Post Number: 5
|Posted on Thursday, November 17, 2005 - 2:20 pm: |
Alright, given all but hell and high water I think I might have a semi-finalized design in mind here. Here's a quick rundown and if anyones got any opinions or suggestions PLEASE... they would be much appreciated.
Skylark neck-thru Omega
(still with the carved top)
6 string right handed
Ebony fretboard w/ abalone ovals
(nut width 1 3/4", scale length 25 1/4")
5 piece neck-thru:
Bookmatch to center
Top: Flame maple (wineburst)
Back: flame maple (wineburst)
Burst on front and back of peghead also
satin neck finish (no burst)
transparent gloss burst
Gold plated hardware
Gold Alembic/Gotoh tuners
Alembic crown peghead w/
recessed silver&abalone logo
Side LEDs in blue
Brass back plates and truss rod cover
gold strap locks
Skylark electronics +q switch
side mounted input jack
hollowed "hybrid" construction
Anyone got any info on how the hybrid construction affects sustain and tone quality (if at all)?
I'm trying to get this ordered before the end of November but hey... we'll see what happens.
Also any sort of quote (rough estimate or not) would be massive help.
Post Number: 39
|Posted on Thursday, November 17, 2005 - 6:40 pm: |
Kyle, you clearly have a really good idea of what you want, and it all... well, just seems together. But I understand the enormity of what you're about to undergo, so I'll give some... I won't say suggestions... just points to consider.
1. Okay, this IS a suggestion: have TWO ebony laminates and one purpleheart laminate. Purpleheart is really cool, but ebony is even more substantially awesome. And think about the size/ratios of the laminates. How clear a picture of THAT do you have in mind? Are you picturing 5 equal-sized/width laminates? I'd recommend spec'ing TWO WIDE ebony laminates with purpleheart between them. At any rate, make sure that you and Alembic are on the same page... you may have a preference in this regard. Remember, that ebony will have more sustain (and mass/weight) than purpleheart, which in turn has more than the flame maple -though weight shouldn't be much of a concern on a guitar. Also, while I'm sure that your plan would/will be great, you might conceivably like 7 or more laminates; maybe something like fm/e/rm/p/rm/e/fm. (Fm=flame, rm=rock maple)... Minor point.
2. The brass bird or thing that holds the strings... consider an extra massive/recessed one. Dig around and you'll find pictures of one they've done. It would boost sustain even more.
3. Consider spec'ing a 3 posistion "Q" switch instead of a 2 position switch. Minor point. But it could offer increased versatility, and they told me it's easy to specify the specific boost... so if you wanted a Q switch that chooses between 0, 4, and 7 db s, for example, it probably wouldn't be either difficult or (much? more expensive).
4. For that matter, since your concept is a mono paradigm (rather than stereo), you might conceivably be interested in (and if so, want to inquire about) the "quick change tone switches" they have on the Europa and Rogue basses. These are 3 position toggles that can boost or cut (or leave "flat") your bass and treble frequencies. They made custom mid-range swiches for my bass. If I were to get a custom guitar, there's no doubt in my mind I'd spec 3 (bass/mid/treble) "quick-change" switches for it; they boost/cut 6 dbs, and add tremendous versatility; these, with a 3-position Q (or even a 2 position Q) would knock your socks off... and they don't take up much space!
5. Beauty is of course in the eye of the beholder; but I find the Spectrum guitars infinitely more attractive than the Skylarks... have you seen any? There are a couple serious beauties in the custom archives, if you dig around, they're easy to find.
6. MAKE SURE YOU'RE CERTAIN OF THE SCALE LENGTH AND FINGERBOARD DIMENSIONS YOU WANT. EDUCATE YOURSELF THOROUGHLY BEFORE ORDERING. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A CRYSTAL-CLEAR IDEA OF EXACTLY HOW YOUR FINGERBOARD DIMENSIONS AND SCALE LENGTH WILL FEEL TO YOU. BE CLEAR ON THE PROS/CONS OF THE EXTREMES (SHORTER/LONGER SCALE, WIDER/NARROWER NECK) AND WHERE YOU WANT TO BE BETWEEN THESE EXTREMES. REMEMBER AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION IS WORTH A POUND OF CURE.
7. If I ordered one, I'd DEFINITELY pay extra for a 7-string (low B) and also get an extra (25th) fret to give it a bitchin' 4 1/2 octave range... but that's me. Maybe you wouldn't want this; or maybe you just might think, "Wow, that's a great idea, I didn't think of that!" If you were to do this, I'd recommend a slightly longer than standard scale (25.5 inches is their standard [I think] and 28 inches is [I think] the scale for their baritone guitars. Maybe a 26 3/4 inch scale, halfway... assuming there is any interest).
8. Check out the pictures of my bass and see how my flame maple body goes all the way up into the headstock... how the outer (flame maple) laminates of the neck are literally the same pieces of wood as the body... does this grab you?
9. Make sure the line that you'll have running down the center of you guitar won't bother you; if it does, zebrawood is a stunning wood that is ideally suited to disguising said line.
Good luck Kyle! Please let me know if any of my thoughts have been helpful. Mark
Post Number: 40
|Posted on Thursday, November 17, 2005 - 10:14 pm: |
A few other things: I think the neck would look better with the wineburst; matching the body and all; maybe have it just on the flame maple laminates. Also -minor point- perhaps consider the aethetics of the control(s) configuration... if the idea of the 3 "mini eq" "quick change switches" grabs you, you could have 2 vertical knobs (volume + filter) with the Q switch between them, and then have 3 toggles on either side -3 on/off switches for 3 pickups, and 3 "quick change/boost/cut/mini-eq" switches on the other side, for a nice symmetrical vibe. (Or, if you only have 2 pickups, then just the bass/treble boost/cut switches... or you could put the Q switch on either side as well).
I think the 7-string guitar is a wonderful thing. It really isn't any harder to play, and the additional versatility it provides is awesome. A good friend has several custom 7 and 8 string classical, flamenco, and electric guitars, and I personally can't imagine ordering a custom guitar without a 7th string -but that's me. A standard E to E guitar with 24 frets has exactly 4 octaves; a 7th string with and extra fret would have an extra 1/2 octave... that's an eighth or 12.5% more... A LOT!
Again, best of luck, look forward to seeing your creation. Your vision looks like it'll be a winner!
Post Number: 41
|Posted on Thursday, November 17, 2005 - 10:28 pm: |
Oh yeah, one other thing... you SHOULD spring for the continuous wood backplates, they look infinitly better than mere brass plates -ESPECIALLY for the concept you've outlined. Don't let the gorgeous flame maple/wineburst finish on this unique instrument be interrupted by the eyesore of brass plates (although they're better than plastic, to be sure). Think about it. Again, if you dig around on this site, you'll find plenty of pictures to help you make a decision. Try using the search function and type in "continuous wood backplates" or something, and you'll likely find a wealth of info. In fact, if you haven't used the search function, it's really valuable to find threads and pictures past and present.
Okay, I'm signing off. Again, good luck!
Post Number: 216
|Posted on Friday, November 18, 2005 - 9:35 am: |
Kyle - It does indeed sound like you have given a great deal of thought to your specs. There are some features that you are looking at (neck-thru, recessed logo, back laminate) that are standard features of a Further and it may be more economical to work from that as a starting platform for options, rather than option-up a Skylark. Now, I think the Skylark is a beautiful guitar, the body style is very sexy. It was my first choice for a custom guitar and I love mine.
Having recently ordered a custom Further, I can tell you that options can add up very quickly, and in my case, since I absolutely love Susan's inlay art, amount to a rather sizable sum. =) If you haven't discussed your ideas with the folks at Alembic already, I recommend that you do. They can answer all of your questions regarding wood combinations and the effect on tone, sustain, etc. They can also most effectively steer you toward a model that will give you the most for your investment.
The Skylark that I own is custom, mostly in terms of aesthetics, though, when Susan suggested the a wood combination for the top, she took into consideration the color I wanted, the music that I play, and my economic situation. You can see it in the custom archive for May 2005 - "Ghost Crow." In terms of the tone, my Skylark is incredibly versatile and the sustain is remarkable. I am currently playing it through a Mesa Lonestar, and between the guitar and amp, I can find almost any kind of sound I need.
Good luck with your guitar, I look forward to hearing and seeing what you decide on.
Post Number: 6
|Posted on Friday, November 18, 2005 - 10:09 am: |
Hi Mark, thanks alot for your input. You have brought several things to light that I had either considered and given up on or not even thought of at all.
I do quite like the idea of more ebony than PH in the neck, I'm thinkng I'll probably keep the 5 lams but exchange the 2 PH for two ebony instead, with the PH taking over the center role. Also I had envisioned keeping it somewhat simple with the wide outer lams of FM and the 3 inner lams of even width.
I haven't been able to locate the "extra massive/recessed" bird tailpiece and I must admit I'm not really sure what you mean. If you know of a link towards a picture/explanation of it that would be cool, if not I'm sure I can get it from someone at the shop.
I like the idea of the "quick change" tone switches (working bass/mids/treble) with the q-switch and I think I might have to just go for that (although the cost of all this is somewhat a factor); a simple way to EQ your tone fast and preset yet infinitely tweakable. Sounds like a no-brainer option to me!
How much was it to get the outer lams on the neck cut from the same wood as the body? This is something that hadn't even occured to me but seems like such a logical choice since the back will be Flame maple as well as the outside of the neck. However since I was thinking of a Vermillion body with FM on the top and bottom... would that be possible still? ( to make the one piece neck/headstock/body as on your bass, even though the FM would only be the back laminate of the guitar?) That does sound rather appealing if it is possible however since my original idea was bookmatch to center just on the top to allow the contrast of the neck laminates to show on the back. Why not make that back as close to one piece as I can, eh?
Upon further examination I agree wholeheartedly that the wineburst should run the length of the neck but only on the outer FM laminates. Is it Possible to have the burst AND the satin finish though? The satin finish on the neck is an absolute must for me.
Any info on the pricing of continuous wood backplates? That was the only reason I considered the brass at all. I'm just trying to steer clear of any more MAJOR markups in the price for pure aesthetic reasons, which I don't even know if they would incur. Guess I'll be making a phone call soon here.
Also... not to worry I'm still trying and then measuring every neck I can to avoid any discombobulation with scale length and the whole deal.
Once again, thank you very much for your continued input and guidance.
Post Number: 37
|Posted on Friday, November 18, 2005 - 10:24 am: |
If you want a good example of the recessed tailpiece, go to the Factory to Customer section and look for "Marc's Simple Bass." Scroll through and you'll see some excellent photos of what I think Mark is talking about. Here's the link: http://alembic.com/club/messages/631/6455.html?1131920369
Sounds like an amazing project is getting started-keep us informed.
Post Number: 257
|Posted on Friday, November 18, 2005 - 4:42 pm: |
I believe a satin finish on the neck should be ok with your bass. On the clear finish versions of the neck Alembic actually buffs the gloss down to a satin finish. I would expect that the colored finishes have a clear top coat that would allow them to also be taken down to a satin finish.
Post Number: 42
|Posted on Friday, November 18, 2005 - 9:16 pm: |
Thanks for providing that link, that's what I was talking about. It sounded like something Kyle might be interested in.
Toms' comments about the further come from experience, and surely merit consideration.
One thing I expect (I think someone else said this on another thread) is that a neck-thru Skylark would be a LOT more because set neck is standard; now if you just LOVE the Skylark body, then maybe it's worth that cost, and maybe you'd be just as happy (or even more happy) with another body. Are you SET on the skylark, no need to consider anything else, or are you open to consideration? As I already said, MY vote would be for a Spectrum (which is the guitar equivelent of the/my Europa bass -shapewise); but I think another really AWESOME shape is the "Balance K" "Little Darling" omega guitar. Have you seen Bill Panzer's Little Darling guitar? Dude, you HAVE to look at it, if just for the sake of seeing how awesome it is. But be warned, you might just TOTALLY fall in love with it and switch plans (or bodytypes, anyway) on the spot. (Unless, of course, you're totally committed to the Skylark, in which case, more power to you!) If you want to see it, fish around, search for "Little Darling" and "Balance K" (Little Darling is the guitar, Balance K is the bass). It's easy to find, and it's an awesome combination of form and function...
About the continuous body/neck woods and the electronics...
first of all, I can't recall the prices for sure; to the best of my recollection, they charges $250 X 2 (per switch) for my 2 custom mid-range switches (I think I got 50% off on the [custom] electronics per special of the month, though). Off course that was 6 years ago. I recall being relieved that the continuous neckwood wasn't as bad as I feared it might be. But I actually had a feeling that they might've chosen to give me a break on it because I was getting a bunch of expensive options, and I'd saved for a long time but was totally strapped and pushed to the limit, and they knew it was really important to me, and they had the confidence to pull it off and to be interested in the challenge. I don't know if this is true or not, but I always thought that they might've given me a little break on that one thing that was real important to me -which was actually a pretty marvelous piece of woodworking. I think they only quoted me $250 for it. I remember that the ebony laminates were at the time quoted as $175 per laminate or 6 for $900 (similar to you, I originally considered 6 purpleheart laminates and 3 ebony laminates, but chose to switch and have more ebony -despite paying an extra $375- and boy am I glad I did!) Of course, ebony is a lot more expensive now. And they did advise me that -while/though they made it perfectly- it was more challenging to make and took more time than they'd figured, and to insure it for basically twice what I'd pay for it, because that's what they'd quote to build another like it, so it might cost a lot... only they could tell you.
Moreover, geez, what a bonehead I am, I DID notice you spec'ed a vermillion body (which is cool, though a little bit heavy (relatively) I think) but it just didn't register when I was envisioning a flame maple neck flowing down to the body. One little thought, just a thought, is to have a 7 piece neck where the very outer laminates are a NARROW little strip of the VERMILLION body... just a narrow strip... that nonetheless flows all the way up into the headstock, one continuous flow of wood top to bottom. I'm talking like an eighth of an inch or so which would be thin and on the side so much that it would only slightly reduce the visibility of you flame maple laminates. This idea would look REALLY cool. Think about all that color in the neck. A central purpleheart strip flanked by ebony flanked by wide flame maple laminates flanked by narrow red vermillion strips that are the same pieces of wood as the body and headstock! Wow!
Anyway, just a thought. The idea you have is great, and surely would look awesome as you've conceived it. Whether this idea grabs you in any way and if so would be worth the extra price... only you can say, of course.
I do have another small yet SIGNIFICANT point to bring to your attention (I know I'm overloading you). The COLOR COMBINATION resulting from the combination of the deep rich red of vermillion and the white/whitish-yellow/yellow of maple are a great color combination, a really nice contrast. Now I know your getting a wineburst finish, so this point is less significant that if you weren't doing that, but you might consider something more contrasty for a pinstripe laminate. This comes from someone who deliberately chose duel mahogony and walnut pinstripes knowing it WOULDN'T contrast and stick out -I wanted subtlety for my application. But -to cut to the chase- in YOUR case, I can't help thinking that it might look a LOT cooler to have a think ebony pinstrip laminate (or some less expensive darker wood substitute, maybe walnut???). I'm picturing your vermillion body and wineburst maple top and back, and I see a DARK BLACK (or BROWN)laminate REALLY dividing and accentuating the colors you've chosen.
One other side comment is that I think your wood choices make for an aethetically attractive and also functional combination. We've already discussed neck woods and sound, and vermillion is know for a "smooth, mellow" sound that should blend well with the bright warmth, punch, and sustain of the other 3 (neck/body) woods.
I just wanted to say that -in my opinion, the 3 most attractive topwoods for a vermillion body are the flame maple you've chosen (or quilted or birdseye maple) or walnut or buckeye burl. I think maple, walnut, and buckeye burl are the most attractive combinations for topwoods with a vermillion body. I don't recall seeing any of these before, and have always envisioned these as awesome combinations of color. I hope I get a chance to see what it looks like before the wineburst finish is put on!
Regarding the relative widths of your neck laminates, know that the flame maple is perhaps more overtly "beautiful" than the ebony and purpleheart (and since I've got all 3 in MY neck, I've got at least a little basis for an opinion) but purpleheart is more functional (specifically, it's stronger and has greater sustain) and ebony even more so. So the wider the flame maple laminates are, the less neck mass is ebony and purpleheart (and correspondingly less of their tone and sustain-enhancing properties. I'd recommend (assuming you stick with your stated 5 piece model) equal-width laminates, but recommend that at least 50% of the width of the neck be the ebony/purpleheart core, with ebony being at least 50% of that (preferably a 2 to 1 ratio resulting from 3 equal sized laminates.) Now you spec'd your nut width as 1 3/4; I'd recommend the 3 inner core laminates be a 3rd of an inch, having the outer flame maple laminates being by default/implication 3/8ths of an inch and presumably wider as the neck goes down. But I'd recommend having no less than an inner core of 3 equal pieces each 1/4th on an inch, which would mean the outer flame maple laminates would then each be 1/2 inch. (This sounds like the extreme you'd prefer.) Short version, I recommend your inner core be an inch (3 equal pieces, 2e,1p) but no less than 3/4 inch (3 equal pieces 2e, 1p.)
Again, best of luck with you project, and hope this helps. Yeah, I think you'd really dig the "mini eq"... I know I do. The Alembic filter and Q function is far more versatile than the standard bass, treble, and mid eq controls in other basses; yet one need not choose between the two; it isn't either/or... one can have both... the best of both worlds. I actually went the full mile and got knobs for my bass and treble controls, but got a custom mid-range "quick tone change" "boost/cut" switch, and I have the standard "quick tone boost/cut" swiches on my Elan Plus. Anyone who has a Europa, Rogue or Distillate with confirm they are incredibly useful (and delightfully simple) complimentary tone-shaping tools that, once you have them, become indespensible. Oh yeah, two other quick thoughts: you could consider a 4 position Q knob (0/4/8/12 db) this is essentially what my does, and its virtually as versatile as a series two); and you might conceivably be interested in a backup battery. I have a built-in backup battery, so I never have to worry about running out. It's funny, I've actually had the batteries die out totally and fail twice, almost no warning, they just ran out of juice, and my sound was dead. And it was no problem, I flipped a switch, and used the alternate battery, and continued, quite pleased that I'd spec'd a backup battery. (And I promptly replaced the other battery.)
Okay that's it. Bye!
Post Number: 769
|Posted on Saturday, November 19, 2005 - 9:32 am: |
The "Little Darlin'" isn't mine. I have an '83 Electrum and an in vitro Custom Further (which has a 5A quilted maple top over a vermilion core - the combination mentioned above), and about 30 other non-Alembics (though several are "Alembic style"). Jeff Flaxman - "Flaxattack" - took a picture of me holding the "Little Darlin'" when we visited Alembic together. Here it is:
If you're going to get a Skylark, I love the idea of a neck-thru version. I've never been shy about my opinion that REAL Alembics are neck-thrus in the same way that REAL Ferraris are 12 cylinders. As for the Spectrum idea, it is a pretty shape. Another member has been trying to sell his brand new Spectrum. It can be found here:
(Message edited by lbpesq on November 19, 2005)
Post Number: 46
|Posted on Wednesday, November 23, 2005 - 9:06 am: |
I sit corrected Bill! (Dang, it's rare that I get nailed making an incorrect assumption!)
Boy, it sure looks like a gorgeous little guitar; I'm totally sold on the form, looks like it would balance and handle ideally.
I have to agree on the neck-thru thing too, though I think the Epics and Orions dust all but the best of other makers high end neck-through basses.
Bill, are pictures of your guitars posted? I'd like to see, and I'd think Kyle would be curious as well -as your woods match his specifications.
Post Number: 9
|Posted on Wednesday, November 23, 2005 - 4:06 pm: |
Well as it is right now I'm waiting for an email back from Susan with a semi-final quote for the above specifications. I neglected to include the one piece body to neck laminates in the list but I figure I'll be able to include those over the phone after I get the quote. Either way... I'm getting excited.
Actually the first guitar I was drawn to upon discovering this site was the "Little Bear" custom which I believe is the BalanceK shape that you are talking about. It is without a doubt a very beautiful shape and seems that it would be balanced very nicely as well (hence the name, ha). I considered this body style originally, but the skylark calls to me in another stronger way. I couldn't really explain my affinity for that shape of body, it just set itself into my head as soon as I considered the neck-thru option. "I have to have one of these" you know... that sort of thing. If the price is exorbitant perhaps I'll come back around into consideration of the balance k, but for now I think I'm set on this.
I would be interested in checking out your guitars though Bill, If you've got a pic, post up a link and I'm sure everyone will have a good look. Thanks for all the input, I'll post an update when I get that email back with the quote (should be sometime next week).
Happy Thanksgiving/5 Day Weekend to all.
sorry if you don't get one!
Post Number: 772
|Posted on Wednesday, November 23, 2005 - 4:51 pm: |
You ask and you receive:
my '83 Electrum: http://alembic.com/club/messages/411/12743.html?1126428257
my in progress custom Further:
an Alembic style guitar in rosewod & ash:
just some unusual guitars:
HAPPY TURKEY DAY EVERYONE!
Post Number: 24
|Posted on Wednesday, November 23, 2005 - 9:52 pm: |
I would get an effects loop wired into the guitar along with an rmc midi bridge. That would make the possibilities of your guitar endless. You will not be displeased with that combo.
Post Number: 774
|Posted on Friday, November 25, 2005 - 7:52 am: |
I don't believe Alembic will install RMC bridge pickups for synth access. They use the Roland GK pickup. The RMC system consists of six separate bridge saddles, each with its own pickup, that replace the saddles in a strat type bridge on a guitar with through body string loading. (I have the RMC bridge pickups on my Godin LGX-T and am having them installed on a Fernandes). The Roland pick up is a bar that fits just in front of the bridge. I've seen Alembic install these, but never the RMC unit.
Post Number: 25
|Posted on Monday, November 28, 2005 - 10:08 pm: |
The tracking is very sketchy at best with the roland and the RMC's are outright better. I would reccomend the RMC's highly. I believe that you should get the effects loop and the hex saddles for midi.
Post Number: 32
|Posted on Saturday, January 28, 2006 - 10:54 pm: |
Have you decided to order yet?