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Advanced Member
Username: juggernaught

Post Number: 291
Registered: 3-2007
Posted on Thursday, June 18, 2009 - 11:55 am:   Edit Post

My dream bass is getting a little more down to earth (from the series II with super custom layers ;) *sigh*)

I'm thinking about neck through short scale Alembic. Balanced K body shape. But are P/J pickups a good mix with short scale? I like what I've heard from P/j pickups.

Next would be woods. What combinations work great on short scale necks? I'm really into deep lows with manageable mids and highs. I'm also really attracted to exotic neck woods such as ebony, mahogany, and walnut.

The body: must have walnut. The top and extra don't really matter than much to me if it's all astetics. But if they'd help get more sound out of the short scale I'm all for it.

Electronics: well I may be limited by the P/j pickups but it would be nice to get q filters. Bass and treble boost/cut would be great too. So basically a Europa setup.
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 8203
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Thursday, June 18, 2009 - 2:58 pm:   Edit Post

The best person to discuss all this with is of course Mica. But here are a few thoughts.

For the "deep lows" I would think you'll really want an Ebony neck lam.

I'm not sure what "manageable highs" are but I'm guessing to meet that criteria you'll want a couple of Maple neck lams.

So I'm thinking perhaps a Mahogany/Maple/Ebony/Maple/Mahogany neck recipe. And then a Walnut top on a Mahogany body. Myrtle might be another good choice for the body wood.

A short scale Balance K sounds cool. An the Europa package would be very nice. I haven't had an Alembic with P/J pickups before, so I can't speak to that.
Senior Member
Username: tbrannon

Post Number: 1046
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Thursday, June 18, 2009 - 4:48 pm:   Edit Post

I have a custom Elan with a PJ setup- can I suggest you go for at least the signature electronics package? I love having a Q + filter for each pickup and IMO, the pan control is perfect for the PJ setup. I think the Anniversary electronics package would also be great- that stereo jack could give you the option of running the P and J separately if you bi-amp your rig.

The only other consideration is the pickup mounting difference with the PJ set. I had a Rogue previously and got really used to that wide, stable pickup for a thumb anchor. The PJ set uses a single 'screw' per side on the pickups and if you like to anchor with your thumb you'll notice that the pickups give under pressure. I haven't taken my pickups out yet, so I don't know if they're back loaded with a spring setup, but they have that loose 'give' that you find on fender style basses. I know tons of guys use a floating technique rather than anchoring on the pickup, but I don't and the adjustment to the PJ pickups took me awhile. I'd start digging in and would feel that pickup start pushing down into the body under the pressure.

Sound wise- I think you'll love the PJ set, they sound distinctly Alembic. I agree with Dave that an ebony neck lam really helps.
Senior Member
Username: lidon2001

Post Number: 415
Registered: 4-2005
Posted on Friday, June 19, 2009 - 8:54 am:   Edit Post

Hi Devon,

Here's a link to the build thread of my short scale BalK. I wanted the same as you, without the walnut & pickups, and it has everything you are looking for sound wise, at least to my ears. The key in my opinion was getting the '70s pickup spacing which moves the neck pickup closer to the fingerboard than where they normally place it these days.

Despite my love for the bass, due to finances, I could possibly be talked into selling her. Send me an email if you would like to discuss. There's only a handful of these short scale BalK's around.

Advanced Member
Username: juggernaught

Post Number: 292
Registered: 3-2007
Posted on Friday, June 19, 2009 - 10:47 am:   Edit Post

Just wow. I'm in love again. Pretty close to what I'm looking for, but the timing is probably not so great.

So my experience with short scale basses, the mid and high range frequencies seem a little much of the center of the sound. I'd like to have control how much the mids are kinda the center of the sound. For the highs, I think I only like color. Maybe that's the curse of short scale basses, so maybe I should settle for a medium, but I was hoping the right wood combinations/electronics would help with that.

I have a Brown Bass right now with anniversary electronics, and I find that it takes a great deal of tweaking of the Q filters to get the tone I want. And even then I usually end up losing some of the high color I'm looking for.

I hope this isn't too confusing. Feel free to ask more questions.

The neck woods you suggested Dave sound incredible. It wouldn't take much convincing to get me to agree to that.

As far as the body wood combination, if I had the choice I would choose the combination on Tom's bass maybe. I'm into Walnut cores bigtime. I might make the top maple though, perhaps even 5A. Another top high on my cool factor list is Buckeye burl. I'm not sure how these contribute to the tone. Nor do I know what the extra maple layers do. I know sometimes they put purple heart, vermillion, etc in there, but I haven't a clue why.

As far as the P/j configuration. I'm fairly sure I have a light touch, so maybe it wont be a problem. But if there's any simple way to fix that problem, I'm all for it.

For electronics, Toby intrigued me with signature or anniversary electronics with P/J pickup combination. However, I had a lot of success with the bass and treble cut/boost on my distillate, especially for live experiences. So I feel that the Europa electronics would have more utility...
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 8216
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Friday, June 19, 2009 - 5:29 pm:   Edit Post

A Maple top does add to the tone, helping support attack and high end. I believe it is the case that Buckeye Burl is more of a visual choice, not contributing to tone. The accent layers are added to visually separate the body from the top and back laminates; this is especially helpful when two pieces of wood don't particularly look great when they are right next to each other, whether for reasons of color of grain pattern. A nice accent laminate can really set off a top laminate.

If it's within your budget, you might consider something like Signature electronics with the addition of the bass and treble switches.
Advanced Member
Username: juggernaught

Post Number: 293
Registered: 3-2007
Posted on Friday, June 19, 2009 - 5:46 pm:   Edit Post

Hmmm, then maybe if budget allows I'd do the neck and electronics that Dave suggests with either Tom's body wood combination or maple top and back with walnut core. Maybe some accents if they're not too expensive. Hmmm... now the money needs to come in... unless I buy Tom's bass first ;)
Username: heike

Post Number: 7
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Sunday, June 21, 2009 - 9:31 am:   Edit Post

I feel the Brown Bass also tone-wise is something special, so your new built will be different anyway.

Accent laminates are chosen for their looks. The standard patterns for various top woods can be found in the reference section <>. Still you can ask for whatever you'd like, e.g. just a discreet veneer, or an eye-catching triple accent line, etc. etc.

(Guess in case of maple over walnut a double line of walnut and maple would look very neat)

Buckeye Burl surely looks spectacular, but as for its tonal qualities I'm a bit skeptical due to its spalted nature. Guess it will round out and mellow tone rather than adding attack, definition, and brillant sheen like flame or quilted maple would do.

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