Originally Posted by Spartan1979
I'd be more concerned about the pH of the sparge water than the mash.
That's a good point because alkaline sparge water can lead to a reliably harsh beer. However, a very alkaline mash will extract sugars, but end up with an unpredictable flavor domain, and in my experience, with weird off flavors that are hard to isolate. Inland water has minerals, but places with surface water can be randomly soft compared to standard (ideal?) European water.
There's a tendency in homebrewing to notice how difficult something seems and wait until you're forced to change. Water chemstrity accounts for so much of the substrate of the bee, with all grain, and I believe it's worth biting the bullet to learn about it. Your beers will improve immensely.
To improve a beer, I think these are the ways that have noticeably changed the final product (assuming your process is consistent, and sanitation is clean):
1) water salts and mash pH
2) temperature control
3) starting yeast
See: http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=File:Experiment_normal_vs_high_pH. jpg
Right is too high of a pH, making the beer darker than expect via Maillard processes.