Author Topic: Tiptoeing toward a custom Essence 5 (maybe)  (Read 185 times)

tomhug

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Tiptoeing toward a custom Essence 5 (maybe)
« on: December 31, 2017, 08:26:46 PM »
I've started composing this post about a dozen times, and then deleted it every time. Because the Essence 5 I already own is so fine and wonderful, it seems ludicrous that I'm even considering a custom build. But I am. This is my current Essence 5


This bass is so great, that every time I start to consider something different, I check myself and think, "What am I, crazy?" But, looking at it dispassionately, there are a few things I'd like to change:
  • The weight. This one is not "super heavy" as Alembics go, but it does come in at 10lbs. 14.8 oz - so basically 11 lbs. (you might think a couple of pounds is no big deal, but I have some cartilage loss and up to 9.5 lbs is fine for a long evening set, and over 10.5 lbs means pain and Advil the next day)
  • The electronics. This has no q-switch. The bass of my dreams (if you don't count a Series II, would be East-meets-West, with a 0-3-6 db q switch on the West part.
  • The wood/neck formula. It's mostly great, but most of the music I play calls for a deep, rich, fundamental tone and does not need the bright clarity that comes with purple-heart stringers.
I play in a few bands, and primarily these genres:
  • Blues
  • Jam-band/Grateful Dead
  • Funk / Classic Rock
I am especially intrigued by basses like these:


And, of course, this one, which tips the scales at 6.75 lbs!


So, what I'd like to achieve with this is:
  • Reduced weight
  • Greater electronic flexibility with the East meets West tone circuitry
  • A wood recipe that is warm with a robust fundamental, but still retains focus and clarity
These are the questions I have at the moment:
  • Ebony stringer or no? It's good for the fundamental, but probably comes at a cost of additional weight
  • Is is possible to spec to a specific weight (or a target weight), assuming we can select woods for both sonic and weigh considerations?

I should mention that I also have a Series I (actually I.5, since I upgraded it to a CVQ). So I feel like I've got the full Series thing covered. And I have an Essence Fretless as well, which is lighter and will stay in the stable.

I welcome any opinions and/or ideas.



[edited for picture alignment]
« Last Edit: January 01, 2018, 06:46:18 AM by adriaan »

rv_bass

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Re: Tiptoeing toward a custom Essence 5 (maybe)
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2018, 05:58:50 AM »
Sounds like a nice bass you are planning!  For the warm sound that still cuts through, perhaps a mahogany body and primary neck wood with maple and Purple Heart stringers (which is what I think Phil’s orange Osage bass had and that was pretty warm sounding).  It will be fun to see what you come up with!

rv_bass

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Re: Tiptoeing toward a custom Essence 5 (maybe)
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2018, 06:51:34 AM »
...walnut stringers might also be an option, and small scale or medium scale neck could help reduce weight along with elbow  and body cutouts.

adriaan

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Re: Tiptoeing toward a custom Essence 5 (maybe)
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2018, 07:41:15 AM »
My guess is that the "bright clarity" is not as much due to the purpleheart neck laminates, as it is to the always-on 8 dB Q boost. Add a Q switch, and you can turn off that boost. Make it a 0/3/6 dB switch, and you have more refined options - though if you need to cut through dense sounding guitars, a 0/6/9 dB switch might be more useful.

Having two filters lets you add some warmth here and a bit of sparkle there; then for bass boost you favour the neck pickup, etc.etc. I really like having two filters. :)  And wide aperture pickups. :D  And loads of mahogany in the wood recipe. ;D

So if I were in your shoes, and sufficient funds, I'd add 3-way Q switch to the Essence, and order a bass with the wood recipe of the zebrawood Essence, Fatboys and either Signature or Anniversary electronics, with the quick tone switches.

tomhug

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Re: Tiptoeing toward a custom Essence 5 (maybe)
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2018, 08:24:12 AM »
Sounds like a nice bass you are planning!  For the warm sound that still cuts through, perhaps a mahogany body and primary neck wood with maple and Purple Heart stringers (which is what I think Phil’s orange Osage bass had and that was pretty warm sounding).  It will be fun to see what you come up with!

Yes I think mahogany as a primary wood is a likely feature. Not sure I'll go with Maple and Purple Heart for the neck, though, since that's what the Essence I have now has. I've had recommendations for the Brown Bass Neck wood formula, which I guess is Mahogany/Walnut/Birch. I'm also intrigued by the wood recipes in those photos, above.

...walnut stringers might also be an option, and small scale or medium scale neck could help reduce weight along with elbow  and body cutouts.

I probably won't do anything other than 34", since every other bass I own is 34" (except for my Höfner)

I do plan on these features:
  • Tummy cut
  • Orion 3+2 Peghead
  • Fat Boy in bridge position

tomhug

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Re: Tiptoeing toward a custom Essence 5 (maybe)
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2018, 09:03:06 AM »
My guess is that the "bright clarity" is not as much due to the purpleheart neck laminates, as it is to the always-on 8 dB Q boost. Add a Q switch, and you can turn off that boost. Make it a 0/3/6 dB switch, and you have more refined options - though if you need to cut through dense sounding guitars, a 0/6/9 dB switch might be more useful.

Having two filters lets you add some warmth here and a bit of sparkle there; then for bass boost you favour the neck pickup, etc.etc. I really like having two filters. :)  And wide aperture pickups. :D  And loads of mahogany in the wood recipe. ;D

So if I were in your shoes, and sufficient funds, I'd add 3-way Q switch to the Essence, and order a bass with the wood recipe of the zebrawood Essence, Fatboys and either Signature or Anniversary electronics, with the quick tone switches.

Yeah, good points. My first Essence (an all-maple 6) had a q-switch. In fact my original thinking was that I would simply add either a q-switch or, more likely, add a q-switch and East-meets-West electronics to this bass. In fact, I am also still toying with that idea, although I don't know how feasible that is. Being a small-bodied Essence, it would likely need to be routed to accommodate the additional pots. So by the time I've paid to modify and refinish my current Essence bass, I am probably near the neighborhood (money-wise) of the deposit to start a new build.

The reason I am interested in East-meets-West, is that I had an Orion 5-string. Between it and my Series I, I think I had all my sonic needs covered. If I had one bass that had both tone circuits, and was a 5-string, I think I'd be all set.

Application-wise, I think for Grateful-Dead style stuff I play I'd rely on the filter mostly, and maybe thicken a touch with the EMW bass boost. For blues, I'd rely more on the EMW controls and have the q-switch in the 0db position. But it would be nice to have both options in a single instrument.

edwardofhuncote

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Re: Tiptoeing toward a custom Essence 5 (maybe)
« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2018, 09:03:34 AM »
+1 vote for the 'East-Meets-West' electronics... it really is a great circuit. Lots of available adjustment with very little twiddle. :)

*and FWIW, adding a 3-position Q-switch to your Essence 5 is an option worth looking into... I have my Persuader 5-string set up that way now, with Vol./Pan/Filter/3-Q. It's what steered me towards E-M-W to start with.  ;)
« Last Edit: January 01, 2018, 09:07:15 AM by edwardofhuncote »

hammer

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Re: Tiptoeing toward a custom Essence 5 (maybe)
« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2018, 09:43:14 AM »
Looking at the basses you like,  I'd suggest at least considering the ebony stringer. It makes my custom Signature unique sounding in comparison to all of the other Alembics I play. Given the body size and other things you are doing to cut down on weight you can probably still come in under you goal weight. I would think that if you asked Mica or Susan they could give you a very close estimate of what the additional weight would be over a maple or mahogany neck with purple heart stringers.

adriaan

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Re: Tiptoeing toward a custom Essence 5 (maybe)
« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2018, 11:50:09 AM »
The reason I am interested in East-meets-West, is that I had an Orion 5-string. Between it and my Series I, I think I had all my sonic needs covered. If I had one bass that had both tone circuits, and was a 5-string, I think I'd be all set.
Application-wise, I think for Grateful-Dead style stuff I play I'd rely on the filter mostly, and maybe thicken a touch with the EMW bass boost. For blues, I'd rely more on the EMW controls and have the q-switch in the 0db position. But it would be nice to have both options in a single instrument.
I started with an Epic, then in came a Spoiler, and finally a bass with Series II electronics. I find the single filter on the Spoiler limiting, as I always leave it fully open and just use the Q switch to add some brightness. And I kind of missed the bass/treble controls from the Epic, so I definitely see the appeal of EMW.
Then again on the new bass I didn't expect to be using the neck filter nearly closed with a good dallop of Q to add some dryish woodiness - though the bridge filter fully open with just a hint of Q was in line with expectations.
Having the wide aperture Series pickups on a mostly mahogany bass with two ebony neck laminates basically means you need to cut some bass at the amp, where you'd need to boost a bit of bass with the Spoiler or even the Epic - in direct comparison you might say they sound a bit anaemic. But I once tried out a Fatboy in the Spoiler, and I remember it added loads of low end content especially in the neck position - so at this point I'm considering swapping out both AXYs to Fatboys.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2018, 11:52:52 AM by adriaan »

jazzyvee

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Re: Tiptoeing toward a custom Essence 5 (maybe)
« Reply #9 on: January 01, 2018, 02:32:45 PM »
I would also consider the position of the neck pickup. By example, I have a series I bass with the neck pickup right up against the truss rod cover and that makes for a more mellow fatter and fuller sounding bottom end that would be good for blues. My experience with having a series basses with and without ebony in the neck is that the ebony basses seem to have a precise enhancement affect or emphasis on the note played and less on the other frequencies around that note. So the individual notes stand out with more clarity. The bass with the neck pickup against the  truss rod cover seems to affect a wider spectrum of frequencies around the note played so the bottom end sounds fuller and warmer. I described it to someone in the past that it would be like firing off a gun in the open air (bang) compared to firing it a cave. (BOOM).
« Last Edit: January 01, 2018, 02:34:30 PM by jazzyvee »
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jazzyvee

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Re: Tiptoeing toward a custom Essence 5 (maybe)
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2018, 02:48:16 PM »
Another option to get more warmth if you dont want to move the pickup is to have the neck pickup inside the casing offset so that it is closer to the side of the pickup that is closest to the truss rod cavity which again would give you more warmth in the bottom end. Mica suggested this to me and i bought an AXY neck pickup for my sc deluxe wound this way.
The sound of Alembic is medicine for the soul!

elwoodblue

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Re: Tiptoeing toward a custom Essence 5 (maybe)
« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2018, 09:25:07 PM »
That's a way cool ,or I guess warm option jazzyvee ,
... beyond custom!