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So has anyone cloned a Wal?

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I'm Interested to know if anyone has managed to clone a Wal or at least clone the pickups? I really love the way they sound but could never afford the prices these go for, so was just wondering if anyone has managed to get a replica made and whether they do actually sound like the original?

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I have vague recollection of some fellow in the U.S.A or Canada who was trying to reverse - engineer the pickups but I think it all came to nothing . You could try searching on Talkbass about it .

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I had a technician at University who was a superb craftsman engineer. Sadly he is long gone now. 'Men made it, so we can make it again'. Unless Wals have Unobtanium in the construction it must be possible.

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I was playing a couple over the weekend and, despite the differences in wood, a custom and a pro1 still sounded very similar to me. So I guessed it was down to either pickups or preamp. Pickups are a blunt tool when it comes to tone shaping, and because what I was hearing wasn't down to them or the wood, I reckoned the preamp has a bit of trickery in it. But I would need to test a passive Wal Pro in order to be sure.

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I've got a passive Wal, sounds pretty much identical to active ones, and it still has a very hot signal too. I reckon it's in the pickups!

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If I recall correctly , Pete Stevens said that he thought the single biggest factor in creating the unique sound of Wal bases was the pickups and electronics .

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It seems to me that the people most interested in cloning a Wal are those who don't want to pay the prices that a new or second-hand Wal commands. The thing with Wal basses is that apart from the machine heads, strap buttons and fret wire all the other parts are bespoke and unique to Wal.

Even if we say that the really important parts of the Wal from a sound PoV are the pickups and pre-amp, while the basics of construction are known - individual coils for each pole-piece in the pickups and filters rather than more normal EQ in the pre-amp, actual details are pretty sketchy. So you are going to need at least one actual example of a Wal bass to take apart in order to reverse engineer, and I would imagine that you would need to completely dis-assemble the pickup to find out exactly how it's constructed. How many people are going to be prepared to that on a bass that's just set them back around £3000? And in order to be totally accurate you are going to have to look at the pickups from at least half a dozen basses in order to get an idea of the variation that exists. You'll also need access to facilities in order to be able make all the non-standard parts of the pickups. And you are probably going to have to make loads of prototypes before you get it roughly right.

IMO Wal basses have such a unique sound close isn't going to be good enough, and ultimately the market for a Wal simply isn't big enough to be worth the effort.

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Several years ago there was a Talkbass thread where someone was planning to build copies of Wal pickups. Understandably it doesn't seem to have materialised.

The leather pickguard basses that were made around 1976 are the best sounding Wals.

I asked Pete Stephens if he could make me a 5 string version and he said no.

Because those basses used pre metric wire in their pickups. The metric wire was a different size, needed different winding and therefore didn't sound quite the same.

That's how close you have to be to the original specs to build your own version.

As BRX says It'll be cheaper to buy a Wal and then you'll have the whole package.

And it will have a resale value.

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I know of at least one "hybrid" Wal - a bass made by Hugh and Andy Manson (http://www.mansonguitars.co.uk) back in the day that had Wal pickups and electronics fitted (with Pete and Wal's blessing I believe). I wonder where it is now?

For what it's worth, I reckon it's the pickup that's primarily responsible for the Wal tone.

P

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Lets remind ourselves how they sound.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_crXC-rFG9E
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3CTN5iYeb4

Made me rush out and buy my first Wal.. never managed to play like Leigh (got some of the sound).. some serious bass playing on their first album.

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I had a Chris Eccleshall bass made which had the pickups/preamp and bridge supplied by Pete. The sound is down to the pickup and pre-amp combination the rest of the instrument is fairly standard in construction and materials. Pete showed me all the parts in the pickup when I was down picking up my 4 string. He also had a six string with a passive version of the pre-amp which sounded really good but I don't know if that was ever taken anywhere.

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It's all down to the pickups and electronics. There is nothing special about the construction or the wood. Similarly, it's why my GB basses have that GB sound, it's why Alembic have the Alembic sound etc... The actual construction has less and less influence once you start swinging the balance of tone towards the electronics rather than the instrument itself.

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[quote name='skelf' timestamp='1364379350' post='2025547']
I had a Chris Eccleshall bass made which had the pickups/preamp and bridge supplied by Pete. The sound is down to the pickup and pre-amp combination the rest of the instrument is fairly standard in construction and materials. Pete showed me all the parts in the pickup when I was down picking up my 4 string. He also had a six string with a passive version of the pre-amp which sounded really good but I don't know if that was ever taken anywhere.
[/quote]

There you go. Posted at pretty much the same time - and I'll add that's why ACG sound like ACG!

Edited by EBS_freak

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I actually only live 20 minutes away from Mansons so I may go and ask them about that at some point:-)

I'm definitely in that bracket of people that want the tone but can't afford! Even if it does have a resale value, I just can't justify spending 3K on a bass
I kind if figured it would be a a hard task as I've not really seen any about, except for a guy on YouTube doing Tool covers.

It may just be a case of saving..... And saving...... And saving :-P

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I know it might be a pointless exercise trying to build a clone, but the general principles of why they sound distinctive and musical interests me and could influence other builders perhaps?

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My first and only Wal was the passive single pickup, think it was before the Pro's !%? but it had been modded with a select switch and what looked like an Aria Pro pickup of some sort.. I have a pic of it somewhere I think.
Wonder where it went, I traded it in at the Basscenter in Wapping when I bought my Warwick.

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I have in conjunction with John East and Aaron Armstrong been developing a multi coil pickup with two coils per string. This is connected to the preamp via an electronic mixing board. They have been designed to work in conjunction with the new 03 dual filter preamp. However it is not an attempt to copy the Wal pickup it will be in the ballpark but we did not reverse engineer a pickup and to be honest nor would I even if I could. As you would expect these pickups are not cheap with a lot of work involved in building them but having spent some time with the prototypes they are worth the effort.

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[quote name='BigRedX' timestamp='1364374513' post='2025463']
It seems to me that the people most interested in cloning a Wal are those who don't want to pay the prices that a new or second-hand Wal commands. The thing with Wal basses is that apart from the machine heads, strap buttons and fret wire all the other parts are bespoke and unique to Wal.

Even if we say that the really important parts of the Wal from a sound PoV are the pickups and pre-amp, while the basics of construction are known - individual coils for each pole-piece in the pickups and filters rather than more normal EQ in the pre-amp, actual details are pretty sketchy. So you are going to need at least one actual example of a Wal bass to take apart in order to reverse engineer, and I would imagine that you would need to completely dis-assemble the pickup to find out exactly how it's constructed. How many people are going to be prepared to that on a bass that's just set them back around £3000? And in order to be totally accurate you are going to have to look at the pickups from at least half a dozen basses in order to get an idea of the variation that exists. You'll also need access to facilities in order to be able make all the non-standard parts of the pickups. And you are probably going to have to make loads of prototypes before you get it roughly right.

IMO Wal basses have such a unique sound close isn't going to be good enough, and ultimately the market for a Wal simply isn't big enough to be worth the effort.
[/quote]
[quote name='chris_b' timestamp='1364375673' post='2025473']
Several years ago there was a Talkbass thread where someone was planning to build copies of Wal pickups. Understandably it doesn't seem to have materialised.

The leather pickguard basses that were made around 1976 are the best sounding Wals.

I asked Pete Stephens if he could make me a 5 string version and he said no.

Because those basses used pre metric wire in their pickups. The metric wire was a different size, needed different winding and therefore didn't sound quite the same.

That's how close you have to be to the original specs to build your own version.

As BRX says It'll be cheaper to buy a Wal and then you'll have the whole package.

And it will have a resale value.
[/quote]

Exactly right on both counts . Trying to make a cheap Wal bass for the masses would be a futile endeavour ; by their very nature they are esoteric instruments and in changing that you would lose the esscence of what they are . It would be like getting Honda to make you an Aston Martin - the finished product would not be what you were after when you embarked on the project anyway .

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[quote name='philw' timestamp='1364375675' post='2025474']
I know of at least one "hybrid" Wal - a bass made by Hugh and Andy Manson ([url="http://www.mansonguitars.co.uk"]http://www.mansonguitars.co.uk[/url]) back in the day that had Wal pickups and electronics fitted (with Pete and Wal's blessing I believe). I wonder where it is now?

For what it's worth, I reckon it's the pickup that's primarily responsible for the Wal tone.

P
[/quote]

I remember seeing a custom ( and very rare ) Carl Thompson bass for sale at the Bass Centre at Wapping in about 1986/87 that had Wal pickups and electronics , presumably fitted by Wal themselves . I seem to remember it was a left- handed model , but I could be wrong about that after all this time .

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[quote name='Dingus' timestamp='1364385026' post='2025645']
I remember seeing a custom ( and very rare ) Carl Thompson bass for sale at the Bass Centre at Wapping in about 1986/87 that had Wal pickups and electronics , presumably fitted by Wal themselves . I seem to remember it was a left- handed model , but I could be wrong about that after all this time .
[/quote]

A Carl Thompson with Wal electronics? Now that's both hens' teeth and rocking-horse poo rare! I wonder where it is, and what it'd be worth? Seems to me from what's being said here that Pete and Wal were perfectly happy to sell electronics to other luthiers during the first Wal boom, so I guess there's likely to be a few interesting Wal hybrids basses out there.

Slightly OT, but back when I ordered my Wal in '83 one of the standard options was a Precision body profile. I remember being tempted (it was no extra cost) but went with the standard Mk 1 shape in the end (I wanted a Wal after all!). I sometimes wish I had gone for the Precision profile though - I've only ever seen one like it.

Phil

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[quote name='philw' timestamp='1364386401' post='2025673']
A Carl Thompson with Wal electronics? Now that's both hens' teeth and rocking-horse poo rare! I wonder where it is, and what it'd be worth? Seems to me from what's being said here that Pete and Wal were perfectly happy to sell electronics to other luthiers during the first Wal boom, so I guess there's likely to be a few interesting Wal hybrids basses out there.

Slightly OT, but back when I ordered my Wal in '83 one of the standard options was a Precision body profile. I remember being tempted (it was no extra cost) but went with the standard Mk 1 shape in the end (I wanted a Wal after all!). I sometimes wish I had gone for the Precision profile though - I've only ever seen one like it.

Phil
[/quote]

I've never seen a Precision body profile Wal - that would be interesting . The Carl Thompson / Wal was in the shop for quite some time , I seem to remember , maybe because it was left - handed (... I think !) .I seem to remember it had a light coloured unlaquered natural wood body - probably maple - and was the full nine yards with the carved scroll ect . I had only ever seen them in Guitar Player magazine before that , and the next one I saw belonged to Les Claypool . I would expect that Electric Wood had fitted the pickups and electronics in the U.K . I am sure someone else out there must know something or at least remember seeing this bass .

Edited by Dingus

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