When I started my hunt for a good fretless bass, I had already been playing a fretted Wal for a couple of years, a solid ash model, originally made for my bass playing friend Martin Elliott.
At the time, I was looking to replace a cheap and cheerful Westone Thunder 1A fretless with something a bit more serious.
I opted for another Wal for two main reasons, one being that I was already comfortable with the string spacing and fretboard feel, so making the leap to playing fretless was, I reasoned, sure to be less problematic, and secondly, I was confident that in choosing another Wal I could be sure the craftsmanship and materials would mean I was going to find another really great instrument.
Wal basses have become very sought after in recent years, but at the time, a secondhand Wal could be found fairly regularly in the pages of Loot (…now replaced by Ebay and the like) for somewhere around the £400 - £500 mark, which seems amazing today given the prices they go for.
Made in 1984 at Electric Wood in the UK, my Wal fretless has a Brazillian Mahogany Core with American Cherry wood facings and an Indian Ebony fretboard.
Wal's own design active pick-ups, extremely flexible in terms of tone. Note worn varnish above the pick-ups, I had the bass revarnished by Electric Wood some years ago.
XLR output socket next to the main output visible below the controls. This only works when there is a jack in the main output, it's very useful when recording for taking a signal direct from the bass.
Currently strung with D'Addario Flatwounds.
View of the Bridge.
Headstock, Hipshot D- Tuner not visible.
Serial number on the backplate.
This is probably my most played bass, I used it almost exclusively for a number of years, below a selection of tracks, old and newer:
I am lucky enough to own three Wals, my most recent acquisition being another 80's era fretted which was previously owned by Jack Monck and given a thorough working out on The Incident tour and album with Porcupine Tree. Bye for now, Colin
See above cover image for the "Mesh" EP, which is my first release of any solo material since "PVZ" in 2012.
I guess it's not strictly solo, since I am joined by my former Random Noise Generator partner Robert Peck (A.K.A. RJ) on vocals and guitar. Although initially Rob encouraged me to sing, he does a much better job of vocals than I can, and his guitar textures add a pleasing dimension I hadn't foreseen.
I have described the music as being an ideal soundtrack to moments of indecision and transition, and both states seem to occur fairly regularly in my life.
Five tracks and just shy of 20 minutes of music, "Mesh" is a digital only release and out now in the usual places: iTunes, CD Baby, and Burning Shed, and Bandcamp, where hi-res FLAC audio files are also an available option.
A full length album featuring further solo material in conjunction with RJ will be forthcoming later this year.
Next up in my bass collection is my Spector Euro 435LX.
I was unfamiliar with Spector basses until a US tour in the mid 2000's, when the Spector artist representative kindly lent me a Czech made Spector Euro, for some US gigs.
Being incredibly solid, well made and reliable instruments they have become a mainstay for me, standing up extremely well to the demands of travel and regular use, and sounding great too.
For some time previously I had been experimenting with playing lower than a Drop D, even with RNG going as far down as an A below the usual E, so my initial interest in this particular model was due to the extra scale length, which is advantageous for down tuning. (Note: the numbers in the model 435 refer to 4 string with a 35" scale, rather than a more usual 34")
I had this particular bass set-up at the Bass Gallery in Camden to play a semitone lower than the bottom 4 strings of a standard 5 string, (i.e. Bflat, Eflat, Aflat, Dflat) and I felt it a good fit for some of the Porcupine Tree material which invited lower notes, such as "Way Out of Here":
….and also more dub infused moments, here on the Ex-Wise Heads track "Gene Pool":