Alembic Orion

Alembic Orion

Year: 2004

Made In: USA

Specs: Mahogany body with purpleheart & maple stringers, walnut top, five-piece maple & purpleheart neck, ebony fretboard

Electronics: Alembic MXY pickups, 2-band EQ

Controls: Volume, blend, bass cut & boost, treble cut & boost

Every Alembic is a one-of-a-kind. They’re very special instruments and that’s obvious from the moment your eyes land on one. I think it’s fair to say this one has a lot going for it even if the set-neck Orion isn’t one of their more exotic models. This is one of the few Orions made with their Crown headstock and not many come with the fretboard ovals either. It was commissioned by a shop in the Netherlands originally.

Unplugged, it sounds very different to your average ash/alder body & maple neck bolt-on. It’s a much, much tighter sound with great projection. It feels a little different too. It’s got a seriously solid vibe to it, without being overly heavy, everything about it has substance. The Orion is a great body shape, I think, which balances well. Upper neck access is incredible and the neck is quite traditional in terms of size and shape. It’s really nice to play.

As Alembics go, this is pretty straightforward, electronically. It doesn’t have filters (yet), just a relatively standard 2-band EQ with high and low end cut and boost. Having said that, it’s not short on variety, there are a huge range of tones at your fingertips. The pickups are slightly further apart than a J bass, for example, the neck pickup is closer to the neck, the bridge pickup closer to the bridge. This gives you a naturally wider scope of sound to play with. A lot of the money you pay for Alembics goes into the electronics and, even at a high level, this is readily apparent. The blend pot is useful to the full extent of its travel. Really small tweaks make really big differences. This is also reflected in the other controls, minor changes have a big influence on the sound. There’s a huge amount of low end naturally, and the whole thing reeks of quality. The MXY pickups really reflect the tight sound you hear unplugged. It’s a really clean, articulate sound but there’s enough output to drive any amp into delicious dirt.

We call this one “El Presidente”.

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