The Spalted Maple top on this bass was the inspiration for the name. It's got excellent flame figure to begin with, then the spalting
creates artistic flames scribbled by Nature. Within the black boundries, the coloring and figure seem to dance like fire.
This is one of the finest examples we've seen of this wood.
In Tolkien's Elvish language, Gwathnar translates to "Shadow Flame" and is perfectly descriptive for this mysteriously beautiful wood.
With such a delicious top laminate, the urge to "continufy"
is strong. Here, we've made the truss rod cover from continuous wood instead of the traditional brass we use for this model.
Especially against the Ebony of the fingerboard, the near-black spalted lines look splendid.
Even more "continufication" on the back of the bass. With an
almost marble-like appearance, the wood is just begging for preservation in the plates. So before we glue the back in place, Bob
cuts the plate out with a scroll saw. Chip can then continue gluing up the body. The piece reserved from the scroll saw cut is then
resawed so we can get the veneer you see, and one for the inside. These are layered with Purpleheart and Maple veneers for added
The plates must go through the same finishing process as the rest of the instrument. We know it doesn't make it sound one bit better, but it does look really, really cool. It also shaves a few ounces off the weight compared to brass backplates.
Ken asked for the humcancelling dummy pickup to share the
continuous wood theme as it is flush with the body. It isn't a separate plate in this case. The reserved piece of wood is glued to
the top of the cast coil. It then goes through finish with the rest of the plates.
We can get all sorts of commercial veneer, and often, it
coordinates very well with the lumber we use for the tops. But sometimes, you just can't get the match you're after without
making it yourself, so that's exactly what we did.
A piece from the same board as the top was resawn on the bandsaw very thin. Then, we sand those thin sheets even thinner to get the final veneer thickness. We can then glue up the peghead in our usual fashion.
Ken's peghead is layered with Maple and Walnut veneers on the interior, and faced with the perfectly matching Spalted Maple veneers on the front and back.
|Excellent logo inlay in sterling silver with mother of pearl behind the cloud and abalone behind the alembic and the dragon. Impossible to tell from a photograph, the mother of pearl is very opalescent, with undulating figure that really looks like a cloud. Likewise with the abalone - the greens and blues and flashes to purple can be almost alarming.
In the tummy contour, the Walnut accent laminate shows off. The
edge of the reflection indicates the extent of the contour carving. It's a very comfortable feature, helping the bass to snug right
up against your body.
The Ebony neck laminates are revealed in this partial back view. Even one Ebony laminate starts the earth shaking, with two, this bass has a most solid bottom end. Ebony also contributes its signature fundamental sustain.
|The brass harware is chrome plated. The chrome plating is harder than the brass it is covering. Plus, chrome does not corrode or tarnish like brass, and only needs a simple wipe with a cloth to clean.
Ken's initials are inlaid in white mother of pearl at the twelfth
fret in Tolkien's elvish language. We've done slight variations of this inlay on the other two Alembics in Ken's collection.
Gwathnar is now Ken's "number one bass, and I have two backups that are better than anyone else's main bass (except, of course, other Alembic owners)!" He told us that the "Series II has a more open sound, and that with the added bass of the ebony laminates, and the clarity of the Series electronics, it combines the best features of both the Rogue and the Excel with much greater flexibility."
Ken's "Evlish Trio" is a fine gathering of Alembics, made possible by his good taste, and his wife's good nature and understanding. Thank you!
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