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Wal bass tone?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by TheBrad, Mar 28, 2006.

  1. TheBrad

    TheBrad Baby step bassist - 90% n00b

    Jan 16, 2006
    Mountain View,CA
    Rather than dropping $1500 on a used Wal, I was wondering if there was anyway to get a similar tone by modding a pre existing bass with a pups swap? I am not looking for an exact duplicate or anything. But I was just looking at the pickup design and wondering if the DiMarzio Will Power Neck/Model One or a Darkstar would do the trick?

    It would be replacing a P styled pickup, pretty much in the middle of the bass. Thoughts?
  2. momo


    Oct 22, 2005
    Huntington Beach, CA
    I think Wals are going for far more than 1500 these days. I have heard people say the bongo gets close, but I don't think I am aware of too many similar PU swaps.

    Good luck.
  3. TheBrad

    TheBrad Baby step bassist - 90% n00b

    Jan 16, 2006
    Mountain View,CA
    Yeah, that's a lowball figure. I just thought I'd quote it because that's the Buy It Now for one on ebay.
    Thanks though.

    So apparently I need dual MM pups?
  4. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    dual MM pups wired in Series, not parallel, I'd say.
  5. Rumzini


    Feb 14, 2004
    Jackson, MI
    I was just thinking the Bongo. I was wondering if the new dual humbucker Stingrays can get it. I keep asking this as well... thought I heard of the G&L's coming close...also a certain Dean model that looks to have dual humbuckers as well. I'm doing everything I can to get my Lakland 55-01 to do it. I think some hotter pick ups would do the trick and I'd be close to being there.
  6. rogerbmiller

    rogerbmiller Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2003
    The key to the wal tone is that they use a mid sweep for each PU rather than traditional tone controls. So by turning the tone dials, you get the effect of an envelope filter to some extent. I have a couple of Heartfield basses. They too have a mid sweep in active mode and they sound very similar. They are in fact the closest sounding bass to a Wal that I have ever heard.
  7. Moo

    Moo Banned

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    It's been years since I've been inside one but the Wal pickups IIRC have separate outputs for each string. On a 4 string pickup you'd have 4 leads all buffered before being mixed in the preamp.

    For my ears a wide aperture pickup is needed to simulate a Wal and I've found similar tones in the Musicman and Ken Smith. Click the link in my sig for many examples of real Wal tone. All the audio clips are Wal, the video is Yamaha.
  8. TheBrad

    TheBrad Baby step bassist - 90% n00b

    Jan 16, 2006
    Mountain View,CA
  9. rontalsaurus


    Aug 19, 2002
    Great stuff, man! You're a monster player. Did you happen to tweak the mid knob after the first phrase of the introduction in All the Things You Are?
  10. Moo

    Moo Banned

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    Thanks so much but that's not me :) It's "a much better player".

    Wals don't have a mid knob. But you can get a wah wah sound by tweaking the knobs. I hear it too, that might be what he did.

    Now that I reread that it did seem like I was referring to my playing, my bad.
  11. high mileage

    high mileage

    Apr 17, 2006
    Rockford IL
    I used to have a Wal Mach II 4-string (think it was a '92) and popped out one of the pickups one time - just because. I think it had four leads on it - big, heavy monster.

    I don't have a Bongo (yet - it's on order!) but the EB basses probably come the closest. Think someone called the two pickup EB's a poor man's Wal. Not that EB's are cheap or anything - but $1500 really isn't going to get you a used Wal these days.
  12. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    My new EBMM SR5 HH gets a pretty good Wal tone. Whether you go with a bongo or a stingray or even a sterling is up to you.
  13. John East

    John East Commercial User

    Jan 10, 2002
    Oxford UK
    Owner of E-Pro & East UK
    That's right, technically what the knobs do is set the frequency for a low pass filter on each pickup, with variation from around 250Hz - 3kHz for each.

    What this means is that all the frequencies from the low end, all the way through to the fliter frequency are let through. But the filters are quite steep so little beyond the filter settings pass through.

    Then there are are pull switches on the filter pots. When pulled, they add around a 12dB peak in the response, just at the filter frequency. So if the filters are set towards the low frequencies you get more of a 'honk', or harmonic exageration and cut if the filters are set at the higher end.

    I believe Alembic may have a similar scheme.
  14. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    Any chance you'll make a similar preamp sometime John? :)
  15. Chrisrm

    Chrisrm Bass Virtuoso Wannabe

    Feb 10, 2002
    Colchester, CT
    I was just thinking exactly that!
  16. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    I think the use of separate tone controls for each pickup is more interesting than many people realize. Namely, you can play with the comb-filter effect that happens when the output of two pickups are mixed. For example, on a Jazz bass w/ both pickups on, you'll actually get less midrange than with the neck pickup soloed. If you like the sound of the bridge pickup, but want to add a little bass, turning up the neck pickup actually does other stuff too, and changes the sound dramatically. If you put a low-pass filter on the neck pickup, you could do what you wanted to: retain the punchy midrange of the bridge pickup, but fill out the bottom end a little. But you can't do that with passive tone controls -- putting a passive LPF on one pickup really applies it to both.

    I think this effect has much to do with the growl acheived by the Wal bass - you can get an even, full tone that retains the midrange presence. I've been tempted to wire one of my basses for stereo (albeit passive) output, and plug it in to my Alembic Superfilter, and see what I can do with that.
  17. Darth Tater

    Darth Tater

    May 20, 2005
    A Music Man Bongo is as close as you're going to get. The dual HH Stingray/Sterling won't sound the same because the Bongo has totally different electronics.
  18. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Ill agree with that. a HH bongo is the closest.
  19. cheezewiz

    cheezewiz Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002
    Well, I'll be the bearer of bad news (at least in MHO).
    Nothing sounds like a Wal but a Wal, and you'll NEVER find a Wal for $1500 (unless it has MAJOR problems)
  20. And even if you do, it will cost you a couple hundred to get it shipped from Europe. All the used Wals I've seen on ebay were from the UK and most of them had a buy it now.

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