Dave's Karma
"In my view, karma is the flow of events; cause and effect," Dave wrote to us. "This instrument was not something that I had been planning for or dreaming about, it came about through a confluence of events. And through this instrument the flow of karma will continue. Our actions, words, and thoughts all have effects; how we choose to act becomes part of the flow."
If you don't already know and love Dave Houck, he is the tireless moderator at the Alembic Club discussion boards. His helpful spirit and pleasing personality are easy to detect even through his online communications.
Mica and Dave exchange emails and speak on the phone a good bit, and at some point in 2007, it became clear to her that Dave needed a 6-string bass in his life. We don't know if he actually ever told us he needed this bass, as Dave wrote, it just "came about."
Before we could start building this new creation, we did spend some time going over specifications, choosing woods, and trying to cast the voice of the bass through the selection of the neck woods. Dave has a vintage Series I 4-string bass, and one of his requests was to have the new 6-string sound distinct from the bass he already knew. By starting with a predominantly Mahogany neck, we were able to give this bass a deeper, rounder tone. With the addition of more dense woods like Purpleheart, Maple, and the fundamental-building Ebony, Karma also has access to clear highs and more than adequate sustain (was that an understatement, Dave?).
wood After deciding the neck wood recipe, the next order of business was the top and back laminates of the body. Dave expressed his ideas for the perfect piece of Coco Bolo, and we emailed him a picture with the rough body shape chalked in. After he saw our suggestion, he asked that we reverse the bookmatch and remark it. Dave loved the new layout, and so we could start building the bass in earnest.
Oval The abalone oval inlays each display a different character of the natural material. Some are blue and green, others have touches of pink and red. There's concentric swirls, alternating bands of color and a cool crackle pattern at the twelfth fret.
Continuous Wood Backplate Not only are continuous wood backplates attractive, but they are much lighter weight than brass backplates.
To make the plates takes some careful planning. After mapping out where the plate will be, we cut out the wood with a scroll saw and reserve it while we glue the body together. This small piece of wood is then resawn into veneers and glued up with other veneers to produce a sturdy, lightweight, totally custom plywood plate. These are hand fit in the carving department before we start coating them in the finish department.
Peghead The classic Alembic Crown peghead is the natural choice for the Balance K body shape. Karma has an inlaid sterling silver logo with shell. There's white mother of pearl in the cloud with abalone rays spreading out of the bottom of the cloud. The circle, formed by a dragon, encases another piece of abalone.
The wood Dave selected for the body had enough left over that we could make the peghead veneers from the same board. There's no way to get a better match.

Truss rod cover A continuous wood truss rod cover is made from the neck woods. It's a slice off the top of the neck that we fashion into the plate. Fabrication is much the same as the continuous wood backplates, and likewise they must be hand fit in the carving department.
Omega Carving The Heart Omega is a detail you can find carved in Alembic basses and guitars that are over thirty years old. Each one is first drawn with a pencil, then artfully cut with a bandsaw (not a process for the faint of heart to witness). Every Heart Omega is unique as they are hand carved individually.
The Mahogany body core and the Mahogany neck almost blend into each other, thanks to careful selection of materials and nearly invisible glue joints.
Logo inlay "This bass is amazingly beautiful and wonderfully crafted; I love the way it sounds, and I love the way it feels in my hands and under my fingers. But for me, even more amazing is what it represents; the flow of events, all of the things that have happened in the lives of so many people that brought this bass to be here in my home. And the flow of karma continues, as this instrument inspires me, not just musically, but in all aspects of my life. It reminds me, deeply, of the flow of events, the interconnectedness of all things, the importance and the preciousness of each moment. Karma."
We thoroughly enjoyed building this bass for you, Dave. Everyone here at Alembic is grateful for the time and effort you pour into the Alembic Club to make it such a friendly and helpful refuge for fellow appreciators of our art.

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  • Series II 6-string bass
  • Coco Bolo top and back
  • Mahogany, Purpleheart, Maple and Ebony neck
  • Balance K Heart Omega body shape
  • Continuous wood truss rod cover
  • Continuous wood backplates
  • Series II electronics
  • Ebony fingerboard
  • Abalone fingerboard inlays
  • Inlaid sterling silver Alembic logo with shell and rays
  • 24K goldplated hardware
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