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Advanced Member
Username: the_8_string_king

Post Number: 221
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Thursday, November 23, 2006 - 11:19 pm:   Edit Post

Well gang, I got my quote yesterday and I got good news and bad news. The bad news is that one of my most important features, the 29 fret fingerboard, was quoted at a whopping $1125, and an actual 7-string (which isn't what I want) is even more. This is a drag, 'cause it's one of my most desired features.

Another drag is that having the 2 outer laminates of my neck be mahogany is also a big upcharge.

The good news is that Valentino and Susan were good enough to point out that my quote actually should be for the Mark King Deluxe -since that comes standard with coco bolo on the front and rear, and is less expensive than adding coco bolo to the Europa.

I can get pretty much everything I want EXCEPT those 2 features for right about my maximum desired/acceptable price limit... and it adds up to a pretty schuh-weet bass to be sure...

I'm set on getting a King Deluxe, Balance K shape, Europa electronics w 3-position Q, Coco Bolo BTC on BOTH front and back w continueous back woodplates and 1 ebony laminate in the center -replacing one of the 5 standard purpleheart laminates...

It's a proven Alembic recipe... the Balance K body... Coco/Mahog/Coco sandwich... with an Ebony laminate and Europa controls... and continueous woodplates...

It's a drooling dream bass... but I want those other two features!!!

But... buying them puts me well outside the maximum comfort zone... of what I want to spend...


So my options: I can go ahead and get the extra 2 features... or I could comprimise and choose the more desireable of the 2 -if I could. And then pay more than I feel comfortable with taking on, and just resolve to deal with it, to pay it off. Right now, I've already got about 25%, and I only need to pay 50% up front, and it's take about as long as a real child to get, I'm assuming. So I've got some time, and it shouldn't be that big a deal. Then again, conversely, I've got the impression that the extended fingerboard, and/or the mahogany neck laminates might well increase the production/delay time...

The other choice is just let go of these options and love the bass for what it has. This bass is supposed to be all about the great sound of coco bolo and mahogany with the light and functional Balance K body, and the BTC coco bolo sandwich with the ebony laminate in the center is a proven recipe which will rip.

The other option is to swap out other options... the problem is... I don't want to lose any of the options. I tried to come up with a list of 3 (3 options to consider sacrificing to get the other 2 options I've mentioned). The are: (1) sacrifice the BTC on the back; (2) downgrade the coco bolo on the back to a standard wood for a price credit (assuming they'd do that, which they may or may not be willing to consider/do); and, (3) sacrifice the continuous woodplates.

None of these options thrill me. I think the one I'd hate the most would be to lose the continueous woodplates. There's NO WAY I'd have brass plates interrupting coco bolo. My next least favorite option would be to lose the BTC. But these two options would, if sacrificed, pay for the extended fingerboard. I guess for me the least undesirable option would be to see if they'd let me downgrade the back to bubinga for a credit, and at least I'd still have the BTC and the continueous woodplates... but they may not do it, and if they do, they might not give the full $1100 upgrade credit...
and I actually don't particularily want to lose the colo bolo in the back.

So, what to do, what to do...
boy, I've got some tough choices...

I think at this point, disappointed though I am over the high cost of the extended fingerboard, I'm thinking strongly about just compromising and paying for the mahogany in my neck, because of the significant difference in price tag, and because it would pretty much be all spec's they're used to dealing with, and it wouldn't present them with any challenge they're not used to which would slow down the build time.

Another option would of course be to wait for some other time... but Alembics aren't likely to get any less expensive... it's not like there's a strong case to say I should wait for the annual price reduction to save! And this is a replacement for a stolen bass that is like a wound, like a hole in me I want to fill, and the monthly special for my quote makes it the perfect time, which is why I'm gonna order the puppy now!

But what features... oh man, this is tough!

Any thoughts are welcome and appreciated! I'm about to commit, and it's intense!

(Message edited by the 8 string king on November 23, 2006)
Intermediate Member
Username: haddimudd

Post Number: 171
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Friday, November 24, 2006 - 1:15 am:   Edit Post

Hey Mark,

I am sure I am not much of a big help with my comment as I can only judge from my taste and not yours, but whenever I find myself browsing through the custom quote generator and hope to I find a combination that would still be sufficient for me but cut the costs to a minimum, well, it never turns out. Either I lose my favorite features or I end up with the most expensive combination again.

Having said that, I decided for myself that whenever I'd buy my next Alembic it MUST be with all my favorite options, at whatever costs, because they are just so damn pricey to begin with that you wouldn't want to have less than anything you dream for the money.

To me Alembic is pretty much everything or nothing at all. That however puts me in a state where I must hold out for a loooong time before I will be able to afford it, so I understand that isn't one of your prefered options either. Maybe the trick is, to find a retailer who can give you a good price compared to the retail price, because the official retail price will always be a lot more than what you could get from a retailer ("we're supposed to haggle" sort of thing, to quote a famous movie).

When I ordered my first Alembic, I thought I'd take just the really necessary features, chrome not golden hardware, side LEDs not front, etc. However, during the actual planning phase together with Mica I had taken on more and more of the additional features I originally thought I'd neglect. In the end I was way over my prefered budget, but I am so glad now I did not cut down the feature list because it is such a wonderful instrument with everything I could ever wish for.

Of course I also tried to put together my lowest cost possible ALembic in the custom quote generator, as a daily workhorse without the bells and wistles, so to speak, but in the end I don't get it to be really cheap, so I could put in some fancy options anyways. Then of course the whole story starts all over again.

IMO you have some really rare and unique features in your plannings which I haven't seen on any other bass yet, so it would be great to see them realized. In the end that is what Alembic really is all about.

I hope you can get your dream bass in which way ever.

Good luck!
Intermediate Member
Username: georgie_boy

Post Number: 142
Registered: 8-2005
Posted on Friday, November 24, 2006 - 6:11 am:   Edit Post

Just wait till you can get ALL the options you want. That way yo'll be totally happy-no compromises. I waited 25 years to get a Series 1--no compromises, and finally I got one 6 years ago. Worth the wait
Intermediate Member
Username: keurosix

Post Number: 132
Registered: 10-2005
Posted on Friday, November 24, 2006 - 6:18 am:   Edit Post

If you can rationalize the extra funds, go for it! You only have to come up with 50% now. The rest will come later? Your 8 string bass is incredible and would love a playmate right next to it! One compromise: Don't BTC the back coco, that would save a little?
Senior Member
Username: lbpesq

Post Number: 1793
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Friday, November 24, 2006 - 6:54 am:   Edit Post


My $0.02: You can always get more money. How many more times will you have the opportunity to get a custom bass? This may be it. Do it right. Get EXACTLY what you want, otherwise, I'll bet you dollars to donuts that you'll regret it somewhere down the line. As far as the neck wood recipe or extended fretboard causing construction delay, I wouldn't worry too much in that regard. From what I've seen, (and experienced), it's the custom inlays that seem to slow things down more than anything else.

Bill, tgo
Senior Member
Username: tom_z

Post Number: 472
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Friday, November 24, 2006 - 11:59 am:   Edit Post

Mark - this may sound odd but - let the music set the course. If the required resources are truly an insurmountable issue, consider the equation from a musical point of view. Which features serve the tonal and musical ends to which you are committed? Perhaps the answer is that all of the specifications you have selected will have an impact on the sonic character of the instrument. If so, perhaps you will be able to reallocate your resources.

We both live in southern Nevada and I am aware of the increased cost of living here of late. Granted, I know nothing of your situation, but, I have been able restructure some of my activities here in LV to be able to afford the custom Further that is in progress. It's more than likely you have taken all this into account anyway - just thought I'd mention it.

When I ordered my Further, the custom features that I wanted were selected for many reasons - some tonal, some personal, and some as the collaboration between Alembic (Susan) and me. My wife played an important role in the process too, and not from the stereotypical perspective. Her contributions to the instrument wound up adding to the final cost.

I do not make my living playing music, but I bristle at the label "hobbyist" because playing music has been such an integral part of my life as long as I can remember. The complete dedication to their craft and their integration of art, science and music, is the reason that have chosen to have Alembic build two instruments for me. My Skylark has become my most cherished guitar in the short time I've had it and I look forward to the final stages of collaboration with Susan on the inlay work and the ultimate completion of my Further.

Sorry - it seems I've rambled, but I'm sure you get the idea.

Best of luck with your decisions, and if you'd like to get together and chat over a coffee some time, drop me an email.

Advanced Member
Username: the_8_string_king

Post Number: 222
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Friday, November 24, 2006 - 12:18 pm:   Edit Post

Thanks a lot for all your comments, gang! I was leaning towards passing on both of those highly-desired options... but your comments -and those of my girlfriend, who agrees- encourage me to go forward with both.

I'm now leaning towards getting both. I know if I get both, I'll be 100% satisfied. The package, as is, is awesome. But if I can get the extended fingerboard, that would be... well, I'm just used to the range. I'd be dissatisfied without it. And the neck... I've got something special in mind, unique, but no harder to build than a standard neck. I figured there would be no upcharge other than (for) the ebony... but I figured wrong! Valentino told me they don't order the long pieces for the neck standard, and it would be a big upcharge... but I'd still love to have the mahogany in the neck -for the outer two laminates... my understanding is that these two mahogany laminates, the largest two of the neck, sandwiched between BTC coco bolo front and rear, would really further the coco bolo sound, possibly transmitting it up the neck...!

And there's another detail to the neck that I want to keep a surprise, 'cause if I do it, it'll be especially unique and stunning.

I'm leaning towards doing it... I've got to decide what I'm going to do real soon... Valentino delivered the quote Wednesday, and told me to mull it over and get back to him on Monday. They're honoring the monthly special in effect when I submitted my quote, but now that I've got my quote, I'm obliged to decide quickly as they surely can't honor it indefinitely. So I'm going to make my decision Monday... at this point it'll be to go with the extra two features, cost be damned! I'll ask 'em for a formal written quote, and I'll e-mail the same quote all up front to 3 dealers and take the best initial offer -no "back and forth", or yanking them. My understanding is that the top Alembic dealers offer 25% off -but can not, by dealer agreement, offer more, so the least expensive dealer quote that is at least 22&1/2% off will be what I go for -if I don't get at least 22.5% off, I'll keep looking.

Anyway, I won't waste anyones time, and I'll be up front with everyone. I'll openly share the quote from Alembic with them, calculator in hand with the quote generator in front of me, and all they'll need to do is confirm the quote -especially the custom details not itemizable on the quote generator- with Alembic. There will NOT be any nonsense wasting Alembic's time with quoting the same instrument all over, nor will there be any "back and forthing" on my part to whittle down $50 dollars or $100 dollars. As long as I get at least 90% of the maximum discount (frankly, I've really got my heart set ON the maximum... any dealer will be doing okay with this one at 75% list price, I'm sure), then I'll take the best bid, and won't break anyone's... you know whats... for $50 or $100 buck savings.

Thanks again for your comments, guys. Especially your reassurance about production time, Bill. Of course, the other edge of the sword is that the faster I get it, the faster I have to put the balance on my credit card and have to pay it off. (The good news is I've already got 25% cash saved up, I'm debt-free, and I've got great credit. I'd likely have the deposit paid off by the time I get the bass, and the other half wouldn't be that scary.)

I'll keep you guys informed!
Advanced Member
Username: the_8_string_king

Post Number: 223
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Friday, November 24, 2006 - 12:23 pm:   Edit Post

Hey, Tom, thanks! I actually did try to email you before, but I think I didn't do it right... I was new to it, but I think I know what I'm doing now -so I'll try it again (but not today).

If you've lived here for a while, there's a good chance you've seen me riding my highly conspicuous titanium recumbent bike -equipped with a full-length, "Super-Zipper" fairing. It's an Easy Racer -the Alembics of recumbent bikes!
Advanced Member
Username: tbrannon

Post Number: 245
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Friday, November 24, 2006 - 4:59 pm:   Edit Post

I think you're headed in the right direction with this. Why build a custom and somewhere down the line regret not getting what you really wanted?

I also think you're going about your business the right way- no better way than to be upfront and tell dealers what you know and what you expect to get pricewise.

I'm looking forward to this one.....

Senior Member
Username: byoung

Post Number: 421
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Friday, November 24, 2006 - 5:01 pm:   Edit Post


I'm not really the person to ask, since the bass that I have being built at the mothership has been nicknamed "The IT Project": it is over-budget and late (and to complete the analogy: this is due to the user being un-able to make up his mind about exactly what he wanted, and kept adding things).

But I say go for it. You seem to be the type that likes to have nice things and keep them for a long time. If that's true, it will be paid for long before you're done enjoying it.

Senior Member
Username: tom_z

Post Number: 473
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Friday, November 24, 2006 - 5:01 pm:   Edit Post

I have lived in the valley for nearly twenty years - all of it in the northwest part of town. I have seen recumbent bikers around - usually near Charleston on their way to Red Rock, though not much lately. The urban growth has spread so far west, I'm not sure if anyone can safely bicycle on Charleston much anymore.

I used to climb at Calico Basin and Red Rock on a pretty regular basis, but the years have caught up to my knees, so now the ropes and gear pretty much stay in the closet - leaves more time for music practice, in any case. =)
Senior Member
Username: byoung

Post Number: 422
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Friday, November 24, 2006 - 5:25 pm:   Edit Post

Hey, next time I'm in Vegas we'll have to do a meetup. Mom lives there, I usually go at least once a year.

Username: bassjigga

Post Number: 58
Registered: 8-2005
Posted on Thursday, November 30, 2006 - 10:02 am:   Edit Post

I'm sort of having a bit of the same experience going through the custom options in my head. One thing I personally decided was a lot of money can be saved by eliminating the back laminate and continuous wood back plates. That alone cuts the cost by about $2000. Sure it looks really really nice, but it doesn't affect tone much and no one is going to see the back besides me. So at the end of the day I thought it is important to think sound first, aesthetics second. After all the whole point is to play music. Now if you can afford everything by all means do it. I definitely agree with you that it would be a waste to have back lam. and lose half of it to brass plates. To me, if you have a back you have to do continuous wood. So, sacrificing the BTC on the back sounds like a better option to me.

Based on what you want though, I think your # of frets and the neck woods should be the highest priority. The frets are going to contribute to your playing, and the neck contributes the most to the tone. I wouldn't compromise those. The back of the bass seems like the place to cut costs to me. But that's all my opinion.

Advanced Member
Username: the_8_string_king

Post Number: 226
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Thursday, November 30, 2006 - 12:20 pm:   Edit Post

Thanks for your thoughts, Dave.

Yeah, it's real tough... tough, tough, tough...

I still haven't decided what to do yet... but I'll letcha know soon, 'cause I'm ordering tomorrow before the end ot the day!

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