiably proud of their work, generally maintain a fairly humble attitude. But there is no question in my mind that Alembics are the very best instruments in the world, rarely if ever equalled, and never surpassed.

Even the lower end set-neck models smoke nearly all other competitors (most of whom have come into being as a result of the innovations and standards set by Alembic).

The Elan is a fabulous bass. The electronics are simple and straightforward. You can easily find PLENTY of info on them.

Check out the FAQ section at the top of the page, and look for info on the Europa controls. The Elan controls are the same minus the 2 extra "quick change" bass and treble "boost/cut" toggle switches -which I have on my 6-string Elan-plus (so named because it has these extra Europa controls.

Alembics ARE expensive; but this is because they are the absolute finest instruments money can buy. And keep in mind -in case you don't know, which you may not- that the prices include a whole bunch of custom options at no extra charge (at least on neck-thrus)-such as several wood choices, scale length, fingerboard dimensions).

Check out the custom archives for inspiration. They can do just about ANYTHING you want.

This is a very friendly site, full of people happy to answer questions and share experiences.

Just be warned: you may become addicted!

Even a basic "stock" Alembic is fabulous, but getting a custom is the ultimate. Many people -like myself- spend years planning (and saving) for their customs.

There is NOTHING like getting a custom Alembic, made for YOU, just the way you like it. Nothing.

Congrats again on the Elan, and welcome again to the club!
Senior Member
Username: richbass939

Post Number: 614
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Monday, April 17, 2006 - 4:11 pm:   Edit Post

Richard, congrats on your Elan. That's a pretty different type of gig you have there. There's another military guy who posts on the club from time to time. Look for the Burkha King posts. At least one thread is under Owning an Alembic, Fun Stories.
Welcome to the club.
Senior Member
Username: jlpicard

Post Number: 422
Registered: 7-2002
Posted on Monday, April 17, 2006 - 7:58 pm:   Edit Post

I just LOVE it when we get ex-Fender converts. Congratulations and welcome aboard!
Intermediate Member
Username: 2400wattman

Post Number: 114
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Monday, April 17, 2006 - 9:32 pm:   Edit Post

Richard, just checked out your pics and I am jealous! My mom lived in Yokohoma for about two years working for Haliburton. I could have visited but my hectic schedule would not permit me to, and she has since done jobs in Kuala Lumpur, Baghdad, Kuwait, and currently Australia. BTW get that custom Alembic built!
Username: navbass

Post Number: 5
Registered: 4-2006
Posted on Tuesday, April 18, 2006 - 4:25 am:   Edit Post

Thanks everyone for the welcome!
Username: navbass

Post Number: 6
Registered: 4-2006
Posted on Tuesday, April 18, 2006 - 5:13 am:   Edit Post

Yeah Rich, it is sort of a strange gig. I often find myself wondering how the band-geek from rural Iowa ended up playing with a red-hot big band all over Asia. I'm really grateful for where I'm at, it's pretty competitive to get in, I get to work with some great players and play in some very cool places. Here is a link that answers a lot of common questions about the Navy Music Program.

Don't worry I'm not any kind of recruiter or jingoistic loony, but I am proud of what I get to be part of.

Again thanks for the very cordial welcome to the club!

(Message edited by navbass on April 18, 2006)
Intermediate Member
Username: the_8_string_king

Post Number: 141
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Tuesday, April 18, 2006 - 7:16 pm:   Edit Post

Hey Richard, I'm sorry but I saw your bass in the other thread, and it looks like your Elan is one of (I think...?) the older Elans which lacked the "Q" switch.

I think your Elans electronics are (just) (master) volume, balance/pan with center detente, and the exclusive (main tone control) Alembic "low-pass filter" -which acts as a "horizontal" sweeping filter, gradually filtering out increasing lower (from the higher) frequencies, eventually filtering out all/most of the frequencies -except the lows, which are "passed" (hence the term/function "low-pass filter". Alembic has another wonderful device called a "universal superfilter" that they sell. If you don't know about this, you'll want to find out about it for sure -and possibly get one (at the least).

Anyway, most (later?) Elans also have the Alembic "Q" switch, which, when activated, adds a boost to the specific frequency selected by the low-pass filter.

You can't describe it meaningfully. You'd have to hear it. But it modifies you sound in a fundamental way... on a fundamental level. It lets your bass sound like a dozen different basses -or more.

At some point, when you have the opportunity, play an Alembic with a Q switch so you can experience it. The good news is that, while you could buy or even commission an Alembic with a Q switch, you could also have them retrofit it with a Q switch at some/any point. They've done this before, it's no trouble for them, and not really too expensive. And this would greatly increase the versatility of your already most awesome bass.

Yeah, sorry, the info I gave you earlier was imprecise. MOST Elans do have the Europa controls minus the boost/cut switches, but your Elan seems to be what I think is a small majority of Elans that don't have a Q switch.

If I'm incorrect here, I'm figuring someone more knowledgable will set me straight.

Congrats again on a wonderful and gorgeous bass, and of course, on the fact that it's your first Alembic!!!
Username: navbass

Post Number: 7
Registered: 4-2006
Posted on Wednesday, April 19, 2006 - 2:11 am:   Edit Post

The Q switch sounds like a good thing to consider. The filter knob (what I was thinking of as the tone knob) seems to be to set up with a sweep that is a little on the bright side for my taste. It would be nice if I had a little more control. I can still get a great sound, but if I understand you correctly about the Q switch I would have a little more control tone-wise.

The other two knobs on my bass are individual volume knobs for the pickups, just like a jazz bass would have. Is that unusual for an Alembic? I was thinking the original owner may have had that done custom. It's fine for me, kind of what I'm used to. Maybe I'll find out more when they find my info from the serial number inquiry.

Thanks for the information!
Senior Member
Username: adriaan

Post Number: 849
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Wednesday, April 19, 2006 - 4:33 am:   Edit Post

Souds like it has Persuader controls - two vols and tone, but no Q switch. Like with the Essence package, the Q is always engaged, adding 8dB at the cut-off frequency.

If you're considering sending in the electronics for modifications, you might also consider replacing vol/vol with vol/pan.
Intermediate Member
Username: the_8_string_king

Post Number: 144
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Thursday, April 20, 2006 - 12:50 am:   Edit Post

Oh, so the Q is always on, like an Essence, eh? That might be why it's "a little on the bright side". Several people have commented that the 0/8 db Q is too strong for their tastes.

A 3 position switch that lets you turn off the Q, and/or use it at lower level would be great, like a 0/4/8 db Q switch. This would let you reduce the brightness to your tastes.
Username: rpm

Post Number: 3
Registered: 8-2006
Posted on Wednesday, November 15, 2006 - 8:53 am:   Edit Post

Nice bass. I was once on the mighty Blue Ridge as ships company 93-1996. Lots of fun times.
Senior Member
Username: 57basstra

Post Number: 490
Registered: 4-2005
Posted on Wednesday, November 15, 2006 - 9:20 am:   Edit Post

A Salute to you, Richard, and all of your fellow players and all U.S. Military Service Personnel.

With great Respect,

Username: hifiguy

Post Number: 25
Registered: 10-2006
Posted on Thursday, November 16, 2006 - 9:39 pm:   Edit Post

Welcome aboard, Richard!

As a longtime Jazz and Alembic owner, I finally figured it out. Leo invented the electric bass guitar - no mean accomplishment - by putting all of the elements together in a practical, functional package. Ron Wickersham _perfected_ the bass guitar by creating the most expressive, completely thought-out and beautifully made instruments if is possible to make.

Congrats on the Elan - I have always loved the look of that bass' luscious curves. I guarantee you have just started what will be a long and enjoyable relationship with Alembic and Alembic Nation.

Best regards,


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