MkII fretless 5: My First Wal bass
It was three years ago almost to the day that I purchased my first Wal bass, a black poly MkII fretless five-string from Jon and Harry at Bunnybass. Here's a review that I wrote shortly after receiving it:
MkII fretless five string
Solid mahogany body
Maple/hornbeam bolt-on neck
Lined ebony fretless board
All black poly gloss finish
All hardware is gold-plated
Weight roughly 11 pounds
Condition: showroom, virtually unplayed
Handmade by Pete Stevens in 1996
Accessories: a beautiful grey fiberglass Wal
an unopened set of DR strings inside the case
Below is a detail shot of the wonderful lined fretless neck.
Next is the detail of back of the instrument showing the bolt-on neck plate and electronics cavity. The attention to every detail is truly astonishing.
All Wal Custom basses feature a mic-level XLR output in addition to a recessed 1/4" TS phone jack. This allows you to plug straight into the mixing board without an external DI.
The jeweller-like precision is readily apparent on every detail of this instrument, from the signature Wal horshoe-style bridge to the fine adjustments provided for each of the pickup magnets. There are 4 adjustable poles for each string, two per pickup.
Here is a detail shot of the Wal headstock. This style is used on the five and six string 24 fret models. Note the string tree that is provided on every Wal custom bass.* Red background photos courtesy Jon & Harry of Bunnybass.
Until this instrument arrived, I had yet to find a fretless bass that I truly "connected with" despite many attempts on my part. This instrument is absolutely the easiest possible fretless to play and fits me like a glove. Somehow it seems to magically keep my fingers in exactly the right place, likely due to having the perfect scale and string spacing for me.
This particular bass can behave and sound exactly like a fretted instrument, but when you want the fretless "mwah" and expression it's ALL right there at your fingertips. The balance is perfect and very comfortable despite the weight of just below 11 pounds.As mentioned, all Wal
basses are absolute tone monsters but it takes some time to master the controls. This is not your usual 3-band boost or cut preamp. However I am not only totally comfortable with this setup, I actually prefer it. See the preamp section above for details on the controls.