1978 Wal Pro series bass - PB1291:
My Pro bass is a "Pro IIE" which was, according to records at Electric Wood, completed on 24 September 1979. The Pro Series was Wal's first production bass line (hence "Pro") and the IIE signifies twin pickups and active circuitry. Like my Mark I Custom Series Wal this is another beautifully built bass. It has a translucent (strawberry) red finish over a solid ash body that the photos simply do not do justice to. It is so rich! The body shape and size is similar to the "Custom Series" basses although the forearm chamfer is much more angular than on the Custom Bass. The neck is much the same construction as the newer Wall basses, although with a larger "paddle" style headstock. However, the neck profiles are quite different - the "Pro" has a comfortable and fast C shaped neck while the "Custom" is rather more "V shaped". In addition, the neck features carbon fibre stiffening rods within the construction of the neck.
The five control knobs give a choice of master volume, individual pickup volume and tone controls. In addition, the small switches below the pickups activate active tone filters which change the sound of the bass - tending to cut some bass and lift the mid-range. The mini-switch between the pickups is an early variation of the "pick-attack" control on the Custom series basses.
The sound is very different from the "Custom series" bass - much more of a 70s rock vibe although when both pickups are used together it has a huge round bottom end that you just don't seem to find on the "Custom" basses! While I was gigging in a covers band, that tone became the perfect sound for the faux-Motown groove of the Jam's A Town Called Malice. Add in a little tone filtering from the flick switches and a growl appeared which enlivened Britpop selections from Oasis and the like. The neck pickup solo'd produced a perfect old school 70s sound for the likes of Maggie May.
This bass was picked up second hand in a local guitar shop in 2001 after a haggling session which lasted over a year and a half! When I first saw it in the shop it was priced the same as a brand new "Custom" bass. I made a sensible offer which was rejected. Over the next 18 months I watched as the layer of dust on the bass grew thicker, popping in once a month to have a play on it and repeat my offer.
For more details on the fantastic Wal basses made by Electric Wood and more photographs, check out the detailed history of the brand and this model elsewhere on this blog.
I have gigged this bass regularly alongside my Wal Custom for many years. However, I temporarily retired it in late 2007 when its knobs (secured by plastic shafts which lock into the pots with fine split shafts) began to fail one by one. Over time these had begun to get rather fragile and, after breaking off a number of them I took the painful decision to retire the bass from regular gigging. In 2009 with Wal back on its feet under the supervision of Paul Herman I took the opportunity to take my Pro into their workshop and have him swap the pots for more normal versions with fixed shafts. That done, the Pro has regained its rightful place in my regular gigging arsenal. More recently Paul managed to source a replacement jack plate with an XLR alongside the jack. This was an after service mod which was available from Electric Wood on an after-service basis. The mod allows me to run the Pro bass in the same twin channel setup with in-ears as I use with my Custom bass.
My old gig set-ups comprised the following... Two Wals, Aria, Trace Elliott 1215 combo amp (RIP or SWR Workingman's 10 for teeny gigs), Boss tuner, Lehle switch & sometimes just a touch of Boss chorus.
Sadly, my Trace Elliott 1215 combo curled up its tootsies at the beginning of September 2008 after twenty years of stalwart service so it was time to look for new amp. The final choice was a fabulous set-up from Italian maker Mark Bass. A 500w Little Mark II coupled with a couple of their Traveler cabinets - a 1x15 and the so cute 2x10. It's got an amazingly transparent tone that brings out the real sound of the bass with loads of bass projection coupled a really fantastic presence. Here's a recent gigging set-up: my trusty 1985 Mk I Wal Custom bass, my Signature Jazz bass, the Mark Bass mini stack, Boss TU-2 tuner and Lehle switcher...
Now both my Wals are now back in action so my current gig set up is as follows...