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Wal Basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by slowburnaz, Jun 16, 2002.

  1. slowburnaz


    Mar 27, 2002
    Tucson, AZ
    Don't ask me why I even bring this up, but why is it that in EVERY picture I've seen (and on the one Wal I've played), the pole pieces on the Wal pickups are always off-center from the strings? For example, take a look at the "bass of the month" on

    It's probably a minor issue, and I'm not even sure it would affect tone, but on other high-end basses with exposed pole pieces (like Sadowsky basses), they're usually dead-on... right under the strings.

    Am I just being anal? :p
  2. Well, it's probably because the same pickups are used in both the neck and the bridge position, whereas the string spacing gets narrower as you move away from the bridge. So, you could design the pickup so that the polepieces line up perfectly in the neck position but are too narrow in the bridge position, or they line up in the bridge position but are too wide in the neck position, or you could split the difference. Also, the fact that there's a single polepiece lined up directly under each string (two, in fact, because it's a wide-aperature humbucker) makes it a lot more obvious when the string isn't perfectly centered, whereas having a pair of polepieces spaced on either side of the string in a fairlynarrow pickup makes it a little less obvious.

    I suspect Ken Smiths are prone to the same thing, though I haven't looked at a whole lot of them, and black polepieces are hard to spot in photos.

  3. slowburnaz


    Mar 27, 2002
    Tucson, AZ
    Yeah, but you'd think they'd make different sized pickups, like with Jazz pickups. The neck and bridge sizes are slightly different to accomodate this type of thing. And Fodera's - those with the exposed pole pice humbuckers - don't seem to have this "problem" either. The wide aperature on the Wals does kinda make it a bit more difficult, though.

    Just curious... I'm wondering if it would technically have an effect on tone or volume. It seems as though it might.

    Yeah, I've decided: I'm being really anal here. :p
  4. Hugh Jazz

    Hugh Jazz

    Sep 13, 2001
    Atlanta, GA
    This one looks pretty close to spot on: [​IMG]

    Either way, it doesn't really matter to me personally. If it does affect the tone, then I think it's a good thing because boy do those basses have a kick ass sound!
  5. Well, the Fodera pickups also have paired polepieces, not a single one under the string. Actually, J-style pickups are the only ones I can think of with different sized pickups for the neck and the bridge. I don't think any of the soapbars (including the ones withe exposed polepieces, like Ken Smith and G & L) are different sized for the neck and bridge. Also, Wal is a very small operation (2-3 people), and one of a rather small number of top-end bass companies that doesn't buy their pickups from a big pickup manufacturer like Bartolini or Duncan. I doubt it's really feasible for them to make twice as many different pickup sizes, though it might be nice.

    As for making a difference in the tone, I don't think that not having the polepieces line up precisely changes things a whole lot, though it might. (If it did, though, folks like Fodera would not offer bridges with adjustable string spacing, which would throw that alignment off...) However, the fact that they do have small single polepieces with fairly narrow magnetic fields does make a difference, I think. It's probably a part of why Wals seem to have the kind of "compressed" top end that they do, and the agressive edge.

  6. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    It's just the camera angle. They hand-make all the pickups, and I'm sure if the string spacing was different than usual on a bass they'd accommodate in the pickups.
  7. Wal doesn't offer different string spacings, unfortunately. Making different string spacings would require everything from making new molds for the plastic pickup covers to coming up with new tooling for the bridge. They're not really set up to be a "custom shop" in that sense.

  8. Not to beat a dead horse, but I just ran across this old picture of my Wal:


    In the photo, the strings and polepieces seem to line up perfectly. Looking at it on the stand, they didn't seem to line up. Definately seems to be a "depends on how you look at it" thing. Weird.

  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    That URL doesn't work, it's actually :
  10. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    And the bass of the month does indeed appear to have the alignment issue.