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sonofa_lembic
New
Username: sonofa_lembic

Post Number: 4
Registered: 5-2014
Posted on Saturday, June 07, 2014 - 8:33 am:   Edit Post

I thought I would pass on one of my favorite bass stories from my lifetime of whacky experiences. Back in the early 1990's, I had already been using Alembics for close to 15 years. They were my bass of choice, but I often ran into what I describe as brand prejudice as a session bassist here in L.A. Producers just expected you to show up with a Fender, and on more than one occasion, I was forced to play the old dusty flat wound strung, ridiculously high actioned Fender P Bass the studio would invariably have leaning in a corner somewhere near the broom closet. To remedy this, I went out and bought a 1964 P Bass so I could show up with it just in case the producer could not get over his fear of active electronics. Well, I never liked the way that bass played. The truss rod would never allow me to get the neck straight enough for the low action I had come to know and love on my Alembics. One evening I got home from a session real late, and drove into my garage in exhaustion. I had a lifted 4X4 truck with 32" off road tires on it. Well, instead of taking the Fender Bass in the house with me, I leaned it (in its gig bag) up against the rear bumper of the truck. The next day, I got in my truck, and backed out of the garage without remembering I had left my bass there. As you can imagine, the bass fell straight back onto the ground, and was run over not just once, but twice by both the rear and front tires. The tires rolled over the face of the bass from headstock to bridge, straight down the fingerboard. After I had pulled fully out of the garage, I saw the leather gig bag laying there in the driveway, and a wave of horror came over me. I rushed to the lifeless tread engraved Reunion Blues bag, and reluctantly unzipped it. As I pulled the 1964 P Bass out of the flimsy prophylactic, I notice that each string had left evidence of the trauma on the maple fingerboard between almost every fret. Yep, there were not only depressions on the frets, but on the vintage fingerboard, pickups, body etc. I began to look for what I thought would be the inevitableů.a huge crack in the neck. To my surprise, I could find no cracks or significant damage to the neck or neck pocket. I took the bass in the house, carrying it like it was road kill, and laid it on the sofa. The burning question was could it be brought back to life? I tightened the neck screws, tuned up the strings and adjusted the bridge. To my amazement, the neck was as straight as an arrow, and the action almost to Alembic spec's. It was a miracle. That bass played great from that day on. So, the moral of the story is, you can always improve your old Fender bass by running it over with your vehicle.
jcdlc72
Advanced Member
Username: jcdlc72

Post Number: 335
Registered: 11-2009
Posted on Saturday, June 07, 2014 - 10:16 am:   Edit Post

This is a priceless story. A friend of mine, also a bass played and a wonderful keyboardist, told me years ago he "had to carefully let fall into a carpeted floor" a Jazz Bass of him that was "reluctant to a proper setup", so to say. In his words, after the fall it could be tightened considerably as to make it more comfortable to play. I am not sure if I tried or not that "technique" on some of my instruments -in general I think I┬┤ve had a fairly good luck on setting up my necks, and whenever I┬┤ve found a rebel one, a little bit of engineering and Dan Erlewine┬┤s tips have helped a lot- but I have always wondered since then. Now your story is enlightening. Maybe it is a little bit of that "rough love" what some of these old beasts do need to "get in the line" ?

While that happens -or not-, I keep recording with my Alembic. It┬┤s my safest and surest bet for things to happen all right. I used to wonder (specially when I first entered the club, still a pretty newcomer to Alembic Caretaking) on that very same matter, considering some "Engineers" tend to rely more on their eyes than their ears. I asked right here, back then, whether certain Alembics would be closer to the Jazz or Precision bass sounds, since I┬┤ve had to have a certain palette available depending on the case (and the tastes of producers and engineers). Now I only use those every once in a while, and specially whenever I do not want to take my Alembic out of my home studio. :-)
bigredbass
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 2168
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Saturday, June 07, 2014 - 11:39 am:   Edit Post

I know that I've often thought of running over most Fenders I've been around, as I thought I'd get in trouble with the Feds if I left them on the railroad track or the Coast Guard if I threw them overboard.

I've never owned a Fender. I came up in the CBS days when they had necks like Louisville Sluggers and the quality was inconsistent to say the least. I never saw the point of paying the high-altitude prices in the vintage market (even if I could) for a bass that a teenager can screw together in shop class. Jazzes made me nuts with that single coil buzz, and Precisions were often club-like. Mr. Fender's design for these things were elegantly simple, but the world has moved on since the early 50's.

I will admit I bought one of those Squier re-issues in the mid-80's, but gutted it and went with an EMG P/J set-up and better gold parts. Sold it to a guy for a grand (he still plays it), but I was never compelled to repeat that experiment.

The issues that Alembic originally sought to address were obvious to me to the point I just skipped over them, and for a Fender-ish vibe played BB Yamahas for a lot of years.

J o e y
bassilisk
Intermediate Member
Username: bassilisk

Post Number: 130
Registered: 4-2009
Posted on Saturday, June 07, 2014 - 11:59 am:   Edit Post

It seems that sometimes the truss rod will"stick" in the neck slot and need some help to regain flexibility. I remember years ago as a young(er) man getting my beloved '70 Telecaster bass (my very first real Fender) serviced by a local tech. It needed a neck adjustment and he proceeded with it. After a truss turn he checked and nothing had happened. He told me to hold the body down - and he suddenly pushed on the headstock. There was a loud crack - I nearly fainted...

He looked again, said "That's much better" and proceeded with the final adjustment. I haven't had to touch it again in 40 years and it's straight as an arrow. It just needed some coaxing to become more amenable to maintenance.

The common misconception I find is that many people seem to think all of the pre-CBS (as well as the rest of the 60's line) are somehow magically amazing and perfectly made. They were assembly line instruments. Many were very good, some came out quite excellent and some were dogs. It's just the way it goes.

I am lucky enough to have an all original '66 Jazz that is amazing. Sets up easily, plays like a dream and sounds killer. I'm not sure I could readily find another - I've tried a bunch and was not as impressed.

I love my Alembic but it's not my 66 J and vice versa. Thankfully I have room enough for both.
sonofa_lembic
New
Username: sonofa_lembic

Post Number: 6
Registered: 5-2014
Posted on Saturday, June 07, 2014 - 5:42 pm:   Edit Post

It is clear that the truss rods in the older Fenders would get hung up in some way so that adjustment was impossible without some major form of trauma to the neck to reposition it. No matter what, Fender did not update their tooling and construction design until just a few years ago. Now, an American Standard has a slab fingerboard, working truss rod, and even graphite stabilizers. It took over 60 years, but they finally did it right. Fenders have their place, but for me they just do not have the playability, solidness or versatility of my Alembics. Even a great Fender lacks what I have come to love in a bass. I don't own one and have not for many years. I do keep a Carvin SB5000 in the closet for those prejudiced producers. It is vastly better made than any Fender today, and it sounds just like Marcus Miller's jazz bass. Like a Fender, you still have to pick the right one since there is a huge degree of variation in resonance and tone. As Fender-like and playable as the Carvin is, it is never my bass of choice compared to my Alembics or Smiths. My benchmark for justifying the use of my Alembics is I have recorded for producers who were not in the room when I laid down tracks with my Alembic. I just used my neck pickup to record, and knocked off a few highs in the attempt to duplicate the P Bass sound. When they heard the tracks later, they commented on and even thanked me for using the Fender! I would challenge anybody to listen to those tracks and not think it was a 70's P Bass. A good bassist friend of mine once told me "It's the fool, not the tool" . It just goes to show how versatile and chameleon like an Alembic can be.
bigredbass
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 2171
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Saturday, June 07, 2014 - 7:22 pm:   Edit Post

Every time I think 'ya know, maybe you oughta . . .', I remember these:

http://www.deviser-bacchus.com/products/handmade-series-bass/2014-twenty-four-dx-ltd/

. . . . and think, gee maybe Susan could hook me up with someone at Ikebe-Gakki . . .

I agree that FINALLY Fender seems to have entered the 21st Century, and they are much better. But then I look at something like the Bacchus above, or an Atelier Z, or Moon, and like a lot of things, the Japanese just have a different take on things. Fender, like Harley-Davidson, is very successfully building to 'their' customer base: I'm just in the minority outside of that bunch.

Now, about that CB1100 . . . . .

J o e y

(Message edited by bigredbass on June 07, 2014)
sonicus
Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 3423
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Saturday, June 07, 2014 - 7:32 pm:   Edit Post

Actually , I was amazed at the difference of design in the 1991 era USA Fender Precision Plus Deluxe & USA Fender Jazz Bass Plus Deluxe series .

They had Active Philip Kubicki Electronics and Lace Pickups , great Schaller tuners and a strange Schaller bridge with fine tuners on it.
I stumbled upon one at a local guitar show that someone had modified to be fretless and added another pickup ( now 3 pickups !) that was an unfinished project . I repaired all that was wrong and now she sings like the nice lady on stage at the opera .
gtrguy
Senior Member
Username: gtrguy

Post Number: 752
Registered: 9-2004
Posted on Saturday, June 07, 2014 - 11:03 pm:   Edit Post

I have to add my less than .02 cents worth.

Good old Fender bass guitars have their place and I would not be without one in my arsenal. A huge number of hits were made with them and the design is timeless, solid, easy to manufacture, and sounds great. All bass makers today (including Alembic) owe a very large debt of gratitude to Leo Fender and his designs.

If you can find many other items that function as well as his 65 year old creation with as little modification needed over the years, well... they are excellent examples of American know how.
sonicus
Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 3424
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Sunday, June 08, 2014 - 12:12 am:   Edit Post

David ____I raise my glass to your last sentence ! _____

I still own a Fender 1971 Ash Body , Maple Neck P Bass , 100% stock and it will stay that way as long as I have it.
bassilisk
Intermediate Member
Username: bassilisk

Post Number: 131
Registered: 4-2009
Posted on Sunday, June 08, 2014 - 10:25 am:   Edit Post

Since the OT has shifted:

I'll just add that it's not about what's better - it's about what appeals to you. Different strokes.

I am absolutely sure that there are people that (incredibly!) don't get Alembics and will tell you they're not worth the money - like vintage Fenders. Or even Fender Custom Shop Master Builts.

Play what sings for you, whether it's a Series II or an Ibanez....

You're the only one you have to please.
tncaveman
Advanced Member
Username: tncaveman

Post Number: 234
Registered: 2-2011
Posted on Sunday, June 08, 2014 - 5:31 pm:   Edit Post

WOW This thread got hyjacked. I had a 1972 BMW 2002 THAT GOT T-BONED. It actually made the drivers door shut better. Probly realigned the frame. At least the drivers side. The other side totalled it though.

Stephen
bigredbass
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 2172
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Sunday, June 08, 2014 - 5:47 pm:   Edit Post

We now return you to our OT . . . .

So I once worked in a music store in Florida with a top-flight guitar and amp tech. When things were a little slow, I'd hang out in Dick's shop. Wonderful human being that he was, there was never any indication of just how lame he thought some of my questions must have been, rightly having summed that at least I wanted to know even if I didn't quite know what to ask.

So one steamy Saturday morning I go down there and he's got a road-worn, high-mileage Tele on the bench. Neck's off, and he's trying to persuade the truss rod (one of the old ones with the Phillips-like cross pattern at the body end of the neck) to resume normal function. Various unsettling cracking sounds are occurring. It just won't move. He picks up one of those little electronic propane torches and proceeds to 'warm up' said truss rod head, after wrapping the neck in a wet rag. Turned like buttah . . . .

He then proceeded to really blow my mind. Dick explained that the pull of the strings pulls the neck into the heel pocket, and you could tune one up with no neck bolts in place. I figure 'OK, now he's going to see if I buy this or not'. So I said, 'You're the Doctor, be my guest'. He C-clamps the neck and installs both E's, removes the clamp, puts on the other four strings, picks it up, tunes it, and plays it. Then he put it face down on the bench, screws the four neck bolts back in, puts it in the case, and says, 'Coffee?'

J o e y
jacko
Senior Member
Username: jacko

Post Number: 3537
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Monday, June 09, 2014 - 5:28 am:   Edit Post

" you can always improve your old Fender bass by running it over with your vehicle."

Interesting that my old fender bass was improved by it's previous owner running over his ricky with his vehicle...

fricky

Graeme
apologies to those who've seen this pic several times before :-)
lbpesq
Senior Member
Username: lbpesq

Post Number: 5767
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Monday, June 09, 2014 - 7:53 am:   Edit Post

But does it matter what type or brand of vehicle one uses for this operation?

Bill, tgo
sonicus
Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 3427
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Monday, June 09, 2014 - 8:21 am:   Edit Post

Bill , ___I think that your question raises an important issue that could result in a new precedent being set perhaps !

Graeme, ___I heard a story back from the 1970's about a fellow who replaced the neck on an old Ric and then phoned the factory about it, from how he tells the story they were NOT at all amused! That Bass was later sold to a former member of Santana at the time he told me.
jcdlc72
Advanced Member
Username: jcdlc72

Post Number: 338
Registered: 11-2009
Posted on Monday, June 09, 2014 - 8:46 am:   Edit Post

Geez... And how do you call it? A "Fender Rickision Bass"? :-)
gtrguy
Senior Member
Username: gtrguy

Post Number: 754
Registered: 9-2004
Posted on Monday, June 09, 2014 - 11:54 am:   Edit Post

Yes, A Jaguar will make it sound like a vintage Burns and a Porsche will make it sound like an old Hofner and a Corvette will just put it back to normal.

Gawd help you if you drive a Yugo though...
terryc
Senior Member
Username: terryc

Post Number: 2215
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Tuesday, June 10, 2014 - 2:44 am:   Edit Post

I very recently bought a Squier Jazz Bass(indonesian) and it shows how manufacturing has come on since those early Fenders.
As usual the action was not Alembic BUT after a turn on the rod and lowering the action over a few days it now plays superbly. My old 83 Squier P bass which is a JV also has great action...seems as if these far eastern people know how to build them!.
Oh yes..tried a TBX tone control on it..waste of time and the small amount of money they are..it didn't seem to open up the tonal pallette at all so I stuck the original back on.

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