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Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by f'nar f'nar, Jul 11, 2005.

to wal or not to wal?

Poll closed Jul 18, 2005.
  1. Get A wall dude!

    41 vote(s)
  2. Bugger wall you crazy man!

    23 vote(s)
  1. Hey guys. Lately I've been checking out Wal's and love the looks of them. I was just wondering, what are the pro's and cons of a wal? Whats the tone like? Feel? Weight? Playability? etc.

    I've heard members praise this bass, and I've heard other people say they're not terribly good.
  2. popinfresh


    Dec 23, 2004
    Melbourne, Aus
    Wal, not wall :p

    From what I know, they're no longer taking orders, so if you wanted a new-e then you might be outta luck.

    I heard the Bongo does a pretty good wal impression though.
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Sort of unique - you like it or you don't!

    Chunky, thick neck, especially above 12th fret.

    Very heavy and cumbersome

    Not too good.
  4. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    A guy I knew has a wal 5er that developed a crack at one of the body seams, so maybe it's good advice to check a bass for those kinds of problems.
  5. There's a wealth of material out there featuring Wal basses, but the first one that comes to mind is "Power Windows" by Rush if you want to get a general idea. There are lots of good clips for your listening pleasure on the Wal site.

    The preamp does not use a standard bass, middle, treble (BMT) layout. The controls are: volume (pull for "pick attack"), balance and a low pass tone control for both the neck and bridge pickups (pull for on either for a 10db boost at the "notch"). It takes a while to get used to the difference, but there's a big payoff when you finally get a handle on it.

    There are differences between the current Mk.1, Mk,II and Mk.III neck profile. The Mk.1 one starts with a soft V shape at the headstock that blends as you get further up the scale where the others are more standard. My preference is for the Mk.II or Mk.III. I haven't seen an example of the one bass that Mr. Lindfeld describes.

    There is a wide variation depending on the wood types. In general terms I've found the Mk.II to be the heaviest (often topping 10lbs on a fiver) and Mk.III being the lightest (my beech Wal is less than 8.5 lbs.).

    There may be more playable basses out there, but I've yet to run across a five-string that is better, at least for my personal tastes.

    If you do a search, you'll see Bruce vent his spleen on every Wal thread ever posted here on TB... based on an hour he spent playing one at a London shop. Everyone else seems to love them, myself included but in this case, the phrase "not for everyone" simply means "not for Bruce". There's gotta be one in every crowd.
  6. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I've played a few, all at Bass Central, all in one visit, which was a few years ago. I don't have a really strong opinion, either way, but have a few lasting memories.

    The first was the neck. I have very large hands, so going from flat to chunky doesn't phase me. But, what stuck out here was the necks I played all were gloss. For some reason, my thumb had no mobility on any of these basses - my thumb was almost stuck in place. Compared to my US Spector, also with a gloss neck, I was particularly sensitive to this, as I've never played a bass that had such a profound impact on my left thumb!

    The only other thing that stuck out at me was how confusing the eq is. I could probably learn it, and even learn to use it effectively, but I felt overwhelmed. Compared to my Jerzy, which has twice as many knobs and switches, one would think I'd be able to understand the Wal eq better...but I couldn't. Maybe if I owned one it wouldn't be so bad.

    That said, I did like the tones the basses produced, but wasn't blown away enough to walk away with the sound in my head.

    I'd recommend one, but cautiously.
  7. Petary791


    Feb 20, 2005
    Michigan, USA
    That would be awesome if you got one! I want one, but I doubt i'll ever get it.

    So the Bongo does a good impression eh? Too bad it's so god-damned ugly. :scowl:
  8. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
  9. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    Nothing sounds like a Wal...

    I have a fretless Pro Bass... bought it, sold it, bought it back again...

    the pickups wiegh as much as the rest of the bass...
  10. While were waiting for Hippiesandwich to show up with pictures of his beauties, here is my beech Mk.III

    and a quick snap of all three together - from left to right: Mk.III, Mk.II and Mk.I:

    There are excellent pics and info on the Wal basses site here - don't forget to check out the Past Features (pics) and the Wal audio clips. There is also an excellent history of Wal basses here. Enjoy!
  11. FireAarro


    Aug 8, 2004
    I think everyone who saw that last post wants a Wal now.
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well that's not strictly true - I've been trying basses for 15 - 20 years and was interested in Wals since I heard Mick Karn use one in Japan in the mid 1980s.

    Since working in London from about 1990 onwards, I would go into bass shops as often as as I could.

    The old Bass Centre in Wapping regularly had 2 or 3 Wals in stock and I've seen them in other shops as well.

    I was regularly able to do side by side comparisons of many different high-end basses for several hours at a time - sometimes spending a whole morning comparing and playing basses.

    I usually refer to one particular day I spent where I was determined to buy a new 5-string and ended up with Tobias pre-Gibson Classic , which had a faster neck and easier access to higher frets , as well as more of the classic bass sounds.

    I remember trying 3 different Wals for a few hours and saying to the manager of the shop - can you get a decent, usable tone out of these controls, as I really wanted to like them - but after about 20 minute of fiddling - he couldn't !!

    I just thought - well there's no way I can get on stage in front of a big crowd with something that useless, that hard to play and so heavy as well!! :meh:

    I really couldn't see any pluses apart from how nice they looked....;)

    If you want a nice piece of "furniture" ..well fine!! :)

    If you want a useful bass, I'd look elsewhere.
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Err.. so why have 21 people voted "against", in the poll...!!!! :meh:

    I think it's just a case of "Emperor's New Clothes" - they look so good in pictures, that nobody apart from me, dares to stand up and say what they really think!! :meh:

    But as they say - the proof of the pudding is in the eating - not in how good it looks ....;)
  14. Moo

    Moo Banned

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    Play through the 12 clips here and you'll have a good idea.


    Laurence did just switch from Wal's after 20 or more years and now plays GB. But these clips are all Wal.

    I love the Wal tone but I think it's also the only reason to ever get one.
  15. rusty


    Mar 29, 2004
    I've got a fretless 4 mk1 and I am in complete love with how she sounds. It took me a minute to get used to the control layout, and she plays beautifully.

  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I saw Laurence at close quarters in a Jazz quartet, playing one of the new Yamaha TRB5Ps and he sounded even better!! ;)
  17. Moo

    Moo Banned

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    When I used to take lessons with him in 1985 he used to tell me how he preferred the tone of my Tokai PJ over his Wal ;) Though he never accepted my offer for a straight up trade.

    I would expect some people to hate Wal tones, it's a very strong flavor, but if you like it it's a really strong good flavor.
  18. Baryonyx

    Baryonyx Banned

    Jul 11, 2005
    Marathon Man
    I've been a fan of Wal's ever seince I heard Geddy Lee using one on Hold Your Fire. I just love their tone, a 6 string would be an essential purchase if I was a wealthy guy.
  19. As you mention Bruce other people have expressed their opinions, for the most part without the venom that you employ when it comes to this topic.

    If you don't like a particular mark of instrument I can certainly respect that, especially when you make your criticism factual as you did in your longer post. Others can learn from your personal experience.

    Also, here's a point I agree with... you stated that you found Tobias to have "more of the classic bass sounds". I agree. A Wal bass can be very different sounding and if you're after something more traditional it's not where you should be looking.

    We share an affinity for our pre-Gibson Tobias basses, although my preference is for Wal while yours is not. Pretty simple really.
  20. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    I wonder if the 21 people that voted "no" have actually played a Wal...