Monday, 21 July 2014

Wal Pro Series basses article from The Guitar Magazine, early 2000s

Article from the UK's The Guitar Magazine on the Wal Pro Series basses from the early 2000s

Wal Pro-1 Bass 

Review category: Basses

A great opportunity to get your hands on a genuine Wall for a fraction of the price you may have expected
Founded in the mid-'70s with a commitment to high-quality design and construction, Electric Wood (the company that made Wal basses) was responsible for some of the best machines ever to grace the woofers of your hi-fi.

The Pro range of basses, from the entry-level Pro-I, to the top-of-the-line Pro-IIE, encapsulated all the ideas and innovations that Wal was known for.

You may not be able to buy a new one, but all the Wal Pro series are excellent second-hand buys. Of the four instruments in the range, the Pro-I offers the least in the way of refinements, though you still get a handmade pro-quality bass guitar. The others in the range are the Pro-II (two pickups), The Pro-IE (active), and the Pro-IIE (two pickups, active circuitry).

In action, the Pro-I is a beast of distinction, easy and comfortable to play, with a lovely thick, woody tone. It gives a very chunky 70s sound, but with some adjustment to the pickup, a wider range of sounds can be achieved.

Still, with no facilities for easy change of tone, it's probably a bit limiting for the modern bass player, who may have to switch from zingy funk tones to bowel-quaking dub in the course of a set.

The body of the instrument is a glued three-section piece of ash, with an angled upper bout, a cutaway at the rear between the upper bout and horn, and a lower horn cutaway that offers access to the higher frets.

The neat, functional body styling results in a distinctive well-balanced shape that doesn't suffer from too much tipping, even with the large Wal headstock. Inside, the Pro-I really shows its pedigree; the wiring and circuitry is mounted on a circuit board instead of being just a loose tangle of wires.

This feature is becoming more common in high-end basses, but in 1982, when this bass was manufactured, such clarity of design was very rare indeed.

The neck is a 34-inch six-piece laminate bolt-on type with a centre-piece of hornbeam and outer pieces of rock maple, separated by two pieces of muckalungu.

The fretboard is Indian rosewood with 21 nickel-steel frets, and the neck as a whole is quite thick, with good feel and playability. The fretboard width at the nut is 42mm, with a string spacing of 13mm.

This widens to 19mm at the bridge - meaning that the strings are fairly close together all the way down the neck, compared with modern basses.

There are three carbon-fibre strips reinforcing the neck too - one under the fretboard and two at the back, adding extra stability. These, coupled with the brass inserts at the heel- joint, provide the rigidity necessary for good sustain and tone.

The single pickup is an eight-coil humbucking type, mounted on floating springs and fully height-adjustable.

The pole-pieces, too, are adjustable by Allen key for further tone refinement, and there's a small phase reversal switch just at the lower edge of the pickup to switch between in- phase and out-of-phase sound.

Price And Availability

The price to pay for a Pro-I in good condition, with original Wal case (brown moulded fibreglass with embossed Wal logo) is about the same as the price when new - around £375.

The more expensive models follow the same pattern, meaning that you can be sure of your purchase remaining an investment.

Expect to pay from £400 to £599 for those models, depending on type and condition.
Just 3,000 Wal Pro series basses were made in total, so finding a good example may be a bit of a search. Still, chances are, it'll be worth it.


No comments:

Post a Comment