Building a Wal Copy

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by TWood97, Aug 21, 2018.


Tags:
  1. No, save up for a real one

    24.6%
  2. Yes, it'll be a lot cheaper

    50.9%
  3. Carrots?

    24.6%
  1. TWood97

    TWood97

    Dec 9, 2017
    UK
    So I'm planning on building a Wal mkII copy. Currently even second hand Wals are out of my price range, and I know a big part of the sound of these basses is the pickup/preamp combo, so after looking online at who makes the closest p'ups and pre's, it seems those will be about half the cost of the project.

    I'm thinking of getting a warmoth paddle neck and building the body, as necks scare me and I've already built a body for a guitar a few years ago. I'll be getting help from my girlfriend's dad and his workshop, so it shouldn't be too difficult. I've also used CAD to create scale templates to get the body and headstock shape right. As Wal use their own knobs and bridges I'll have to use parts that are 'close enough', but hey, hopefully the project should save me £2,000-4,000 as opposed to getting a real one.

    I'll probably be around here asking for help as the project progresses, and I'll update as things move along.
     
    blindrabbit, The Owl and Leiria like this.
  2. GMC

    GMC

    Jan 1, 2006
    Wiltshire, UK
    Good luck...many very talented Luthiers have tried and failed. Maybe you'll be the first to crack it open.
    The pickups are very specific, as is the preamp. Making it look like a Wal is irrelevant compared to how it needs to sound across the range of knob settings.
    Bernie Goodfellow basses come pretty close to Wal in terms of tone and variety of tone, especially their humbucker basses.
    Outside of the Wal workshop...these basses and their parts are made from pure un-obtainium.
     
  3. MPU

    MPU

    Sep 21, 2004
    Valkeala Finland
    CC018C5B-9844-41B2-A46E-DCED339000AB.jpeg

    I made a Wal copy that had 8-coil pickups, filter preamps on both pickups and the looks of Wal except the bridge was Schaller 3d. Soundwise not a 1:1 copy but no way a failure. The bass is somewhere in France atm.
     
  4. TWood97

    TWood97

    Dec 9, 2017
    UK
    Looks great, and good to see it can be done! I'm sure mine won't end up looking or sounding 100% the same but close enough is good enough me.
     
  5. Scoops

    Scoops Why do we use base 10 when we only have 8 fingers Supporting Member

    Oct 22, 2013
    Sugar Creek, Wisc
    blindrabbit and TWood97 like this.
  6. MPU

    MPU

    Sep 21, 2004
    Valkeala Finland
    I used RobbieK’s filters as a base for my preamps. They worked beautifully.
     
  7. Skelf

    Skelf

    Apr 15, 2005
    Moffat D&G Scotland
    Builder AC Guitars.
    blindrabbit, Toolmybass, Beej and 3 others like this.
  8. TWood97

    TWood97

    Dec 9, 2017
    UK
    Looks like this might be the preamp of choice for the project then. It should get really close to the Wal sound if used with Wal style humbuckers right?
     
  9. Btw, those tuners and the bridge are schaller. So not exactly unobtanium. But yeah the sound is in the electronics. Do yourself favor and don't make it quite as heavy as the genuine article.
     
    Groove Doctor, Beej, GMC and 2 others like this.
  10. kulit17

    kulit17 Wal Collector #35

    Tuners are the only items that are sub'd out. Everything else, including bridges, are made in house. Also, Wals nowadays can be be made lighter upon request.

    32892512_10156452649973179_2010000585213870080_n.jpg
     
    BritFunk, reverendrally and GMC like this.
  11. TrevorR

    TrevorR

    Oct 3, 2015
    Near London, UK
    It will be an interesting project, as a project - there was a guy on Basschat a while back who did a Mouradian Chris Squire copy a while back and it was a fascinating project to watch. So, if you want to do it on that basis... go for it. However, don’t presume that it will end up feeling or sounding quite like a Wal, even with the ACG preamp and something like the Rautia multi coil pickups - neither of which will exactly be cheap items.

    If you really want a Wal the only real option is to save up the cash to buy a second hand one. It might take longer than saving up for a MIM Fender P but that’s life! And one could also argue that the money you sink into the project would take you a fairly significant part of the way towards saving up for the real thing.

    But like you say, it will cost less and could be fun to do... as a build project.

    Will watch with interest if you do go ahead.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2018
    TWood97 likes this.
  12. TrevorR

    TrevorR

    Oct 3, 2015
    Near London, UK
    Just reading through your post again and clocked your build cost estimate seems to be in the £1k to £1.5k range...? you do realise that in the UK second hand Wal prices are regularly in the £3k region. Saving that cash takes you a third of the way to the real McCoy anyway... worth thinking about.
     
  13. TrevorR

    TrevorR

    Oct 3, 2015
    Near London, UK
    Lol, that’s not a Wal, it’s a copy of a Wal... hence the aftermarket bridge and knobs...
     
    reverendrally likes this.
  14. Skelf

    Skelf

    Apr 15, 2005
    Moffat D&G Scotland
    Builder AC Guitars.

    It will put you in the ballpark but as pointed out by TrevorR if you want a Wal you need to buy a Wal. My pre-amp was never intended to be a Wal copy it was intended to move things on from the Wal addressing a few things I personally wanted to be different having played a Wal for years. Des it produce sounds along the same lines as the Wal yes it can but it can also produce sounds that the Wal can't.
     
  15. TrevorR

    TrevorR

    Oct 3, 2015
    Near London, UK
    Alan, have played around on some chums ACGs at Bass Bashes etc. I should say, that's a really nicely designed preamp. Beautifully thought through and implemented. Stirling work by you and JE. The ability to vary the nature of the filter as well as simply moving around the shelving frequency is a really nice touch. Haven't managed to check out a full Uber spec with the multi-coil pickups yet, though (IIRC). But like you say, similar but different.
     
    blindrabbit and Skelf like this.
  16. The cheapest way to build a Wal is to have Mexico pay for it.
     
  17. Skybone

    Skybone

    Jun 20, 2016
    Scotland
    Build the Wal, build the Wal...
     
    40Hz, coronado3, TrustRod and 3 others like this.
  18. I’ve searched for decades for a Wal to buy, and every Wal I’ve tried hasn’t quite grabbed me enough to pay the premium. My favourite was an ash pro 1 I tried in Japan, but it was pricey. You just got to be patient and get the right one I feel. Building a copy wouldn’t cure my ills..!
     
  19. johnson79

    johnson79

    Jan 8, 2010
    Lancaster, PA
    Next thing you know, you'll need to ask your wife to write a check for it, but it's worth it for tonal security.
     
    TrustRod and punchdrunk like this.
  20. TWood97

    TWood97

    Dec 9, 2017
    UK
    Thanks for all the advice guys, it's a lot to think about. It's true that saving up 2-3 times more money would get me a real one second hand, but they don't seem to pop up too often. And on the other hand, building one would be fun but wouldn't be 100% like the real thing. But then I'd have something more personal to me.
     
    TrustRod, charlie monroe and Leiria like this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    Sep 27, 2021

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