Dan Lakin is Back with D. Lakin Basses!
This was going to be an interview with Dan Lakin, but the recorder APP (fail!) won’t download the recorded conversation with him. So—- now it’s an article. Thankfully I took good notes. (Stupid iPhone recorder app.)
Dan Lakin is back! After selling his interest in Lakland and the expiration of a 3-year non-compete clause, D. Lakin Basses are here. Note to world – it’s pronounced Lake-land, not Lack-land, Lake-in, not Lack-in. I hear these mispronunciations all the time, just thought I’d ’try’ to help.
Dan Lakin and Hugh McFarland formed Lakland in Chicago in 1994. Their first prototype debuted at Summer NAMM in ’94. McFarland left Lakland in ’97; by 2001 Lakland began the Skyline Series, a budget line made in South Korea, enabling Lakland to produce quality instruments that sold for less than half the cost of their U.S. counterparts.
That being said, an original US Lakland feels amazing! I personally own two US hollowbodies, one with an extra fat neck. The Lakland Hollowbody is the Reigning Monarch in hollow-world. Reportedly, Lakland had never turned a profit until the introduction of the Skyline series. Joe Naylor from Reverend tells a similar story, his company had to introduce an import line to be able to stay in business. Alas, America in the modern age.
D. Lakin Basses at present offer two models, the Joe Osborn Signature Bass (Jazz bass style), and the Bob Glaub Signature Bass (Precision bass style).
The Osborn is modeled after Joe’s 1960 Fender Jazz, and the Glaub is patterned after Bob’s ’63 Precision. Faithful to vintage specs, the Osborn has a 1.5″ nut width, and the Glaub has the larger 1.75″ width. I personally LOVE those big, wide early ’60’s Precision necks. My hand tends to feel a little cramped on a J, other players feel differently. The Glaub will also be available in 1.5″ nut width. One cool feature of these is Dan’s ability to produce custom colors via his Korean supplier. “Custom shop quality at a great price,” is how he describes his Korean supplier and he, “Couldn’t be any happier with them.”
Dan’s goal was to be able to produce a US-Lakland quality bass for a fraction of the price, and he feels that these new instruments fully realize that goal. The basses are finished in thin poly, and in a side-by-side sonic comparison with an identical instrument finished in vintage-style nitro lacquer, no one was able to tell the difference. The main reason a lot of folks (including me) don’t like poly is because manufacturers typically put it on so thick that chokes the sound of the instrument. Dan’s use of thin poly solves this problem
I personally love nitro and the way it weather-checks when subjected to rapid temperature changes. Dan, on the other hand noted that a lot of players would freak out if their new instrument weather-checked (weather checking is what happens when a lacquered instrument goes from freezing cold to warm temperature too quickly, thus resulting in that checkerboard pattern so often seen on vintage instruments.) Also, nitro is incredibly labor intensive compared to poly, thus driving costs up. Dan says he may be able to offer nitro at a later date. I’m guessing that that option would necessarily add some $$ to the price.
Matching headstocks and a wheel-type truss rod adjustment are two more features that make these basses stand out. The wheel adjustment (Ernie Ball MusicMan style) is one of the best things to come along for bass in recent years, although the user probably won’t have to adjust the truss rod too much, because these basses have TWO graphite strips in the neck. Graphite strips in a wooden bass neck enable an instrument to have better sustain and a more even response all over the neck. Dead spots are also greatly reduced. The addition of graphite also seems to produce a more centered fundamental pitch and deeper bottom-end. I personally prefer this to an all graphite neck, tone-wise, seems like one gets the best of both worlds with this method of construction.
As far as electronics go, Dan started with older US Lakland pickups and went from there. After a few tries and the addition of a neodymium strip to the bottom of the P pickup, success was achieved. Curiously, Dan says the addition of a neo strip to the J pickups didn’t produce any noticeable effect. Regarding the J pickups, Dan says they are, “Single coil jazz, pretty straightforward, with a punchy, hot bridge and a deep, lush neck pickup.”
Other wonderful features include Hipshot US bridge and tuners and a bone nut; high-end indeed. The addition of a bone nut is huge in my experience. I had one installed on one of my instruments, a Squier 5-string, and the effect on every note on the neck was astonishing. I had thought that the nut only affected open strings, but apparently not.
Also, according to Dan, “Neck profile is king”. When Dan and Joe Osborn first got together to work on the original Osborn model they collected a bunch of J-basses for a ‘summit’, and ended up using the neck profile from Joe’s 1960 Jazz.
Dan describes Joe as his, “Favorite bass player,” and was initially, “Very nervous” about contacting him. Upon tracking down Joe’s phone number and calling him up, a fruitful collaboration was born. Initially Dan made a list of “60-70 of my favorite bass players”, among which Bob Glaub’s name figured prominently. Fortuitously, Bob had rented a Lakland for a session in Los Angeles, the two of them met in ’96 at a NAMM show, and their collaboration was born. Dan cites Glaub’s track on, “The Pretender” by Jackson Browne as, “The perfect bass track”. Hard to dispute that one………….
Lakin also plans to offer a Rick Rosas model with a bound-and-blocked ’70’s style J neck, and an active MM/J model in the foreseeable future. He also plans to eventually offer a MM-style 5-string with J spacing at the nut and a 34″ scale length. Bravo! Many bassists do not like 35″ scale 5-strings.
Another notable feature is shallower cutaways on the body to make the bass play more comfortably when sitting. Street price is $1250 for either the Glaub or the Osborn. First batch sold out immediately, second batch coming in July. Line up, folks, these are going to rule. As per his website dlakinbasses.com, you can contact Dan directly at (312) 576-3943.