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Anyone play/own a Wal Bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by funkedupbass, Oct 4, 2005.

  1. Lately I've been thinking about searching high and low for a wal bass, but it seems rather hard to find one to play (as expected). So my question goes out to those who have played/own a Wal bass?
    How does the neck feel, how does it play?
    And my other question is about the top wood on it (since there are many options) which does yours have on it and how do you feel it affects the sound/tone?
    Anything you can tell me would be greatly apprecaited.
  2. I know Wal are rare and all, but has anyone played one?
  3. greg


    Jun 1, 2004
    A few people on here own them. I know hippiesandwich owns a few . Best of luck with your search.
  4. I'm sure Oddio will jump in soon enough. I think he owns 3... along with other sick gear! He visits regularly. Give him a couple minutes and he'll chime in.

  5. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    There are others here who own or have owned them. I don't have one now, but have owned 6 of them over the years.

    The necks on mine have had a kind of soft-V contour to them, especially the 4s. They are a little deeper than your typical Fender because of that, and closer to a P width than a J at the nut. I found them fast and comfortable, but not everyone likes the shape.

    The top wood does affect the tone in my experience, but so does the finish (whether you have the gloss, which is much thicker than the satin), the weight of the body, the fretboard wood, etc.

  6. walwear


    Feb 17, 2003

    I currently have six of them and have had played somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 over the past 7 years. They are wonderful instruments by every measure. I'm sure that you can find several threads in the archives where we owners gush on and on, so I'm reluctant to rehash here. As Mike indicated, wood and finish choice certainly affects the sound. If you can give us a sense of what tone you are after, we can probably suggest combinations that will sound good to you. In the end, it is probably an academic exercise since you'll probably not be fortunate enough to custom order one at this stage in the Wal lifecycle.

    All the best,
  7. Yeah I noticed that they aren't taking orders anymore (or at least for a long while), extremly bummed about that one, but I'm sure my fiance isn't.
    I'm not too demanding on the sounds. I really enjoyed how the padauk and the olive ash wals sounded on the site.
    I'm curious how the lows on an olive ash top would sound versus the lows on a flamed or birdseye top. Would I lose any lows with olive ash vs a maple?
    I'm also curious how the highs would differ on a padauk vs a maple or ash top.
    How would the finish affect the sound?
    I'm really interested in a Mach 3, how do the neck shapes/playability vary from each model?
    I tried doing a search, but I couldn't find much. Maybe my parameters were a bit off.
    I like a good growl (as does anyone), some warmthy goodness with non abrasive, but present highs.
    I appreciate all your help on this one.
  8. Thanks Rocky55 (good to see you)!

    Personally I've been quite a Wal fan for about three years now and I was fortunate to acquire 3 of these at a time when the prices hadn't gone totally crazy. These basses are becoming much harder to find used and they are going for very high prices currently... and the new ones have such a long wait that Pete is accepting no further orders until he's caught up. Don't hold your breath.

    mikezimmerman (hello Mike!) has decribed the four-string Wal neck very accurately. The five stringed models (Mk11, Mk III) are slightly thinner through by comparison and are similarly very "fast". Also, Pete's attention to the finest details, fit and finish has been uncompromising. The other not-so-insignificant detail that sets these instruments apart is the handmade preamp (boards) and pickups.

    Some Wal basses are known to be quite heavy. The weight can vary quite a bit depending on the wood used. I've been lucky in that all three of my basses are at (MkII) or below 10lbs with the lightest being the MkIII, despite the fact that it is fitted with Sims LEDs.

    Good information on Wal basses, the electronics, pictures and sounclips can be found on the Wal Basses website here. An excellent history of these instruments can be found on Trevor's site here.

    Here is my small Wal collection. The MkIII (on the left) has beech facings and this wood in combination with the custom pickup placement makes for a bass that is as punchy as all get out! My other two Wals, a MkII fretless five and (on the right) the MkI four are both black poly/gold hardware. The black poly finish yields a slightly brighter tone that is also a shade less warm than the schedua or walnut-topped basses. Nonetheless, as the pickups and preamp comprise so much of the Wal's sonic character this difference is very slight.

  9. j-raj

    j-raj Bassist: Educator/Soloist/Performer Supporting Member

    Jan 14, 2003
    Indianapolis, IN
    this one is sweet, it's from that site you mentioned Od:
  10. Those are some gorgeous basses. It makes me kind of fluttered inside. I really have no problem waiting 5 or so years to get one. Do you imagine if he'll start taking orders eventually? I'm really thinking either padauk or olive ash. Possibly a maple, but it really depends on how maple compares to the olive ash. I'm not too sure about the finish though.
    thanks for the pics,
  11. nick g.

    nick g. Supporting Member

    Nov 9, 2003
    Chandler, Arizona
  12. Hi,

    I own a Wal MachII fretless and it is simply wonderful; though I must confess to not having owned "everything" at one time or another, it is certainly not another high end Jazz bass type of instrument. So unique, especially the electronics. Pretty much as the guys have said, etc. I would say you can't go wrong, but not everybody loves them, but it sure seems most do !

    As far as Pete Stevens goes, I HOPE and kind of think he will sometime get caught up, and will start taking orders, but it may also be wishful thinking too ! As it is just him, he REALLY, REALLY could use a full time right hand man, or TWO. Anyone in the UK know of a young talented luthier who wouldn't mind working in High Wycombe ? It so PLEASE have him Beg to be part of the Wal legacy !!
  13. LukeMan970


    Jun 22, 2005
    Seattle, WA
    How's the balance of the machII wals? When i get a job when school calms down and i get some money i'm gonna try and find a wal used (or maybe pete will be taking order *crosses fingers*) and i love the machII body in either walnut or flamed maple.

  14. Well, "friend" sounds alot better then "some guy I've been talking to on the message board Tooltabs.net", .nick. !!! :rolleyes:
  15. Unchain

    Unchain I've seen footage.

    Jun 20, 2005
    Tucson, AZ
    I'm sorry, but that's the funniest thing I've seen all day. :p

    Wal basses are incredible! I've played a couple (fretted and fretless) and while the fretless was way above average, the fretless was too good to be true.
  16. LukeMan970: The Mach II Wal basses do balance very nicely due to the elongated upper horn. IME the Mach II seems to be a little heavier than the other models. This may simply be because the only MkII basses I have played or tried were all fretless (Pete has stated that he uses different mahogany for fretless basses).
  17. rusty


    Mar 29, 2004
    I'm really fortunate to own a fretless Mach I with a flamed olive ash top :)


    It's strung with TI Jazz rounds and the tone I get from it is like a whole bottleful of peanut butter plus sweet sweet jelly sandwich thick ;)
  18. kelbrihan

    kelbrihan Banned [Deceiving users with multiple usernames] Banned

    Dec 2, 2004
    I owned one for a short time, the biggest adjustment for me was the neck profile which was a very pronounced "V" shape. Plus I had it for a week or so before I discovered the push/pull knobs. They have their own unique sound, that's for sure.
  19. Sound Chaser

    Sound Chaser

    Mar 19, 2005
    Lockport, NY
    I know it's almost impossible, but I would kill for a Geddy custom Wal...