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gary willis fretless vs. musicman fretless

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bedrock, May 24, 2005.


  1. bedrock

    bedrock

    Sep 6, 2004
    Anyone out there who has tried both these basses. I currently own a fretted Sterling which I absolutely love. I have never tried the Ibanez Gary Willis signature fretless bass, but I am intrigued by it. I sure enjoy Willis's tone on the Tribal Tech cd's, and I also like how the bass looks.
     
  2. JRB

    JRB Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2003
    Oakland, CA
    What's up man.

    I have the Willis bass and it is great. I think as far as fretless tone goes I would go with the Willis. It only has one sound but what it does it does perfectly. The bass is also very light and I like his design for the tuning pegs. I just went on vacation for two weeks and when I came back it was still in tune. The only complaint I have that I think you should know is that the G string is very close to the edge of the neck. Since it is fretless and you wont be bending it will not slip off but I find its location a bit unconfortable. I would still go with the Willis bass though, I love musicman basses but I think that for a fretless Gary has put together something that really works.

    Peace,
    Jonathan
     
  3. bedrock

    bedrock

    Sep 6, 2004
    Thanks for the great input. I was wondering about the custom Bart pick-up in the Willis bass. Do you know if it is a side to side humbucker. Also, is the pick-up run in series or parallel. I went to the Bartolini website, but couldn't find information on this specific pick-up. One thing I love about my Sterling is that the pick-up run in parallel is both full and very clear sounding. It makes the bridge pick-up on my jazz bass sound thin in comparison.
     
  4. JRB

    JRB Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2003
    Oakland, CA
    I don't really know. I can tell you that by playing with the bass and treble controls you can get a pritty clean clear rear jazz pick up sound or bump the bass up and get a more well cheese fretless bass sound. I more think about the willis, without the pre engaged it has very little volume so I pretty much always use the pre.

    PS I have pointed out all the things that I don't like with the Willis because most internet reviews are just glowing and don't give any really info. I love the bass but wanted to give you a complete picutre. I also have played one of the cheeper Willis they are making in a store and would suggesting getting the really thing, there is a big difference between the two.
     
  5. bedrock

    bedrock

    Sep 6, 2004
    I'm glad you brought up the cheaper Willis model. I was curious to hear from somebody who had played both models to see how they compare. It sounds like I should stay away from the cheaper model. Anyway, I much prefer the look of the natural finish, and the cheaper model is only available in black.
     
  6. keep in mind that just because you get the Willis bass doesn't mean you'll be able to get his tone. He has used many different basses (all with basically the same shape, but different woods over the years: poplar, basswood, ash, etc) with many different electronics combinations. Also, he makes extensive use of outboard processors for his sound. Plus, the way he touches the strings attributes a lot.

    I love music man basses, specifically the Stingray ...have you heard Pino Palladino's use of the instrument?
     
  7. I've tried the GWB and loved every single bit of it; it's VERY comfortable, the neck is VERY thin and the sound is amazing. Rays are also excellent basses (I've owned one for some time), but they are very different..The Ray's neck is much bulkier and the one I had was very unkind to my left shoulder, so I had to sell it. I think you really can't go wrong with any of these 2 basses.
     
  8. bedrock

    bedrock

    Sep 6, 2004
    O.k. I am leaning towards the Gary Willis bass, which Sam Ash sells brand new for under a grand with shipping. However, my local store will order me a brand new Sterling fretless for about $1200 with the optional piezo pickup. This is barely above their cost.(I send them a lot of business through my students). I already own a fretted Sterling and I love the neck and the fact that you can switch from parallell to single coil or series setting on the pickup. Combined with a piezo pick-up, this would make for a quite versatile bass. This is going to be a tough decision, especially since ther is nowhere around here where I can try out either of these basses. Anyway, I must first sell my Fender Jaco fretless bass before I have the funds to buy either one. This will give me more time to make up my mind.
     
  9. winston

    winston Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    Berkeley, CA
    JRB--just curious--do you have the older Gary Willis bass (ebony board) or newer (ebonol) one?
     
  10. JRB

    JRB Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2003
    Oakland, CA
    I did not know that they changed the bass, but I am pritty sure I have the ebony one.

    Peace

    PS I just went to Gery Willis site, are you sure that the GWB1 has an ebonal board? I know that the GWB35 does which is the cheap one.
     
  11. winston

    winston Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    Berkeley, CA
    It looks like the GWB1 has been replaced by the GWB105. I've always been interested in checking out the GWB1 but I've never liked the ebonol fingerboards I've tried.

    http://www.ibanez.com/guitars/guitar.asp?model=GWB105
     
  12. JRB

    JRB Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2003
    Oakland, CA
    That's to bad, I also like ebony way more then ebonal. It also looks like the bridge is different and the ramp is now held on by screws. I wonder if Gery made the switch or if it was a cost thing.
     
  13. Bassius

    Bassius

    Nov 6, 2001
    usa
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar amps
    I really love the GWB1. I haven't tried the new 105 and it's too bad they dont make the ebony one....oh well...

    as far as tone...here are two examples

    This is Gary Willis on his GWB1

    This is me on mine...

    My tone is VERY close i think...and i'm running Direct!!! i have a little more 'verb on mine.

    a great bass, to be sure!
     
  14. Bassius

    Bassius

    Nov 6, 2001
    usa
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar amps
    bump for bedrock
     
  15. bedrock

    bedrock

    Sep 6, 2004
    Very nice tone, Bassius. Gary willis isn't too bad either, huh? That bass has such a nice open, airy sound. I have someone that is interested in trading their Willis bass for my Jaco bass, which is also one bad boy. I will let you know if the deal pans out.