Planet of the Bass

Planet of the Bass "When I was about 5 or 6 years old, I had a big poster of all of the planets hung up in my room. To this day the solar system amazes me. Hubble took a photo of a tiny piece of the darkest piece of sky they could find and found 100 galaxies in it, each of which would have billions of solar systems. How could something be so big?"
Eric's wonder of the solar system was the inspiration for his second Alembic bass. He already had a Mark King Signature Deluxe bass with LEDs. But, as with the rest of us, getting a little older meant that this rather heavy bass (at just over 13 pounds) was taking a toll on his back come the end of the gig. He needed his next instrument to have all the Alembic sound he loved, but easier on his back.
Selecting the right materials to support the tone and reduce the weight was the first step in designing this bass, which wound up just a touch over 9 pounds. With an Ash body and a Quilted Maple top, the bass has the "attack and bottom end for Rock and Roll, and a good slap sound for the infrequent times I venture into some slap sounds, but most of all I wanted it to sing for supporting the big band I play in. Nothing is more fun than when it is a small rhythm section setting the groove and a few twinkles to really let the singer, or other soloist, shine."
Solar System Inlay We strived to get major features of the planets represented, including axial tilts, to make the inlays more than just dots of various colors. Mercury has one white mother of pearl hemisphere and one black. Venus is cloaked in a sea of pink mother of pearl. Earth combines watery blue acrylic and malachite. For Mars we used recon coral with a polar ice cap of mother of pearl. Jupiter's bands are formed from bronze mother of pearl with its Great Red Spot in recon coral. Saturn is white and golden mother of pearl. Uranus and Neptune are abalone. While Pluto has officially been reclassified a dwarf planet, it's earned a place in our hearts as the largest known member of the Kupier-Edgeworth Belt. In a likely unique appearance on a guitar inlay, the Oort cloud is represented by a scattering of tiny sterling silver dots.
Even during the process, the planet inlays have a certain intrigue.
peghead peghead
Matching front and back peghead veneers coordinate with the Quilted Maple on the body. The black stain, with just a tinge of purple has a suggestion of nebula combined with the undulating grain.
"I met Tony at Planet Bass, and he is very knowledgeable, friendly, fair, and fast. Maybe it was from dealing with Tony at 'Planet Bass' that I got the idea in my head about the planets replacing the fret markers, and including Pluto it fits perfectly.
"I wanted a guitar that would look understated from far away, but as you moved closer you would discover things - first something unusual about the fret markers, then see the gorgeous depth of the black/slightly dark purple Quilted Maple, and then back to the fret markers for closer inspection."

Quilted Maple Black Stain For us, a black finish is actually quite exotic! In this case, Eric requested a stained black finish, which is even more rare in these parts. Starting with such a beautiful piece of Quilted Maple, the results are rather astounding, we heard one comment of "it looks like moonlight over the ripples of a lake." That is just about the perfect description!
Despite its three dimensional appearance, the body is perfectly flat. The abrupt change in grain direction leaves a deeply incised look to the top laminate.
Logo The sterling silver Alembic logo on the peghead is aswirl in abalone and mother of pearl.
"I had big expectations for this bass," Eric wrote to us. "When it arrived, I was pretty much speechless at first. It was so beautiful I wanted to put it somewhere and not touch it. Which lasted about 30 seconds as I had to know how it sounded. The attack, tone, decay and feel of this bass is like nothing I have ever played before, and I have been jaded with some fine equipment. The most outstanding feature of this bass is that it is so feels like I am singing when I play it, not picking at notes."
Well, Eric, even though some of this project took much longer than expected (how long did we consider the asteroid belt?), the time we spent getting to know you was a joy. Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and trust, and for the freindship you extended to each of us in the Alembic family.

Front Back


  • Essence 5-string bass
  • AAAAA Quilted Maple top
  • Ash body
  • Black stain finish
  • Ebony fingerboard Solar System inlay
  • 20th Anniversary electronics
  • Blackened brass hardware
  • Inlaid logo with shell
  • Sold by: Planet Bass
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Text and photos by Mica Wickersham Thomas, © 2011 Alembic, Inc.

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