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