1984 Alembic Spoiler

If ever there was one instrument which could convince you of the spirituality and presence of certain instruments, this bass is it. For example, it isn’t a spectacularly beautiful bass, but whenever it is removed from its case in a crowd of musicians, they gather from all corners of the room.

According to Alembic, the bass was completed on September 14, 1984 (oddly enough, the very day my father was buried). It has a birdseye maple top with a mahogany back, a maple neck, an ebony fingerboard, and standard SB-2 Spoiler electronics and pickups. I only go into this detail because it’s the only instrument I own for which I have this much information, and, well, because it’s my baby. So there.

I bought the bass in 1989 from a gentleman named Art Mauney. At the time he was the sales manager for Hames Music in Gaffney, SC. While I was arranging to buy some equipment from the store, Art offered to sell me this bass out of his personal collection. When he first showed it to me, I wasn’t very impressed. But once I played it, it was a done deal.

I did a few recordings with the Alembic, and jammed with a few bands, but little else. I was sick of playing in bands by that point, and so was really only interested in sitting around and doing my own thing. But in that process I fell deeply in love with the bass.

Sometimes a musician comes across an instrument which seems to have been specifically built for him or her. Such instruments can inspire you. This bass was that for me. It dramatically altered the way I played, because it demanded a different approach. Once I’d adjusted to it, I suddenly found myself becoming a good bass player.

Then I got stupid.

In late summer of 1991, I moved to Florida with a woman I’d met online (yes, I was a dumbass). I won’t bore you with details, but before long I had to begin selling off possessions to keep us afloat. All of my recording equipment was sold. I hung on to the guitars at first, but eventually I had to sell them, too.

Including my precious Alembic.

My mother and my aunt, Loretta, bought my Alembic and my Stratocaster from me, intending to re-sell them later. The Alembic wound up in the hands of a cousin, who, at that time, was my most bitter enemy (we’re on better terms now). It was sold to him for no money down, on condition that he pay them $20 a week until it was paid for. It was, for me, the ultimate insult. It was bad enough that I’d been forced to sell the bass. But for Him, of all people, to wind up with it was an affront which I never quite forgave my aunt for. It hurt, and was a deep and bitter wound for a long, long time.

I won’t bore you with details about what happened in Florida. Suffice it to say that I returned alone to North Carolina, without my recording equipment, without my Alembic and Stratocaster, and went on about the business of rebuilding my life (a slow and painful process). I considered at times the possibility of buying a new Alembic Spoiler, but those dreams died quickly when I discovered that a new one would cost around $3,400.

Luckily, about a year later, my cousin decided to sell the Alembic. He sold it back to my mother (who knew how much grief his owning it had caused me), and she simply gave it back to me. Since that time, the bass has never been far from my sight. I still regard it as the most important instrument in my “collection”, and I have no doubt that if it had to begin selling my instruments again, I would starve before I sold this one.


Sep 14 1984
Sep 1989
Top Laminate:
Birdseye Maple
Body Wood:
Alembic, Inc.
3305 Wiljan Court
Santa Rosa, CA
Art Mauney
Gaffney, SC
Swing Bass 66
RS 66LE / .50-110

[box style=”rounded”]

“There is Alembic. And then there is everything else.”

~ Art Mauney[/box]

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
Close Bitnami banner