W1111 – The "HOLY GRAIL" of Wals
|Feature on W1111 in Bassist magazine|
The first ever Wal bass (W1111) - built for Caravan & Quantum Jump bass player John G Perry and featuring the trademark early Wal leather tooled scratchplate with floral designs
The original Wal was something of a "Bitsacaster" - a solid ash body and leather scratchplate but with hardware culled from an old Fender Mustang bass and a Guild for the pickups, Gibson spares and elsewhere... Bridge, tuners and other parts were off-the-shelf Shcallers. That bass was also, as ordered by Perry, a short-scale bass!
The bass, dubbed W1111, was a short scale (30 ¼”), ash bodied bass loosely based on a Gibson EB3 bass, although with a more smoothly rounded shape reminiscent of a Fender Mustang. The neck is a single piece of beautiful birdseye maple topped with a rosewood fingerboard. The hardware was culled from a variety of sources – bridge, switches and knobs from a Gibson, rewound Guild and Fender Mustang pickups and Schaller machine heads. It was also, like the Gibson basses that Perry favoured, a short scale bass. However, the most visually striking aspect of the bass was the scratchplate made of hand tooled leather on a metal screening plate.
Clearly a prototype, many of the design elements which would go to make up the early “Pro” series and Mark I custom Wal basses were already in evidence. The bass is passive and suffers some matching problems between the two, very different, pickups but they do amply fulfil Perry's design spec: to create a bass which covered the the sounds of both Fender and Gibson style basses. Even so, the bass has a very pleasing sound and has something of the sound of a Wal about it – presumably partly due to Ian’s hand rewinding of the pickups. Of course, for a bass destined largely for studio use this mis-matching presents less of a problem than for a bass destined largely for the stage.
|W1111 sitting in the rack at Electric Wood in 2005|
|Me playing W1111 at Electric Wood in 2005|