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Wal Basses... whatever happened to?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jaywa, Apr 21, 2009.

  1. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    I remember Wal getting a lot of exposure when Geddy started playing them (early 90s?)... in particular I remember a red model he played that I always thought looked and sounded great. Also IIRC Flea said he used a Wal on at least some of the "Blood Sugar Sex Magik" album. And a couple other bands that were pretty popular at the time had their bassists playing them too.

    Now though I don't see anyone playing them anymore nor do I see them up for sale used. Maybe everyone's just hanging on to them? Is Wal still in business?
  2. southernrocker

    southernrocker Banned

    Apr 4, 2009
    I think the wal man is dead.
  3. hippiesandwich


    Aug 29, 2003
    San Jose
    Affiliated with Looperlative Audio Products
  4. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    How much history do you want? Pete, the partner of founder Ian Waller and primary builder of Wals for the last 20 years, is getting older and has experienced declining health and problems with his shop space that lead to a virtual shutdown in production in the last 5 years or so.

    Last fall Pete's old assistant, Paul Herman (a respected builder in his own right) agreed to take over the shop, and has been slowly working on gearing up to put Wal basses back into production, starting by getting to work on the backlog of outstanding orders still on the books.

    There have been several used ones for sale here on TB within the last year, but most people who have them have been hanging onto them because prices have gone up so much and it wasn't clear they'd ever be made again--not that there were ever that many made in the first place, since Wal has always been a very small shop.


    PS: for more info, see http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=479669&highlight=wal
  5. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    Go look at the completed sales on ebay, you'll see a few. Actually several have sold this year already, and someone had a nice red Geddy model, and it sold for over 7k!
  6. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    $7,000?!? Well so much for that idea then.

    Thanks for the info and links, folks.
  7. Mark Wilson

    Mark Wilson Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2005
    Toronto, Ontario
    Endorsing Artist: Elixir® Strings
  8. hippiesandwich


    Aug 29, 2003
    San Jose
    Affiliated with Looperlative Audio Products

    Ian Waller (electronics designer) has been dead for around 20 years.

    Pete Stevens (luthier) retired last year.

    Paul Herman (luthier) will take over the shop from Pete and begin producing Wal basses again starting with the back log of instruments that have already been ordered (and in some cases paid if full).
  9. Papazita


    Jun 27, 2008

    "In the late 1980s Ian Waller unexpectedly died of a heart attack, after which Pete Stevens (who had learned enough about the electronics) continued running the business.

    In the latter years, Mr. Stevens worked as a sole trader with little or no additional workforce, causing Wal basses to become in very limited supply. Their scarcity, coupled with their high demand, makes the instruments notoriously difficult to obtain - they are often considered collector's items. Wal's renown has earned it a rather devoted following.

    In the third quarter of 2007, it was revealed that Pete Stevens, due to health problems, would no longer personally build these basses. The official Wal website also shut down, claiming practical reasons. However, Stevens is optimistic about future production of Wal basses, and is seeking a luthier to resume production. Delays continue with regard to upgrading Pete's old machines to current safety standards and so initial production is still in the future.

    However, on August 20th, 2008, it was announced that Wal basses are back in business with a new luthier (Paul Herman, who had already worked at Wal) clearing backorders and getting pending repairs done."
  10. danomite64


    Nov 16, 2004
    Tampa, Florida

    Justin Chancellor of Tool is the most visible (I'm basing this on what I see in Bass Player) present Wal user. Wal is one of the main reasons I play the lottery, too.
  11. Hoover

    Hoover Banned

    Nov 2, 2007
    New York City

    Um... what "official Wal website"?
  12. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Steve Chesney's Wal website eventually turned into the de facto "official" Wal website, from what I remember.
  13. IbanezATK


    Feb 24, 2009
    Monroe, LA, USA
    Wal and Alembic are two of the reasons I play Powerball :hyper:
  14. vegas532

    vegas532 Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2006
    Pensacola, FL.
    The Wal fascination is getting crazy. From time to time I get people who stalk me from youtube to make offers on a Wal that I've never put up for sale. :eyebrow:
  15. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    Yeah, it was a really cool site and had a ton of pictures. I saved a few.

    There is still an old Wal registry floating around, but kinda hard to find.
  16. demon666


    Jul 16, 2005
    Providence RI
    You too huh? I don'y know how many times I've had to say it's not for sale.
  17. hippiesandwich


    Aug 29, 2003
    San Jose
    Affiliated with Looperlative Audio Products
  18. BlackElan


    Feb 26, 2009
    Guilty as charged, That would be me that stalked you guys but I had to ask.


    Paul did finally get back to me and has me on the list so I hope its not too much longer but I know he has about 5 basses for Bass Central to build and a few repairs before hammering out the new orders.

    If you guys do decide to sell those Wals keep me in mind.:bassist:
  19. fretvermin


    May 20, 2009
    Wal fans, mine is for sale! It's a 4-string Custom Series Mark 1, 21-fret, serial number 2464 in the registry (the entry is missing - perhaps the next owner can add it to the list), made in 1984 when Ian was still alive. Pete's signature and little fish doodle is on the backplate. You can see it on ebay; other photos are on http://drop.io/ebaymywal/

    I'm lucky enough to live near the factory and took it along regularly for set-up as I wouldn't trust anyone other than Pete to fix it up exactly to my specifications. He'd also entertain me with hours of interesting gossip about the bass world - ah, those were the days...
  20. WalWarrior

    WalWarrior Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2006
    I'm sure glad I got my Wals when I did. These things are gonna be like 60's Fenders one day. (When that day comes, I wonder what '60s Fenders will be?)

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