Turning into a Wal-Nut

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Tom Neves, Jun 6, 2001.

  1. Hey Guys,
    Any of you have, or have had a Wal Bass?
    I am looking into getting the McCartney 5 string and would love to have pics of what you all have, also any info you can supply on the bass.
    Pros or Cons?
    Where are the good used sites on the net for Wall?
    This bass seems very hard to find.
    Any ideas?
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well, I 've never owned one, but I have tried quite a few as they are made in the UK and often crop up second-hand for sale. I must say that I thought I was a fan until I actually tried one. I really like the sound that players like Mick Karn and Laurence Cottle get out of their Wal basses and there are a few other players I have heard who have all had a great bass sound.

    But those I've tried in London, have been very much a disappointment - they always look great from a distance; but pick one up and they are very heavy and bulky - much heavier than a Jazz bass for example - and the neck feels very "chunky" - thick from front to back.

    The other thing I couldn't get on with, was the control configuration - I tried two Wals in the Bass Centre in London for about an hour an couldn't get one decent or usable tone out of them - they have some unusual "switchable mids" system of controls and despite being told what they did in theory I couldn't get a sound I liked or would have used on a gig!

    I also found the playability was not for me - mostly because of the uncomfortable neck - although if you like Warwick necks this might not be a problem.
  3. Thanks Bruce,
    I was wondering about the weight.
    I do gig out and weight would be a real deterrent.
    That's an interesting comment about the sound.
    Their web site makes it sound so easy to get different tones from the bass.
    I guess I need to play one to be sure.
    Problem is here in Hawaii they're as hard to find as virgins.
  4. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska

    I've owned a couple of Wals, including a 5. The old 5's (like the "McCartney" bass) are a bit bulky, and some of them are quite heavy, though it varies from one to another--some are just medium weight. Also, Wal has been making a new body style that's quite a bit slimmer an lighter, as well as having a slightly slimmer neck with Hipshot tuners for better balance. Some folks just like the look of the old style, though. There are photos of both old and new body styles at the semi-offical Wal fan site, www.walbasses.com.

    The lowpass filter controls are different from pretty much everything else except for the Alembic basses. They do take a bit of getting used to--they'll give you some sounds that you can't get with anything else (you can go from Fieldy to dub with one switch), but they also make it tough to do some simple tweaks, like adding a touch more low end without changing anything else. I found that I used the balance control more often to change the basic character of the sound, and just played with the EQ if I was looking for something a bit more radical (say, deep "dub", or extreme midrange honk, or "icepick-in-the-forehead" brightness for slapping).

    Given that they're imported from the UK with very small production and only a handful of dealers in the States, they're pretty hard to come by, as you noticed. Bass Central (ww.basscentral.com) in Florida seems to be the only US dealer that regularly stocks new ones, and they often have used ones on hand as well. Used ones can crop up at the other big shops, but you have to get lucky to run across one.