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. TrevorR

    TrevorR

    Oct 3, 2015
    Near London, UK
    Either way, check out the Wal Club on here and the Wal Appreciation Group on Facebook (if you're on FB).
    Wal Bass Club.
    Wal Bass Lovers Of The World Unite!
     
    TWood97 likes this.
  2. InhumanResource

    InhumanResource

    Dec 28, 2012
    Super cool. Where did you get the string tree? I made a cheaper copy and had to compromise on that hardware.
     
  3. InhumanResource

    InhumanResource

    Dec 28, 2012
    I think it depends on what you want out of one. I doubt a clone will be exact, but if "close enough" satisfies you, go for it. Maybe it's a sort of try before you buy to see if you can get used to them.

    I had a body and neck made cheaply just to play around with, it's fun but now I know I either want a high quality copy or just save for the real thing. My issue isn't necessarily having the cash, it's just not an expense I can justify against my family's budget. You can do a lot of other stuff for a few grand.
     
    GMC and TWood97 like this.
  4. bench

    bench

    Dec 28, 2007
    Germany
    i think this would be a good electronics package...

     
  5. Beej

    Beej

    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    OP if you're in the UK, there's always the Thomann bass kits. For the price, you could use just the neck and add some real estate to the headstock to get the Wal shape. It would save $$, and time over Warmoth. The Thomann kits seem to get pretty good reviews for quality... :)
     
    TWood97 and SlimS like this.
  6. MPU

    MPU

    Sep 21, 2004
    Valkeala Finland
    I made the string tree myself. And the pickups as well.
     
    rojo412 likes this.
  7. InhumanResource

    InhumanResource

    Dec 28, 2012
    Nice job!
     
  8. TWood97

    TWood97

    Dec 9, 2017
    UK
    I'll look into it, cheers!
     
  9. Gilmourisgod

    Gilmourisgod

    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    I was briefly allowed to hold Percy Jone's (Brand X) Wal as a snot-nosed college kid, all I remember, other than Percy sounded great playing it, was that it was body HEAVY. I mean uncomfortably so. No need to slavishly re-create THAT feature. As others have said, it's mostly in the electronics. Cool project, I've never before or since seen a Wal in person or gotten to play one, but they sound great recorded.
     
    The Owl and TWood97 like this.
  10. Getaway Driver

    Getaway Driver

    May 31, 2009
    Omaha, NE
    This is something I've wanted to do for quite a long time. From everything I've been able to interpret about Wal basses, the trick is the pickups. The preamp probably does quite a bit, but those pickups are waaaaaay overwound and IIRC, run at or above 18v. I vaguely recall someone on here sacrificing a beat-up Wal to dissect its secrets, and that was really about it. The bandwidth those pickups can... pick up... is pretty spectacular. Outside of a piezo pickup, they're the closest thing to sounding like an unamplified bass.

    IIRC, the genral consensus in that thread was to go with the ACG or the fattest humbuckers you can find; beefy actives like a Music-Man or EMG.
     
    TWood97 likes this.
  11. TrevorR

    TrevorR

    Oct 3, 2015
    Near London, UK
    The pickups are passive and the preamp is a really neatly design which incorporates a transformer isolated XLR DI output alongside the standard jack and runs at just 9v. They are truly astounding. On my Mk 1 with the neck pickup solo'd, certain filter settings and plucking over the end of the neck I can get a tone which (in a band mix setting) really suggests an upright bass. Moreso than my acoustic bass does!

    These tasty little photos were posted up on the FB group a while back.

    685A412E-F40A-4439-9138-5E55E739DFC7.jpeg

    3FB38E36-E110-4501-889B-A5B7B1067E78.jpeg
     
    blindrabbit and TWood97 like this.
  12. TWood97

    TWood97

    Dec 9, 2017
    UK
    Was it a MKI? I assume the longer horn on the 2 and 3 would help balance the bass? If not then I'm not too worried as I own an acrylic bodied jazz and that does weigh a ton! Also the electronics for the project will probably omit the DI.
     
  13. TWood97

    TWood97

    Dec 9, 2017
    UK
    If weight is an issue on Wals is it worth trying to add some weight relief by routing some of the core wood out before the tops are glued on?
     
  14. MPU

    MPU

    Sep 21, 2004
    Valkeala Finland
    Wal pickups are not overwound IMO, there is 10 000 rounds of 42AWG wire on each coil. Those coils are wired differently on older and newer Wals. Pickups have thick and clear sound no matter which way they are wired.
     
    Beej likes this.
  15. Luigir

    Luigir

    Mar 15, 2018
    that's a really nice bass
     
  16. Gilmourisgod

    Gilmourisgod

    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    I don’t know if Percy Jone’s bass was a Mark I or not, though it’s the first Wal I ever remember seeing, so it must have been an early production. This would have been around 1982-3, Percy and that months iteration of Brand X playing at Hampshire College in MA. A friend and I helped them schlep gear out to the van after the gig, nice guy, that’s why he let us touch the bass!
     
    The Owl and TWood97 like this.
  17. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Extra weight is a general problem with multi-coil pickups. In most designs, there's more copper and more iron than a normal single or dual coil pickup. The passive multi-coils that I build are about a pound heavier than my standard twin-coil humbucker. Some builders make lighter ones with tiny little coils, but they have lower output and need more preamp boost.

    In the Wals, that built-in transformer DI also adds some weight. I don't have much experience playing Wals, but the couple I've tried were on the heavy side. Solidly made wood frames and lots of electronic stuff on board. Beautiful basses. Built with the emphasis on good engineering, rather than show-off woodworking.

    Trying to make a cheap copy of a Wal? Good luck with that. You can make something that looks like a Wal. But making a bass that sounds and feels like a Wal is a lot of work. There isn't one little magic secret that makes a Wal sound like a Wal. It's the summation of a whole bunch of careful engineering and small details in the construction. That's why they aren't cheap. If you want to match its performance, you have to do all those things. A Wal is a race car, not a show car with a cool paint job.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2018
  18. TrevorR

    TrevorR

    Oct 3, 2015
    Near London, UK
    He had JGs, Pro Basses, Mark IIs and I'm sure I've seen photos of him with a custom Mark 1 custom...
     
  19. TrevorR

    TrevorR

    Oct 3, 2015
    Near London, UK
    Very very late Pro Series model/very very early Custom Series (there was a sort of transitional phase where they merged from one to the other...)...

    PercyFruntAd79.jpg
     
    TWood97 likes this.
  20. Gilmourisgod

    Gilmourisgod

    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Ha! That sure as hell looks the bass I saw, I remember it was a dark body, but who knows. Cool old photo

    Edit:’Any idea what year that was taken? He looked a little older when I first saw him.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2018
  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.

     
    Aug 4, 2021

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.