Gigging the Wunkay

OMG!!! Mode, that is. This is the forum for a true G&L monster, the L-1000. Simple, passive, and huge, the Wunkay speaks volumes for the G&L sound.

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Gigging the Wunkay

Postby derick » Fri Aug 11, 2017 10:05 am

Okay, so I've been playing out for a couple of years with several different L-1000 basses, mostly jams but the occasional paying job using my own amp. I special-ordered my first wunkay in the fall of 1981, it's the white/ebony one. I've played through several different amps, and while it's hard to get an accurate read on what the bass is actually sounding like out front unless someone else is playing it, here are my impressions comparing various strings, woods, fretboards, etc.

Any of these basses will absolutely do the job. If you can't do what you need to do with a decent L-1000, you should maybe look for a different line of work. The subtle differences between them (other than flatwound strings vs. roundwound) I do not believe would be noticed by the average listener, especially after a few beers. There is an amazing difference in the sound output of an individual bass you can get by adjusting the pole pieces, there seems to be a "sweet spot" as you get closer to the strings before the tone kind of blows out (and you are in danger of whacking the pole.) But added punch and clarity is the reward for monkeying with this, although it seems to make more difference on some basses than others. You can also really get that extra punch when you play up the neck, which is something that fender basses are known for anyway. All but two of the basses I've been playing are slot poles, I personally don't think there's any difference between slots and the small hex in sound, although I do think the slots look cooler. I don't have and have never played a large hex G&L, except probably off of a music store wall back in 1981.

The woods in the basses that I currently own are ash, mahogany, one maple and one alder in the 2008 BABP version. I've mostly played the mahogany basses with Thomastik Infeld flats, I have gotten used to the lower tension on the strings. With the right amp, these basses are a thump machine that will punch a hole through the back wall. With a Gallien-Krueger and double ten cast speakers, the sound is tight and hard. The "new" 2008 that is alder/rosewood and jazz neck is an excellent bass. It sounds great and plays great, but I don't care. I'm going to play the old ones.

My current feeling is that the mahogany basses seem to really like the TI flats, although last night I played a hog/ebony bass with brand new DR sunbeams rounds. This was through a Mesa Walkabout 12", which probably sounded better out front than on stage, I hope. I am thinking that the maple and ash bodies probably match up better with rounds of some stripe. Currently I've got DR Black Beauties on the maple body, which is close to what I played on it back in the 80's when I was playing every night. I seem to be a lazy player and the teflon coating (or flats) minimize the finger scritch when changing positions.

I have always been suspicious of people who claim much difference in fretboard woods. However, I now believe that a maple board seems to have a bit more "snap" than either the rosewood or ebony. This is not the most scientific study that you will hope to see, but that is my impression.

The amps make a huge difference. I don't like to mess with someone else's amp settings, so unless I'm using my own amp most any changes that I make are on the bass itself. I have not been as happy with the sound through tube amps, including some very high dollar ones, as I am with the Gallien-Krueger heads. This impression is based upon however the knobs were dialed when I walk on stage, so it's probably false and yet, there it is.

Well, that's at least fodder for discussion. I'm hoping that the use of terms like "tight and hard" and "whacking the pole" won't change the PG rating of this post.

1k81117a.jpg
Alder, Hog, Ash, Hog, Hog.
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Maple, Ash, Mahogany. These basses aren't really available.
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Re: Gigging the Wunkay

Postby TDR1138 » Fri Aug 11, 2017 3:02 pm

Every now and then, I think, "I have two Tookays. Why would I need a Wunkay?" I almost traded a different bass for one a while back, and backed out because I already had two Tookays and didn't feel like I'd be gaining anything.

Then I see threads like this and don't feel like adding a Wunkay would be the least bit redundant.

Beautiful collection.
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Re: Gigging the Wunkay

Postby derick » Sat Aug 12, 2017 6:34 am

Thank you for the compliment. Two of those basses are no longer mine, although I do have two others that were not available to photograph.

But, you raise a very interesting question that we, on this forum, do have the resources to answer. Is the neck pickup in passive mode on an L2K the same as an L1K? We know that there is no OMG on a 2K, but what other differences are there?

My favorite setting on the wunkay is the middle position, the lower row single coil of the pickup. The treble and high end on this setting is very pronounced versus the humbucking mode. Now, there are at least two places on this forum where Ken states that the OMG mode isn't actually a bass boost but rather a "big treble cut." This is false. I hear no diminishment in the treble output of the bass from single coil to OMG mode, it actually is a bass boost, adding the bass output from the upper coil to the full output of the lower coil. If you are getting any hum in single coil mode, that hum stays exactly the same in OMG mode. Back in the 80's when I was making a living with my L1K, I would save the OMG mode for fourth or fifth set. OMG is an internet term, in my mind I actually thought of it as a clitoral vibrato switch. If Dale Hyatt had known this, he could have sold more basses.

I do own a L2K, it's a mid nineties fretless that I sniped on ebay for $500 I think a few years ago. It's a boat anchor at over 11 pounds and I was disappointed enough that I didn't even plug it in for a few months. When I did plug it in I discovered that there was no sound. I need to figure out and fix what's wrong, when removing the back plate I discovered the corrosion from the battery and the barrel jack had been spun around a few times, so my twokay experience has been less than stellar.

But, if as I suspect, there is no single coil option on an L2K, then they are lacking the best features of the wunkay and Leo's first and possibly best configuration and utilization of his MFD bass pickup.
Last edited by derick on Mon Aug 14, 2017 7:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Gigging the Wunkay

Postby Ken Baker » Sat Aug 12, 2017 11:58 am

derick wrote:But, you raise a very interesting question that we, on this forum, do have the resources to answer. Is the neck pickup in passive mode on an L2K the same as an L1K? We know that there is no OMG on a 2K, but what other differences are there?


The pickups, allowing for manufacturing tolerances, are the same. The coil switching is different, though OMG mode (so-called bass boost) is done in the exact same fashion. Here's the circuit schematic for the old L-2000/ASAT with "Bass Boost":

Image

Note that there is no single coil option here. Coil switching is parallel humbucking and series humbucking with .1µf cap. Note that the cap is located such that it affects the output of only one of the two coils. In parallel mode, the cap is isolated and not in-circuit.

Now compare the L-2000/ASAT circuit with the early L-1000 circuit circuit.

Image

Here we do have a single coil option, and it would be that middle position mentioned below. Position 1 is parallel humbucking, position 2 is single coil, and position 3 is series humbucking with the .1µf cap. Note that, just like the L-2000/ASAT circuit, the cap is located such that it affects the output of only one of the two coils. In parallel mode, the cap is isolated and not in-circuit.

.... The treble and high end on this setting is very pronounced versus the humbucking mode.


Which is pretty common in single coil mode, as humbucking tends to hide some of the higher frequencies. You're hearing the entire spectrum that the coil is capable of outputting.

Now, there are at least two places on this forum where Ken states that the OMG mode isn't actually a bass boost but rather a "big treble cut."


Not just the forum. Here too.

.... This is false. I hear no diminishment in the treble output of the bass from single coil to OMG mode, it actually is a bass boost, adding the bass output from the upper coil to the full output of the lower coil.


It actually isn't false electrically. It's a matter of perception, and your signal path and amp affect your perception. In OMG mode, which is series humbucking with the .1µf cap, both coils are in-circuit and producing output. One of the coils has a .1µf cap connected between it and ground, and that cap sinks off a certain amount of treble to ground but has no effect on low frequencies or the other coil. The net effect is that you're hearing one coil's full frequency spectrum and only the lower end of the other coil's frequency spectrum. Taken in aggregate, the average listener perceives that there is more volume of low frequencies when in reality the high frequencies have been attenuated. Basically, we take one thing away and hear more of the other. Run the signal through an amp/cab that is decidedly bass-centric, and that treble cut can seem very pronounced. In your particular instance your signal path & amp (and your ears) continue to hear a good amount of high frequencies from the full-spectrum output of the coil without the cap. That bass on my amp would sound totally different. That bass on a good headphone amp (think Cafe Walter HAx) would give you a true feel for what is happening here.

I don't know if this is series, parallel, or what but if you are getting any hum in single coil mode, that hum stays exactly the same in OMG mode.


OMG mode is series mode with the cap. Because of the cap, the coils are not electrically balanced (different impedances (Z)). Because of the imbalance, the coil pair is no longer fully humbucking and single coil noise creeps in. In single coil mode, which does not use the cap, you should expect a little bit more single coil noise than in OMG mode.

OMG is an internet term...


Yup; I think Spideyjg coined the term. IIRC, it became a thing back in the Dudepit days around the turn of the century when players were starting to delve into the G&L circuits. We spent a lot of time learning about and discussing the circuits. Of course, to mess with the pickups themselves was blasphemy.

But, if as I suspect, there is no single coil option on an L2K, then they are lacking the best features of the wunkay and Leo's first and possibly best configuration and utilization of his MFD bass pickup.


And that is why we have the mods for single coil. Thank DavePlayBass. And Kurosawa, the "K" in K model. Dave did the circuits for us to mod existing L-2000s. Paul did the K model circuit for G&L. They are different.

As noted above, OMG mode was implemented in some of the early L-2000 and ASAT basses. It wasn't as popular here as in the L-1000 because of the single coil noise and many players clipped out the caps, rendering a plain old L-2000 with parallel and series modes.

I'll close out this wall of text with this: Leo, George, and Dale knew it was treble cut but wanted to put a positive spin on it. For G&L to market the basses based upon calling OMG mode "The New G&L L-2000, now with Treble Cut!" would have put a negative connotation on the instrument. Thus, it became "The New G&L L-2000, now with Bass Boost!" If the term "OMG" had existed in the early 80s and they'd used it instead of "Bass Boost", they probably would have sold more basses off the novelty of the term.

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Re: Gigging the Wunkay

Postby derick » Sat Aug 12, 2017 1:21 pm

Hi Ken, thanks for weighing in.

The pickups, allowing for manufacturing tolerances, are the same. The coil switching is different, though OMG mode (so-called bass boost) is done in the exact same fashion. Here's the circuit schematic for the old L-2000/ASAT with "Bass Boost":


I've not heard of an L-2000 with bass boost, I thought they had treble boost? But the original question is answered, the neck pickup on passive on most if not all L2Ks is NOT the same as the wunkay, unless you mod it or buy a factory modded bass.

I'm not an electrical engineer, but I do understand the vibrating a ferrous string in a magnetic field creates a current. You're saying that adding the output of a second magnetic field to the first cannot increase the amount of current produced?

I guess I need to get the headphone amp you refer to, to actually hear what I'm hearing? I perceive no difference in the highs on OMG, and the output of the bass on OMG mode is certainly higher than the humbucking mode. If this is simply erroneous perception on my part then I would need to see this demonstrated with instruments (scientific, not musical) to fully believe it. I am stubborn, but not ineducable.

I also own a Gibson Ripper purchased in 1976 that has series and parallel positions on the varitone switch. Series certainly sounds louder on that bass as well.
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Re: Gigging the Wunkay

Postby bdgotoh » Sat Aug 12, 2017 2:50 pm

L-2000s and ASATs had the caps and OMG series until 1998 sometime. All of the 1997 and earlier L-2000s I've owned had the caps.
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Re: Gigging the Wunkay

Postby Ken Baker » Sat Aug 12, 2017 6:46 pm

derick wrote:I've not heard of an L-2000 with bass boost, I thought they had treble boost? But the original question is answered, the neck pickup on passive on most if not all L2Ks is NOT the same as the wunkay, unless you mod it or buy a factory modded bass.


As bdgotoh mentions, L-2000s and ASATs had the "bass boost" caps until about 1998. The treble boost as a switchable function is specific to all L-2000/2500/ASAT basses and is part of the active preamp system.

You're saying that adding the output of a second magnetic field to the first cannot increase the amount of current produced?


I did not say that. That would be getting into motor/generator theory which, while kinda-sorta related, is outside the scope of this discussion. Besides, we're not doing anything with the magnetic fields. We're talking about the perception of what we're hearing; brain stuff.

If we have a big range of frequencies to listen to and none of them are attenuated (reduced), we will hear that big range as it was originally intended. If we do something to reduce the volume of part of that range, that part of the range will be less loud. However, the remaining non-reduced range is neither increased or decreased in volume. We can still hear the full range, but the part that we reduced will be less loud. This will make the non-attenuated range appear to be louder, even though it is not louder. This is what I was talking about earlier when I said that "we take one thing away and hear more of the other." The non-attenuated frequencies - the low end stuff - isn't any louder than it ever was. It just seems that way because we took some of the higher frequencies away.

Edit to add: Here's an analog: Imagine you're with a group of people, say a dozen, and they're all talking with each other at somewhat louder than normal levels. You're 20 feet away and it all sounds like a jumble of barely coherent sounds, but you really want to hear what Bill and Jack are saying to each other. So you get the 10 others to lower their voices to "inside voice" levels. All of a sudden you can make out Bill and Jack's conversation. You're still 20 feet away and can still hear the others, but you perceive Bill and Jack to be louder. We've taken one thing away and hear more of the other.

I guess I need to get the headphone amp you refer to, to actually hear what I'm hearing? I perceive no difference in the highs on OMG, and the output of the bass on OMG mode is certainly higher than the humbucking mode. If this is simply erroneous perception on my part then I would need to see this demonstrated with instruments (scientific, not musical) to fully believe it. I am stubborn, but not ineducable.


You won't find a new Cafe Walter headphone amp, as they've been out of production for a while. Walter is working on v2 as we speak. Any good headphone amp will do. Just turn off any effects it may have and set EQ flat, then play through it with no external effects (pedals). That you're not hearing the treble cut could be due to a few things, from the EQ settings of your signal chain and amp to an incorrect OMG cap value. As to scientific instruments, an oscilloscope should be all that's needed along with some way of consistently plucking the strings.

I also own a Gibson Ripper purchased in 1976 that has series and parallel positions on the varitone switch. Series certainly sounds louder on that bass as well.


As it should.

This same OMG effect can be demonstrated on most passive basses. Take a P or J and dime the tone control, which effectively removes it from the circuit. Plug in a cheap cable and unscrew the plug cover from one of the plugs. Play the bass and wrap your head around the sound you hear. Now connect a .1µf 50v cap across the solder lugs on the open jack, one lead to each lug. Now play the bass and hear what OMG mode sounds like.

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Re: Gigging the Wunkay

Postby bdgotoh » Sat Aug 12, 2017 9:21 pm

I had no idea the Cafe Walter was out of production! I have two that I use all the time.

Is the new version supposed to be better somehow Ken?

[Edit] never mind, I just got the scoop from his website. Smaller with an internal battery will be great for my travel one. The one I leave at home plugged into the wall will remain unless he improves the tonal characteristics somehow.
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Re: Gigging the Wunkay

Postby deltafred » Sun Aug 13, 2017 3:00 am

The coil without the OMG cap will have (about) the same amount of hi frequency content (treble) as a single coil on it's own.

The coil with the OMG coil will have it's treble very much attenuated by the OMG cap but will retain its bass content.

Put these 2 in series and you have a bass boost, you are effectively doubling* the bass output voltage** while keeping the treble output voltage at single coil levels.

*You are doubling the voltage not the the volume because of the non linear way our ears interpret sound pressure waves and waves of differing frequencies - Google "Fletcher Munson curves" for more info.

**You are only doubling the open circuit output voltage, as soon as you add tone controls, volume pots, guitar cable (cord) impedance, and amplifier input load then it gets rather complicated and is way outside the scope of this discussion. While it is similar for the single coil on it's own it is not exactly the same due to the differing output impedances of the 2 pickup configurations (added for completeness and again outside the scope of this discussion as you are into "Paul's Technicalities" territory).
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Re: Gigging the Wunkay

Postby derick » Sun Aug 13, 2017 6:28 am

Well, lookee what I found. From an early 1983 Wunkay essentially unplayed (although it had been dropped a couple of times)

83inst.jpg
Instruction sheet, early 1983
83inst.jpg (62.67 KiB) Viewed 1096 times


The interesting part here is the description of the "Splitter Switch (Red)" which it says lets you choose between "humbucking and single coil mode." It goes on to state that when single coil mode is chosen then "an increase in bass ratio is provided." So, this is the verbiage chosen at G&L to describe OMG mode on the L2K. I've seen this switch also described as "Series/Parallel" which is also true.

So, to answer TDR1138's question, "Is it redundant to have a Wunkay if I already own Twokays?" the answer is, if you are playing the 1K in humbucking mode, yes it is redundant. If you are playing the 1K in OMG mode and you have a pre-1998 2K, yes it is redundant. If you are playing the 1K in single coil mode, which is what I play 90+ % of the time, that setting is not available on a 2K unless it has been modified from the standard factory configuration. This is the Precision Bass tone, or as near as the 1K can get to it.

Ken Baker wrote:
Edit to add: Here's an analog: Imagine you're with a group of people, say a dozen, and they're all talking with each other at somewhat louder than normal levels. You're 20 feet away and it all sounds like a jumble of barely coherent sounds, but you really want to hear what Bill and Jack are saying to each other. So you get the 10 others to lower their voices to "inside voice" levels. All of a sudden you can make out Bill and Jack's conversation. You're still 20 feet away and can still hear the others, but you perceive Bill and Jack to be louder. We've taken one thing away and hear more of the other.



Yes, I do grasp what you are saying.

This same OMG effect can be demonstrated on most passive basses. Take a P or J and dime the tone control, which effectively removes it from the circuit. Plug in a cheap cable and unscrew the plug cover from one of the plugs. Play the bass and wrap your head around the sound you hear. Now connect a .1µf 50v cap across the solder lugs on the open jack, one lead to each lug. Now play the bass and hear what OMG mode sounds like.


Ken, this would not approximate the OMG mode, because we are only hearing the capped coil, not the capped coil in series with an uncapped coil. Here is, I believe, the disconnect in this discussion. We are using different baselines. I am using the 1K single coil position to compare OMG to. The delta here is greater output with a disproportionate increase in the bass response. This fulfills my definition of "bass boost."

You are, as near as I can understand, using full blown raw coils-in-series output to compare OMG to. With that baseline, yes, you are experiencing a "big treble cut." But since that switching option is not available on any known factory 1K, that seems like a difficult and problematic argument to make.

Where is the flaw in my logic?
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