The Wal report

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by oddio, Jul 16, 2003.

  1. Wal Mach II purchased from BunnyBass
    Solid mahogany body
    Maple/hornbeam bolt-on neck
    Lined ebony fretless board
    PolyBlack gloss finish
    All hardware is gold-plated
    Weight just under 10 pounds
    Condition: showroom
    Handmade in 1996
    Accessories: a beautiful grey fiberglass Wal flightcase
    an unopened set of DR strings in the box

    I was very anxious and excited to be adding a fretless bass to my collection again. Although I have been comfortable having played an upright for many years I had yet to find a fretless bass that I "connected with". I was also apprehensive about the weight based on many posts in various bass forums. I really didn't know what to expect.

    The moment this bass arrived I was tempted to post my first impressions, but in hindsight I am glad that I did not. This gives me the opportunity to gain control my previously-unbridled enthusiasm and to maintain a clear perspective for the purposes of this review. There are some important and striking features about this instrument that I absolutely love:

    Firstly, this instrument is the easiest possible fretless to play. I dreaded how I might sound after many years on fretted instruments exclusively, but the bass seems to magically keep my fingers in exactly the right place. I don't miss the frets at all and playing in tune is effortless.

    I've had a tendency to fumble a bit with the B string on my fivers, expecially when they're not in use. I own and have played many wonderful five-stringed basses, but the B string often seemed to be "in the way" for me. For this reason I would take a four-stringer to gigs and only use a five-stringed bass when needed. The Wal has solved that problem. The B string is not obtrusive but it is always right there when needed, and it does not slow me down or get in the way at all.

    Probably the biggest surprise for me was the fact that this bass can behave and sound exactly like a fretted instrument if you simply choose to play it as such. If you want the fretless "mwah" and expression it's ALL right there at your fingertips. Originally I thought that I would add the fretless for a few songs, and with luck have it do double duty where a five-stringer was needed. The end result is that I will only need to take this one bass with me to perform. If I took a fretted bass it would only be on an evening that I planned to do a lot of slapping. It's worth mentioning that the Wal fretless works very well for slap styles.

    This bass is well-balanced and comfortable and weighs in under 10 pounds. This is light compared to my Tobias or Warwicks (several of which I can now let go).

    Lastly I can confirm that all of the rumours are true. Wal basses are absolute tone monsters. You need some time to master the controls which are non-standard and take some getting used to. This is not 3-band boost or cut. There are many pages written to explain the operation of the Wal preamp and controls so I won't devote space to it here. I can say that after a little reading I am not only totally comfortable with this setup, I actually prefer it.

    In closing, I would say that if you get the opportunity to try (or even buy) a Wal don't hesitate. This has turned out to be the PERFECT instrument for me. This is likely to be the one bass that I will be buried with. Also, I want to mention what a great experience it was to deal with Jon & Harry at BunnyBass again. They worked overtime to help make my dream come true and I would highly recommend them. I hope they can forgive me for pointing you towards their photos of my bass. I promise to post my own pictures as soon as possible.

    Thanks for reading.
  2. eroc


    Jul 5, 2003
    that is one beautiful instrument.
  3. i always wanted to try a WAL. Too bad I can't find one around here. EVERY recording(Bass wise of course) I have heard with a WAL always sounds great.
  4. Yeah, listen to Justin's tone(from Tool)

  5. Hey, you know you sound pretty disappointed with such a crappy bass...if you want I could PM you my Address...I'll pay for shipping...:D :D :D
  6. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001

    I saw the hs in your avatar and wondered if you'd bought that one or just appropriated the pic. :)

    I thought about that one. It's not exactly what I want (would prefer Mach III and wood finish), but just looking at the pictures and thinking about the sound made me drool.
  7. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Glad you're enjoying the bass. I'm not that much of a fretless player, but Wal makes a killer fretless!

  8. Ben Mishler

    Ben Mishler

    Jan 22, 2003
    San Jose
    Very nice score. That is just gorgeous.
  9. Thanks to everyone for their interest and kind words. Like Mike, I always considered myself not to be much of a fretless player, until now. You just have to find the fretless that connects with you!

    I spent a great deal of time looking for a fretted Mach II or III over the last few years and kept missing them by minutes. There's no question that Wal basses are hard to come by. When this one appeared on BB I had just missed it too, but the following week the first buyer's deal fell through. It was close, but this time it worked out and the bass far, far exceeded my expectation. As Hippie put it in the Wal forum "another has been assimilated".

    This is one smokin' bass! :bassist:
  10. Beautiful
  11. Man, you're one lucky BASStard!!! Congrats! She's magnificent! What's the purpose of the XLR connector? Onboard DI?!? :eek: :cool:
  12. pilotjones


    Nov 8, 2001
    Beautiful bass. Congratulations.

    Just curious - what technique do you find effective in making it sound more like a fretted instrument?
  13. Thanks again everyone. The ombudsman is right! I was extremely lucky to have this deal come together. To answer the XLR question, Wal basses have full DI onboard including "quasi-parametric" EQ. The tone-shaping is nothing short of phenomenal, and the bass will drive both outputs simultaneously as there is a seperate preamp board for each.

    As far as making the bass sound like a fretted instrument, it only takes dialing in a narrow notch of brightness on the bridge pup (where one would expect to hear the fretting sounds) and straight playing - as long as the fingering is precise (which is very easy on this bass). There's nothing else special about the technique needed. The only thing that might give it away as a fretless is the slight blossoming of the notes. Of course all of the "fretless" qualities are right there if you want them.
  14. playing towards the bridge with no left hand vibrato should make it sound 'non-fretless', although the attack of the frets won't be there.
  15. zombywoof5050


    Dec 20, 2001
    Congrats on a beautiful bass, and welcome to the Wal side!
  16. Congrats! I'm sure that bass will be a keeper. My next Wal that I add to my small collection will definitely be a Mach II fretless.....

    Enjoy that tone!

  17. Jeff, I personally guarantee that you won't regret it!!!

  18. DrGroovenstein

    DrGroovenstein Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2000
    Livin' in the USA
    Wow! I want one!!