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Question about Alembic bass guitars


Sharkman
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The other day I was talking with a friend, and I mentioned how Stanley Clarke played bass with Keith Richards and Ron Wood in a short-lived group called The New Barbarians. He's a Stanley Clarke fan, and I also mentioned how he played an Alembic bass, which is a really high end bass guitar that only top level bassists seem to use. When I got home, I looked up Alembic basses on their website, and they start out at $8,000, and go over $25,000. Way more than I will ever spend just for a bass to plunk around on once every few months or so, if that. So I went to Ebay, and I found some Alembic basses for less than half of what the original purchase price is. So much for buying one as an investment. That got me wondering, why do these super high quality exceptionally well made bass guitars lose their value so dramatically? Anybody know?
I rock; therefore, I am.
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One can only guess about the used gear market. I imagine that someone looking for an Alembic is going to want to commission a very specific bespoke model. A friend of mine has a couple which he spec'ed from the factory & had built to his exact wants. They are unlike any other bass I've heard. More like grand piano bass strings which ring forever & have unparalleled note separation & clarity.
Scott Fraser
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Could be supply and demand, as you point out Alembics are for the well-heeled fanatic bassist who cannot settle for less - although I'm sure there are other builders who could supply a special bass - Fodera comes to mind. Still, Alembic has the provenance, they were the first high end boutique electric guitar and bass shop. If nobody can pay the higher price then things sell lower.

 

It could also be that those who can afford such things are not that worried about taking a loss or find themselves in dire straits.

It could be an estate sale item, there are lots of reasons for price discrepancies.

 

They are good basses but not for the weak. HEAVY!!!!

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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Alembics aren't all that great in terms of bang-for-buck. They simply were one of the first to identify the need for higher caliber workmanship. I don't think Stanley himself has used them (at least exclusively) for many years now. The ones I tried were top-end and in great shape but didn't hold a candle to cheaper models from Fedora, F Bass, even Sadowsky, and other boutique brands that I think came along after Alembic for their foothold. A phasey sound that was hard to dial out.

 

Anyway, buying an Alembic won't make you sound like Stanley. First of all, Stanley is his own sound, even on a cardboard bass. But also, he had a lot more things going on in his signal path that were arguably more critical than the Alembic Bass. The point of the Alembic at that time is that CBS owned Fender and had cut so many corners that new basses weren't very reliable, and it was probably hard to get a good quality vintage model.

 

I see Alembic prices as mostly fake; they don't sell very well compared to other boutique companies and I've had clerks ask me what my price would be, but as I wasn't interested I didn't bother playing the game.

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Alembic makes very nice basses, that have a distinctive look and sound, are expensive, and can be heavy.

To me, their sound is hyper clean and brilliant- almost too much so, imo. They can sound sterile and "un-basslike" without a lot of the overtones that people normally associate with the sound of bass guitars.

That said, they do sound good, they just sound like an Alembic, and the preamp(s) cover a lot of sonic territory.

 

Besides Stanley, to me maybe the most distinctively Alembic sounds I've heard recorded are on Eminence Front and Teenage Wasteland by The Who, and Nobody's Fault But Mine by LZ (which, iirc, was an 8 string).

 

As for value? Alembics are often quite custom built, some feature odd wood combinations, odd inlay work, even unusual colors, and imo it's all stuff that's great on your bass, but your custom touches are just things to another buyer that may have less appeal, so they have less financial draw (See George Carlin- My shl+ is stuff, your stuff is shl+).

 

imo, of course.

 

I'm a lot more like I am now than I was when I got here.

 

 

 

 

 

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