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Exact placement of Wal bass pickups?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by sotua, Sep 23, 2012.

  1. sotua


    Sep 20, 2004
    SF Bay Area

    question: can anybody with a Wal help me with this? I need to know the placement of the Wal pickups (e.g. "X millimeters from center of neck pickup to the 12th fret, Y millimeters from the center of the bridge pickup to the 12th fret" or something like that.

  2. Hello. While I don't have a Wal myself, I've also been very interested in their pickup positions. The whole bridge-biased placement just sounds very lovely to my ears in tandem with the filters on the preamp.

    If no one can post the measurements you're looking for, you might be able to make a very educated guess by taking a "gallery" type picture of a Wal (from their website) and resizing it (in Photoshop or something) to match it's scale length (I want to say 34 inches? I think I've seen plenty of mkIIs at that scale, but maybe someone else can chime in) and taking your own measurements.

    I hope this helps.
  3. sotua


    Sep 20, 2004
    SF Bay Area
    I just did what you suggested yesterday... (with the images) and the results are surprising. I thought the "bridge bias" was more pronounced, but it turns out that, for a MKI, resizing and using the old "all basses resized to check PU placement" as comparison, the bridge pickup is pretty much on jazz territory (front row of poles on the 60s jazz bridge placement and the back row of poles on the 70s jazz bridge placement), and the neck was around Jbass neck/PBass position. So maybe what we're hearing is just pickups in the usual P/J positions, but with their special build pickups (e.g. the Wal 4-string pickups has EIGHT coils, two for each string) and preamp, a different level of incredibly thick yet defined and crispy sound is achieved.

    Attached Files:

  4. That's very interesting indeed! I was also under the impression that the bridge-biasing was far more pronounced, but clearly it is more or less in Jazz position. I've always thought that basses with a P/J pickup arrangement can cop a kind of "Wal-ish sound", so this makes sense.

    But then again we are discussing humbuckers (and very big ones, at that), so they do sense a bigger area of vibrating string, part of which is far closer to the bridge than the Jazz's single coils are. So when compared to something comparable with two humbuckers, like an EBMM Stingray or a G&L L2000, they are quite closer to the bridge. I still agree that the Wal pickups' unique construction has a lot to do with the sound, though.

    Because of the coil pairing on individual strings (and then their parallel summation at the preamp input), they sound quite "flat" (or maybe "even" is a better word?) fundamentally and harmonically (to my ears, anyway). So when the preamp filters away these higher frequencies and overtones, you have the opportunity to "re-voice" each pickup individually and then actively blend them for tones which I can only describe as three-dimensional.

    All of which goes to say: In my opinion the pickup placement is at least as important as the pickups themselves, the preamp, and the neck construction (but this is only my opinion).

    Anyway, sorry for the long post (I really love Wal basses :hyper:) and thank you for doing that comparison on the measurements! If there's anything else I can help with, let me know.
  5. sotua


    Sep 20, 2004
    SF Bay Area
    I was surprised, too. Perhaps the nature of the pickup and the wider field is in play there.

    Agreed 100%. Pickup placement matters.


    Perhaps buy a Force4 and rout it for MM pickups in expectation of SGD's Wal clones? :bag:

    Attached Files:

  6. zmix


    Apr 17, 2012
    Wal pickups are positioned 12" and 15" from the 12th fret
  7. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Yes that would be correct.

    put the pickups in jazz positions give or take 1/4" or 1/2" and you got it.

    The real uniqueness of the wal sound it not the pickup locations but rather the electronics.
  8. MPU


    Sep 21, 2004
    Valkeala Finland
    Wal-style multicoil pickups have a sound that has thick lows but still accurate and clear highs. Even passive they have a sound that many recognise Walish. I like the sound of multicoil picups a lot and that's why I use them in my basses.
  9. LowB-ing


    Aug 3, 2005
    The sizing in the pic isn't quite right to my eyes. The wal is i little to small compared to the jazz bass. You're just a tiny bit off att the nut and just a tiny bit at the twelfth fret too. It adds up. The effect at the bridge end of the pic is quite noticable.