Trying to find the Alembic Bass that'... Log Out | Topics | Search
Moderators | Register | Edit Profile

Alembic Club » Dreaming... for now » Archive through October 06, 2007 » Trying to find the Alembic Bass that's right for me...looking for input « Previous Next »

Author Message
Username: ubado

Post Number: 2
Registered: 8-2007
Posted on Thursday, August 30, 2007 - 7:30 pm:   Edit Post

Hey folks. I'm rather new to the club... basically looking for a good price on a used Alembic (just can't afford a new one).
I just don't know what one to look for. My style is mainly thumb-work (funk/jazz/with blues). I do a ton of pop/slap playing.
I like the style of the Epics and Elans, but don't know if they are cut out for the job... no Alembic dealers around me :-(
At the moment my main slapper is a Kawai FIIB KS (Alembic clone)... great bass... nice modern sound, but lacks in areas such as tapping... but MOSTLY it's not an ALEMBIC... and didn't curb my urge for one... just hightened it!
Could anyone point me in the direction of an Alembic bass that would be right for me?
Senior Member
Username: tbrannon

Post Number: 523
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Thursday, August 30, 2007 - 9:08 pm:   Edit Post


There might just be a few Alembics living closer than you think.....
Advanced Member
Username: terryc

Post Number: 252
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Friday, August 31, 2007 - 7:13 am:   Edit Post

all Alembics are cut for the job, I once tried an essence and it sounded great, turn that filter to the high setting, flick the Q switch and slap away
Advanced Member
Username: jagerphan84

Post Number: 243
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Friday, August 31, 2007 - 2:34 pm:   Edit Post

Didn't Flea (from the Red Hot Chili Peppers) use an Epic for most of one of their albums? I'm not a big fan personally but I know he's got some chops and plays a lot of slap.
Senior Member
Username: the_8_string_king

Post Number: 730
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Friday, August 31, 2007 - 6:47 pm:   Edit Post

What are you looking for, a 4, 5, or 6 string? Do you want a neck-thru (which have a built-in "smile" curve and greater sustain) or a set neck (which have more of a mid-range sound and less sustain) or does it not matter.

The set necks tend to come with bass and treble controls (they also tend to be less expensive -especially used) while the neck thrus almost always have the famous Alembic "low pass filter" -and almost all models have a "Q" switch as well -except for a few models like the Essence and Persuader, which have the "Q" on all the time.

Have you done your homework regarding the electronics options? Most Alembics have just a single filter and Q switch... but the higher-end models (like the Series, Anniversery, and Signature models) have individual filters and Q switches for each pickup. These are a LOT more versatile... but they also tend to cost more (new or used), and you don't see as many of them.

Do you have a preference regarding scale length? Most Alembics are either standard long scale (34 inch), medium scale (32 inch), or short scale (32 inch). If you DON'T want a 5 or 6 string -WITH A LOW B STRING- a VERY STRONG case can be made for the medium or short scale models; they're a LOT easier to play. Conversely, IF you want a bass with a B string, you need AT LEAST a medium scale -and you likely won't find a short scale 5 or 6 string anyway- if not a long or even EXTRA long (35 or 36 inch) bass.

Rogues are often 35 inch basses... and they balance well and look great.

HOT TIP: I shared this with new member Art, but he just got a Series bass, so now I'll tell you. WASHINGTON MUSIC CENTER (see "Alembic Dealers" on the main page) has (or at least did recently a pair of 4 and 5 string Quilted Maple Rogue basses in their basement that were new, but several years old, and selling for ABSOLUTELY KILLER prices -due to being several years old (and at "that years prices"). I think the 4-string had a "ding" in it... and you'd have to pay extra for the case. But these were NEW instruments going for USED prices... with the full factory warrenty.

Call there and ask for Todd Elliot for info. These might be the best deal you'll ever see. The Rogue electronics are a great package, extremely simple yet versatile. And Quilted Maple looks great, and has a great, bright sound. But whether or not these basses are what you're looking for... only you can say.

There's another question... have you done your homework on the sound quality of various woods? Would you lean towards the bright sound of Maple, the warm, mellow sound of vermillion, the sensitive/reactive sound of Walnut, the legendary complex (and expensive) sound of Coco Bolo or rosewood... or maybe it doesn't matter, and you'd be more interested in the appearance of the wood...

Answering these questions will help you determine what exactly is best for you, and will also aid club members in giving you advice.

Good luck, and take care!!!
Senior Member
Username: the_8_string_king

Post Number: 731
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Friday, August 31, 2007 - 6:49 pm:   Edit Post

P.S. I think both the Rogues I mentions were actually 34 inch scale -but call Todd to confirm.
Senior Member
Username: the_8_string_king

Post Number: 732
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Friday, August 31, 2007 - 6:50 pm:   Edit Post

P.S. I think both the Rogues I mentioned were actually 34 inch scale -but call Todd to confirm.
Username: ubado

Post Number: 3
Registered: 8-2007
Posted on Friday, August 31, 2007 - 8:17 pm:   Edit Post

thanks for all the input... it's really helping me.

the_8_string_ king...
to answer your questions. I've done a bit of research on what I'm looking for.
Looking for 4 Bangers... 34" ... set neck is a plus. Body style is important to me, I like the basses with a longer horn... Epics, Elans maybe a Spoiler (not sure if the neck PU will get in the way) My Kawai's body is like a Stanley Clark... I like it, but it's just not that comfortable for me... I play off the hip when I thump.
Looking for a Q switch... actually the more switches the better (I like variety).
Mainly the price. I can't justify to my wife a 2K bass. Looking for less than $1,500.
Senior Member
Username: the_8_string_king

Post Number: 736
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Friday, August 31, 2007 - 8:41 pm:   Edit Post

The set-neck Alembics are the Epic, Orion, and Excell. They frequently sell for $1,500 or less. Check the "swap shop" area for prior sales you can use as a reference. Be advised that standard electronics on these instruments have bass & treble controls, and DO NOT have the low-pass filter and Q. Of course, every now and then you might find a custom one with a filter and Q -but it would be an unusual/rare exception to the rule.

Spoilers and Elans are neck-throughs. The electronics are almost identical except the Elan has a blend/pan/balance control, while the Spoiler merely has a 4-position selector switch (the usual 3 options, plus "standby").

Distillates are like Spoilers with the added 3-positions bass & treble boost/flat/cut switches. Europas and Rogues have these switches, but have the blend instead of the pickup selector.

MY preference is for neck throughs; also, MY preference -IF I had to choose- would be for an Alembic with a filter and Q over one with bass & treble controls. But I don't want to choose when I can have both. That's why I like/advocate the Distillate/Europa/Rogue electronics package... you get the best of both worlds. If you like switches, you'll find the 6 controls give you versatility that can match or exceed most anything you're likely to find out there (other than a more sophisticated Alembic). That's why I had my first custom spec'ed with individual filters and eq controls for each pickup, and my current custom in progress (see Marks Custom 6 String Bass in Factory to Customer) has "Signature electronics" (individual filters and Qs for each pickup) PLUS a master pair of bass & treble knobs.

Of course that's pricy. If you like controls, and want the best of both worlds, you might consider holding out a little longer, and saving for either a Distillate (they tend to be older and less expensive) or a Rogue or Europa. You can occaissionally get 4-strings used for $2000 or less... in my opinion, it's a big step up from the set necks with the bass & treble controls, and what you get for the additional cost is A LOT. But only you can say, and only you know your budget.

As far as the set necks go, I've seen Epics go for $1,000 or $1,200 several times used. (For 4-strings).

Be VERY CAREFUL if you buy anything off ebay.

If you consider doing so, I recommend you post here first and get advice/feedback from club members. There are a lot of Alembic-oriented scams out there, and they pop up on a disturbingly regular basis.

Take care, good luck.
Username: ubado

Post Number: 4
Registered: 8-2007
Posted on Friday, August 31, 2007 - 9:10 pm:   Edit Post

Thanks the_8_string_king... you've been super helpful! I think I'm gonna try to find a Distillate... currently, I've just been seeing 5 string ones.
On TalkBass there is a cat selling a Epic 4 Special (didn't know a special exhisted) for $1,700. To me the price is high... usually see them going for about Epics $1K some up to $1,500 (15 seems a bit much). A maple topped Epic is just under 15... still a bit high. I got outbid on a Zebra Epic last month :-(
I check eBay quite often... will only buy from quality seller. Thanks for the advice about comming here for advice before I buy. Sometimes a good priced Alembic goes quick... heck a Spoiler just went for $900... sold in an hour.
Again, much thanks!
Intermediate Member
Username: rockbassist

Post Number: 108
Registered: 8-2005
Posted on Monday, September 03, 2007 - 7:46 pm:   Edit Post

I have to agree with Jager, in that I'm not a fan of slap but I also disagree because I think Flea used Modulus for most of his stuff. In any event, if you buy an Alembic you can't go wrong. The tone, the service and the ability to get answers to your questions is unsurpassed. I have been playing for 30 years and I have had my Alembic for about 3 years now. It is the only bass I have ever owned that I would not sell no matter what.
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 5485
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Monday, September 03, 2007 - 9:13 pm:   Edit Post

If it hasn't already been mentioned, if you play a lot of slap, then neck taper may be a consideration. There are two standard neck tapers - classic and comfort. Comfort was designed for people who wanted more room for slapping - a wider string spacing at the bridge. I use some slap technique, but my main bass has the classic narrow taper; so it's not a hard and fast rule, just something to think about.
Senior Member
Username: jacko

Post Number: 1318
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Tuesday, September 04, 2007 - 4:35 am:   Edit Post

Kevin - re Flea. He used an epic on all of 'One hot minute' apart from the track 'Aeroplane'.

Username: ubado

Post Number: 5
Registered: 8-2007
Posted on Tuesday, September 04, 2007 - 8:40 am:   Edit Post

Thanks for all the input.... keep'em comming. :-)
Seems like I'm gonna have to sell off one or two of my "I'm never gonna sell this one" basses to raise funds... so $$$ is gonna drive what I get more than anything. I'm get the feeling that I can't go wrong with about any Alembic... so hopefully I'll just have to sell one bass. For now it's just a waiting game until one comes along in my budget.

(Message edited by ubado on September 04, 2007)
Senior Member
Username: bsee

Post Number: 1770
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Tuesday, September 04, 2007 - 9:37 am:   Edit Post

Well, I would say that the impact of wood on the tone of an Elan is going to be similar to such famous slap basses as the Spectors and Warwick Streamer basses. The maple core and maple neck makes for a pretty tight tone. Most other Alembics are mahogany cores if not custom ordered differently. The Excel isn't, but there aren't many of those out there. A mahogany core with a top of walnut or anything in the rosewood family will give you a very round and full slap tone.

In either case, the Alembic electronics involving a filter and Q switch (generally the neck-through basses) will give you really wonderful slap tones.

As far as neck shape goes, I think there's plenty of room on the four string classic taper and I would favor it. Looking at fives and sixes, though, the stock classic taper gets tighter at the bridge. It can be super fast, but you either need very small hands and fingers or truly superior skill.

Picking the right strings will matter a lot to slap tone as well, so experiment a bit if you haven't already done so.

Check in and see if you can hook up with any of the club family in your area or get to a stocking dealer. You should be able to put your hands on an Alembic or two so that you can become comfortable with the idea of selling one of your special instruments if yo ureally need to do so.
Senior Member
Username: keith_h

Post Number: 846
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Tuesday, September 04, 2007 - 11:27 am:   Edit Post

I have both set neck and neck through Alembics. Both of my set necks are the Orion body style. I have found it to balance very well. Both have the standard comfort taper and are very close to the string spacing on my 76 Jazz Bass.

My 5-string Orion has the more common mahogany body and walnut top. The electronics are the Essence version with Q-switch. I have no problems slapping with it and it has great tone.

I also have a custom Orion 4-string fretless. This has an ash body with spalted maple top. I went with ash as I wanted more midrange punch and growl. This bass uses the East Meets West electronics. I would highly recommend this package on any of the set neck line. It is a combination of the standard model electronics with a filter and Q-switch added.

Since you are in Hickory you might want talk to Kim at Shomaker Guitars in Burlington. It isn't that far of a drive from Hickory on I40.

Intermediate Member
Username: keurosix

Post Number: 196
Registered: 10-2005
Posted on Wednesday, September 19, 2007 - 7:06 pm:   Edit Post

Hi Chaz,
Welcome to the club!
A used Alembic in the $1,500 price range would do you well indeed. For slaping, I think any Alembic can do it, because the electronics are superior. It is a bonus if you get a custom top wood, or a neck-thru for a used price, but do not discount the set necks. They have a special blooming midrange which can drive the EQ to do special things. To explain: If the guitar produces the tone, the electronics can always enhance or remove or embellish it. I think an Epic, Orion, Excel set-neck would do great for you. Yes, original electronics have vol, pickup pan, Bass and treble cut/boost. BUT, for under $500, Alembic sells the "AE-2" filter Q replacement package which replaces the Bass & Treble with a filter sweep knob, and a "Q" switch in either 2 position or 3 position. This will give you the famous Alembic sound of the higher priced models without the price tag.
Here is a thread that discusses this mod:

From my own experience, the epic has a wider string spacing than the standard spacing of the series model, but is a bit tighter than the comfort spacing of my Europa 6 string bass. It is the best of both worlds, fast for fingers, pick, or slapping. The Europa has a bit too much space for my fingers, and I need to work up to speed on it, but on the Epic I need no such adjustment - it just feels right for my fingers right off.

Also, don't discount the Spoiler or Distillate models (Elan & Essence too). As neck-thrus with filter & Q, they are killer basses with gobs of great sounds and can be had used for great prices too. Happy searching. you WILL find your Alembic!
Username: ubado

Post Number: 13
Registered: 8-2007
Posted on Wednesday, September 26, 2007 - 9:08 pm:   Edit Post

Well... I finally got one :-) Picked up Sean's Epic (Bubinga)... here on Alembic-Club. It should be arriving soon.

Here's the thread... link

Thanks to everyone for the advice.... it really helped.

Thanks Kris, for the info on the "AE-2" filter Q replacement package... I'll be looking to upgrade it at some point.

Again... thanks everyone!

(Message edited by ubado on September 26, 2007)

(Message edited by davehouck on September 29, 2007)
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 5543
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Saturday, September 29, 2007 - 9:05 pm:   Edit Post


Topics | Last Day | Last Week | Tree View | Search | Help/Instructions | Program Credits Administration