Deep Purple

Deep Purple When I was a kid, I wondered about the people that got more than one instrument from us. Sometimes it was obvious, they needed a back up on tour, or they wanted a matching set of fretted and fretless basses. Other times, it wasn't as clear why someone would need more than one Alembic. As I got older, I started to understand.
Just the variety of shapes and wood colors alone invite collections. It's so hard to pick just one. But now that my ear has learned more, I can really hear how different woods sculpt the sound. So now I'm not as surprised when we have a customer like Alan who after getting two custom Alembic basses comes back for a third.
Alan's first time around the block was a Dragon Wing in Coco Bolo. Then came a custom Balance K, also in Coco Bolo, but with an Ebony central neck laminate. When the itch for number three came, it was time to cast the tone differently, so we started with the wood recipe, and that started with Ash.
Ash top Alan liked the grain he found on another maker's bass. After looking at a few selections by email, I realized that one of the reasons he wasn't super excited about the choices is that the asymmetric body shape of the Rogue was gobbling up a key feature he liked on his reference bass - the wide grain at the bottom end. So I suggested we try slipping the bookmatch to capture more of that wide grain, like we had done on another Rogue bass at the customer's request. Alan approved the new slip placement with an enthusiastic, "Let it rip!!!"
We added a subtle stack of Mahogany, Purpleheart and another Mahogany as the accent laminate. We often go for maximum constrast, but that wasn't the goal with this bass.
Purpleheart Fingerboard It's hard to miss the blatently non-Ebony fingerboard on this bass. Selected for looks alone, the Purpleheart fingerboard has a little less contrast than our traditional Ebony board, and its violet color is sublime. The natural abalone inlays have wonderful pink and purple hues to complement the fingerboard.
Even though Ebony is our first choice for fingerboards from a durability perspective, Purpleheart is no slouch in that arena, and will weather well over the years. There's plenty of early 1970s Alembic basses and guitars with their original Purpleheart fingerboards intact. Over time, the vibrant color will mellow to a warm purplish brown hue, which will still look great on this bass.
Side LEDs There had to be a little more purple here for us to call this bass Deep Purple and now you've found it! Actually, it's technically violet, since light doesn't come in purple. The side LEDs are violet with amber at the 12th and 24th positions. We've only made a handful of instruments with these LEDs, and they look really cool, especially when paired up with the proper woods.

peghead peghead
Alan requested a custom peghead shape, based on the Dragon Claw peghead on the instrument he already had. It's never quite as easy as the request sounds, "take the 'claw' part off" because you have to study the form and make sure it doesn't look like you just took the claw part off. In this case, we pulled the center of the peghead over to the left more than the original. A few sketches later, and we had the shape that Alan was dreaming about.

on stage Combining the Ash body with an Ebony neck laminate is the perfect recipe for the tone that Alan sought. The sound is deep and muscular, with more midrange than his other basses. The body shape is extremely comfortable for live playing, and that's exactly what Deep Purple is doing right now, holding down the low end in its natural environment.
We had fun making this bass. There were some challenges to get everything "just right" but you'd never know it from looking at it or playing it. I actually had to force myself to stop playing so Mary could give it her final seal of approval. I'm not sure if Alan will have a number four in his future, but I won't be too surprised if we're asked to make another dream come true for him in the future.

Front Back


  • Rogue 4-string bass
  • Ash top, slip bookmatch
  • Mahogany, Purpleheart, Mahogany accent laminates
  • Ash body
  • Purpleheart fingerboard
  • Maple, Purpleheart, and Ebony neck
  • Custom peghead shape
  • Ebony fingerboard with abalone inlays
  • Side LEDs in violet with amber at 12 and 24
  • Rogue electronics: volume, pan, filter, 2-position Q-switch, bass cut/flat/boost, treble but/flat/boost, LED on/off
  • MXY bass pickup, FatBoy treble pickup
  • Bird tailpiece
  • Sold by: Will Gunn Guitars
featured custom

Wallpaper: 1600x1200 1280x1024 1024x768 800x600
Widescreen: 2560x1440 1920x1200 1680x1050

Text and photos by Mica Wickersham Thomas, © 2011 Alembic, Inc.
Photo of Alan © 2011 Judy Rowley

Custom Archive · Get a Custom Quote
The Specials · The Products · The People · The Place · The Support · Site Index