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Building a Wal....ish


funkle

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38 minutes ago, LukeFRC said:

are you suggesting that everyone's been focused on a Wal as the magic ingredient ... and the tone is all in his fingers? :o  :D 

I do think it's part of it yes :) 

I expect there's a special sauce being brought to the table with the Wal pickups and preamp, that's undeniable, but I also think a lot of what people want to hear is being effected by materials, construction and technique. It's also extremely rare for bass to be recorded in any kind of virginal context, unaffected by anything else as part of a signal chain.

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I've just recorded Ray Hatfield (played with one of the incarnations of Wishbone Ash for a number of years) gigging with one of my 6 string electrics.  It used to be my gigging guitar and I can assure you it NEVER sounded like that when I played it! xD 

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1 hour ago, Andyjr1515 said:

I've just recorded Ray Hatfield (played with one of the incarnations of Wishbone Ash for a number of years) gigging with one of my 6 string electrics.  It used to be my gigging guitar and I can assure you it NEVER sounded like that when I played it! xD 

this is OT but it is quite amazing how much difference our playing can make. My main bass for years was super bright sounding - so my fingers learned to bring out more low end. 
Give my bass and amp setup to a mate of equal level and he's getting so much more top end and a different attack on the notes for fingerstyle played in the same position.

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Posted (edited)

I came to the conclusion that the player is one of the most important aspects of how a bass sounds a long time ago. I play all my basses when I set them up and they to a degree sound like me playing a bass. I have had my own personal basses played by a fair number of people and they sound very different and mostly better played by other people. So trying to sound like another player is more than getting the same gear. 
The recording chain also plays a big part in that as well. 

Edited by skelf
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I agree the player is the most important part. I spent 6 months working daily on right hand technique and it helped my sound a lot. 
 

That said. Now I know what a Wal sounds like in my hands. So I kind of know what I want to aim for. 

 

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Just now, skelf said:

You know what one Wal sounds like in your hands. There is a lot of variation in instruments even if the appear to have the same spec. 

And thus GAS exists!

*goes to look down back of sofa for more funds*

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3 minutes ago, skelf said:

You know what one Wal sounds like in your hands. There is a lot of variation in instruments even if the appear to have the same spec. 


True.

 

Even so…Jazzes sound like Jazzes in my hands, Precisions sound like Precisions…etc. There are variations within the type, but the type is characteristic.  

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1 hour ago, skelf said:

You know what one Wal sounds like in your hands. There is a lot of variation in instruments even if the appear to have the same spec. 

So when you’re building an instrument suggesting pickups and electronics are standard, do you kinda have an idea of ballpark tone it will have based on the spec, or is there a bit of a unknown till it all comes together? 
 

I’m not really trying to start the tonewood debate but the degree to which you control the whole thing through the build process? 
 

sorry jumping on you as “ask the expert”! 

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I tend not to get to specific with that particular line of thought. There is a lot of variation in the wood within the same species. So the way I look it is as an overall structure which you can manipulate to a degree in order to get into a general ballpark. So I have an idea of what a combination of woods as a structure will produce but again it is a general idea. 

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2 minutes ago, skelf said:

I tend not to get to specific with that particular line of thought. There is a lot of variation in the wood within the same species. So the way I look it is as an overall structure which you can manipulate to a degree in order to get into a general ballpark. So I have an idea of what a combination of woods as a structure will produce but again it is a general idea. 

:) cheers for the reply 

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13 hours ago, LukeFRC said:

:) cheers for the reply 

I think it's safer to say, "heavy wood sounds like this", "hard wood sounds like this" etcs.

In my experience, I know I like the sound of a heavier body, with a hard top and fingerboard, in a bolt-on flavour.

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On 01/06/2022 at 11:13, BigRedX said:

When you consider that 3 of the best known Wal users - Mick Karn, Justin Chancellor and Leigh Gorman - all sound very different there may be some truth in that...

Well Karn plays fretless for a start, so he’s not really going to sound the same. From the little I’ve heard of Chancellor he seems to use a lot of effects (please correct me if I’m wrong), so that’ll be a factor as well. 😉 Gorman sounds pure Wal to me. 
 

 

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Chancellor could be playing anything behind all that processing. Kahn sounded the same (better maybe) on a JJbean. Gorman was playing a pro series (?) which is a significantly different beast.

 

Some people are convinced flea and Geddy Lee are the ultimate Wal players.

 

For me it's Percy Jones .. and I can do a decent impression on my MK1 fretless ... But in brand X he was playing a pro2.

 

What is this "Wal sound" of which we speak.

 

All very different.

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16 minutes ago, NickA said:

Chancellor could be playing anything behind all that processing. Kahn sounded the same (better maybe) on a JJbean. Gorman was playing a pro series (?) which is a significantly different beast.

 

Some people are convinced flea and Geddy Lee are the ultimate Wal players.

 

For me it's Percy Jones .. and I can do a decent impression on my MK1 fretless ... But in brand X he was playing a pro2.

 

What is this "Wal sound" of which we speak.

 

All very different.

Percy plays Ibanez basses now, and he doesn't sound any worse, just saying...

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48 minutes ago, NickA said:

Last seen bearing a fretless mk2 ( and a face mask)....but I doubt he's short of basses.  FB_IMG_1654251228781.thumb.jpg.761b3934810663785841ebf6a7e0a721.jpg

He has superb taste in kit generally, judging by that photo.

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26 minutes ago, Kiwi said:

He has superb taste in kit generally, judging by that photo.

Indeed. I bet the Wal sounds dreamy through the EA. Especially with him playing it. 

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28 minutes ago, Kiwi said:

He has superb taste in kit generally, judging by that photo.

I wonder what’s under and around his B on the neck pickup?

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Update on the neck.

 

I got @funkle to take me some profile drawings of his favourite-playing bass so that I can get at least a familiarity of feel with the Wal-ish neck.  From those drawings I've cut a plasticard template and so am now out of excuses not to start carving the neck :D

BXg1iOfl.jpg?1

 

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And so to the neck carve.

 

Every builder has their own preferred way of doing this, but my own way is that, having already earlier thicknessed the back of the neck to final depth, including taper, I basically mark the centre spine

in pencil and remove wood, along the whole length of the neck, moving towards this line, flattening the cut as I move towards it.

 

And basically, after removing the bulk, I creep up on the final shape.

 

For bulk removal, I start with a spokeshave:

9IL4poEl.jpg

 

And quite quickly move to razor plane blades, held two (gloved) handed and again drawn up the total length of the neck:

icogwdcl.jpg

 

And then pretty quickly move to the good old cabinet card scraper - again, drawn along the full length of the neck:

o8wT7shl.jpg

 

Notice that my pencil line is untouched...

 

The above process is pretty quick - an hour tops to the 'starting to get there' territory.  This is it ready for the second stage where I start getting the templates out and start creeping towards the finished shape:

9Kq0Xwcl.jpg

 

The next stage will use only card scraper and sandpaper.  And, because it's relatively easy to remove wood but it's very difficult to put it back, this next stage will take a little longer :)

 

 

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On 03/06/2022 at 09:55, NickA said:

Chancellor could be playing anything behind all that processing. Kahn sounded the same (better maybe) on a JJbean. Gorman was playing a pro series (?) which is a significantly different beast.

 

Some people are convinced flea and Geddy Lee are the ultimate Wal players.

 

For me it's Percy Jones .. and I can do a decent impression on my MK1 fretless ... But in brand X he was playing a pro2.

 

What is this "Wal sound" of which we speak.

 

All very different.

 

Exactly. 

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On 03/06/2022 at 09:55, NickA said:

Chancellor could be playing anything behind all that processing. Kahn sounded the same (better maybe) on a JJbean. Gorman was playing a pro series (?) which is a significantly different beast.

 

Some people are convinced flea and Geddy Lee are the ultimate Wal players.

 

For me it's Percy Jones .. and I can do a decent impression on my MK1 fretless ... But in brand X he was playing a pro2.

 

What is this "Wal sound" of which we speak.

 

All very different.

Yup, so many different sounds hiding in a Wal if you care to look. My personal Wal Custom faves are “Every Day I Write The Book” with Bruce Thomas on his Wal, Dave Paton on the Elton John Live In Australia video/album, Walking On The Clouds by Polish rock band Eleanor Gray (video below), Laurence Cottle on the Alan Parsons Project album Gaudi, Failure’s Stuck On You and Flea on Give It Away. All very different (but still somehow Wal-y to a greater or lesser extent).

 

 


 

 

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