July 2003

The Bat Bass

Adam's Bat Bass Inspired by a custom bass we made in the mid-seventies, the scalloped batwing design on the top is a large inlay. The first bass to bear an inlaid top was the result of an "oops" when a right-handed bass was drilled for left-handed electronics on the upper body half. What to do? Since we had already made the investment in materials and woodworking labor, an idea was struck to inlay a replacement top bookmatched on both sides and salvage the project.
We pulled this trick out of the hat a few other times over the years to rescue instruments, but Adam's bass was the first one ever planned from the outset to call for an inlaid top. He loved the look of the bass featured in the collage in our brochure and decided we'd build his next bass around this unusal decoration.
lower inlay The first detail to decide on was the combination of woods. The design was to remain somewhat simple, so the intriguing shape of the inlay would remain the focus. Contrast was paramount, and since Adam wanted the bass body made from Alder, we suggested a short list of dark woods we thought would look best. For a few days Purpleheart was entertained as the choice, but when a particularly special piece of Superb Flame Walnut was cut into a bookmatch, the choice was clear.
Next, we needed to design the shape of the inlay. Adam wanted us to keep the general feel of the example he saw in the brochure, but left the specific shape up to us. Kris, Susan and Mica worked on several versions of the shape, considering the postions of the pickups and hardware to create a balanced design.
peghead With such an unusually colored and figured top, Chip decided to make the front and back veneers for the peghead from the same piece of wood as the top. To do this, he cuts a thin sheet on the bandsaw, then sands the sheet to the final thickness on our Timesaver abrasive planer.
Recalling the design was based on our early endeavors, Adam requested we omit the script under the classic Alembic insignia. To reinforce the retro look, chrome finish tuners were a must. The satin finish is also a feature from the days before we owned a buffing wheel.
tailpiece The bird tailpiece complements the scalloped shape of the inay, while the polished brass finish keeps the whole look understated.
We really had a lot of fun with Adam's neck requirements: he only asked we include Walnut, Maple and Purpleheart, and left the final arrangement to our discretion. Our shop responds well to such freedom of expression, as evidenced by the gorgeous neck laminate arrangement that Kris designed.
neck woods The main wood is Walnut which form the outside pair of the neck. The next set is the Maple pair. At the center a Maple veneer is framed by Purpleheart. Adam requested the bass have a deeper, bassier tone than his Zebrawood Stanley Clarke model, so we naturally suggested Walnut for the main neck component. The choice of neck wood is one of the most signficant ways to affect the wood tone of an Alembic bass.
Thanks Adam for asking us to build this wonderful instrument and for giving us the freedom to react to the project as it developed.
Finished bass In assembly In carve 1 Before routing
Finished bass In assembly After carving Before routing

Front Back


  • 4-string Stanley Clarke Standard
  • Superb Flame Walnut inlaid top
  • Distillate body shape
  • Alder body
  • 32 inch scale Walnut, Purpleheart and Maple neck
  • Signature electronics
  • Ebony fingerboard with Mother of Pearl ovals
  • Side LEDs in red with on/off switch
  • Satin polyester finish
Price available on request.
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