Alembic was founded in 1969 as a workshop for the Grateful Dead's equipment. Spearheaded by engineer Owsley Stanley, Alembic worked to improve the band's sound equipment—everything from the instruments to the PA. Eventually, Alembic modified and repaired guitars and basses, and that inevitably led to building instruments of the company's own designs.
Originally conceived by Rick Turner and Ron Wickersham, active electronics are one of Alembic's signature features. Inspired by the wide frequency response of the Hagstrom Bi-sonic pickups installed in Phil Lesh and Jack Casady's Guild Starfire basses, Alembic low-impedance pickups accompany electronics with greater bandwidth than the high-impedance pickups typical of most basses available at the time. To boost the low output of the pickups, Alembic added an active onboard preamp, which also opens up flexibility.
The Spoiler was one of the core Alembic models of the '80s, and it is constructed around a laminated neck that runs through the body. Under the hood, the Spoiler is rigged with Alembic's signature low-impedance pickups and active onboard preamp.
This 1984 Spoiler features gorgeous Zebrawood on the top. At some point along the way, a previous owner decided this Spoiler should be fretless, and what an awesome decision that was! Fretless necks open up a different range of expression. Though tricky for beginners, the fretless fingerboard gives you complete tonal control of the instrument. You'll also notice a more comfortable playing experience because you don't have to press down on the strings as hard as you do with frets.
As far as condition, there is some wear and tear (especially around the edges of the treble-side cutaway), but this Spoiler finds us in nice shape all around. The plastic cover for the neck pickup is cracked on one edge, but it stays in place and functions without issue. The fretless conversion was done properly, and the results are clean, almost as if done at the factory. This '84 Spoiler still has all of its original electronics and hardware, and it includes a Gibson USA gig bag.
The fretless feel is a nice choice for the tone-shaping capabilities of Alembic electronics. And like other Alembic instruments, the construction is next-level, and it feels like a work of art in your hands.