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Willis Takes on Your Questions


Willis Takes on Your Questions

Hey Willis,
I purchased your signature model basses about a year ago. I bought it used. For my own curiousity, I am trying to figure out the year it was manufactured, where it was manufactured and where it fits into the evolution of your signature model. Some of the basses details are 1) Serial Number F0005134, 2) Swamp Ash Body w/ bolt-on neck (4 screws), 3) head stock matches the body and has your signature, 4) 34″ scale, 5) black triple wing tuners, 6) ramp is glued to body, 7) 9V Bartolini pre-amp and 8 ) round wound strings (I do not know if they are the originals). White fret dot markers are in the middle of the fretboard. The bridge is black and lightweight. Double strap locks on end of body.Thanks,David

image Hey David,
That would be one of the original GWB1’s from the first two years of production. Back then, the basses were manufactured for Ibanez in Japan by the Fujigen factory and they did some fine work. In the 2nd edition, we moved the fret markers to between the E and B string since there was a possibility of buzz caused by the different expanion/contraction qualities of the inlay dot material vs. the ebony fingerboard. Also, the ramp isn’t glued – it’s attached with double sided tape. It’s our intention that you remove the ramp and adjust its height by using different layers of normal tape and then re-attaching it with double sided tape. You’ll get better use out of the ramp if you set it to your preferred height.

Hey Willis,
I jis got turned on 2 your playN, via iTunes.I bought afew of your projects, & jis had 2 tell U that I dig yo’ vibe. Especially, the slow FUNky trax. Play on.

Hey Psa150!=tg,
Lucky for me I found this site Here’s what they came up with:
I became interested in your playing by way of iTunes. I purchased a selection of your projects, and have to tell you that I enjoy your feeling and atmosphere. Especially, the slow FUNky tracks.
Hey Psa150!=tg,
tnx 4 yr knd wrds n yr Emsg. Im ncouragd by yr sincerity n clevA uz of lang.
mch tnx,


Hey Willis,
What would you recommend to do to improve to ease the moving of the fingers of the left hand?
I’d be pleased if you could answer my question. Thank you very much in advance.

Hey Lutz,
This is one I can take directly from my (shameless plug alert!) 101Tips for Bass Book.
Try this experiment on a fretted bass. Put your first finger directly over the dot that’s in between the B and C on the A string. Your finger should be exactly in the middle between the two frets. When you press down the resulting note will be a C. Play constant, repeated C’s in the right hand. Try letting up on the pressure and notice how quicly the note wants to start buzzing. Go back and forth from the clean C to the buzz to get a sense of the pressure involved.
Now move your finger up to the C so that your finger is on or just slightly past the 3rd fret.
Play the constant C’s and try letting up on the pressure again. Notice anything different?
You should be able to tell that as you lift up it doesn’t want to buzz nearly as soon as when your finger is directly in the middle between the frets. Again, go back and forth from the Clean C to the buzzing. As you lift up try to stop just before the C starts to buzz. That amount of pressure, right before it will start to
buzz, is all the pressure that’s needed to play a note on the bass. Is it less pressure than you normally use? I thought so. Probably a lot less pressure.
By being accurate with the left hand and always having your finger in contact with the fret, you can use a lot less effort to play the bass. Accuracy can be acquired just by being conscious of having your finger in the right place every time you play a note. But the best restuls come from teaching your left hand exactly where that pressure point is for each finger. Start with the 2nd finger on a G (E string, 3rd Fret). Make sure that you locate that 2nd finger just touching or slightly past the fret you’re using. Play constant repeated notes with the right hand just like before. Start out with your finger just touching the string (no note shouldsound) and then gradually press down all the while playing constantly with the right hand. Once the G stops buzzing and sounds cleanly, gradually lift up with the 2nd finger until it begins to
buzz again. Keep alternating buzzing and clean until you get a sense of exactly how much pressure it takes to keep the note clean. Always be just on the verge of buzzing. Once you think you have a handle on the pressure, play each note of the G major scale for at least 3 seconds just barely alternating between buzz and clean. Go up and down the scale at least twice this way. It would be a good idea to start out every practice session with this exercise.

Hey Willis,
At any point in your career did you ever use rotosounds? I ask because those sound incredibly great to me. Jaco type tone obviously and some other people. As a follow up was there ever a close second to the ghs progressives or are they far and away “the strings”?In other news, I got a case of beer, listened to the big wave about 10 consecutive times, and did a drunken dance.
Thank you for that , sir.

Hey Drewskie,
My neice (when she was 2 years old) used to do this crazy dance whenever the Big Wave came on but I think they skipped the case of beer part. Of course, a long time ago I was doing the Rotosound thing on the 4-strings basses that I built. Eventually I decided that stainless steel was a little too harsh. I stopped with the GHS’s about 6 or 7 years ago. (shameless plug alert!) I’ve seen the light. D’Addario XL’s are the the only way to go. I use both flavors, regular and EXP, depending on the situtaion. 45, 65, 85, 105 & 135 for the B.


Hey Willis,
I just got myself a GWB-1, and she is indeed a lovely bass. I’m curious, though, why you went with a 2 band rather than a 3 band EQ? So much of the life in the bass sound is in the low mids…I’m sure you have good reasons, and that it’s likely that you can articulate them.Thanks, and dogs and basses are a good combination for a long and happy life…JK

Hey JK,
Congrats and I couldn’t agree with your last sentiment more. Actually, one of the best features of this bass is the low mid sound that comes out of it naturally. I didn’t want to risk any electronics messing with that. Originally, I was using mine without a preamp and no EQ, but for a production model, it was pointed out to me that to compete on the sales floor we’d have to put in a preamp. So I was lucky to get to work with Bartolini to develop an EQ based on the natural sound that I was getting without a preamp. I think the result is very transparent with the ability to brighten or darken and add some low end. I think if you listen through a halfway decent system, you’ll find it doesn’t need any EQ.


Hey Willis,
Where can we buy your music. None of the stores visited carry your stuff?

Hey MC,
Here’s one word that will change your whole life: google
Look it up (hint: it’s on the internet)


Hey Willis,
Gary, I’ve noticed that you and Victor Wooten are both using those triple wing tuners. I am curious about the benefits of these and how I can purchase them as after market parts. Also, your work has hugely influenced my own playing over the years (just thought I’s mention that).
Thanks, Chuck

Hi GaryI read somewhere on the net that you first got your Sure-grip tuners off a hardware store. Is that the case ? If so can you let me know which one? I have Ibanez-gotoh tunersbut I dig those knobs.Thanks a million.
Take care, you are a huge inspiration.

Dear Mr. Willis,I recall some time ago that your custom tuners that are standard issue on your Signature bass were also available on your site individually (if I’m correct, in a set of 4 and then individual ones to fill out 5, 6 strings, etc). Do you still sell them from your website, and if so could you give me a quick price quote?Thank you for your time in this matter.Sincerely, Ian

Hey Guys,
Thanks for the kind words and yes the tuners are still officially available. The individual wings are available in sets of 2 or 3. Here are the part numbers:
Yeah, the original inspiration came from trying to lighten up the headstock. I originally used electronics store radio knobs made by CALRAD along with some special shaft adaptors to get them to fit. It was very labor intensive but it looked cool. Eventually, because of certain patent restrictions, Ibanez came up with the triple-wing design and I modified it s little from there.

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