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Ibanez Gary Willis Fretless 5...Should I or Shouldn't I?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by rickreyn, Sep 16, 2002.

  1. rickreyn


    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    I have isolated a nearly new GW1 for about $450 under typical retail price new. I have wanted one of these for about three years primarily because it is the only fretless I seem to be able to sit down and immediately play. I like the sound and positioning of the Bart and the preamp, and the natural look is nice contrasted against the lined ebony fingerboard. The ramp would also be worthwhile in light of the way I play. To be honest, I love the Willis sound, but I am under no illusions that Gary Willis will pop out because I buy one of these. My concern is in one word: Ibanez. Does this bass rise above the name's stigma because of its electronics and components? Am I going contrary to sound logic and reason? Will another, possibly less costly fretless do the job for me? I value your imput before I do this thing tomorrow.
    vmabus likes this.
  2. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    I think so. The lightly finished wood and light weight give the instrument a slightly flimsy feel, but I still think it's one of the best sounding and playing fretlesses on the market, and it has a great b-string too.

    Just don't be too upset when you give it that first ding.
  3. Tsal


    Jan 28, 2000
    Finland, EU
    Hey, if the name on the headstock bothers you, you can always sand it off :rolleyes: If it woulden't be a good bass, I doubt Gary would play it. I have a hunch he plays a stock model, too.

    Besides, if it feels good, sounds good and you can afford it, what's there to ponder about? :confused:
  4. Chuck M

    Chuck M Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    San Antonio, Texas
    The budget Ibanez basses may not be great instruments, however, the Gary Willis fretless is a great bass. I don't care who made it. It is a fine instrument.

    It has been my experience that when I try to settle for less than what I really want, I end up offing the lesser gear and buying what I want anyway. Costs less, in the long run, to buy exactly what you want the first time around. If the GW fretless is "the one" for you then go for it.

    I tried one and it did not work for me. I've been spoiled by having one or more of Michael Pedulla's fretless basses for many years. They work great for me and just feel right.

    Use what works best for you regardless of who made it.

    I ran across a killer fretless 4 a while back. Played and sounded wonderful. Would have bought it except it had really been knocked around and the price was too high. The bass? A Peavey Foundation. Look at the instrument and judge it on its merits.

    Good luck to you!

  5. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    I came across a killer Peavey Foundation fretless a few years back for $175. Took me about an hour to talk myself out of that one (gotta leave something for everyone else ;).

    The Willis bass is a nice fretless but in order to get the Willis sound you must play it like Gary does. I played his bass and still sounded like me. He does play a stock bass. I also heard him play an off the shelf GW bass and sound the same... killer.

    I'd have no qualms about buying one if I were in the market for a fretless. I lump fretlesses into three categories...

    1. fretlesses that you have to work at
    2. fretlesses that just jump out at you and
    3. fretlesses that would've probably been better off with frets.

    The Willis is a 1. My Zon and Elrick are 2's. Nothing wrong with a 1.
  6. rickreyn


    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    The GW1 is apparently a 1 for me. I am sure an Elrick would be a 1 as well, but I can't justify too great a price for what will likely be a secondary, but useful instrument.
  7. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Nah, I've handed my Elrick to a bunch of people and the instant results range from "Wow" to ":eek:"

    It's definitely a 2.
  8. rickreyn


    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    oops!!I meant "2" for both. I flip flopped your code! Next time I'll be more careful!:oops:
  9. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Enter penalty phase
  10. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    I say go for it.
  11. rickreyn


    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    Bought it today. Coming from California so I won't have a review for awhile. I hope this experiment works, I've opted out of fretless playing the last two times. But those two basses weren't of the quality of the GW1. Thanks for the advice. Maybe someday a Hanewinckel!:)

  12. Congratulation on the new purchase. If there's one thing I love about the Willis signature, it's the utter simplicity of the design - clean and flowing.

    ...of course, Barts, a lined ebony fingerboard, the Willis ramp, and tuners don't hurt either! :D

  13. rickreyn


    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    Looks pretty stunning au natural. Sounds good unplugged. Got it by UPS at work and a co-worker said he would go ahead and store the box knowing me! Very lightweight. Now the journey starts...fretless playing that is.
  14. You've answered yourself already :)

    Get it. You'll be happy with it. My Ibanez EDA was/is a solid, great sounding, great playing bass. The Willis is a sweetheart, so you should be fine with it.
  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Do you think Gary Willis is making a subtle sort of point in this bass? So he has made it as plain and simple as possible, to show that the tone is really in his hands and that practice and dedication is the only thing that will get you a sound - much like it is with a Double Bass?

    At Jazz Summerschool, the Double Bass tutors were most bemused when a few of us started talking about different models of bass guitar, their pros and cons and where best to buy them - this was just before the bass session - the only time during the week when all the bass players got together - about 15 - 20 bass players.

    So a lot of Jazz pros I have met can get a sound out of anything and think it's really funny that us bass guitar players spend ages talking about gear and what basses?

    So in the situation described above, one of the bass tutors just said something along the lines of - there's nothing really to talk about, buy a bass and get practicing - right now let's spend the next 2 hours talking about actually playing bass!! ;)
  16. rickreyn


    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    I agree it's the bass playing that needs the attention, but I also think that electronics, woods, extra strings, etc. provide an additional dimension that requires some consideration. As I have acquired increasing better made basses with these features, new vistas have opened, making continued technical improvement all the more enjoyable.:)
  17. Kragnorak


    Sep 20, 2008
    I call shenanigans on this story, and by that I mean the rationale. I remember when I was playing orchestral gigs and this one first-chair bassist I kept running into would quiz me on what kind of bass I had, what strings, what bow, etc. My upright is more of a jazz creature: plywood, no-name, etc. I would always giggle to myself because after quizzing me this fellow would proceed to produce 3 times my volume with his wonderful carved bass.

    My theory on this story: Upright players are less likely to GAS because how many uprights can you realistically squeeze into your home anyway?
  18. vmabus


    Nov 1, 2013
    He designed it! And he had input into the GWB35 too.
    (I guess that's why they put his name on it.)

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