What the world needs is a really small bass that makes a really huge sound. That would solve most of humanity’s problems as far as we’re concerned. Who could care about the collapse of the global economy or the fate of the bumblebee when you could simply strap on a small box to your chest and blast out a sub-bass part that would get people shaking their booty within a 100-mile radius?
Well, Ortega’s frankly tiny D-Walker acoustic is the closest that Western technology has come to such a goal. Make no mistake: although it looks and weighs like the £25 starter bass which you bought your six-year-old kid last Christmas, any resemblance is purely superficial.
What we have here is an eminently playable, and more importantly usable, bass guitar with a full range of tones and bags of versatility.
But will it meet our significant expectations?
The D-Walker may look like a fun instrument, but that price tag of around 400 quid is no joke when the bass it pays for is this small. And make no mistake, this really is a teensy instrument, with a scale length barely over 24 inches, which means that it needs to provide serious quality to justify its price. Fortunately, we were unable to find anything to complain about when it came to its construction. When you pick up a bass this small, your brain is pre-programmed to shout ‘novelty instrument!’ and as such you’re almost certain to find something that doesn’t feel like a ‘real’ bass. Instead, we have a solid, if very lightweight, guitar that has been constructed with obvious attention to detail from the fret ends to the neck finish.
Sounds & Playability
The D-Walker knocks every single prejudice you ever had about travel/short-scale instruments into the proverbial cocked hat. The action on our review model was set perfectly, allowing you mid to high register runs with an ease that is genuinely rare on an acoustic bass of any size. The neck finish is smooth and the small size of the body and neck unavoidably charming : you’ll find yourself grinning as soon as you pick it up. If you’re expecting serious bass frequencies, of course, forget it: this little bass simply doesn’t have the necessary size or string length, so if you’reafter stomach-churning low end, expect to invest in some serious amplification. If you’re soloing, though, or playing in an acoustic act, consider it.
Acoustic bass players have plenty of choice nowadays when it comes to bass guitars: the pages of this magazine testify to that. As with electric basses, whether the Ortegas are right for you is largely down to individual feel, and in almost no other example is feel more relevant than here. The D-Walker is tiny, a fact which some players will love and others detest: its lack of a real bottom end may deter you, or it may not. Try before we buy, we say, but if you buy, you’re unlikely to regret it.