Bass "Didier wants another bass," Beaver Felton from Bass Central told us. We've made a few instruments for him over the years, some with slightly custom features, but this time he wanted something truly unique in the world of Alembic. "He wants it dyed black."
Oh Didier, when you first asked us to dye Quilted Maple black, we must confess that a brief shudder ran down our spines. Dye an Alembic? Previously, we've done colors only in a reversible fashion where just the paint is tinted. You could always sand the paint off and change the color or go back to natural wood. Dyeing seems just so... permanent! Well, your dedication convinced us to give it a try, and are we ever glad we did. The wood looks amazing, like moonlight on the ripples of a lake we've been told.
With the swirls of the Quilted Maple cloaked in black, it also strikes many here at Alembic as a storm brewing, especially when experiencing the deep tone from the nearly secret Ebony neck laminate.

Wood So now Didier can claim the first Alembic with a black dyed finish. Before we start sealing the wood, it's first rubbed with a black analine dye. The pores of the wood absorb the black dye, and once the clear finish is sprayed atop it, the result is a deep, rich color, that looks as if you could just jump right in.

peghead peghead
All the parts of the bass under the clear finish were dyed black - that includes the neck and the peghead. The Ebony fingerboard is, of course, naturally black.
Even though the finish is clear, we can rub it out to be glossy or satin. Didier chose to have the body and peghead glossy, with a satin feel neck. You can see the difference in lustre in the picture of the back of the peghead.

Hardware A chill of chrome plated hardware looks just right paired with the black. Our chrome plating is done locally in Santa Rosa individually for each instrument. First, we do a complete set up, then we break down the components of the hardware. These parts are carefully buffed to a high gloss and then taken to the chrome plater. While the plating is getting done, we're busy applying the rest of the finish. Come time for the final set up and we install the plated hardware.
A bonus for doing this extra work is that the slots in the bridge saddles and string nut are plated - that means no corrosion or flaking off of the plating.
 inlay A playful joke on Didier's name, and in a quest for correct pronunciation, we've inlaid "DDA" at the 12th fret in black Tahitian mother of pearl letters in the font Absinette.
The sterling silver oval around the letters ties the form in with the other traditional oval inlays on the fingerboard. The oval inlays on Didier's bass are what else but black Tahitian mother of pearl.
It was so much fun to experiment with something out of the norm for us. Didier, I'm afraid you really don't know what you started. There's another black dyed bass in the works and several other creations we are "dyeing" to show off! Thanks for your continued support, Didier... it's always a pleasure to work with you.

Front Back


  • Signature Deluxe 4-string bass
  • 5A Quilted Maple top and back
  • Black stain
  • Mahogany body
  • Balance K body with Omega carving
  • Continuous wood backplate
  • Maple, Purpleheart, and Ebony through body neck
  • 30.75 inch short scale
  • 2 Alembic AXY pickups
  • Controls: volume, pan, filter x2, 2-position Q-switch x2,
  • Ebony fingerboard with black Tahitian mother of pearl oval inlays
  • Chrome plated hardware
  • Gloss body with satin neck feel
  • Sold by: Bass Central
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Text and photos of bass by Mica Wickersham Thomas, © 2010 Alembic, Inc.

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