Justin Meldal-JohnsenAlthough probably best known for his playing with Beck, over recent years Justin Meldal-Johnsen has become a sought after sidesman and session player – with a CV as diverse as Michele Branch, Air, Turin Breaks, Marianne Faithful, Macy Gray and Seal. However it might surprise some that he is a fully paid-up fan of Wal basses, especially given his penchant for unusual, lo-fi squeezes – from Fender Coronados and Guild Starfires to Gibson Thunderbirds. We caught up with him to chat over his love of the basses.
You’re well known for using a range of pretty quirky but lo-fi basses – one wouldn’t immediately think that a Wal bass was up your street. What first made you consider getting one?
I was enamored with the sound the day I heard it. That was in the hands of Greg Edwards, formerly the bassist for Failure, now guitarist for Autolux. You can hear it all over those three Failure records... a sound that inspired Justin from Tool as well, apparently.
You ended up getting both Pro and Custom Series models – what different things appealed about them?
I have a Pro IIe, and a Mark I Shedua Custom series bass - both four strings of course. The Mark I Custom is a bit more rugged and easy to dig in to; very compliant. Easy to play hard, very forgiving. Has an interesting slice to it as well as a very strong upper-low end. The Pro Series is darker but also has a “pokier” midrange - much more funky sounding… Kind of odd, actually; which is fun! Check out the song ‘Dirty Life’ from Ima Robot. That will give you an idea of that Pro Series tone. But also really fun to play. I love the way the Pro's look, too.
|Putting his Mk 1 Custom through its paces at a Macy Gray session...|
|Picking up one of his Mk 1 Customs from |
Pete at the High Wycombe workshop
Many thanks to Justin for supplying these photos from his private collection...