Smooth Operator

Smooth Operator
David's first Alembic bass was an Essence in Bird's-eye Maple. In fact, it's the very one on our website as the sample of the Essence in this wood. "What impressed me most about Alembic," David wrote to us, "was the proprietary electronics. They sound HUGE no matter what you plug them into and I love the filter-based system. After spending some time with my Essence, and being inspired by Trip Wamsley's wonderful fretless playing, I knew I had to build a custom fretless."
So we started in on the specifications, and first on the list was a Europa bass. The shape balances extremely well, and is a little larger than the Essence. "I wanted Maple for the main neck wood to give the bass an edgy/aggressive sound. I spent a lot of time reading about the fundamental sustain provided by Ebony neck laminates, but I also didn't want it to overwhelm the sound, so I went with the single ebony laminate. Vermillion was intended to add warmth to the mix."

Ebony Dave supplied his own piece of Macassar Ebony for the top of this bass. Armed with the minimum rough dimensions, he was able to source the gorgeous piece of wood that has great grain configuration, crazy color zones, and fantastic flame figure to boot. "I've always loved Macassar Ebony for its beauty and knew its strong lows and crystal highs would fit the recipe perfectly - not to mention it's rare to find it with flame figuring!"
Nature never fails to demonstrate how the beauty of wood can surprise you again and again, and no matter how many times you think you've seen it all, there is yet more to discover!
Truss Rod Cover With such a beautiful top wood already bookmatched to center, it was only natural to make the truss rod cover continuous wood. With that unbroken sea of Ebony across the front, it's easy to miss this little detail, but once you do see it, such a pleasant surprise it is!

peghead peghead
Since the Ebony that Dave supplied was so unique, it was necessary to make our own decorative peghead veneers. There is no way commercially supplied material would even approach looking as good as the actual board.
Especially on the back of the peghead, it's evident that black hardware was the way to go on this bass. The back of the peghead is also the first peek you get at the wide Vermilion neck laminates. We love these in fretless necks, they impart such a wonderful deep tone that is reinforced by the main neck wood of Maple. Plus there is just no denying how cool it looks!
side dots Dave wanted the side dots to be more prominent than on our fretted basses, and also to combine with the inlaid "side lines" that we sometimes include on fretless basses. They are arranged so that positions that would normally get a marker have a marker "on the fretline" and the in-between positions have a side line inlaid in Maple. This makes it fairly easy to navigate.
Blackened Brass Hardware Blackened brass hardware is so sublime on this bass. To intensify the "blackness" our metal finisher applied a clear coating over the black nickel oxide finish he usually does. Looks really great against the grain of the top wood.
"The bass couldn't have turned out better. It sounds amazing and surpassed every expectation I had." We so enjoyed working with Dave on this project. He had really specific goals for this instrument, he was able to communicate them to us clearly, and we were able to make his dream bass something he could hold and love and play. It's the classic "win-win" and we're so happy to have been able to craft this bass for him.

Front Back


  • Europa 5-string bass
  • Macassar Ebony top, bookmatched to center
  • Maple, Vermilion, and Ebony 34" scale neck
  • Mahogany body
  • Ebony fretless fingerboard
  • Custom large side dots and side lines
  • Blackened brass hardware
  • Continuous wood truss rod cover
  • Europa electronics
  • MXY56 pickups
featured custom

Wallpaper: 1600x1200 1280x1024 1024x768 800x600
Widescreen: 2560x1440 1920x1200 1680x1050

Text and photos of bass by Mica Wickersham Thomas, ©2013 Alembic, Inc.

Custom Archive · Get a Custom Quote
The Specials · The Products · The People · The Place · The Support · Site Index