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Fernandes 'Alembic copy' 4 string bass
Photography: Harry Schnitzler.
Click here for a larger version.
Builder: Fernandes (Japan)
Model: Series I Alembic fake
Serial Number: 327 07
Case/Gigbag: original case
Weight: 10 pounds.
Scale Length: 32 inches.
Neck Shape: flat oval.
Width at Nut: 1 13/16 inches.
String Width at Bridge: 1 15/16 inches.
Overall Length: 47 inches.
Widest: 15 inches.
Neck: 5 piece maple/mahogany neck-through, single truss rod , Brazilian rosewood veneer on top and back of the headstock. The Alembic Logo on this bass is not original and was attached probably by a former owner, originally these basses had only a Fernandes script on the headstock.
Fingerboard: Brazilian rosewood with oval faux mother of pearl inlays, small metall dots on the side of the fingerboard.
Body: katsura wood core, 1/4" thick flamed koa top and back.
Finish: clear lacquer finish.
Bridge: Fernandes, solid brass construction on 1/2 pound brass sustain block inset into the body, Fernandes tailpiece (also brass).
Tuners: Gotoh, gold plated.
Strap buttons: Fernandes (chrome).
Outputs: 1/4" stereo phone jack, five pin XLR for use with external power supplies (included)
Pickups: 2 Fernandes single coil soapbarS. 1 Fernandes dummy coil (middle position) for humcanceling purposes.
Controls: 1 pickup selector switch (including standby position), 2 volume, 2 variable active lowpass filters, 2 3-position Q-filter switches.
Preamp: Fernandes +/- 9-volt preamp
Overall condition: excellent.
Inquiries regarding this instrument may be directed to: BunnyBass.
The most accurate (and most impertinant!) copy in the history of exotic basses! Built by the Japanese company Fernandes back in the late 70's with breath taking, original-looking details and a level of quality in the wood and brass hardware that really makes one have to know which details to look for in order to tell this fake from an authentic Alembic. These basses were available only briefly, in a medium scale version with the pointy body shape (such as this one) as well the small body style as a short scale bass and sold for about half the price of their real Santa Rosa-born cousins. This bass is even more nervy as at some point it even received somehow an original Alembic logo to make the fake even more perfect.[an error occurred while processing this directive]
What separates this fake from an original is mostly the somewhat inferior quality of the finish and the electronic components, as well as the single trussrod and the rosewood fingerboard (hardly ever seen on real Alembics), and faux mother of pearl oval inlays on the fingerboard. Because the electronics are somewhat similar in concept, the sound is also similar to the distictive 'Alembic sound', but seems to me because of the reduced power +/- 9-volt preamp rather than a +/- 18-volt system, together with the lesser quality of the electronic components and perhaps the different fingerboard material, the sound of the Fernandes is a little 'milder' and less piano-string sounding than an original Series I from the same era. To summarize, the Fernandes has a surprisingly excellent sound, though it is really not like an Alembic.
So what happened to these remarkable copies? The people of Alembic found out about the exsitence of these copies pretty quickly and stoped the basses from entering the U.S. market after a short time. These Fernandes "Alembic" basses are well made instruments with an undeniably good sound, but of course there are many issues at hand when considering copies - legal and otherwise - and most people will agree that nothing beats the original.