We asked David to write a little backstory as to the "why" he asked us to create Starburst for him.
"I have been playing out professionally with bands since I was 13. Growing up in a blue collar working neighborhood, money was a little tight. Some of my bass heros such as Phil Lesh, Greg Lake, John Paul Jones, etc. etc. all played Alembics. Needless to say as a teenager an Alembic was just unobtainable, regardless of how much I lusted after one.
"Of all the Alembic bass players I liked John Entwistle's sound the best. I remember being in my friend's car (1979-ish), and the live version (The Kids Are Alright) of BABA O'RILEY came on the radio. The three intro bass notes to that song shook me. That was it; I had to have an Alembic.
"Finally in the early 80's I was able to afford a Spoiler Exploiter, then a few years ago I purchased a Small Body.
"When it came time for Alembic number three, I wanted to give a wink to John Entwistle but I wanted something totally different. The Dragon Wing was just the ticket."
David worked with Susan to hash out all the little and not so little details to make Starburst a reality.
electronics David is a "set it and leave it" sort of guy. Once his sound is dialed in, he doesn't want anyone to change it. We took this to a little bit of an extreme with Starburst and omitted the knobs from the front of the bass. As far as the reality of the back control panel? David tells us, "I love it. I have it dialed in the way I like it and that's the way it will stay. If a room requires me to tweak it a bit, I handle that via the EQs on my amps."
Funny thing, lots of people that saw this bass before it left our shop didn't notice the lack of knobs right away, even when they were rubbing right where the knobs ought to be.
electronics The electronics are standard Signature mounted on perfboard that's fastened to the bass with threaded standoffs. Toggle switches were replaced with push buttons, and the pots have had a slot carved in each to accommodate screwdriver adjustment. The brass backplate has holes drilled aligned with the controls and attaches to the bass in the usual Alembic fashion with small machine screws into threaded metal inserts.
To change the tone, David has a filter and Q switch for each pickup, and a blend control for the pickups. There's also a master volume control and an on/off switch for the side LEDs.

peghead peghead
A standard detail for the Dragon Claw peghead shape is a bevel along the right edge. This carving exposes the veneers that give the peghead its strength.
The front and back veneers were created here in our shop from the same piece of wood as the top laminate of Starburst by first slicing it very thin on a bandsaw then sanding to the final 1/32 of an inch thickness.

Wood The Quilted Maple top on Starburst is actually responsible for the name. While we were building this bass, Mica said she just kept thinking, "Starburst" when she saw the unusual angular grain patterns. The name stuck.
"I thought that Quilted Maple would be the best looking selection for this body shape. I also thought that the knobs would detract from the body shape and the high end maple. After I saw the wood selection that the good Alembic people used, I must say that I was happy with my 'knob-less' decision."

neck laminates For David, "the Ebony stringer in the neck was a must. If I wanted the JE sound, I needed never ending sustain." The Ebony neck laminate delivers on the promise of increased fundamental sustain. It contributes an almost unworldly amount of sustain.
Natural Environment Starburst in its natural environment, along side siblings in Zebrawood and Buckeye Burl. We hear that Starburst is doing well, and living up to David's design goals.
We're just happy there's people out there like David that continue to challenge and excite us with interesting projects. Everyone here had a great time creating Starburst, and David, we hope that you will continue to enjoy it for years to come.

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  • Dragon Wing 4-string bass
  • 5A Quilted Maple top
  • Mahogany body with Maple and Purpleheart accent pinstripes
  • Maple, Purpleheart, and Ebony neck
  • Ebony fingerboard with golden mother of pearl oval inlays
  • Signature electronics, rear panel mounted
  • Decorative HX pickup
  • Dragon Wing TFJ body shape variation
  • Side LEDs in amber
  • Silver inlaid logo with mother of pearl and abalone
  • Sold by:
    Bass Central

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Text © 2008 Alembic, Inc., photographs of bass © 2007 Alembic, Inc.

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