Alembic Unveils Stanley Clarke Signature Deluxe 5-String Bass

Alembic Stanley Clarke Signature Deluxe 5-String Bass

Stanley Clarke will be stretching out a bit more with the introduction of his new Alembic Signature Deluxe 5-string bass, which the company will offer in their signature series. Tuned E to C, the step from a 4- to a 5-string bass allows for playing Clarke’s songs written for tenor bass as well as everything written for traditional tuning.

Clarke debuted the new instrument in a performance with Stewart Copeland in Paris:

The handmade bass features a short 30.75? scale with a neck of vermillion, maple, and ebony. To Stanley’s taste, the neck has a thin taper, measuring 1.68? at the nut and 2.68? at the 24th fret. The ebony fingerboard is adorned with mother of pearl lotus inlays and has red side LEDs, and its body wings have vermillion cores sandwiched by rosewood tops and backs.

The bass is stocked with a pair of Alembic’s SC-1 w/hx pickups. Controls include Volume, a low-pass filter with a 3-position Q switch for each pickup, and a pickup selector switch. Hardware includes Hipshot Ultralight tuners and an Alembic bridge.

The Alembic Stanley Clarke Signature Deluxe 5-string bass is expected near the end of the year with a price of $9,999. For more info, check out the Alembic website.

Alembic Stanley Clarke Signature Deluxe 5-String Bass Photo Gallery:

Alembic Stanley Clarke Signature Deluxe 5-string Bass Specs:

  • Series I 5-string
  • Tuned EADGC (.090-.075-.060-.035-.025)
  • Indian Rosewood top and back
  • Wide Maple accent laminate
  • Vermilion body
  • Maple, Vermilion, and Ebony short scale (30.75?) neck
  • Ebony fingerboard 1.68 x 2.68
  • Mother of pearl lotus flower inlays
  • Red side LEDs
  • Small 2+3 Crown peghead with inlaid logo
  • Hipshot Ultralight tuners
  • Continuous wood backplates
  • Stereo Output
  • SC-1 with hx pickups

Get Bass Gear News in your inbox.

Stay up to date on the latest bass gear news (every Thursday).

Share your thoughts

  1. The price for this or any Alembic bass is ridiculous. Besides, they don’t have enough bottom for me to give them much attention. If Stanley’s not doing a solo you can’t even hear him play?

    • I guess you’ve never played one. I have a 4 string version of this and the bottom end is profound and slamming. When I saw Stanley maybe 18 months ago, he was playing a 4 string Series I and the bottom was the most intense I’ve ever heard in the Boulder Theater (it helped that they had just rearranged the PA with new bass traps, but even so). My organs were rearranged. And no, it was the electric bass doing that, not just the keyboard bass.

    • If you check out some of his early material you will hear all the bottom in the world, if you go to one of his concerts, you will notice he brings a bassplyer (sometimes Armand Sable Leeco) with him most of the time to hold the duty of the standard bass…I own 4 alembics, but none of them are his signature series, although he is my favorite player….If you are a band leader that does not sing much, you would have no choice but to solo…

  2. short scale 5 string? a medium scale one is hard enough to pull off…

  3. Nice looking bass, but extremely expensive, even for an Alembic. And personally, I prefer long scale basses.

  4. The price of this bass can be justified by only one thing, Stanley’s name is on it. That’s the only logical thing I can see.

    • You can tune it any way you want. I think Stanley added that 5th string, because he may want to do more of his material that came out before Rock, Pebbles and Sand, it was that album that the tenor tuning came into the picture.

  5. For this price, maybe it should be better to conceive your own bass instead of buying the one of someone else!

  6. It’s only worth what someone’s willing to pay for it.

  7. Ten grand for a bass that neck dives so bad my computer monitor is crooked, with a short scale, and a nut width that’s narrower than a 50’s Precision bass 4-string? Sign me up! Does it shoot me in the face, too?

    • A 1950’s P-bass will run you $25000 easy, only because old fenders have a one of a kind sound. For example two 1962 jazz basses will sound alike. So when you get into a bass like that, you can be sure no bass player in the world will have you tone.

  8. Don’t really care. It’s a nice bass, but for 10 grand I’d sooner buy a car than a piece of wood with Stanley Clarke’s name on it.

  9. Yes, I love Alembic basses (I own a 4 string Stanley) but where’s the bass solo on this clip? Not much of a showcase without the Stanely thunder.

  10. Good luck trying to find one like this for $10K, the signature deluxe 5 string lists for $11200 today.
    This Series I version would be more likely in the region of $20K, Series I list for $15600 and this bass has some expensive extra’s (Ebony neck lam, lotus inlays, leds etc.)
    The “Midi out” is for the Alembic power supply, no midi on this bass ;-) (see link below).
    Alembics have plenty of bottom (ask our sound engineer) and are worth every penny imho (my custom Elan was about $12k and no regrets yet).
    Mr Clarke’s bass is indeed set up with a high C, but Alembic short(er) scales can do a low B with ease. I have one of my 32 inch Spoilers set up with ADGC (one step below the 4 lower strings of a five string) Kicks serious butt with lots of tight bottom and clarity.

    Alembic pricelist: http://www.alembic.com/prod/prices.html.
    Info on the Alembic Series I setup: http://alembic.com/club/messages/16271/18483.html.
    Song recorded with 32 inch ADGC Spoiler: http://youtu.be/iaKW0xoLSXo.

    • Alembic is the Guarneri or Stradivarius of electric guitars. Joshua Bell’s Strad is worth about $5 million. It just depends on your level of playing how much instrument you need.

    • $20K??? WOOOOOOW!!! Does a $20K bass sound that much better than $3K bass? And who would actually gig with a 20K bass? Something like that should be encased in unbreakable glass with guards around it.

    • To some it will, to some it won’t… Depends what sound your after, that said; these basses are extremely versatile in sound shaping options (the more you pay, the more options you get)
      Lower priced Alembics (the set neck models, from $5500) usually have volume, pan + bass and treble controls, the “mid” class Alembics (from $6400) come with filters in a variety of configurations:
      Essence: Volume, pan, filter (fixed “Q”)
      Europa/Rogue: Volume, pan, filter + Q switch, bass and treble boost/flat/cut switches
      Signature: Volume, pan, filter + Q switch (one for each pickup)
      Anniversary: Vol and filter + Q switch for each pickup, pickup selector and mono/stereo switch
      Pickups for al above mentioned “packages” are Alembic Activators: AXY, MXY, Fatboy, P and J style
      These vary in shape but are very similar (axy and mxy are identical inside) except for the Fatboy which has a wider magnet (if I’m not mistaken)
      They all are hum cancelling pickups with dual stacked coils (only one with magnet, again: if I’m not mistaken)
      The “upper class” Alembics (Series I and II. from $14800) have single coil pickups with a separate “dummy hum canceller” (The middle “pickup) That was/is Mr Ron Wickersham’s way of making the best sounding and most quiet electronics setup for their instruments.
      Series I controls are: Vol and filter + Q switch (3 way) for each pickup and a pickup selector.
      Series II controls are the same, but with: Master volume and “CVQ” instead of the q switches,
      The electronics in these setups take a lot of power, hence the separate power supply (which connects to the five pin out)
      They can be operated with battery power through the 1/4 output, either in stereo or mono mode (modification may be needed) but with very limited battery life time. These basses also have the most elaborate wood laminations/combinations, see Alembic site for more info

      The woodwork and finish on all models is way beyond awesome, they use the best machines and the best skilled craftsmen. The lower priced models only give in at the “elaborate wood layers” section (and obviously electronics section) They are made in the same place by the same people.
      All models have solid brass hardware, designed and made in-house by Alembic (except for the tuners, I think they come from Grover)

      Then there’s custom: Every Alembic (except maybe some showroom models) are made on order and can be modified as you wish (though there are some limits) You can alter body/headstock shape, custom electronics, wood combinations, finishes etc.

      This all is done by a very small company operating from one location in Santa Rosa CA USA (extremely nice and helpful people)
      They do their utmost best to make the most stunning instruments with whatever features the customer want, dedicated to make it perfect in detail.
      Next to that they also try to make a living, they charge what’s necessary to stay in business and you’ll get the best instrument money can buy. They’re totally worth it in my humble opinion. :-)

      Be sure to check http://www.alembic.com and also visit the “Alembic club” (link is in main menu) Lots of info there!

      I don’t have a $20K bass, but would surely gig it if I had. (my $12K Elan gets plenty gig time)
      Thanx to No Treble for the article!
      You don’t see that many Alembics in reviews magazines etc, way to go! :-)
      …and sorry for the extreme long post

    • I got my alembic years ago, and at the time I was making good money, but the only way I would go $20,000 on an electric bass, is if I were on a lable and selling many albums…and then it would be after my house and car are paid for. In todays econmy it may not be such a good idea, because I see people tryng to sell series 1 and 2’s and they cant get 1/4 of what they paid for them…The basses I have I paid less than $3000.00 for each of them about 10 years ago, the same basses would cost over $10,000 to build today.

  11. Lots of comments here about the price. I’m glad you guys aren’t classical players. This price is just edging up against the price of a decent upright and is not even close to a good violin. Sure, a MIM Fender might be all you need, but in a larger context, these instruments are what they are and command a price in line with a fully handmade, made in America custom instrument. And they do sound amazing.

    • It’s highly unlikely I will ever be good enough to justify owning a boutique bass so I’m curious… in your opinion how do other highend makers, such as Warwick, Fedora and Zon, matchup to Almebic? Is the sound of Alembic that far and above the others to justify its price tag?

    • Well, my opinion is worth what it costs, so not all that much! Each maker has their own strengths and weaknesses. I don’t really see Warwick as being all that similar because they do so much more mass production work. Alembic does have various models but each bass tends to be fairly unique when it comes to the woods and details, especially once you get into the Series I and II instruments. Fodera is a builder that seems closer to the Alembic vibe in some ways. But still, their basses seem a little more conventional. Their electronics and hardware are similar to what you might find on many other basses and while built to spec, are not in house. Alembic pickups are not only in house, but most of them have a very different philosophy. Many of the models have sweepable low pass filter that gives a much different tonal variation from the standard bass/middle/treble setup. Once you get to the Series I and II, you have electronics that run off an external power supply that sends + and – 24 volts into the bass. The electronics then don’t suffer the same limitations that conventional battery powered electronics do with regard to headroom or noise vs. power consumption. Does that matter to you? Well, maybe or maybe not. Some people find the whole thing a PITA and some people find that it opens whole new worlds of tonal possibilities. While conventional electronics give interesting spectral variations, I find that Alembic filter based electronics tend to create variations in attack characteristics as well as what I would describe as formant variations, in other words, more like a voicing change rather than making something bassier or treblier. Do I need it to be that way or does my audience perceive this? Maybe not, but I love having it! While all the basses you mention have very fine craftsmanship, I think the Alembics are pretty spectacular. You can see mine in various stages of completion at http://alembic.com/club/messages/411/77495.html?1297967315.

      I think there is also the historical aspect. This is the company that transformed musical instruments when working with the Grateful Dead and other bands in the late 60s and then turned bass on its head when Stanley got his first one. Their Wall of Sound PA was unparalleled in scope and vision and its lessons are still be applied today. It was essentially a separate line array for each instrument with no central mixing board. It was a highly technical experiment with its genesis in a hallucinogenic moment of synaesthesia. Instead of being written off as a stoned fantasy, it led to a lot of research, heavy math, empirical data collection and finally a massive, expensive effort to build a huge amount of custom gear. These guys (and girls) took a really crazy idea and applied the best science to it they could. Who wouldn’t want to have a bass with that same level of magic made actual? There are various aspects of Alembics that most builders would write off as too crazy to make physical and too much trouble to put into production, but if you want an instrument from the people who would say “yeah, it’s crazy and it’s going to be an insane amount of work and might even be more trouble to learn how to play (for the electronics, that is), but damn, it’s cool!” then that’s the bass for you.

    • Edwin, I just have to share this experience with you. I attended a Bass Festival over the weekend where a number of bass soloist performed throughout the day. One of the artists was a guy named Trip Wamsley (Google him). He brought with him two Alembic basses and ran them through a GK amp. One of the basses was a 5 string fretless Alembic. Man that thing was PURE TONE and didn’t sound like any fretless bass I had ever heard before. And he was jamm’in on that baby. So I just wanted you to know that I have a new respect for Alembic. In the hands of one who knows how to use it (and can afford it) it is a fantastic instrument. Unfortunately, it’s still too rich for my skill set and budget.

    • the series 1 &2 basses have applications that will allow you to drive two amps and have tone control of each pickup, they rarely slip out of tune, and you can have an amp on full blast and you want even know it’s on…Edwin is right, I play classical bass as well, and if you walk into a major orchestra with a $10000 upright bass, you may be the joke of the day. I have a friend that paid over $30000 for a COPY of a Kolstien bass.

  12. Seriously who in their right mind would yell out “hey, I’m a great bass player” at a Stanley Clarke gig? WTH! That’s some serious ego right there. LOL

  13. I’m an Alembic fan, my main bass is an Essence 5 I intend to keep forever (this is simply “my sound”), their build quality is simply unparalelled… But – to be honest – I’ve never liked Stanley’s tone. He’s a virtuoso, one of the best bassists in the world, that’s undisputable – but his sound… I can’t force myself to like it.

  14. what can you do if you buy this bass and one day someone stole it? , or maybe a good fall in the stage and the bass gets a nice fracture or a broken neck? , crying like a baby in 1,2,3 !!! I don’t pay more than 1000 dollars for a good bass these days , and I got music man sting rays , kubicki ex factors ( one of them 950 dollars in 2006 , and 1200 dollars for the other in 1993 ) , fenders ( precision u.s.a. and jazz bass specials japan made from the 80s ) ,Gibson Thunderbird (used but looks like new. I payed 700 dollars in 2012 ), ibanez sr800 ( Japan ) , yamaha bb414 , cort axe2 ( gene simmons ) , and I’m building a jazz bass with an aerodyne neck ( japan ) and a body licensed by fender ( really good and cheap ) , all of these are good basses , and I payed only 1200 dollars for the kubicki , the most expensive from my collection. don’t pay more for things that cost much less.

  15. what can you do if you buy this bass and one day someone stole it? , or maybe a good fall in the stage and the bass gets a nice fracture or a broken neck? , crying like a baby in 1,2,3! I don’t pay more than 1000 dollars for a good bass these days , and I got music man sting rays , kubicki ex factors ( one of them 950 dollars in 2006 , and 1200 dollars for the other in 1993 ) , fenders ( precision u.s.a. and jazz bass specials japan made from the 80s ) , Gibson Thunderbird (used but looks like new. I payed 700 dollars in 2012 ), ibanez sr800 ( Japan ) , yamaha bb414 , cort axe2 ( gene simmons ) , and I’m building a jazz bass with an aerodyne neck ( japan ) and a body licensed by fender ( really good and cheap ) , all of these are good basses , and I payed only 1200 dollars for the kubicki , the most expensive from my collection. don’t pay more for things that cost much less.

    • You have very nice basses! But then again, when you pay premium for hi-end instruments, you really get what you pay for – sound and unparalelled craftsmanship. I have an Alembic Essence 5 and its build quality is second to none! It also has a sound to match – very distinctive, incredibly clear tone which I love. I have 3 other basses – Fender Geddy Lee Jazz Bass, Malinek Fretless 5 (made by a Polish luthier) and a ’84 Ibanez Roadstar II fretless, I love all of them but the Alembic is no.1! And yes, there are places I don’t like taking it (even though I got it 2nd hand, like all my current basses) so I’m planning to buy an unexpensive 5-string as a backup. And even if I used the backup most of the time for live gigs I’d still record all of the fretted 5-string stuff with the Alembic!

  16. I love my ’89 Alembic Spoiler 5-string. Bought just after finishing college and it’s been my main bass ever since. It’s my one bass that can fit any gig. With the filter and q-switch I can get real close to almost any tone someone expects to hear. I even pulled the wool over a few engineers into thinking I had a fretless with me too! That said, I still use my ’76 Rick, my mid 70’s “monster” PJ fretless (73′ P-body, 75′ PJ-neck, active emg’s), 09′ Classic Vibe P-bass (this very cheap bass is truly awesome—I bring this instead of my ’71 P), and my 99 Danelectro Longhorn fairly often. Just depends on the tune. But I always bring my Alembic and it ends being the keeper 95% of the time.

    • Get rid of the EMGs from the PJ fretless, install some good passive p-ups instead and you’ll see it’ll get more use in no time! ;-) Otherwise – congrats on your basses, especially on the Spoiler!

    • Get rid of the EMGs from the PJ fretless, install some good passive p-ups instead and you’ll see it’ll get more use in no time! ;-) Otherwise – congrats on your basses, especially on the Spoiler!

    • I’ve had a number of passive pick-ups in there over the years including some vintage Fender’s and plenty of boutique options and they’ve all sounded very good, but the emg’s sound just as good and with the eq’s with a custom eq bypass switch I get much more use out of it than with any of the others. Active pickup’s too often get a bad rap because people tend to dial in a modern “active” sound. I can get that too, of course, but I can get most anything else, too. These particular emg’s are from the early 90’s and the eq is really transparent, plus there’s a blend instead of a selector and that makes a big difference. I wish I had a blend pot on my Alembic, which are also active pickups. The rest of my basses are passive so it’s not an active/passive preference, just 33 years of gigging and recording and endless experimentation.

  17. I stumbled on this article & subsequent comment section quite by chance.
    I read through them to gauge people’s opinions on the subject at hand.

    as often is the case, the comments clearly show a common thread of ”what it costs & is it worth it” line of thought & to be honest, I always have a bit of trouble with this line of thinking!

    on one hand people constantly rant on about how mass production sucks because :
    a- being mass produced, products lack quality/finish/appeal/other.
    b- products lack ”personality/character”.
    c – damn shame because if it doesn’t cost more than a handful of dollars to produce it shouldn’t.
    sell for more than another handful of dollars.
    d – whatever else ad nauseam…
    or then because outsourcing kills jobs & the economy, or any such other equally ridiculous lines of thought – also ad nauseam…..LITERALLY!

    then a ”manufacturer” ( or is it a craftsman, boutique instrument maker or? ) comes along with an obviously very thought out instrument ( this obviously ain’t no parts bin engineering product ”slapped together” with left overs..) uses top quality materials, components AND highly qualified hand labour to make it, prices it accordingly &…..people still can’t resist slamming it – usually WITHOUT EVEN TRYING IT.. – because, because , because all of the above….
    BIG YAWN! JEEZ, just when I thought THINGS couldn’t get any more boring……..

    let’s see if we can get something straight :

    we all want nice paying jobs which allow comfortable living standards, in nice workplaces w/ great perks/benefits, send our kids to nice schools to gain meaningful educations, we want products that are cheap to purchase, made in the US, w/ top materials, components AND highly qualified hand labour, balanced, GREAT TONE instruments but for a few hundreds of dollars? did anyone say delusional? how about TOTALLY UNREALISTIC? unless we are all wishing/hoping for a salary decrease this & in years to come that is…

    plus refrain from saying something is expensive : expensive is something priced BEYOND it’s worth!
    expensive is a plastic cigarette lighter pumped up by the tens of thousand a day, w/ 25 cents spent in materials tops, even if it took a year to ”research & develop” & is sold for a couple bucks.

    instead say it’s a lot of money or as difficult as it may seem say ”i can’t afford it” – because yes, IT IS a lot of money but for those who relish in or specifically look for it’s intrinsic characteristics, IT’S worth EVERY penny.
    but PLEASE , don’t say it’s expensive : as a craftsman myself, I find it highly insulting & derogatory when one spends weeks or months making something to the very best of one’s ability only for some one who has no idea what it takes to make come along & condemn it because….”’it’s expensive”.

    do that or….let’s keep saying it’s expensive & next time our company lays out a couple more thousand to move production south of the border or south east asia & remain competitive – let’s NOT COMPLAIN : we voted so by determining this product or the other SHOULDN’T cost more than a handful of dollars…..

    • Norm.

      Could not agree more.Huge hrs in any alembic bass.Art of bass makng.Thsy are pioneers .

  18. Henry Ortega

    Doobie Brother fans want to know when bassiest Skylark will have his signature deluxe?

  19. Norm.

    this bass has series one electronics not signature.the five pin is power and stereo out.Hv had alembics since 1980.Price is got to be wrong as well.More like 20k.