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Advanced Member
Username: dubalbal

Post Number: 212
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Monday, February 19, 2007 - 11:30 pm:   Edit Post

Hello Friends ,

I saw the thread about those pretty nice basses . Living in Belgium , i called the guy to know a bit more about his basses . The main point of this discussion was that he didn't build thru-neck anymore , only bolt-on ! The reason for this is that thru-necks " eat " medium freqs...not the bolt-on models...

I am no specialist of course , so...what do you think folks ?


Senior Member
Username: adriaan

Post Number: 1279
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Tuesday, February 20, 2007 - 12:02 am:   Edit Post

Completely true.

But then why do most amps have controls that let you dial in the 'smiley' curve (like SWR's aural exciter)? Probably because a lot of players don't like to hear too much of those mid freqencies that they're getting from their bolt-ons.
Username: mica

Post Number: 4147
Registered: 6-2000
Posted on Tuesday, February 20, 2007 - 8:52 am:   Edit Post

I agree with Jens, and give people the same advice when helping them decide on which Alembic, set neck vs. neck through (bolt-ons have yet more midrange than set necks). But I don't view it as a negative - I like the midrange suppressed. Midrange frequencies can have a muddying result when played in a band situation. Construction, materials, and pickups/electronics all contribute to the final sound the bass is capable of.

Admittedly, most of my experience with bolt-ons is as an audience member at concerts. In that setting in particular, I almost always prefer the sound of a neck through.

Adriaan's point is valid too. Tom Walker's original Fender preamp design specifically has no midrange boost at all. The best you can coax from it is flat midrange response. This is the circuit on which my dad based the F-2B.
Senior Member
Username: bsee

Post Number: 1493
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Tuesday, February 20, 2007 - 9:27 am:   Edit Post


You say the Fender pre was built to go along with bolt-on basses that didn't need a midrange boost. You say that the neck through basses Alembic builds have a naturally suppressed midrange.

So, why would Alembic build the F-2B and F-1X in the same style as Fender? Wouldn't it be appropriate to allow for a little boost control through some of the mid frequencies in a product that should pair well with Alembic basses?

On the original topic, I wonder if this is actually true or just an appearance.

I always thought that the bolt-ons lost a lot of low frequency energy through the neck joint. Additionally, the traditional wood choices for those basses also tended to favor the higher frequencies over lower. The result is a bass with strong midrange relative to bass frequencies.

On the neck throughs, especially with the denser woods Alembic likes to use, the bass frequencies don't get as lost. This might give the appearance of cut midrange, but is it true that the mids are suppressed rather than the bass frequencies being more evident because they are better preserved?

I don't know, I'm just asking. Well, I do know that I want an updated F-1X with a few more features, I just don't know about the bass thing...
Intermediate Member
Username: xlrogue6

Post Number: 121
Registered: 8-2002
Posted on Tuesday, February 20, 2007 - 9:40 am:   Edit Post

I'll take a slight (in my experience anyway) reduction in mids in exchange for no dead spots any day! I usually boost the mids in the 600-800 Hz range by 3 dB or so--but after hearing the Minidisc recording of my blues band last Sat. night I'm thinking of toning that down a little. As far as the $100K Ritter goes, all I could think when I saw it was "nice bass--but for that kind of dough he could have had the most insane Alembic ever built!". To each his own, I guess.
Username: mica

Post Number: 4148
Registered: 6-2000
Posted on Tuesday, February 20, 2007 - 10:23 am:   Edit Post

Bob, we're not huge midrange fans in band settings. The traditional Tom Walker design does quite nicely, even with with a neck through Alembic bass. We've got thousands of happy customers with this pairing, so there are some that share this opinion. It won't suit everyone's taste, and there are a variety of different ideas out there when it comes to preamps. When playing at home, many people miss the rest of the band, and pump up the mids when practicing.

I find that bolt-ons have less sustain overall, affecting all frequencies. Bolt-ons with a stronger, better fit joint improve sustain and frequency response, and a glued joint brings the two pieces together even more completely. Material choices impact the sound even more on bolt-on and set neck designs.

The skill of the fret installation and the setup work can have an impact on sustain as well.

Dense woods tend to emphasize high frequency response in Alembics. The shorter wavelengths can course through the tightly packed cells. Less dense woods emphasize the low frequencies on Alembics, where the longer wavelengths have room in the larger more open cells. The neck through construction still results in an predictable EQ "smile."

For instance, a Maple (dense) body Alembic neck through, like an Elan or original Essence, has a very bright sound. An original Spoiler, with a solid Koa (less dense) body produces a much warmer sound emphasizing lows. Both examples have the same neck construction and materials.

The basses we've made with Alder, a fairly traditional bolt-on wood, seem to have limited high end response when used on Alembics, producing an overall "thunky" sound. Ash for bodies seems to keep the midrange more active, even on Alembic neck throughs, but the smile persists.

With the personification of "eating" the mids, it's less important if they are lower or if the bass and treble is higher, the resulting sound is still one of an EQ smile on a neck through. If someone wants more mids, and a punchier sounding Alembic, I'll suggest a set neck construction so they aren't fighting the nature of the bass. There are many individual players capable of making a neck through sound plenty punchy through technique, but not every player has that at their disposal.

I'd also suggest that bolt-ons are less expensive to produce. If the neck or body fails, you can replace that part. On a neck through, it's a much more expensive task to salvage a body or neck. It takes us at least 10 hours more to produce a neck through over a set neck.
Senior Member
Username: flaxattack

Post Number: 1387
Registered: 4-2004
Posted on Tuesday, February 20, 2007 - 3:07 pm:   Edit Post

as an ash body guy on direwolf, i can say that there are no problems with it's midrange smirk
less smile and heck of a growl.,,,walnut lam gives it some more attack
Senior Member
Username: bob

Post Number: 825
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Tuesday, February 20, 2007 - 9:52 pm:   Edit Post

(moder Dave - Mica's post above, and maybe also the one above that, really belong somewhere in the FAQ section.)
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 1125
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Tuesday, February 20, 2007 - 9:59 pm:   Edit Post

Mids are one of those things in life that seem like a great idea, but experience tends to shape our reality to a more obvious truth.

I think the whole point of this is that the mids are there no matter what, and the bass and treble need work to match the mid level. That's why the original circuit and Ron's refinement let it just pass through. or apply a 'cut-only' to blend the bass and highs.

A lot of the 'Enhance' controls on many amps these days apply the infamous 'smile' EQ, raising upper bass and the breakpoint of the mids-to-treble transition as this is just as obvious to modern designers as it was 50 years ago. Unfortunately, this only begins the mish-mash of frequencies, what with 3-band EQ onboard many basses these days and LOTS of EQ in amps.

As an Eden user, they report that a lot of people use their amps virtually flat with only a slight leaning on the Enhance that they build in.
I've learned to do this, to truly hear each bass for what it is. Not some 'plastic surgery', boosted beyond reason rumble. Roll up a bunch of low EQ on the axe, a bunch of 50 an 100hz boost in the amp head? No wonder you think you need mids to save this muddy tone.

Learning to play with filters and a very slightly EQ'd amp is the bass equivalent of high-end audio: It just DOESN'T NEED much if it's all great to begin with. I've learned a little change in the filter and moving my hand towards one pickup or the other slightly yields big changes in tone, and I keep a lot more headroom in the amp as I'm not pushing bunches of 100hz as I once did.

I'll never forget an object lesson I saw about this: Went to a club and the bassist had a Modulus 5, Demeter pre and QSC power, atop 2 Hartke 410s, serious rig, and he could play. NO bass, all mids, would've made a great recording tone for an effect-laden track. NOBODY danced. Two sets, they change bands. Next guy: Jazz and a Peavey 215 stack. Good bottom end with enough mids and highs for articulation without mud. Couldn't get on the floor for all the dancers. With a far less experienced rhythm section.

As Mica implies, the sound is in your hands and your head. Not everybody can take any axe and get their sound, she's right. But you've got to develop your ears and learn you whole instrument (Axe, cables, amp, speakers) to be your best. And chasing a bunch of mids and spinning lots of knobs will make learning that take a lot longer. I wish this would have dawned on me years ago.
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 1126
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Tuesday, February 20, 2007 - 10:00 pm:   Edit Post

Also, one of the few lesson from recording that DOES carry over to live playing:

In recording we try to segregate the different instruments into separate freq ranges/spots in the arrangements: How many of you have had the distinct pain-in-the-ass of playing with a guitar player that STAYS down by the nut, or a keyboard player that plays lots of low notes and you just can't hear yourself for their bleed over into your neighborhood? Well if you run lots of mids, you will begin to compromise their parts. Especially in country music or blues where you're playing with a Tele, forget it.

J o e y

(Message edited by bigredbass on February 20, 2007)
Senior Member
Username: bsee

Post Number: 1496
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Tuesday, February 20, 2007 - 11:51 pm:   Edit Post


Very true in my two guitar band, very false in my one guitar band.

If I don't get strong mids in the three piece, the overall tonal character is relatively empty. I need to be able to go rapidly from laying down a fat line under a rhythm guitar to light chording that supports a tune through a guitar solo. The best tone comes from cutting back a little on the low bass in favor of low mids plus a slight bump in the 800Hz range for definition. I do the rest of the work with my hands to vary the tones.

In the two guitar band, though, one of the guitars is a blues guy who loves strong low mids in his tone. The best tone I get in that band is with strong bass rather than low mids, but I still bump the upper mids a bit for note definition. The right hand technique stays a lot simpler since I am only performing one function in this group.

I guess the point is that I agree with your point on segregation of instruments, but less so on your interpretation of the function of a bass.

Versatility = good.

Senior Member
Username: 811952

Post Number: 971
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Wednesday, February 21, 2007 - 7:46 am:   Edit Post

"Also, one of the few lesson from recording that DOES carry over to live playing:

In recording we try to segregate the different instruments into separate freq ranges/spots in the arrangements"

YES! Words to live and die by (or suck and not-suck by). Thanks for posting that. Now if there were a way to get all the sound-techs in the world to read it!

Username: davehouck

Post Number: 4795
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Friday, February 23, 2007 - 1:01 pm:   Edit Post

(Bob Novy - done; great idea, thanks!!)
Username: jbybj

Post Number: 52
Registered: 6-2006
Posted on Friday, February 23, 2007 - 9:52 pm:   Edit Post

All this talk about using the natural sound of the instrument, and playing technique, to alter your tone, reminds me of my Wishbasses. When I asked Wish why his basses only have a volume pot, he told me to learn to use my fingers and technique to vary the tone. It was a great lesson. Now that I have an Epic, while I play around with the tone pots when I'm solo, in a group setting the EQ's always stay flat, it sounds best that way to me. Same with my amps, in a group setting all eq's are between 11:00 and 1:00 o'clock. Venturing too far out always seems to create a downward spiral in tone. The same goes for your stereo at home, if you have to adjust the EQ, then it's time to relocate, or replace your speakers.
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 1128
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Friday, February 23, 2007 - 10:36 pm:   Edit Post

Exactly. I often find I'm happiest when I get almost an acoustic sound of the strings out of my bass. Reminiscent of the way some Strat guys can make one sound almost acoustic in a clean setting. I just wish it hadn't taken me so long to realize less really is more.

J o e y

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