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Senior Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 1049
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Sunday, December 23, 2007 - 11:54 am:   Edit Post

I'm busily saving my pounds () with the hope of being able to afford a series I guitar for my 50th birthday.
The guitar I'd base it on is this one which is basically the SC body shape but as a guitar.

I'd stick with the current body shape in preference to this one shown above and have coco bolo to so that it matches my SC bass.
Two options I'd be interested in having would be.
a) a thicker top laminate that is chamfered/sciulptured like the
Tribute guitars.

b) I'd like the guitar to have a pickup arrangement like my strat as it gives me a wider scope of quick option sounds. ie four pickups, one neck, one middle and two bridge pickups.
With the bridge I'd like an extra switch to give the option of having the bridge pickups wired as A only (A + B in parallel) and B only.

c) 5 Position rotary pickup selector with the following 5 combinations Pos1 = Neck only
Pos2 = Neck and middle,
Post3 = neck and bridge (bridge pickup selector available)
Pos4 = Middle and bridge ( bridge pickup selector available)
Pos5 = Bridge ( bridge pickup selector available)

I've not seen a series instrument with more than two pickups so I presume there is a good reason for this... possibly the hum cancellor may be the reason. However.....
Would that be possible?
Advanced Member
Username: dfung60

Post Number: 288
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Monday, December 24, 2007 - 6:42 am:   Edit Post

I can guess at a couple of reasons that Series instruments with more than two pickups are rare (and, now that you've raised the topic, it's only a matter of time before a 3-pickup one is uncovered somewhere!).

The Series instruments are quite a different beast than all other guitars and even other Alembics. The pickups on the other Alembics are custom-built and custom-wound for a unique voice but are relatively conventional - you could drop the pickups from a Spectrum into a regular guitar without the electronics and it should work.

With the Series instruments, it's a totally different beast. It's a cost-is-no-object implementation of single-coil pickup design. The magnetic aperture is wider for a different tone and the pickups are wound with less wire. With less resistance and inductance, you get flatter frequency response. The output level would be very low though, so each pickup has it's own onboard preamp.

These single coil pickups would still hum on their own. Rather than add a second humbucking coil like most guitars, the Series uses an active hum-cancelling coil. Humbuckers work pretty well, but cause loss of treble since the second pickup coil "sees" the string in a slightly different place and the mixture of outputs cancels out some of the highs. The dummy coil in the Series instruments doesn't have magnets and doesn't "see" the string motion at all, just the ambient electromagnetic field which it can cancel out of the other pickup's outputs. Having this work properly requires the pickups and dummy coil have to be carefully built as a matched set, and in this case, a Series instrument has a third preamp for the dummy coil. Only Alembic would add an onboard amplification circuit to amplify the ambient noise so it could remove it fully!

Most Series guitars also have independent onboard Q- or EQ circuits for each pickup.

If you wanted a third pickup, I'm sure it can be done. But it will require yet another preamp/EQ board and more knobs and switches. This is probably the big barrier - cost, weight, and complexity. The dummy coil actually turns out not to be an issue - you can place it anywhere on the guitar that isn't shielded and it should work fine.

The other problem with 3-pickup setups are that raise problems with unusual switching arrangements - they require a lot of switches to unveil all the combinations. Off-the-shelf switches may not do what you want; custom switches could be made but have to be ordered in enormous quantities and would be expensive. Your pickup selector in c) would be a good example of that. It's pretty much like a 5-position blade selector except in the middle position where it's something completely different. A blade switch is a relatively simple double-pole switch, but would require some major hacking to switch the middle pickups for the blends but select a different combination in the middle position.

David Fung
Senior Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 1050
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Monday, December 24, 2007 - 10:39 am:   Edit Post

I guess cost would raise it's head at some point. Thanks for expanding the info on the series instruments. The pickup selections I have mentioned are the same as the ones on my Strat Ultra which i find give me a good variety in tone so I thought it would be possible to replicate the options on an alembic.
However the simplicity of the strat is that there is only one primary tone control and I also have a TBX that works only on the bridge pickups when they are selected in any position
If my understanding of your message is that the switching would not be a simple that due to the fact all the pickups would have separate eq circuits.

Hopefully by the time my pounds are ready there will be a possibility for this to be done. Until then I'm still dreaming.
Thanks again for your input.
Senior Member
Username: tbrannon

Post Number: 610
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Monday, December 24, 2007 - 11:04 am:   Edit Post


The other thing to do would be to put an email or phone call through to the folks at Alembic. I'm sure they'd be quite willing to discuss all the options with you so that you can better prepare your bank book!

Good luck- sounds interesting!

Senior Member
Username: lbpesq

Post Number: 2798
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Monday, December 24, 2007 - 1:27 pm:   Edit Post


I believe the Alembic non-series pickups are still low impedance. You could drop them into a regular guitar, but it won't work without a preamp. I have an Alembic employee "shopnight" guitar that uses two strat-style Alembic pickups wired with a stratoblaster. With the Blaster off, the pickups put out only a very weak signal. The Blaster must be turned on for the pickups to be functional.

Bill, tgo
Advanced Member
Username: dfung60

Post Number: 289
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Monday, December 24, 2007 - 2:14 pm:   Edit Post

Jazzyvee - If the Strat Ultra selector switch works as you laid out in your original posting, then I'd buy up a spare part in case you ever build up your 3-pickup Series! It should work just the same way if you connect up the switch post the Series preamps.

If you had a guitar which had three pickups each with independent preamps and EQ circuits (actually, the pickup preamp and the EQ circuits are almost certainly the same block of circuitry rather than two blocks), the player's complexity comes from having three EQ switches and a bunch of level controls. If you didn't care about separate EQs or level controls, there's no reason that it would be laid out just like your Strat, but you'd lose some of the Alembic tones and tonal flexibility too.

The builder's complexity is putting all that stuff in the guitar, although that's probably not that horrible.

Bill, with regard to the pickups, I may be wrong on this, but in previous discussions regarding the basses, most of the instruments (non-Series and non-Signature) have fairly regular output humcancelling pickups with a single active gain stage post-blend. It's possible that an employee guitar may have something different than production guitars. The original Stratoblaster was designed to follow regular output pickups which is why it has a bypass position.

David Fung

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