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.
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|
|Bridge:||Alembic Bird of Prey|
|Origin:||Made in Santa Rosa, California|