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Wal Bass Sound...Without the Wal?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ggc, Apr 14, 2010.

  1. ggc


    Jan 13, 2009
    Hi folks!

    Due to high cost and low availability, I don't foresee a Wal bass for me anytime in the near future...However...I LOVE that sound! Has anyone had any luck getting a Wal-type sound out of a bass that is a little less scarce and costly? Any input would be greatly appreciated!
  2. Start with basses that have filter based preamps. That's a BIG part of the Wal tone.
  3. MooseLumps

    MooseLumps Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2007
    Double 'buckers, dense hardwoods and filter based pre's
  4. smcgov

    smcgov Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2010
    Northshore Mass
    I've been through 2 wals and the closest thing I've had was a Peavey T-40
  5. Which Wal sound? Geddy, Flea or Chancellor? There's so many different sounds in those things. I haven't heard any two Wal players ever sound the same!
  6. ggc


    Jan 13, 2009
    Wow...Thanks for the quick responses! The Geddy Lee Wal sound is the one I'm after...I tried a G&L recently, and something about that bass reminded me of that Wal sound.

    I'm not familiar with "filter-based preamps"...Could anyone offer any examples of basses that use this?
  7. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    There aren't a whole lot of filter-based preamps out there. Wal and Alembic are the two most well-know, but ACG (http://www.acguitars.co.uk/index.php ) makes both basses and filter-based preamps that can be installed in something like a G&L. FWIW, I've owned several Wals, and also heard a bit of similarity with the G&L L-2000/2500. Just took delivery of an ACG Harlot, though, and it seems to nail the Wal tone for the most part.

  8. smcgov

    smcgov Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2010
    Northshore Mass
    I actually had the Geddy Lee Wal for a while and I couldn't get the Geddy tone on it. I heard he used very light strings, I tried everything. That was back when you could get a used Wal for under 2K....
  9. spideyjg


    Mar 19, 2006
    San Diego
    Try an L-2000 using both pickups, in series (the middle switch where louder), treble to taste and roll the bass control back 60-80%.

    Works for me.

  10. ggc


    Jan 13, 2009
    Thanks again folks, much appreciated!
  11. BlackElan


    Feb 26, 2009
    I am going to be honest with you... no you cant get the Wal sound without a Wal. :bassist:

    You can get close... and to some people this is good enough but to most serious players close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

    Take a look at the other thread, the guy from El Ten Eleven got his Wal stolen and now he cant play any songs from his last album that it was recorded with because he said nothing sounds like a Wal.:bawl:
  12. cetera


    Apr 29, 2004
    Surrey, England
    Endorsing Artist: Spector Basses & Cort Basses
    My Geddy has Funkmaster strings on it (v light - same as Geddy used) and sounds just like Geddy's, especially when linked with a Sansamp...:bassist:
  13. lamarjones

    lamarjones Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    'close' for me was a DR Heartfield
  14. Hoover

    Hoover Banned

    Nov 2, 2007
    New York City
    Uh... exactly which Wal sound is that?

    I've heard Wals played by Mick Karn, Percy Jones, Colin Edwin, Geddy Lee, Colin Moulding, Bill Laswell, Justin Chancellor, John Giblin, Flea, John Illsley, Paul McCartney, and probably more... and I'm just not convinced there's enough commonality in their tone to make anyone say "I LOVE that sound!"

    "I LOVE that huge variety of sound", maybe.

    And/or "I LOVE those basses!" ...sure, I can definitely get behind that sentiment.

    iow, What He Said.
  15. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    News flash: you're not going to get the Wal sound of eminent Wal users, even if you have a Wal.

    Recordings go through a mountain of processing before you hear the final product - so just go for a bass that gets the sound and feel that you like and be done with it. Don't stress after a recorded tone - you have no idea what actually went down in the studio to make it sound the way it does.
    Daniel Piper likes this.
  16. ggc


    Jan 13, 2009
    I realize that just getting the same bass isn't all that goes into getting a particular sound (it's the Geddy Lee sound that I'm interested in), but, I'd like to find someting that will get me in the ballpark.

    I can get a pretty good Ric/Jazz sound with my old F Bass, and it doesn't really have much in common with either of those basses, but it's got that sort of clangy, slightly obnoxious sound which makes for a good starting point for those sounds...Doesn't really have what it takes to get a decent Wal sound though.
  17. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    One element that I think is helpful to Geddy Lee's version of the "Wal sound" is the very light gauge (.030-.090) strings he was using at the time. They do add a twanginess that isn't quite there with heavier strings, even on a Wal.
  18. Getaway Driver

    Getaway Driver

    May 31, 2009
    Omaha, NE
    IIRC, they were also playing some songs at the time that used 1/2 or whole step UP tuning, which could contribute to a bit of the sound considering the increased tension.
  19. ggc


    Jan 13, 2009
    IIRC, they were also playing some songs at the time that used 1/2 or whole step UP tuning, which could contribute to a bit of the sound considering the increased tension.
    Today 11:27 AM

    Actually, I don't think they have ever done any tunes where the bass has been tuned up...Guitar was tuned up a whole step to F# for Big Money, but the bass is in standard tuning. He did use the really light string set though, which likely contributed to the snappiness.
  20. BlackElan


    Feb 26, 2009
    Wanna make a bet? The Wal sound is very unique and you can listen to many recordings and LIVE performances that have it including newer bands. I have yet to find another bass that can do it exactley like a Wal.

    Scuba Cult

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