Trinity When John came to us to build his custom bass, it was the culmination of a 34 year love affair. He first played a Series I in a studio when he was 16 in 1977, and even though it was only for an hour, he never forgot that tone and that feel.
Fast forward 25 years to when John joined his current group and needed a new bass. After trying dozens of basses in Dallas, he realized only an Alembic would satisfy, and he ratcheted up the budget and bought a used ’84 Exploiter online without playing it. John told us he stood on the curb waiting for the UPS driver, ran inside, took the bass out, and played a few notes. “Even unplugged, it was exactly what I remembered from more than 20 years before – same feel, same sound, same awesomeness!”
A couple of years later John visited the factory when he was in California and played a Balance K 5 string, and he knew what his next bass would be. Bass Central provided John with a Coco Bolo Signature Standard Balance K 5 string from their stock in time for Christmas that year (his wife made him wait until Christmas morning to open it!).
Over the next few years John became fast friends with Wayne and Olie and others through the Alembic Club, helped host a few Alembic Gatherings in Dallas, which allowed access to an incredible variety of Alembics, and managed to accumulate two more Alembic basses second-hand. Seems like John was making up for the 25 years he went without an Alembic!
Coco Bolo Last year, armed with a clear idea of what he wanted (after all, he’d been able to play 4 of our Featured Custom basses), he called Susan and ordered his dream bass. The Balance K body style shows off the Heart Omega cut beautifully, and offers a hint at the triple Ebony neck laminates John fell in love with playing Wayne’s customs. Susan selected gorgeous slabs of Coco Bolo for the front and back, and laid out the patterns so the grain appears to be melting and flowing down the bass. We always want our custom basses to be exactly what our customers want, and John looked at other pieces and made a dozen of his own layouts before deciding our very first recommendation was what he wanted.
GOld plated hardware John opted out of gold plated hardware to have more to spend on custom inlays. He told us, "I wanted something that spoke to me personally, but wouldn't devalue the bass if someone else owned it 40 years from now." As a 3 time cancer survivor, as well as the son of a minister, John's Christian faith is particularly important to him. He sketched out his vision of crosses in place of the fret markers, with 3 crosses at the 12th fret, and gave it to Mica. While the design looks simple, making the crosses stand out among the frets and strings took dozens of design iterations before we turned our inlay department loose.

Inlays The primary inlays are white mother of pearl, cut like crosses found in the Methodist church. John explains the rest. “In a playing position, even from a distance, you can see the row of white crosses. Very striking, reminds you of the WWII graveyards in Europe. In my mind, these represent all of us as humans. The 3 crosses at the 12th fret represent the crucifixion where Christ was hung between 2 thieves. According to the Bible, one thief taunted Christ while the other recognized him as the Son of God.”
Mica hit on the idea for the 12th fret inlay of making the tallest cross in the center from golden mother of pearl, representing Christ, the lowest cross on the left from black Tahitian mother of pearl, representing the taunting thief, and the cross on the right, representing the repentant thief, from white mother of pearl (like the rest of the crosses on the fretboard representing us). All together it makes a striking design integrated across the fretboard, easily recognizable from a distance.
The horizontal bar of each cross uses the A string as its reference baseline, while the G string proivides the baseline for the vertical bar of each cross. The idea is that the combination of the strings and the crosses will look balanced and even, though every single inlay is a different size.
peghead peghead
The classic Alembic Crown peghead features Coco Bolo front and back, with the sterling silver logo inlaid beneath the finish featuring particularly beautiful pieces of abalone and mother of pearl. Five strings laid out in a comfort taper are stretched over three ebony neck laminates and Series II electronics to produce fundamentals and sustain that rival a pipe organ in a cathedral.
Alembic Logo It was hard to let this one go from the factory. Playing it as part of the final check reminded us that triple Ebony laminates and Coco Bolo are a special recipe for mojo. John asked us to set it up a little lower than typical, and he reports it arrived exactly as requested. “When Trinity arrived, I took it out of the case and played it unplugged, and the thrill is exactly the same as it was 35 years ago when I picked up that Alembic in the studio – only exponentially better!”
We agree John - we get that same thrill every day making Alembics!

Front Back


  • Series II 5-string bass
  • Coco Bolo top
  • Coco Bolo back
  • Maple and Ebony 34" through body neck
  • "Crosses" fingerboard inlay
  • Ebony fingerboard
  • Balance K body shape with tummy and elbow contour and Heart Omega
  • Continuous wood backplates
  • Polished brass hardware
  • Inlaid logo with shell
  • Side LEDs in amber
featured custom

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

Text by John Terry and Mica Wickersham Thomas, © 2013 Alembic, Inc.
Photos 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