Bass of the Week: Alembic Series II “Leap of Faith”

Alembic’s basses have been a big influence on custom builders, and it’s easy to see why. They started in 1969 as a live sound consulting operation. Founders Ron and Susan Wickersham then moved into instrument electronics, creating low impedance pickups and what would become first set of active electronics for a guitar. Their first bass was built in 1972 for Jefferson Airplane’s Jack Casady, and Alembic has been pumping out high end instruments ever since.

Alembic Leap of Faith Bass

This week we’re checking out a custom Series II model called the “Leap of Faith”, which got its name from a customer taking chances on their boutique bass.

“When we talk to a future Alembic owner that has little or no experience with our instruments, we are sometimes a tad nervous,” the Alembic website states. “Will they like the choices they’ve made? Will we live up to their expectations? When someone takes a “Leap of Faith” and purchases a tricked out music machine on reputation alone, it is a humbling experience for us here at Alembic. [The customer] convinced us that he knew exactly what he wanted and he was also open to suggestions from Susan’s experience to shape the specifications into a bass that would last a lifetime.”

The bass is built with neck through construction featuring a seven-piece maple, purpleheart, and ebony neck matched to a mahogany body topped and backed by a gorgeous selection of bookmatched buckeye burl. The matching headstock is inlaid with the Alembic logo made of buffed bronze with mother of pearl and blue-hued paua abalone shell. “The rays are mixed paua and red abalone shell,” the company writes. “The inlay is below the surface of the finish, and is like a beautiful jewel atop the crown peghead.” Its ebony fretboard is adorned with Black Tahitian mother of pearl ovals as well as a custom inlay at the 12th fret.

The neck is also souped up with blue LED side markers that are powered by the same batteries as the electronics. Pickups include a pair of Alembic SC-1 with a comprehensive set of controls: a pickup selector switch, two volume knobs, two filter knobs, two CVQ knobs, a master volume, and a mono/stereo switch. “[The] CVQ [is] the continuously variable Q control,” says Alembic. “The Q is an attribute of the low-pass filter, affecting the frequency you have the low-pass filter tuned to. You can dampen the Q to near zero by turning the control all the way down, or get extreme with a 15dB boost at the maximum, plus all the subtlety in between.”

For more, check out the Alembic website.

Alembic “Leap of Faith” Series II Bass Specs:

Body:Mahogany, Purpleheart and Maple Accent Laminate
Top and Back:Bookmatched Buckeye Burl
Neck:Maple, Purpleheart and Ebony
Inlays:Black Tahitian Mother of Pearl, Custom Initial Inlay at 12th Fret
Side Markers:Blue LEDs
Pickups:Alembic SC-1
Tuners:Gold Alembic-Gotoh
Bridge:Alembic Bird of Prey
Origin:Made in Santa Rosa, California

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  1. Cozmik Cowboy

    Very nice write up on a masterpiece from ther masters of the electric bass! One nit to be picked, however; there are 2 options for powering it: A 5-pin cable carries seperate signals from each p/up, as well as powering both the electronics and the LEDS. Or, you can use batteries – but there are seperate batteries (and compartments) for the sonic power & the LED power.