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How good are Wal basses.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by TGEvans, May 9, 2006.

  1. Has anyone got any opinion on Wal basses.I am asking because I am saving up for my ultimate bass and cannot decide between a Sadowsky P5, and MTD 535 or some type of wal bass.I hear good and bad about sadowsky and mtd but do not hear much about wal basses anymore.any info would be great.Tim.
  2. Petary791


    Feb 20, 2005
    Michigan, USA
    Luckily for you, I see you're in the UK so your chance of acquiring a Wal is still slim, but better than us USA dwellers.

    For good Wal tone, check out the album Power Windows by Rush, and Lateralus by Tool. Justin Chancellor (Tool) uses a pick though.

    IMO, quite possibly the best and thickest tone ever.
  3. musicman5string

    musicman5string Banned

    Jan 17, 2006
    Wals are great, but unless you get one used, don't count on getting one.
    If you do some research you'll find out why.
  4. cetera


    Apr 29, 2004
    Surrey, England
    Endorsing Artist: Spector Basses & Cort Basses
    Wals are wonderful basses (I own two) but you must be willing to buy second-hand or wait four years in a queue for a new one which may never appear! ;) :bassist:
  5. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    If you're familiar with Flea's fat tone on "Blood Sugar Sex Magick", most of its bass tracks (Under the Bridge and The Reighteous and the Wicked are the exceptions, I think) were recorded with a Wal.
  6. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    From what i gather they are great if you can find one used. But chances of finding one are getting slimmer and slimmer.
  7. Mik Walker

    Mik Walker Supporting Member

    Dec 26, 1999

    Wals are extremely sought-after on the used market these days, due in large part to Pete Stevens (the guy who currently runs Electric Wood as a one-man operation) having a huge order backlog and having been unreliable as far as delivery goes for the past few years.

    On the plus side, there's a very active online network of support and information services (I oversee one of them, the yahoo group at http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/walbassesnaturally/) full of people with ideas, experiences and opinions.

    As far as the suitability of the bass for whatever your needs are, obviously that's a very subjective and personal thing. Wals are pretty unusual in lots of ways. The more readily available Custom models feature a dual low-pass filter eq-ing system rather than the more normal cut/boost 2 or 3-band affairs. They're also fairly limited in terms of options. Pickups are wide-aperture humbucking with individual coil-pairs per string (per pickup). No single coil options are available (with one or two rare special exceptions). Scale lengths are all 34". Bolt-on neck joint only. Most bodies are mahogany-cored with a wide variety of top/rear laminates. Being bolt-on, the choice of top wood can have a more marked impact on the tonal signature of the bass than a set neck or neck-thru design. Sound-wise Customs tend towards a somewhat compressed harmonically-rich thicker type of sound (not unlike Ken Smith's). Necks tend to be very playable C-shaped profiles.

    The older Pro basses are a bit simpler electronics-wise but still use the Wal pickups. Necks tend to be more of a V-shape on these.

    Come on over to the Yahoo group and chew the fat. Plenty of people will have things to add to the mix for you.

    Best wishes

  8. kobass

    kobass Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Outside Boston
    Bass Central has some on order. Most are pre-sold, but there may be some available.

  9. Great bass tone{subjective of course}..wouldnt consider them the best quality..plenty of warping issues..and extremely overpriced
  10. TrooperFarva


    Nov 25, 2004
    New City, NY
    ├ćnima as well, except for 46&2, which was a Stingray.
  11. zazz


    Feb 27, 2004
    you can buy a secondhand wal tommorow..it will just cost you a bit ....and ultimately the electrics will puke and you will have one heavy passive bass that sounds like any other!!

    go for it.:bassist:
  12. greg


    Jun 1, 2004
    Actually you can't get a new one anymore from Pete Stevens. I talked to Steve Chesney a few months ago and he said that Pete has stopped taking orders and he thinks he will retire after this batch. I got the chance to play one wal before though, but damn was it nice. It just has a really unique tone thats extremely hard to get unless you are playing a wal.
  13. Emperor Elite

    Emperor Elite Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2004
    New Jersey
    None of those three basses sounds anything like the other. What kind of music do you play? I currently have two Wals (I've owned over eight of them) and two Sadowskys. I like them both, but for different reasons. Wals are highly regarded (and prized) for their massive mid-heavy tone; although, not necessarily their playabilily or build quality, both of which are acceptable, but not in the same league as any off-the-shelf Sadowsky NYC bass. Wals are idiosyncratic-sounding, cross the thump and punch of a good P-bass with the low-mid roar of a Thumbass and the upper-mid growl of a Kubicki and you get close. That being said, the Wal tone is not for everybody. In contrast, Sadowskys are known for their meat and potatoes, workhorse tone and impeccible build quality. As for MTDs, I've owned two and sold them both for the same reason, I can't get it on with those Bartolini Pickups. To my ears, the MTDs look good and play well, but don't give me the sound that I'm looking for. But I know cats who love them.

    Give us more info regarding your needs as a player and we'll be better able to give you advice.

  14. Sufenta

    Sufenta Trudging The Happy Road of Destiny

    Mar 14, 2002
    The Signpost Up Ahead.
    I felt the tone of my Wal was something like a 'Ray-on-Roids'. Mine was also incredibly heavy for such a small bass, it had some upper neck buzzing issues and the electronics were spotty/unreliable. This bass was used, but it was otherwise very clean. I don't regret selling it at all.
  15. PMC89


    May 1, 2006
    New Jersey
    you realize thats like a double shot of roids?

    i can't even imagine.
  16. AndroWal


    Sep 28, 2003
    Ojai, CA

    Thank you Mik, Cetera and Ben for balanced reviews of, and info regarding, Wal basses.

    I own three that I play exclusively. Two fretlesses and one fretted...all 5-strings. Their build quality is excellent and they have been faultless except for a scratchy input jack in one that I am about to replace...it is a very inexpensive part. And...the bass is 14 years-old (mine are a 1990 Mark II fretted, 1992 Mark II fretless and a 2003 Mark III fretless).

    My Wals have great and more unique voices. This is something I appreciate greatly. I am not excited by a common bass sound. These voices combined with my creative being and fingers have afforded me a satisfying bass existence and personal voice. Wals cut through the band without overpowering it and they can be heard in the mix instead of being lost like so many other common sounding basses.

    Yes you will have to buy one used for upwards of $2000, $3000 or even $4000...or get on Pete's list for a chance your turn will come-up. Pete is not dead and no one but Pete knows when he will stop making Wals. He may do it for another 20 years and we'll all get lucky! (I also am on the list for a 4th Wal...a 6-String fretless.) We should all wish him the best in spirit and health and that he continues his great work.

    It is not impossible to find a used Wal in great condition. I bought my second fretless just this past October and it is wonderful. No problems with it and currently I am playing it more than my other two. I paid 1700 pounds plus shipping, Insurance and a bit to have Pete give it a once over. I am in CA and the bass was in London, UK. Thus, I recommend not being hesitant to purchase abroad as long as you arrange the necessary protections for your payment, shipping and possession.

    Lastly, my Wal experience has proven that they are basses that work in any style of music....Unique Chameleons.
  17. darkside 88

    darkside 88

    Feb 23, 2005
    Bay Area, CA
    Wals are ultra G&Ls.
  18. musicman5string

    musicman5string Banned

    Jan 17, 2006

    Let me tell you about my Wal experience, as I'm feeling like whining like a little girl tonight.;)

    I've wanted a Wal for, ah, let's say 16 years now. (Geddy Lee fan of course). There was no way as a kid I could aford one or justify spending that kind of money on one. I did play one once at a Sam Ash, but to be honest it wasn't set up and the strings were dead.
    Flash forward to 2 years ago. I actually have some money saved and the first thing I said to myself was "I am GETTING a Wal bass." Surely, some dreams in this life can come true.

    Well, what a pain in the ass it is to find out life is a bitch and that you can't just pick up the phone and order a Wal, let alone go down to a store and try one out;
    Pete is sick
    back orders abound
    quality control is an issue
    people haven't received a bass after paying for it YEARS ago
    Pete has no staff and doesn't answer the phone
    Pete doesn't have email

    You get the idea.....

    So low and behold I find a guy in NY selling what I've always wanted: a 5 string fretless Wal in a Walnut finish.
    I get to go play it.
    Sounds great.
    Since I didn't want to draw $3000 from the bank without being sure I was buying something, I offer the guy $50 to hold it TWO DAYS until I can come back with the cash.
    He says "Nah, I trust you....":rolleyes:

    Sure enough, the next day he emails me saying he changed his mind and won't sell.

    Now sure, he has a right to change his mind, and there ain't a goddamn thing I can do about it. But that's just a bitch, ain't it?

    Now, I see Wals periodically for sale on ebay, usually 4 string fretted models, which I don't want, and the prices are usually ridiculous. Not as ridiculous as an Alembic or Fodera mind you, (which I think Wals blow out of the water) but still expensive.

    Now, know anyone selling a 5 string fretless Wal in good condition for under $3000?

  19. high mileage

    high mileage

    Apr 17, 2006
    Rockford IL
    Agree - big differences with those basses.
  20. Emperor Elite

    Emperor Elite Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2004
    New Jersey

    As you know, the prices of Wal Mach II 5 string basses have jumped substantially this past year. I just recently sold my walnut fretless 5 for $3,300, and I've not seen another Mach II 5 go for less than $3,000 in the last six months. I remember your story from the Dudepit. You were going after a Wal in NY that was selling for $2,800, right? I bet that the seller realized that that price was four or five hundred dollars too low and decided to hold onto it. If definitely wasn't cool, but I can't say that I blame him.

    For those of you not all that familiar with Wals, the Wal market has begun to seriously revalue itself. Pete's basses were WAY underpriced a few years ago. They were a bargain considering that they are (including the electronics) completely handmade by Pete and that they sound absolutely fantastic. Now, with the supply of new Wals rapidly drying up, folks are snapping up all the used ones and prices are soaring. I fully expect the price of Mark II and Mark III 5 string Wals to reach the $4,000 range by the end of next year, so if you can find one in the low threes now, jump on it. A similar thing is happening in the Pro and Mark I market. Two years ago, a Pro I bass (one pickup) in excellent condition could have readily been had for less than a grand. Now they routinely sell for close to two thousand. Pro IIs (two pickups) sell for close to $2,300 and Mark Is and Mark II 4 strings for $2,700 and up. These prices are double what the were a year and a half ago.

    My advice for anyone looking for a Wal is to buy now if and when you can find one in good condition. Stay away from basses with problematic electronics or warped necks. Don't worry too much about finish-related problems: you can always get your bass refinished, and unlike the vintage Fender market, a nicely refinished Wal will command a much higher price than one with too much mojo.

    The bottom line is that demand for Wal basses FAR outstrips supply and prices, at least for the short term, will continue to rise.


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