Jump to content

Should Wal scale up their operation?


Recommended Posts

31 minutes ago, FDC484950 said:

I met Pete many times and also Paul when having the 2 Wals I owned built. To put things in perspective my first was a Mark 1 custom (£979 plus I think £100 for the case) and a few years later a Mark 3 5 string on a special deal (Pete was a friend of a friend) for £1500. Pete was the nicest, most considerate and friendly guy (somewhat oddly he didn’t play bass I believe). Both basses were impeccably made and reasonably quick. Even today I believe the Mark 1 4 string to be an iconic bass. The original ethos was a high quality studio bass for working professionals - but 40-odd years later that’s not really a career for 95% of people who plays bass, so it seems fitting that Paul - who spent a good amount of time at Wal before Pete passed on - should continue the brand as a no expense spared iconic brand. I wouldn’t purchase one now as my tastes have changed over time but I have total respect for them (and the entrance to the premises is on my local biking route so I’m regularly reminded of them :)

 

Great story!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 hours ago, Misdee said:

Paul Herman comes from a sightly different background in so much as he studied instrument making at the Guildhall and is much more methodical in his approach.

 

6 hours ago, joe_geezer said:

If Wal were to hire an extra 2 contractors, that would at least halve the waiting times, would that be a positive move or do you think even that would degrade the quality of Wals?

 

I think Misdee's comment probably explains why an "extra 2 contractors" wouldn't be an easy thing - you would be looking at building relationships and employing top level musical instrument makers on a decent wages... If you've got a business setup that works... then why take the risk?

 

 

2 hours ago, joe_geezer said:

There are some folks that cannot afford the £6000+ for a bolt on instrument. I'm not rich but I could afford one tomorrow, no problem, but I would never condone the prices and you can't force me to either, respectfully.

 

I wonder if Waller and Pete would have wanted Wal's legacy to live on as a company that only creates bass guitars for the privileged few... 

 Bass guitars are cheap compared to a lot of orchestral instruments. Or even nice UK made hand built acoustic guitars are in that ballpark ... £6000 isn't even crazy at the top end of bass guitars. 

If the builder sees themselves as making a product for an open market then sure, maybe the high price and limits on supply would be an issue. If the builder sees themselves as a craftsperson making the best instrument they can, with proprietary parts, then as long as they have orders coming in they probably wouldn't see an issue with pricing them in a way that allows them to  be profitable and sustainable and allows them to retire well at some point in the future. I'm fairly sure if Waller and Pete were really interested in making a massproduced and low price instrument then they could have gone down that route in their time if they had so wanted. 

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, joe_geezer said:

There are some folks that cannot afford the £6000+ for a bolt on instrument. I'm not rich but I could afford one tomorrow, no problem, but I would never condone the prices and you can't force me to either, respectfully.

 

I wonder if Waller and Pete would have wanted Wal's legacy to live on as a company that only creates bass guitars for the privileged few... 

To be fair not many people can afford to manufacture bespoke, hand tooled items in 2022. The world has changed. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 minute ago, LukeFRC said:

then as long as they have orders coming in they probably wouldn't see an issue with pricing them in a way that allows them to  be profitable and sustainable and allows them to retire well at some point in the future.

I seem to recall reading a summary from Mike Pedulla about his decision to expand his business in the 1990s, I believe, when he felt further away from being a luthier and more like a business manager. He subsequently scaled back his operation so that he could oversee every build and went back to making only a limited number of instruments. He retired and didn't sell the business, if I recall correctly. The market prices of Pedulla basses is strong and I'm sure Wal is in that camp. I have no problems with that. I have a Pedulla, but not a Wal.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

If they were to expand their operations, they should go the Spector route - Eastern European manufacturing. That way you still get a high but more affordable price point. The Czech Spectors are fantastic basses, as well as the likes of Mayones, Maruszczyk, etc (made in Poland). 

 

I had a conversation on here a couple of months back, where I mentioned that I wished that Jaydee would make something a bit more lightweight and modern and a bit less 80s, and the counter-point was made that they do what they do, and that's what the people who buy them want. Fair enough. I guess Wal is the same way. 

 

You are starting to see some companies (Herrick, Rautia, Bassculture, even Nordstrand) making Wal-style pickups, and John East and Lusithand making filter preamps, and ACG making the whole kit and caboodle, so something akin to that Wal sound is available in other form factors now if you want it. 

Edited by Russ
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, thodrik said:

would younger players actually want one? Or would they consider it to be clunky, heavy and a bit 'old fashioned' compared to modern designs like Dingwall, Sandberg, Spector, Mayones, ACG Vigier etc? 

That's certainly my view of the brand anyway as a 30-something year old. They are a bit archaic.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

43 minutes ago, acidbass said:

That's certainly my view of the brand anyway as a 30-something year old. They are a bit archaic.

And when some newer tiktaktoktuber gets ones hands on Wal, "everybody" has to get one.

 

Why is Hotel California popular every now and then? Why is LP so succesful? Have you heard about film making with Super8? This list is - once more - endless.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

40 minutes ago, itu said:

And when some newer tiktaktoktuber gets ones hands on Wal, "everybody" has to get one.

 

Why is Hotel California popular every now and then? Why is LP so succesful? Have you heard about film making with Super8? This list is - once more - endless.

Not particularly aware of any online personalities who play Wals. It's all Geddy Lee, Justin Chancellor or Mick Karn fans who want that particular tone.

 

In recent years it's largely been Justin Chancellor fans driving sales as a lot of people want something akin to that Tool bass tone. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 hours ago, Shaggy said:

 

Thats something Wal will never, ever do.  Every part on a Wal bass is bespoke apart from the tuners, and they know that’s a big part of what makes their bases unique and effectively uncopyable (there are close custom build copies of course - IMO the Enfield Cannon is pretty much a copy of a mk2 - but never exact).

 

 

 

I asked Wal if I could buy a set of pickups and electronics back in the early ‘80s. They said yep, no problem. They weren’t even that expensive. For various reasons I didn’t go ahead but I really wish I had. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 hours ago, joe_geezer said:

I played many original Wals and never found any to be second rate, on the contrary they were at least as good as a Fodera, Alembic...  i must have been lucky :) 

I’ve also played many original Wals - and owned 2 - and none of them have been particularly outstanding in terms of build quality or playability IMO. In fact they were bordering on agricultural compared to the Alembics I’ve owned. But they have all had variations on a distinctive tone and if that’s what you want, then that’s what you want.
 

I haven’t played any of Paul’s so can’t comment on them. 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 hours ago, joe_geezer said:

If Wal were to hire an extra 2 contractors, that would at least halve the waiting times, would that be a positive move or do you think even that would degrade the quality of Wals?

Those contractors would also have to be paid and fully trained to Paul's standards, so while it might impact waiting times, the prices would correspondingly increase.

 

Ben

Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 hours ago, joe_geezer said:

I can't argue with that, its just a shame younger gifted players won't have the opportunity to carry on the Wal legacy, the Wal ownership club will continue to be only for middle aged doctors and lawyers that can barely string 2 notes together :biggrin:

If they want a Wal enough and are prepared to save/wait, it's doable :) I've never understood the whole lawyer/dentist stereotype, the guys I know with higher value instruments are all a. serious players and b. gig them regularly.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
28 minutes ago, funkypenguin said:

If they want a Wal enough and are prepared to save/wait, it's doable :) I've never understood the whole lawyer/dentist stereotype, the guys I know with higher value instruments are all a. serious players and b. gig them regularly.

It's not a stereo type in my case, they are some of the people i know... :dash1: I used to be a pro musician myself and all the top level pros played mid priced instruments as they were all broke, including me at the time.

Edited by joe_geezer
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Part of the reason I became a lawyer was from visiting Talkbass when I was a struggling 22 year old musician and finding that nearly every bassist who had a massive collection tended to either be a lawyer or a doctor rather than a gigging musician.

 

As it is I have now been qualified for nearly seven years and bought precisely one bass in that time. 
 

I’m definitely doing the stereotype a disservice but having kids and buying a fixer-upper house will do that…

  • Like 3
  • Haha 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm going to go against the grain here and agree with the OP. I don't think they should water the brand down or introduce an import line, they don't need to. But, IMO, they do need to scale up production a bit more. I don't think this would affect quality or devalue the brand at all. I'm stuck in this limbo of wanting to order one, but then not being wanting to wait 4-5 years to actually receive it.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, thodrik said:

Part of the reason I became a lawyer was from visiting Talkbass when I was a struggling 22 year old musician and finding that nearly every bassist who had a massive collection tended to either be a lawyer or a doctor rather than a gigging musician.

 

As it is I have now been qualified for nearly seven years and bought precisely one bass in that time. 
 

I’m definitely doing the stereotype a disservice but having kids and buying a fixer-upper house will do that…

Thats funny, yea i went the opposite root, had a career in music until i hit 40 and then switched to become a software developer... I have 7 bass guitars now & 2 Jaydees on order haha!

Edited by joe_geezer
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, 40hz said:

I'm going to go against the grain here and agree with the OP. I don't think they should water the brand down or introduce an import line, they don't need to. But, IMO, they do need to scale up production a bit more. I don't think this would affect quality or devalue the brand at all. I'm stuck in this limbo of wanting to order one, but then not being wanting to wait 4-5 years to actually receive it.

Thanks, also, if you compare Wal to 2 other great english  bass manufacturers - Status & Jaydee, both with reasonable wait times and excellent value, as well as excellent build quality, I have a new Jaydee and it's up there with any Alembic, the level of detail is unreal!

 

I would have liked a Wal because i like the fretless sounds of Percy Jones, John Giblin and Laurence Cottle... Im a jazz bassist so a Wal fretless is a great bass for that genres but under the current situation, its just not feasible for me. 

Edited by joe_geezer
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, 40hz said:

I'm going to go against the grain here and agree with the OP. I don't think they should water the brand down or introduce an import line, they don't need to. But, IMO, they do need to scale up production a bit more. I don't think this would affect quality or devalue the brand at all. I'm stuck in this limbo of wanting to order one, but then not being wanting to wait 4-5 years to actually receive it.


Me too - they’re not taking orders but I’m on their list ‘should something become available’ or a production slot I guess. But to reiterate, the thought of the long wait after ordering is a bit daunting. 
 

I’ve also seriously thought about ordering a Jaydee - they really are fabulous value. One of the reasons for liking the Wal particularly is Alan Spenner is a favourite bass player of mine - and I saw him use one live and he really got a fabulous sound - plus he used the Wal with Roxy etc. Also Percy Jones - to me it’s all on a par with Pino/Bernard Edwards with Stingrays and Mark King with Jaydees (not that I could ever approach his level of competence with slap bass 😀) - but the finger style sound is great as well. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 hours ago, 4000 said:

I’ve also played many original Wals - and owned 2 - and none of them have been particularly outstanding in terms of build quality or playability IMO. In fact they were bordering on agricultural compared to the Alembics I’ve owned. But they have all had variations on a distinctive tone and if that’s what you want, then that’s what you want.
 

I haven’t played any of Paul’s so can’t comment on them. 

Exactly this.

 

When I played a couple of Paul Herman era Wals I was really struck by how much attention to detail had gone into them. The old basses were good but Paul has made his basses to be on the same level as the other money is no object bass builders.

 

 By contrast  original Wal basses were professional quality instruments equal to any of their fellow British bass builders of that era, but they weren't the unobtainable holy relics which they have become to some folks nowadays. You could walk into a shop and buy one off the rack for a bit more money than a Music Man Stingray, a bit less money than a Status Series 2 and about the same price as a Jaydee Mark King. And they were always more popular down south than up north, for some reason.

 

I like Wal basses, but they were always an idiosyncratic design. To my sensibilities they have their strengths and their weaknesses. They certainly sound unique, and I love the fact that they have such a pedigree. I would hate it if they went down the Sadowky route.

 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Misdee said:

 

 

I like Wal basses, but they were always an idiosyncratic design. To my sensibilities they have their strengths and their weaknesses. They certainly sound unique, and I love the fact that they have such a pedigree. I would hate it if they went down the Sadowky route.

 

 

I wouldn't think so, they've a full order book so unless they take on and train more builders to bring the wait times down the way that Fodera did back in 2010, I don't see why they would change their business model. 

 

12 hours ago, 40hz said:

But, IMO, they do need to scale up production a bit more. I don't think this would affect quality or devalue the brand at all. I'm stuck in this limbo of wanting to order one, but then not being wanting to wait 4-5 years to actually receive it.

 

Would you be happy to pay the corresponding price increase that would come with scaling up production/employing more luthiers that can build at the same level as Paul? What is it about the long wait that's putting you off out of interest? Is it that you're worried your tastes will change in the interim? I would think that the long wait would be ideal, in that you can spec precisely what you want, no holds barred, and you've a long time to save up the bread once your deposit is paid :) 

 

Ben

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, funkypenguin said:

 

I wouldn't think so, they've a full order book so unless they take on and train more builders to bring the wait times down the way that Fodera did back in 2010, I don't see why they would change their business model. 

 

 

Would you be happy to pay the corresponding price increase that would come with scaling up production/employing more luthiers that can build at the same level as Paul? What is it about the long wait that's putting you off out of interest? Is it that you're worried your tastes will change in the interim? I would think that the long wait would be ideal, in that you can spec precisely what you want, no holds barred, and you've a long time to save up the bread once your deposit is paid :) 

 

Ben

When you say 

Quote

can build at the same level as Paul

Can you be more descriptive and break down exactly what aspects of a modern Wal attain your 'level' status, thanks.

 

Have you had the opportunity to play a modern Wal and & compare it to an original Wal? 

Edited by joe_geezer
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Misdee said:

Exactly this.

 

When I played a couple of Paul Herman era Wals I was really struck by how much attention to detail had gone into them. The old basses were good but Paul has made his basses to be on the same level as the other money is no object bass builders.

 

 By contrast  original Wal basses were professional quality instruments equal to any of their fellow British bass builders of that era, but they weren't the unobtainable holy relics which they have become to some folks nowadays. You could walk into a shop and buy one off the rack for a bit more money than a Music Man Stingray, a bit less money than a Status Series 2 and about the same price as a Jaydee Mark King. And they were always more popular down south than up north, for some reason.

 

I like Wal basses, but they were always an idiosyncratic design. To my sensibilities they have their strengths and their weaknesses. They certainly sound unique, and I love the fact that they have such a pedigree. I would hate it if they went down the Sadowky route.

 

You stated -

 level are detail  

&

Paul has made his basses to be on the same level as the other money is no object bass builders

 

As you've been lucky enough to to sit down and play a modern Wal, can you describe what changes the modern Wal has over the originals that makes them so much better? I respect your subjective opinion bias, we all have this but for the purpose of this discussion it will helpful if you can describe the improvements. 

Edited by joe_geezer
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting anecdote. I played the first bass Ian Waller built. It was a Salmon Pink P Bass copy, weighed a ton and you could drive a bus under the strings.

We went to the same school, although he was about 3-4 years ahead of me. In the early 60's he played in a local band, sorry "group" as they were called in those days, called The Wailers with Derek Leckenby and Barry Whitham and I was in the same class as Lek's brother Colin. As a teenager it was customary in those days to play guitar and Colin brought Wal's bass round to mine on a couple of occasions.

Ian was very well known in Manchester and earned the handle "Big Wal" as he was rather chunky so when Derek Leckenby and Barry Whitham were asked to join the newly formed Herman's Hermits, who had just secured a recording contract, Big Wal was left out in the cold as he wasn't considered easy on the eye and svelte enough for HH.

He went on to join Remo Sands and the Spinning Tops and I was in a band the borrowed their roadie and van quite a lot. He was a stonking bass player and he built various pedals for Spinning Tops, electronics being his love.  

  • Like 5
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

15 minutes ago, BassBunny said:

Interesting anecdote. I played the first bass Ian Waller built. It was a Salmon Pink P Bass copy, weighed a ton and you could drive a bus under the strings.

We went to the same school, although he was about 3-4 years ahead of me. In the early 60's he played in a local band, sorry "group" as they were called in those days, called The Wailers with Derek Leckenby and Barry Whitham and I was in the same class as Lek's brother Colin. As a teenager it was customary in those days to play guitar and Colin brought Wal's bass round to mine on a couple of occasions.

Ian was very well known in Manchester and earned the handle "Big Wal" as he was rather chunky so when Derek Leckenby and Barry Whitham were asked to join the newly formed Herman's Hermits, who had just secured a recording contract, Big Wal was left out in the cold as he wasn't considered easy on the eye and svelte enough for HH.

He went on to join Remo Sands and the Spinning Tops and I was in a band the borrowed their roadie and van quite a lot. He was a stonking bass player and he built various pedals for Spinning Tops, electronics being his love.  

Interesting story, it reminds me of seeing Tubbs from Light Of The World, his Wal looked really heavy on him, not sure how tall he was.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

42 minutes ago, joe_geezer said:

You stated -

 level are detail  

&

Paul has made his basses to be on the same level as the other money is no object bass builders

 

So you must have been lucky enough to to sit down and play a modern Wal, so with that,  can you describe what changes the modern Wal has over the originals that makes them so much better? I respect your subjective opinion bias, we all have this but for the purpose of this discussion it will helpful if you can describe the improvements. 

Is that a deliberately difficult question?
Like it wouldn’t be contentious to say a Fender USA precision bass is higher quality than a Squier Affinity … but if you had to describe how and why, a lot of the reasons would be subjective and not easy to describe. 
 

if I buy an acoustic guitar, what’s the difference subjectively between the £1000 mass produced one and the £8000 artisan made one? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Rich locked this topic
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...