What better way to personalize a bass than to have it made
with your initials inlaid? James cut the art nouveau styled letters from mother of pearl. The circles on either side of the
initials are front laser LEDs.
The neck laminations stack Flame Maple, Ebony and Purpleheart.
Notice the tiny Maple veneers framing each side of the central Purpleheart laminate.
Looking good is great, but sounding great is what it's all about. Most of the contribution to tone from woods in an Alembic bass is from the neck. With the added Ebony laminates, the bass responds with a long-sustaining fundamental. Michael has noticed an increase in the midrange between 100Hz-250Hz compared to his other Alembics. Maybe it's the 33 inch scale - maybe it's the Flame Maple main neck wood. We'll keep learning and observing.
Looks good, feels good. The finish on the back of the neck
is carefully sanded to acheive an ultra-fine satin feel.
The Balance Point body shape is able to have the upper horn
reach toward the center of the string and still have an "Alembic" look because the cutaways are offset. The body halves do
not join at the same place on each side of the neck. Rather, the upper body half is shifted towards the peghead.
The carver then sculpts these different attachment points to create a comfortable shape.
This is the full-sized version of the Balance Point series of shapes. It's larger than the Balance K and larger yet compared to the classic Series I/II Point/Omega shapes.
The body sandwich stacks:
A Pistol Grip detail can be applied to nearly any shape we offer.
The extra point on the interior curve always reveals interesting information about the grain of the top and back. It also is longer
than the standard horn, so the balance is improved even more.
The tailpiece, bridge, truss rod cover and string nut are all plated with jeweler's quality 24k gold. This is a
standard feature of Series II basses. But it's not just for looks - Michael will not need to clean his hardware
except for an ocassional wipe with a soft cloth. The hardware doesn't tarnish like brass.
Way down at the Heart Omega, the Maple framed Purpleheart laminates all get together. The delicately carved heart point just barely escapes
the Maple veneers at its tip.
A little planning goes a long way. Before we glue the body laminations together, Bob cuts the future backplates out
with a scroll saw. Then Chip can proceed with the body assembly and the plate making.
To make the actual plates, we resaw the wood very thin, and sand it even thinner. Then, we stack up Maple and Purpleheart veneers, and finish off with Coco Bolo on the inside and outside for the most stability.
The plates travel in the finish department right along with the bass. It takes just as many coats of finish for the plates.
Michael and Valentino spent a good amount of time
to get just the right piece of Coco Bolo selected. Michael wanted something that wasn't super dark, but had good
dark grain lines. We found this piece with straight grain, swirls, and some small figure details that just was begging
to be on a large body instrument to appreciate all the transitions.
The peghead veeners are selected to match with the front and back of the
The front edge of the peghead is slightly bevelled and reveals the alternating interior veneers of Maple and Purpleheart..
|The bevel needs to transition to a flat spot so the nut can be mounted without a void below it at the ends. This blending is gentle, and done with an artist's touch.
We inlay a sterling silver Alembic logo on the peghead with mother of pearl and abalone. This is under the finish, and completely flush with the finish - you can't feel it at all.
It was a true pleasure building this bass for you, Michael. The combinations you selected were restrained but unique. We all loved the way it turned out, but only three of us could play it!
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Text and Photographs of bass © 2006 Alembic, Inc.
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