At first, we were going to make a design of Oak and Maple leaves, but after several attempts, we just weren't satisfied. Susan made the decision to concentrate on the Maple leaves. Each one is a unique shape. All the leaves feature sterling silver for the veins and for the tip of the stem. The leaves themselves are golden mother of pearl, most with a curl showing the back of the leaf in abalone. Though they serve as position markers, they seem to naturally float down the fingerboard.
At the 24th fret, we've inlaid a Maple seed for a bit of whimsy. The shape is also perfect for the available space. Like the leaves, it is cut from golden mother of pearl and abalone shell.
Visitors to our shop are frequently surprised to see us actually cutting the inlays here, since many builders subcontract this type of work. Equally surprising is the lack of lasers in the process - every inlay is cut by hand right here at Alembic.
We make the front and back peghead veneers here from the same piece of wood as the top and back of the body for a perfect match. In this case with the dense burl figuring, we decided to not bookmatch the front veneer of the peghead.
Pierre's bass is the first example of this logo inlay where we outlined the golden mother of pearl rays with sterling silver. We selected a figured piece of mother of pearl for the cloud and an actively colored abalone for inside the dragon.
As a surprise for Pierre, we added an inlay of a leaf on the back of the peghead.
For Series II basses gold plated hardware is part of the standard feature set. The gold color complements the Jarrah Burl and coordinates with the golden mother of pearl components of the inlays.
We handle the plating of our hardware a little differently than most builders. After we machine the brass hardware here, we do a complete setup when about half the finish is on the instrument. While the bass gets the rest of the finish, we polish the parts and send them to our plater. By the time the bass is out of spray, the hardware is back in our shop and ready for the second setup.
It's a bit more work to do the plated hardware this way, but then each of the slots in the string nut and the bridge saddles are fully plated, leaving no place for corrosion to start. The plating also doesn't flake off because we never cut through it for the strings.
Way larger than life, a super close up look at the carving of the Omega tip. The Jarrah Burl top sits atop a Maple accent laminate and two pinstripes of Purpleheart and Maple. Like all the shaping on our instruments, this detail is completely hand carved.
When Pierre returned home to Switzerland, he wrote to us:
"What to say but a huge thank you for the wonderful time spent in your
company. I really enjoyed the tour sprinkled with all those vintage Berthas
and Nancies, the unique electronics room that looks 'mad-professorly', in
short, something very unique, in a very discreet wrapping!
We cannot express enough how much we enjoy making the ideas you present to us become basses.
Text by Mica Wickersham Thomas © 2016 Alembic, Inc.
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