Fast forward 39 years later. I'm reading Vintage Guitar Magazine and I'm stunned to see an ad featuring future
Featured Custom Blanca. Prior to seeing this ad, I thought Alembic was long out of business and my dream
of owning one out of reach. I immediately got on the internet and went to the Alembic website where I discover that not only is
Alembic still in business - they are thriving and have refined their craft. They are making instruments that are equal to
and, in many ways, superior to the instruments they created in the early 70's.
[Beautiful Vermilion top]
A quick dealer search led me to Bass Central. A quick search under
Alembic led me to the Stanley Clarke Signature Deluxe section
and a few emails and a quick phone call to Bass Central later, 10SC14089 was on its way to me. Upon receipt, I was so impressed that
I had to get another. Wanting to go in a completely different direction, and being a huge John Entwistle fan, I decided that the Spyder
was the way to go. Once again, Bass Central made it easy and Spyder #44 was on its way to me.
Although these instruments are phenomenal and I love them both, I felt that neither one was "just exactly perfect" for me, so I began
to develop a concept for a custom build. I knew I wanted to pay homage to Alembic's formative years along with the instrument (and
musician) that initiated my dream, but, beyond that, how would this idea become a finished instrument that also reflects my personality
and playing style? To help transform this bunch of random ideas into reality, I scoured the Alembic website, especially the
Featured Custom Archive, looking for guidance. The Crown of Creation
project was born after a single sleepless night when I was finally able to organize all of my thoughts about woods, colors, finishes,
body and headstock shapes and electronics well enough to contact Alembic.
[Continuous wood truss rod cover]
I sent the initial email on a Friday afternoon and was delighted when Susan responded later that night with an enthusiastic "yes." A
quick phone conversation a few days later further refined the concept and solidified the build specs and the project was initiated
after approval of the Alembic Custom Quote and receipt of an invoice from Bass Central. Thus the journey began and there was no turning back...
Will the final result meet or, hopefully exceed the expectations? This is the question that anyone who has ever entered into a collaboration with a crafts person asks, sometimes many times, throughout the course of a custom-build project. In this case, the answer is a resounding "YES." If possible, this instrument is even more perfect than my other two Alembics - and they are pretty darn perfect.
[Silver bound turquoise inlays]
I don't know how you did it, but this instrument FEELS like it was made just for me. Everything from the neck shape and finish to
the pick up placement to the scale length is perfect. It's uncanny how well it fits my playing style - just like how a custom suit fits
perfectly because it's been designed to accommodate all of the wearer's unique physical characteristics. Sonically, it exceeds the Stanley
Clarke Signature Deluxe and the Spyder (although I think the Spyder still wins the sustain contest - especially the A's). The basic
tone is rich, thick and complex while retaining the signature Alembic clarity and the Signature controls allow a wide range of tonal
coloration from a good approximation of a fretless to J Bass "bark" to spanky slap. Side note: I don't know if anyone did any slapping on
this beast prior to shipping, but it is an unexpected slap monster. I think the pickup placement has a lot to do with that because the
relocated bass pick up is in the sweet spot for slap and the Fat Boy adds just the right amount of girth to the treble pickup tone to really
define the high end without sounding "clacky." Plus, I'm sure the ebony neck lam adds something significant to that equation, as well.
[Vermlion front, Purpleheart back, Inlaid logo with mother of pearl and turquoise]
It is a bit heavy, but is well-balanced when seated or standing with a strap and has absolutely no neck-dive, so the weight is offset by that.
As a bonus, it is visually, stunning. My wife called it "exquisite." The turquoise is almost ethereal and perfectly compliments the rich
orange/red of the vermilion. It looks retro and modern at the same time and is perfectly proportioned in every way. Photos do not
translate the complex contours of the carving on the body and sides when viewed from a 3/4 angle. It must be viewed in person to
truly appreciate those subtle nuances. And...the "point" ...well, it's just dead on nuts perfect.
[Flame Maple, Purpleheart and Ebony neck]
In short - the entire package is a functional work of art. Everyone at Alembic should be very proud of the result. As for me, I
am at once humbled and inspired by this amazing instrument.
Wow, David. We have been overwhelmed by your enthusiasm and kindness. It's been a pleasure building for you, and we hope that you're able to more completely express your musical thoughts with your new basses. Enjoy!
Text by David Taylor, © 2013 Alembic, Inc.
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