Wal Bass

Geddy Lee Wal bass

Years used: 1985-1993

Geddy’s Wal model was a long-scale with two pickups.

From the Hold Your Fire era:

“It sounded very good, and I found I could play very quickly and easily on it. It had definition, which is great for me because I’ve always been a busy player; I’ve always played too much. Which I like. But sometimes my sound would get lost. With the Wal, and with these light-gauge Rotosound Superwound Funkmaster strings, the detail up high was excellent and really sat well with the drums, so I used it for the first time.”

“When I started using the Wal, I used it almost exclusively on Power Windows because the recording engineer I was working with found that he could get a great sound with it very easily. When it came to playing live shows, I wasn’t sure which bass I was going to use. I started playing the Wal, and our concert sound engineer said the same thing, that there’s something in the midrange sound of that bass that makes it easy for him to get it to sit in the mix. Plus, the width of the neck is a little greater, and somehow, I was playing a little quicker on it.

I fully intended to use the Steinberger during the show, but what’s happened is that I’ve just gotten so comfortable using the Wal, and I’ve got so much on my mind during the show as far as keyboards go, that I can’t be bothered to change. It’s also quite a change from the big Wal neck to the slimline neck of the Steinberger, so right now I’m using the Steinberger as a backup, but not because it’s the lesser of the two.”

Geddy also owned a five-string Wal which he played on Hold Your Fire’s “Lock and Key.”

“It’s a very difficult bass to play,” he said, “and it’s not something I plan on using a lot because it’s really heavy and cumbersome, although it enabled me to get quite a different sound on that track, and get a different perspective on the bass.”

From Guitar Player magazine in 1986:

“I used one on every track of the album. The scenario went like this: I arrived at the Manor studio in England with a nice selection of basses-some of mine, such as my Rickenbacker and my Steinbergers, and some I borrowed, including nice old Fenders [pre-CBS Jazz and Precision models]. Peter Collins, our producer, arrived with his Wal. So I put all these basses up and started the first track, which was “The Big Money.”

And what happened? His Wal sounded more suitable than all those other basses.

“Not that the basses didn’t sound good-they did. But the particular sound we were looking for, to suit the track, was coming from the Wal. So I used it for that track, and then every time we got into a new song, we’d do the comparison; soon, we just stopped comparing and decided to go with the Wal. It sounded right for this album.”

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