Cocoa Steve is a homicide prosecutor by day, and a musician the rest of the time. As he tells us, "music came first, and it remains my escape." When putting really bad guys in jail is your day job, you need a healthy release for that stress like making music.
Steve is also a wood addict. More specifically a Quilted Maple addict. When I emailed pictures to him of the Chocolate Quilted Maple we had acquired, he immediately responded by saying that my mother and I were "heartless manipulators of someone who is known to be weak and obsessed. I'll take a Series II please."
Susan and Steve set out to make the ideal spec list for Cocoa. Obviously it was going to be Chocolate Quilted Maple on the top and back, and to make the most of the wood a bookmatch to center top was a must. Steve had an Alembic bass with a Maple and Ebony neck in his collection already, so for this one we decided together to limit the Ebony to a single laminate in the neck so it wouldn't overpower the punchiness with its incredible powers of fundamental sustain. But let's start off by focusing on that gorgeous wood...
Chocolate Quilted Maple This yummy wood is part of a group of billets (roughly guitar-body sized chunks of wood) that our main supplier of maples offered us. The wood is a naturally darker version of the Bigleaf Maple we usually get. Quilted Maple is generally a pale straw to a mid-golden color, but this wood is much darker than typical, more like the darkest amber jewelery you've ever seen. What's remarkable is that the color isn't shocking at all, until you compare it to the neck (hint: look at the next picture).
Continuous wood backplate It would be quite rude to this wood to make the access plates for the electronics out of brass, so continuous wood backplates are in order. Two of the three plates are faced with Chocolate Quilted Maple veneers. The plate for the batteries is covered in a veneer that we made by sawing a slice of the neck before gluing the body in place. Just like for the maple backplates, we resaw the wood as thin as possible and sand to match the other veneers. There's five layers in each plate for stability.
Just like the brass versions, these wooden plates have countersunk holes for the screws. Since wood isn't terribly conductive, the interior is painted with a colloidal silver paint, which leaves a layer of pure elemental silver once the solvents evaporate.

peghead peghead
Steve selected the Omega variation of the Crown peghead for something a little different. Just like the veneers we made for the backplates, we had to make the veneers for the front and back of the peghead since there is no commercial source for this material.
The Alembic logo is sterling silver and is inlaid below the finish with both white mother of pearl and abalone shell.
Peghead bevel A somewhat recent addition to our custom options roster, the peghead bevel is a subtle bit of handcarving that exposes the layers of veneer that provide the peghead's strength.
Omega peghead detail Echoing the familiar carving structure of the omega on the body, the omega tips reveal the layers of the neck. It's a delicate bit of artistry to carve and to finish. Plus, I just love the way it looks.

side output jacks We've made Steve's Series II basses with side-mounted jacks for some time. "I prefer the 1/4" jack to be mono," Steve wrote to us, "because it simplifies the life of the bar band bassist while the stereo 5-pin jack provides flexibility for my occasional forays into the studio."
The Series II electronics we make for Steve are a bit unusual. Instead of individual volume controls for each pickup and a master volume, Steve prefers the logic of a master volume and a pan/blend control. The low-pass filters and CVQs (continuously variable Q controls) are no different from any other Series II.
omega At the end of the bass, the traditional Alembic Omega carving detail. Especially nice with the bookmatched to center top, we've also made the accent laminates of Purpleheart with Maple pinstripes meet at the center.
Compliments are always nice to get. Steve told us that he's blown away every time he gets a new bass from us, because he can scarcely believe that the quality of the fit and finish, the fretwork, and the electronics just continue to get better. And he should know, he's owned or played a good number of Alembic basses dating from 1974 onward, and we are both thrilled and honored by his comments and his continued support of our craft.

Front Back


  • Series II 5-string bass
  • Chocolate Quilted Maple top and back
  • Bookmatch to center top
  • Purpleheart accent laminate with Maple pinstripe
  • Maple, Purpleheart, and Ebony neck
  • Ebony fingerboard with abalone oval inlays
  • Side LEDs in amber
  • Continuous wood backplates
  • Custom Series II electronics with master volume, pan, filter x2, CVQ x2
  • Sidemounted stereo 5-pin and mono 1/4" jack
  • 24K goldplated hardware
  • Balance K Omega body shape
  • Tummy and elbow contours
  • Omega Crown peghead shape
  • Inlaid logo with shell
featured custom

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Text and photos of bass by Mica Wickersham Thomas, © 2011 Alembic, Inc.

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