Thunder and Lightning

Thunder and Lightning When he first approached Susan about this custom build, Pete expressed his fondness of the sound of Phil Lesh's Alembic modified Guild. They had several discussions about what types of wood and electronics could best get him in the neighborhood of the tone he sought.
Pete later said, "She didn't have to work too hard to convince me as I loved all her ideas from the start. She also suggested I run the bass through an SF-2. This is another piece equipment I just love. Everyone at Alembic was extremely helpful, and I never felt like I was being rushed when I called with questions. This bass, to me, plays as if was crafted for my hands alone. The fit and finish not only amaze me, but everyone who has seen it can't say enough about your attention to detail."
Bolt inlay Since Pete works in the electrical industry, and loves the look of lightning bolts, it was a natural choice for a personal inlay. Susan and Pete traded some sketches, and after the first more elaborate idea was abandoned, he decided on a simple, but substantial bolt.
The lightning bolt inlay is made from three separate pieces of shell. James selected the mother of pearl from large blanks that had similar color, but with slightly different directions to the “flash.” In this shot, the top piece is flashing, but when playing, each section flashes at a different angle, and makes the inlay very active, dare we say, "electric." Oh we dare, we dare.
Neck How do you make thunder? Ebony neck laminates are a good start. To bring a little warmth to the tone, Susan suggested using Mahogany as the main neck wood.
Pete reported, "I thought that graphite necked basses had sustain until I played this monster." Regular readers of our Featured Custom pages know well the value of Ebony neck laminates. For those yet to be informed, adding Ebony results in greatly increased fundamental sustain. Our customers tell us we undersell the impact of Ebony, so please prepare to be pleasantly surprised the first time you hear them.
Saddle Each piece of the brass hardware is goldplated. We make the hardware here, and fully set the bass up before the plating is sent out. Then, the plated parts are reassembled and even the slots in the nut and tailpiece are plated.
Goldplated hardware is standard on a Series II. Sure, it doesn't contribute to the sound, but, think of all the extra time you'll have to practice if you're not polishing your brass.
logo Another standard feature on a Series II bass is the inlaid logo with shell. The sterling silver Alembic logo has white mother of pearl in the cloud and abalone in the circle formed by the dragon. This is inlaid before Bob completes the finish work, and is completely flush to the touch.
Coco Bolo detail An important part of the wood tone recipe for this bass is the Coco Bolo top and back. Not only is it an absolutely stunning wood to look at, but it contributes a wonderfully complex component to the sound. It's at the same time rich and deep, but also preserves the important highs for an almost piano-like tone. To play warm and full sounds, simply turn down the volume of the bridge pickup a little and lower the cutoff frequency of the filters.
heart omega detail Decorative, yes, but oh so lovely, the Heart Omega carving detail isn't too much on this understated bass. The Mahogany "tips" of the Omega are actually part of the neck. Carving and finishing something like this is not simple, and several additional hours of labor are needed to make it come out this nice every time.
Peghead Peghead back We all had such a wonderful time building this instrument. From a strictly aesthetic viewpoint, it's absolutely lovely - there isn't one feature that vies for your attention. From a pure playability view, it's like "buttah" and the name Lightning also refers to the lightning fast neck. Sonically, the thundering lows this bass achieves are enough to rumble listeners out of their seats. To have all this in one bass is magic, motivated by love of music and the craft of great building, the essence of beyond custom.
Pete, thanks for letting us make Thunder and Lightning for you. It was our pleasure.

Front Back


  • Custom 5-string bass
  • Series II electronics
  • LED operation switch
  • Laser LED dimmer control
  • Stereo/mono switch
  • Coco Bolo top and back
  • Balance K body shape with Heart Omega and tummy/elbow contours
  • Mahogany, Ebony, and Maple neck with custom string spacing
  • Custom lighting bolt inlay
  • Triple pinstripe accent laminates
  • Gold plated hardware
  • Abalone oval inlays
  • Red side LEDs
  • Red Laser LEDs
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Text and Photographs of bass © 2006 Alembic, Inc.
Guild is a trademark of Fender Musical Instruments.

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