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drTStingray

Calling Wal Officianados......

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[quote name='TommyK' timestamp='1470308515' post='3104924']
What are the necks like on a wal 4? I really fancy saving up for one but yet to try one. Are they more stingray/p than jazz?
[/quote]

As Trevor says, they are generally round, fat and chunky which can put a lot of people off along with the nut width and the weight of the instrument.

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My Mk2 and Mk3 5 string Wals had beautiful necks. Slim, fast and perfect. The weight of the Mk2 was the only downside. The Mk3 had no downsides at all, but anyone willing to spend upwards of £4500 on a bass had better have played a lot of them and decided that nothing else will do.

You do not want to find, when you've spent that kind of money and waited 3 years, that you don't like the neck profile. Or anything else about it!!

My Mk2 was replaced by the Mk3 and that was replaced by my US Lakland. I have no regrets about any of those upgrades.

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I currently have 6 Wals, 3 of them old era, 3 new ones, and had several others pass thru also.
The necks varied a lot in the old days: I've had 50's-like thick P Bass to thin J Bass and C shape.
To me the facing contributes a very tiny bit, from the range it seems the period of when they got their timbre made more influence than anything else. My 90's bases all had a certain sound reguardless of bodystyle. And my new era ones have their certain sound that the others don't. That mahogany that Pete used at that time was very dense and very heavy and had the hardest attack. The Mahogany Paul uses (at least now) isn't as dense, and in turn all my new ones are lighter than their older version. I have two 4-string Mk2's that on paper should be identicle basses: shedua facings, ebony boards, same satin finish, same chrome hardware...built 19 years apart couldn't be more different sounding. Sure they have that similar Wal character, but one bass is a shimmery-spanking slap machine, the other is a warmer player.
To me the fingerboard wood has more influence than facing wood. I've always preferred the ebony loaded necks to the rosewood ones, just more snap I can hear especially when slapping.
If you do buy new, Paul can shape your neck however you prefer it. I know neck shapes can be deal or no deal for some players, but I can play any neck you put in my hands.

I think they are all wonderful basses old or new, I've enjoyed every single one I've had. They do the job they're set out to do.

Edited by mikeswals

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Another JG bass based blog up on the site today... Enjoy...

http://walbasshistory.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/jg-bass-special-pt-3-gallery-mk-1-jg.html

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[quote name='TrevorR' timestamp='1472019801' post='3117651']
Another JG bass based blog up on the site today... Enjoy...

[url="http://walbasshistory.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/jg-bass-special-pt-3-gallery-mk-1-jg.html"]http://walbasshistor...ry-mk-1-jg.html[/url]
[/quote]
I did enjoy, as always. :)

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I dig shedua, especially with fairly heavy ribboning:



And if you like pink, then can't see why you wouldn't like violet either! :)

[IMG]http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f224/Negative7bass/Mobile%20Uploads/IMG_20160614_152528_zpsblqmbxce.jpg[/IMG]

Edited by mikeswals

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Hey MikesWals .... as the owner of both kinds.. do you find any difference between your "New" and "Old" Wals?

I was with mine (a 1980s 4 string mk 1 fretless) in bass direct this week, where they had a Mk1 and a Mk2 for sale at around £4500 (!!) they told me the new ones are about £5000 and have a two year waiting list and "anyway wouldn't be the same as an old one", hence the increasing value of the original Mk1s. Any truth in that?

I'd quite fancy a fretted one to go with my fretless and can wait two years ... but would it be "the same".

Frankly I can't see why a new WAL would be any different from an old one - unless that endangered brazillian rain forest mahogany has all gone ...and the new ones look at least as nice as the originals.

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I remember there being a huge rack of WAL (and Chapman sticks) in Rod Argent on Denmark St in the early 1980s. I went in one day to obsess and they told me they were selling them off cheap at £500 each (or make us an offer). In a year or so, 2nd hand WALs were £550 or £600 on Denmark Street. I finally folded in 1998 and paid £820 for mine; the shop had two and I thought "they won't sell for a bit" .... the next day the nicest, Walnut, one had gone so I bought the Maple one on the spot.

Of course, in part, its the cost of the wood. Mahogany is subject to CITES trade rules and Ebony is basically endangered. Gibson got raided by the US "fish and wildlife service" in 2012 for violations of wood trade laws. It's rare and precious stuff we're dealing with here :¬)

Edited by NickA

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I was in the Bass Centre one day (late 90's) when someone came in trying to sell a Wal, it was one of the Pro's. He only wanted £350 for it and they turned him down. They didn't want it! How times have changed.

I bought my first mk3 WAL 5er in 2002. The owner spent about 6 months trying to sell it on eBay and when it finally dropped to less than half of his starting price I grabbed it. . . . for £750!

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[quote name='NickA' timestamp='1475786622' post='3148832']
I was with mine (a 1980s 4 string mk 1 fretless) in bass direct this week, where they had a Mk1 and a Mk2 for sale at around £4500 (!!) they told me the new ones are about £5000 and have a two year waiting list and "anyway wouldn't be the same as an old one", hence the increasing value of the original Mk1s. Any truth in that?

[/quote]

The first half of their statement is true... £4500 starting price and approx 22 months lead time. The second part is TOSH. As anyone who was at the SE Bass Bash the other week will tell you the basses Paul is building are absolutely toppest of top notch. If I dare say it, I'd actually say that the build quality has increased a smidge with him.

To me those Bass Direct ones looked about a grand overpriced maybe for a 2nd hand Wal, looking at current prices on eBay. Just my opinion, though. And I'm not particualry aware of Mk 1 prices spiking against other models. Sales poppycock/deeply held opinion [delete as applicable]

As to old quality vs new... Let's face it, Paul knows Wals. He started working there a few months before Ian Waller passed away in the late 80s and was working there until around 2000 so most of the basses around will have had him working on them anyway.

Edited by TrevorR

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[quote name='mikeswals' timestamp='1472075173' post='3118379']
I dig shedua, especially with fairly heavy ribboning:



And if you like pink, then can't see why you wouldn't like violet either! :)

[IMG]http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f224/Negative7bass/Mobile%20Uploads/IMG_20160614_152528_zpsblqmbxce.jpg[/IMG]
[/quote]

That purple 5 string's nice. However I think a shedua faced mk1 with ribboning is what I will eventually go for. I have a Musicman Old Smoothie on order which I've got to pay for the majority of when it finally arrives - so the Wal will have to wait awile!!

The articles on the JG series are very interesting - one of my main reasons for interest in Wal basses are Percy Jones, but more particularly Alan Spenner who is probably one of my biggest influences in bass playing - I see his JG listed and appears to be one of the earliest. Can be heard on Roxymusic songs - fabulous. I was lucky enough to see him play the Wal in a Kokomo reunion gig at the Roundhouse at the end of the 70s - the bass sound and playing was fabulous!!

Anyhow, maybe later next year for the Wal order...

Edited by drTStingray

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[quote name='mikeswals' timestamp='1472075173' post='3118379']
I dig shedua, especially with fairly heavy ribboning:



And if you like pink, then can't see why you wouldn't like violet either! :)


[/quote]


I love the top 2, I don't like coloured one though, why hide that beautiful wood ?

I've never played a Way, always been intrigued by them though. I've only ever seen one in real life too, and that was an amazing 6 string one owned by the guy that had my Roscoe 6 string fretless. They seem to encapsulate what a real instrument should be, same as Ken Smiths and Fodera etc.

I

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[quote name='TrevorR' timestamp='1475883904' post='3149584']As to old quality vs new... Let's face it, Paul knows Wals. He started working there a few months before Ian Waller passed away in the late 80s and was working there until around 2000 so most of the basses around will have had him working on them anyway.
[/quote]

Pete Stephens wasn't very well towards the end but thank goodness he still cared enough about his company to ensure that its heritage and pedigree was maintained, and not sold off to the highest bidder (which was on the cards). Paul Herman was/is the best person to take WAL on and maintain the continuity and quality for such a world class brand.

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[quote name='chris_b' timestamp='1475924116' post='3149780']


Pete Stephens wasn't very well towards the end but thank goodness he still cared enough about his company to ensure that its heritage and pedigree was maintained, and not sold off to the highest bidder (which was on the cards). Paul Herman was/is the best person to take WAL on and maintain the continuity and quality for such a world class brand.
[/quote]

Amen to that! Ther were a few of us holding our breath back then. The idea of a budget Korean Passive Reissue Pro would have been interesting (a la Overwater by Tanglewood) but he idea of a big corporate watering down the Wal bass... still just don't want to think about it. There's an alternate universe out there somewhere where mass produced Wals now have one piece maple necks, basswood bodies, Schaller bridges and Bartolini pickups...

Or worse... imagine Gibson had bought the brand and done a Trace Elliott to it!!!!!

Pete absolutely made the right choice. Paul da guy!

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I'm glad to hear all that. It's kind of nice that my bass has Ian Wallers signature inside it, but it's just "object fetishism". A brand new one really should be more expensive than a chipped and dinted one .. it's not like the sound improves with age (like a violins do ...allegedly)

Shall keep my eyes open for another bass bash as would love to try one (or two) other than my old maple faithful.

Wonder if I can justify a 2nd Wal as an investment ... Couldn't be worse than an ISA surely ;-)

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New Wal history blog looking at the woods used in building a Wal bass... this week the necks, next week the bodies... http://walbasshistory.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/wal-woods-part-1-necks.html

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I'm currently on my second Mk 2 five string - always regretted selling the first (needed the cash at the time) not just for the excellence of the bass but also for the circumstances of buying it.

I had the money, right at the point in (I think, if my memory serves) the late 90's or early 00's that Wal had just stopped supplying shops and moved to custom orders only. So after ringing around the London shops to no avail, I made a call to Pete, who responded with his his best plumber's impression and sucking air through his teeth "ooh, no, you'll have to wait about six weeks for us to build you one...but what are you after?"

Well, a Mk 2 fiver. To which he responded "if you want one in walnut and can get here this week I can help you out". Trip to High Wycombe the next day, to be picked up by Pete at the station ("you'll never find us, easiest if you ring me when you get there") and back to the workshop where he presented me with a bass to try and the explanation that they'd built it for a customer in South Africa who had just put off his trip to collect it for six weeks and they could get another one built for him by then.

Gorgeous bass, I'll take it. "How would you like to pay?" Waves credit card. "No, we don't take those...can you get cash out on it? See, you'll want a case, and then there's the VAT so that's well over two grand, and if you write me a cheque I have to put it through the books and all sorts and it's a lot of hassle for everybody. But if you give me, say..." Pete looks at empty wallet "...£1500 cash then it saves us all that trouble doesn't it?" I didn't have to think very long.

Drives me to the bank, cash withdrawn, bass secured... "Now, I can't give you a receipt because that'll go through the books, but I can give you a 'valuation' and that's enough for any insurer if you want cover for it" Writes out the not-receipt. If my insurers had ever had to pay a claim and contacted Wal to check they would have found no record of the bass with that serial number being manufactured. I do wonder how many other "undocumented" Wal's there are out there.

Then Pete asks "when do you need to be off?" Er, no hurry, I just want to avoid the rush hour. "Great, lets go to the snooker club!" And we spend the rest of the afternoon in Pete's favoured watering hole chewing the fat and getting quietly drunk, him insisting on paying for all the beer, what with him now having a very fat wallet.

He then made me promise to bring the bass back in a month or so's time so that they could make any tweaks required after it's settling in period, and if could maybe get there a bit earlier to give us some more time in the pub...the bass didn't need tweaking but I still made the return trip. Just to make sure there was nothing that an experienced professional like Pete could spot that I'd missed, you understand.

Great bloke. Sorely missed (as was the bass, less sorely missed now that I have a replacement).

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[quote name='Monkey Steve' timestamp='1476289916' post='3153098']
I'm currently on my second Mk 2 five string - always regretted selling the first (needed the cash at the time) not just for the excellence of the bass but also for the circumstances of buying it.

I had the money, right at the point in (I think, if my memory serves) the late 90's or early 00's that Wal had just stopped supplying shops and moved to custom orders only. So after ringing around the London shops to no avail, I made a call to Pete, who responded with his his best plumber's impression and sucking air through his teeth "ooh, no, you'll have to wait about six weeks for us to build you one...but what are you after?"

Well, a Mk 2 fiver. To which he responded "if you want one in walnut and can get here this week I can help you out". Trip to High Wycombe the next day, to be picked up by Pete at the station ("you'll never find us, easiest if you ring me when you get there") and back to the workshop where he presented me with a bass to try and the explanation that they'd built it for a customer in South Africa who had just put off his trip to collect it for six weeks and they could get another one built for him by then.

Gorgeous bass, I'll take it. "How would you like to pay?" Waves credit card. "No, we don't take those...can you get cash out on it? See, you'll want a case, and then there's the VAT so that's well over two grand, and if you write me a cheque I have to put it through the books and all sorts and it's a lot of hassle for everybody. But if you give me, say..." Pete looks at empty wallet "...£1500 cash then it saves us all that trouble doesn't it?" I didn't have to think very long.

Drives me to the bank, cash withdrawn, bass secured... "Now, I can't give you a receipt because that'll go through the books, but I can give you a 'valuation' and that's enough for any insurer if you want cover for it" Writes out the not-receipt. If my insurers had ever had to pay a claim and contacted Wal to check they would have found no record of the bass with that serial number being manufactured. I do wonder how many other "undocumented" Wal's there are out there.

Then Pete asks "when do you need to be off?" Er, no hurry, I just want to avoid the rush hour. "Great, lets go to the snooker club!" And we spend the rest of the afternoon in Pete's favoured watering hole chewing the fat and getting quietly drunk, him insisting on paying for all the beer, what with him now having a very fat wallet.

He then made me promise to bring the bass back in a month or so's time so that they could make any tweaks required after it's settling in period, and if could maybe get there a bit earlier to give us some more time in the pub...the bass didn't need tweaking but I still made the return trip. Just to make sure there was nothing that an experienced professional like Pete could spot that I'd missed, you understand.

Great bloke. Sorely missed (as was the bass, less sorely missed now that I have a replacement).
[/quote]


what a fantastic story :)

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[quote name='TrevorR' timestamp='1476218660' post='3152504']
New Wal history blog looking at the woods used in building a Wal bass... this week the necks, next week the bodies... http://walbasshistory.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/wal-woods-part-1-necks.html
[/quote]

By coincidence I received a photo from Wal of the neck for my MKI. It's real now...only 14 months to go....

Edited by Urban Bassman

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Past two of the woods blog on the Wal History site... this time the body woods... Enjoy! http://walbasshistory.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/wal-woods-part-2-bodies.html

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[quote name='TrevorR' timestamp='1476853751' post='3157749']
Past two of the woods blog on the Wal History site... this time the body woods... Enjoy! http://walbasshistory.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/wal-woods-part-2-bodies.html
[/quote]

That's really good - thanks for posting - and it simply inflames my GAS for a shedua faced Mk 1 or 2!!

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I've been thinking about Wal basses quite a lot lately. I'm of an age where I can remember when they first came out and rapidly became one of [i]the[/i] basses to have for serious players. I remember trying them in shops and being wowed by the sheer power of their basic tone, and the flexibility of the electronics. They were always very special instruments.

Since the recent fall in the exchange rate, I've been casting my eye over British-made basses in search of better value for my money than imported basses can offer under the current circumstances. The problem is, with the exception of Wal and Status Graphite, no British builders have any allure for me. And what I can't help but notice is that Wal basses are now proportionately much more expensive than they used to be. In fact, even allowing for inflation, a Mk1 Wal now costs two and a half times as much as one in their heyday of the 1980's.

Interestingly enough, in contrast, back in the 1980's, a Status Series 2 bass was substantially more expensive than a Mk 1 Wal. However, the current version of that Status retails for several thousand pounds less than a new Wal. I cannot help but wonder in my idle moments why Status have been able to curtail their pricing whilst Wal have not. I suspect that the new-found cachet that Wal basses have recently been enjoying, for various reasons, plays a big part. The fellow who now makes them can charge whatever he likes and still have a full order-book. Good luck to him, they are fabulous basses, and that is the way of the world. Very limited supply and high demand puts him in a commanding position.

From my own point of view, though, much as I would love a Wal bass (and for me it would have to be the classic Mk1 shape) I would balk at the prospect of paying just shy of five grand for one. For me, as someone who remembers the 1980s as if it were yesterday, it's just not a five grand bass.

Edited by Misdee

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[quote name='Misdee' timestamp='1476995306' post='3159167']


From my own point of view, though, much as I would love a Wal bass (and for me it would have to be the classic Mk1 shape) I would balk at the prospect of paying just shy of five grand for one. For me, as someone who remembers the 1980s as if it were yesterday, it's just not a five grand bass.
[/quote]

I feel your pain! I remember the days when the Bass Centre's Wapping shop was full of Wals...mind you, I also remember walking into a shop in Denmark Street that had a choice of 8 string Rickenbackers for £1,400 and thinking "bit pricey, and I don't like the colours" Oh, the basses I wish I'd bought...

And when I had the cash for a custom bass recently (and ended up paying Warwick more than the standard cost of a new Wal) the other factor that put me off was the need to get a couple of years of future calendars to plot the delivery time. Well, that and the lack of a thru-neck...

But it is worth keeping an eye out for second hand ones - they don't come up especially regularly and tend to still be on the expensive side but much cheaper than a new one. My Mk 2 Five string cost me a little over two grand from the small ads, bought about four years ago from a musician who'd been given it by Ian Waller in the '80's (so, basically a straight £2k profit for him)...admittedly it had been painted matt black because his former band objected to "going on tour with him playing a sideboard" and the electrics needed a bit (*a lot*) of TLC, but a mate who's a luthier restored it all for me at a very reasonable cost (£100), and it must be said, with a dash of good will and assistance from Electric Wood in sorting out the electrics and the set up.

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A little bit off topic but my Lutheir friend here in Finland got onto the subject of Wal basses (honest it wasn't me) and said that he had only worked on a couple of them over the years, said he thought they were fantastic basses quality wise and top class workmanship, I told him the wait for one was almost 2 years. He said he could understand that, said when he does some custom builds he'll leave the neck a year before he'll attach it or do anymore work on it. So it's not just Wal if you are into custom builds done on a small scale.

4-5 grand is a lot of money for a bass and I,m sure you pay for the prestige as well. I have spent a lot more on cars and had to throw them away after a few years, so think I'll still get more return with one of these :)

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