Pure Brilliance

Pure Brilliance Possibly the easiest order we've ever accepted, this is the made-to-order dream-come-true for Lalo Garcia. Since he had experience with his Alembic Series II from the 1980's, plus scores of other basses, he really knew exactly what he wanted from this bass. His ideas were so focused, Pure Brilliance emerged just as he envisioned.
"I'm VERY happy with my bass - it's the bomb! I can't believe how good it sounds. I have an early and rare 1978 Spector bass that has a solid birch body with polyester finish, it sounds really impressive, but the electronics were not the best of the best. This new bass just nailed it! It's Birch, it has polyester, it has a Maple fingerboard, it has the best electronics in the industry and the looks are killer too... It was worth every cent and it has the sound that I wanted!"
With the choice of woods, the form takes center stage as far as looks are concerned. No grain to distract, no laminates to dazzle, just a stark and sober sculpture to enjoy.
fingerboard Truly a rare sight on an Alembic bass, a Maple fingerboard. To help with the inevitable wear on a light colored fingerboard, we applied a thin layer of finish to the wood so it can keep it's good clean look for a good long time. Though we've resisted Maple fingerboards for, oh about forty years, we just couldn't say no to Lalo.
Lalo is a "fan of maple fingerboards because the attack is faster and it also lets me switch from fingerstyle to slap in the middle of a song without too much adjustment." There's only a handful of Alembic instruments with Maple fingerboards for now.
wood When he placed the order, the one thing that Lalo stated was that he wanted a Birch body. Birch is nearly as dense as Maple, so it produces a good, bright tone, but it's not quite as harsh as Maple can be. "I'm surprised Birch is not more common as a body wood," Lalo told us. "I was looking for the brightest sound, and I have learned it's easier to make the sound darker if needed, than to add clarity and highs that are not there in the first place; I think you guys really succeeded with this goal!" Compared to other basses, Lalo told us "I hear less compression and more sustain with fewer body laminates."
no sandwich For the Series I and II instruments, a hollow-core body is preferred so the backplates don't grow amazingly large since the electronics occupy a good bit of space that is outside the realm of the plate. Lalo wanted a solid body, we had to figure out how to make the electronics fit, keep the plate size normal, and make it look good. We wound up with two good ideas, but the second one was the better of the two. We took the solid body halves and sliced each cleanly down the middle, like a clamshell. Then, we had the access to carve out some of the bulk of the wood to make the enlarged cavities for the electronics, keeping in mind that we wanted to keep things as solid as possible. Glued back together, the seam at the center of the body is nearly invisible, even when you know to look for it. It's the "non-sandwich."
peghead peghead
We made the birch front and back veneers from the same board from which we made the body of the bass. We resawed the board on the bandsaw super-thin, then sanded it down to the finished size. Interior veneers are Maple and Purpleheart.

hardware Lalo ordered this bass with gold plated hardware. The day we were to send the parts to the gold plater, we looked at the black and white impression the bass has, and suggested he change to blackened brass hardware. Lalo would hear nothing of it. "I am a BIG fan of gold hardware...the tuners and bridge gold for sure." Once the gold hardware was on the bass, we had to agree - it visually melts into the Birch and looks fantastic.
hardware Blue Laser LEDs are fitted on the front of the fingerboard. While they aren't really lasers, these are some mega-bright LEDs, and great for fun on stage. An external dimmer lets Lalo decide just how bright they should be. In these photos, the abalone oval inlays are slightly overpowered by the blue lights, but in person, they are colorful and placid.

While we were hesitant at first, we're so very glad you convinced us to use the Maple fingerboard. Pure Brilliance is smokin' hot - and we hope that you get to enjoy many years on stage with her. And who knows how many Maple fingerboard you will inspire others to include on their own custom builds?

Front Back


  • Series II 4-string bass
  • 2-piece Birch inner hollow body
  • 7-piece Maple and Ebony neck with graphite reinforcements
  • Maple fingerboard
  • Abalone oval inlays
  • Front Laser LEDs in blue
  • Triple Omega body shape with Pistol Grip
  • Goldplated hardware
featured custom

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Text and photos of guitar by Mica Wickersham Thomas, © 2010 Alembic, Inc.

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