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aguilar, fender, and lakland -- midwest trip observations.


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my forced vacation from peavey has ended and i've returned to sunny, humid meridian, MS. i'm glad to be home, though i really miss home now. i should have gone to lake michigan, but i guess i'll have to wait until next summer for that. :cry:

 

where to start...how about chronologically?

 

i went to milwaukee\'s summerfest on sunday, the 29th of june. fender had a tent there, with some basses to play through the new bassman 400 (which is strangely similar to their damn cool, old bassman 400). i played their new jazz aerodyne. it is a cheapie spin-off with really interesting features -- jazz body, PJ pickups, and contoured basswood body with binding. interesting.

 

i played it, though, and it was awesome. great P tones, great bridge position J tones, great mix tones. i set the amp to flat and got a great variety just using the blend knob. i loved it. if only it had all the same features, except with a P body, i would probably have tried to buy it out of the tent.

 

also, fender already has the SWR logo on their "fender family" signs around their tent. the music on sunday at summerfest was pretty awful. a couple decent bands were supposed to play later that night, but i couldn't stick around for that.

 

the next day, monday 30 june, i toured the lakland facility in chicago. i had no idea the 44-94 was such a great bass. i had never really played one before then, and i couldn't help but go back to it after playing every other bass. the only bass i truly had no use for was the 44-01 skyline. icky. also, the US bob glaub was a dream. i can't imagine a sweeter P. wow. so pure in tone and easy to play. no wonder people pay what they do for a lakland.

 

as for the facility itself, it's really only two rooms -- a stock room and a workshop. but there wasn't much to the workshop, since all the bodies are CNC routed out of house. the finishing, too, is done out of house, in california. in fact, the only thing done on any lakland bass, US or skyline, in house is the final assembly and setup. the techs were cool and the place had a really comfortable vibe.

 

all the basses i played were through an SVT-3Pro, which did not give me any problems when i used it, through an epifani 210. what a clean sound. the bergantino HT112 has been my gold-standard cabinet since i played it in reno, NV, but now i may have to add epifani to my list of "must try before i feel i've made a final decision on cabinet buying."

 

and speaking of cabinets, i finally got a chance to play the aguilar GS112 when i was in chicago. it was neat enough. i pretty well agreed with the BP article about its depth, burnished sound, and woody midrange quality. i liked it, and if i were in the market for a new rig, i would try it with all sorts of different amps. between the EA iamp 350 and the mesa mpulse 600, though, i was pretty able to determine its sound. it's not something that i'm into, especially when compared to the bergantino HT112. still, i think i'd rather power two GS112s with an ampeg to get the ampeg sound than i would a 410 and 115 stack. cool cabinets, but not the vibe i'm looking for.

 

the only music store trip i made in grand rapids, MI was to go to the GC to buy earplugs. my wife had mine to drive her convertible with the top down, so i had to get new. i got hearos. then i went to see thursday at the intersection , grand rapids' premiere rock club in its new location. what a damn cool band. i spent a lot of time on my new hockey skates at the inline hockey arena there. that is a lot more fun than going to GC. i hate GC.

 

anyway, i'm back to my cultural hole in meridian, so i probably won't be trying any new bass gear any time soon.

 

robb.

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Thanks for the cool report Robb. Sorry about the homesickness.

 

I tried that new Fender, and it didn't do anything for me. I'm not much of a "P" guy (though I like low tones), and it just didn't hit me.

 

I'm also noticing I've developed an anti-binding bias (RICs being an exception). I don't care for the look and don't want to pay for the construction. This goes double for bound necks (fret replacement is costly for these puppies). I like it for a RIC or a guitar, but not much else. Which has nothing to do with your report :(

 

The "trouble" (if you can call it that) with makers like Bergantino and Epifani (and probably AccuGroove and others) is that each cabinet is voiced differently. While there are "tendencies", I don't find that these folks have one sound. So (here's the trouble part) you have to listen to all of the cabs that you would consider to figure out which suits you best.

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ah-ha! I thought there might be a thread somewhere from robb. about his vacation! Here it is! :thu:

 

robb., sorry I missed you in Chi-town :( . Did you check out the GS112 at Maken Music, like you'd planned, or at another venue?

 

I hope to head down there soon to check out some amps and cabs. Last time I was there I focused on playing some basses. I determined that Modulus basses aren't quite my cup of tea (although the Flea bass was fun to play) and that I liked the Lakland I played there.

 

Sounds like there's not much to see at the Lakland facility, although there's plenty to play! I may have to make a trip.

 

Peace.

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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Originally posted by Sweet Willie:

I determined that Modulus basses aren't quite my cup of tea (although the Flea bass was fun to play)....

Wow - that's exactly my opinion. I tried lots of Modulus over the years, but somehow they never "hit" me (though they are well made). Then one day I played a Flea and thought it was pretty cool.

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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plenty of modulus and a couple flea basses at make'n music.

 

i did get to try a GS112, first through an iAmp 300 and then through an M-Pulse 600. it generally sounded the same with both, but a little more lively from the mesa than the EA. i agreed with the BP review, except that i really prefer the bergantino HT112 by a lot. i guess i'll just have to spend more money.

 

i've gotten to the point, though, where i know i'm not buying anything, so even though i'd love to spend a lot of time there playing all sorts of different basses, amps, and cabinets, i feel like i'm wasting my time and theirs. plus, it was about 4:30 and i was driving back to michigan as soon as i left, so i was kind of anxious. it was an interesting store, though, no doubt. i liked the gated security entrance. the explanation the employee gave me was that they "have a lot of higher profile customers, and they really appreciate the discrete location." you'd seriously drive past it and not realize it was there if you weren't looking. i drove past it a couple times, even knowing it was there and missed it. i was looking for a music store, not a door behind a fenced-in, security-gated parking lot.

 

also, i think i left my tuner there, which disappoints me. i should call about that.

 

robb.

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Yeah, I drove by the "discrete location" the first time I went down there. It definitely is easy to miss. However, it's great that they have their own parking right in front, which makes it easier to go there, and since they don't do the kind of massive business that, say, the GC in Chicago does, there seems to always be parking.

 

Maybe I'll even run down there in the next day or two!

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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Well, I visited the same shop today as robb. was at during his Chicago vacation.

 

I played my Carvin LB-70 fretted 4-string w/ Bart NTMB preamp and Bart j p'ups through an EA iAmp 800 head into an EA 2x10 cab and the Aguilar 1x12. Then I had a chance to play the Mesa Walkabout into an EBS 2x10. This was not a controlled experiment, so take my comments with a liberal does of salt.

 

The EA head is pretty darn cool. Too many buttons and knobs for me, but you can really dial in a wide range of tones, making it plenty of fun to play. In particular, I was able to get some great slap tones from it.

 

I liked the Aguilar 1x12 better than the EA 2x10. The EA head + cab combo was a little sterile for my taste. The EA head + Aguilar cab worked nicely. The Aguilar has a really sweet, warm sound. Probably would've sounded really nice with the Mesa head, but I didn't have time to check out that combination.

 

I like the M-Pulse head better than the Walkabout, but the Walkabout is definitely a cool, little head. Sounded good thru the EBS cab, but again the sweetness of tone wasn't there the way it was with the Aguilar 1x12. However, I was impressed with the EBS cab, and I'd love to play it again, potentially driven by an EBS head. The EBS 2x10 cab has a clean sound (and looks good, too!), but not as sterile to my ears as the EA 2x10.

 

However, I would want to play all the cabs with some different heads beyond the iAmp 800 and Mesa Walkabout. I did also spend a few minutes playing the iAmp 350 1x10 combo. That's a kickin' little combo! Big sound in a small box.

 

(robb., I've got your tuner. Check your PMs for more info.)

 

Peace.

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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SW - go back next week and finish the entire experiment. We expect the full lab report to be posted.

 

Play the EA800 with the EBS cab(s) especially.

 

And I'm sorry to hear we now have our own "hostage" situation. Robb, we can take official action to get your tuner back. Don't let Willie's threats about selling it into slavery as a doorstop get to you.

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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Originally posted by Tom Capasso:

And I'm sorry to hear we now have our own "hostage" situation. Robb, we can take official action to get your tuner back. Don't let Willie's threats about selling it into slavery as a doorstop get to you.

 

Tom

The "doorstop" went out in the mail to MS today. Hostage crisis averted. Good thing Slidey-Chair Capasso was able to talk me down... :D

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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S-Dub has been good to me lately, so i'll come to his aid.

 

when i was at lakland, their reference rig was an ampeg SVT-4Pro thru an epifani T210. that is what i thought a bass should sound like. it was clean, warm, punchy, and everything i changed on the bass or the amp, i heard change out of the speaker. it was great.

 

there you go, one less amp/cab combination to try.

 

robb.

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