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Lakland problem


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After recently overhauling my rig one of the things it's taken me a bit of time to work out is that a lot of my sound dissatisfaction is coming from my bass. Now that the rig is sounding good, my Lakland isn't, or at least not as good as it should.


The main problem is that, at volume, lower notes, especially the B string, are sustaining excessively, giving me a sound that is hard to ccontrol, "woolly", and doesn't cut through the mix. I can fix this problem by rolling off bass or the gain on the pre-amp or bass, but the result is a characterless sound both in the lower and upper registers.


I think this is just the magnification of a characteristic of the bass: even at low volumes the Lakland sounds very diffuse, particularly on the bridge pickup. By this I mean it's not a hard sound, but slightly soft round the edges, a bit like a guitar through a slightly overdriven valve-amp, giving soft natural sustain.


You might think that the on board pre amp has been set to run too hot, but I don't think that is the problem: my pre-amp manual advises that the Gain control should be set to where the +10 LED is barely flashing on the loud notes: to do that, I needed to plug into the passive/active channel (not the active) and turn the gain more or less full up. This hardly suggests the pick-ups are too "hot".


This seems related to another characteristic of the Lakland, ie a lot of slightly ugly nasal middle on the bridge pick-up, especially with new strings. After buying the bass I became aware that the previous owner was also concerned about this because he posted a question about it on Talkbass and had obviously considered switching the Barts to Seymour Duncans to see if that would cure the problem - in the end he obviously decided to sell the bass instead.


It's difficult for me to find another Lakland to compare to see if mine is "normal" because they are very rare here (its quite possible I'm the only Lakland owner in Scotland). But comparing with a Yamaha Nathan East, the Yamaha is much tighter and more defined on the B string. This is at odds with many Lakland reviews I've read which praise the B as one of the tightest available.


I'm reluctant to give up on my Lakland because it was my dream bass after trying one out in London and I put a lot of effort into getting it. It is a beautiful bass to play, and in the upper register it has a mellowness that I definitely prefer to the Yamaha. But the B string problems are making it unsuitable for some songs and I don't want to start taking two basses to gigs.


Any Lakland owners have any thoughts? Do you think I may have a rogue model, or am I just not getting to grips with the character of the bass?

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bc -


I have a Lakland Skyline 55-02 with the American Bart preamp and jazz/musicman pickups. I love the sound. Everyone loves it.


At the same time I bought this, I had a Stingray 5 and a Warwick Dolphin Pro. I kept the Lakland. The Dolphin had the best B string I ever heard, but the rest was not so great - to me anyway. When I roll to the musicman pickup on my Lakland, I get real close to my old Stingray tone.


The Barts do have a lot of mid growl, but Ilike it. Maybe you are just getting used to it.

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Steve, given that you've got pretty much the same rig as me, I just wonder why you're not experiencing the same problems - if I play the Lakland with the +10 (red) LED starting to flash I get colossal sustain on the B string - if I actually played the low B note it would sustain for ever, very close to feedback - very boomy and no definition. Play the Yamaha at the same setting, absolutely no problem. My Lakland's a 55-94 but I wouldn't have thought that would make the difference.
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I don't have a Lakland. But I'll chime in quietly to query ... have you tried different types/weights of B strings?


Only asking b/c of late I've been fussing over the B string sound on my Stingray 5 ... and I find string gauge and brand heavily affect the B sound - even more than on higher strings.

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Problem with Lakland (through body, 35" scale) is getting string to fit. I have to order in bulk from Lakland in the US which gives two choices, nickel or stainless, medium or light. I'm a light string player by preference. I wouldn't want to buy the heavier set just to get a tight B.
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Originally posted by bc:

Problem with Lakland (through body, 35" scale) is getting string to fit. I have to order in bulk from Lakland in the US which gives two choices, nickel or stainless, medium or light. I'm a light string player by preference. I wouldn't want to buy the heavier set just to get a tight B.

Understandable - I've taken to getting my B strings separate from the rest of the set ... are you buying Lakland strings b/c those are the only ones that fit?
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First thing I'd recommend is putting your post into an email to Lakland. I'm under the impression that he knows his stuff.


As to the string length, I'm not convinced that the through-body option makes a huge difference. One thing it is purported to do is add sustain - it sounds like you've got enough of that as is. Still if you want to try different strings, DR HiBeams come in extra long (they came with my 34.5" Kinal strung through the body).


You might try playing with the pickups - try dropping the B string side a bit. Or maybe they are too far away now. Since you bought it used and the guy didn't like the sound, he may have tinkered and left things in a condition different than when it left Lakland (another reason to write to them).


I've heard Peter Romano play his 55-94, and it sounds as strong as his Sterling. Obviously the low B is rounder, but that's on every 5 string (especially up the neck).


Good luck with solving this !!



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...

People who were kind enough to respond may be interested to know that I've got to the bottom if this problem. In fact there were two problems:


1. Some kind of resonance problem. This was causing the main problem, a huge, uncontrollable and ugly "sustain" especially on low E, Eb and D at high volumes. If found the problem goes away if I don't put my power amp on top of the cab. What made this harder to spot was that I had the same problem with other amps and cabs, so it must be something to do with the bass rather than the specific amp or cab. Very weird.


2. I think there is also some characteristics of the Bartolini pickups I just don't like. There's an extensive thread about this over at The Dudepit, and it was a relief for me to see this - I am not alone!


I'm now thinking about switching the Barts for Seymour Duncans.

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What funny is in the acme instructions it says to place your head/power amp/preamp on the cabs to reduce the physical movement of the cabs (like slowing moving around the stage)


I dunno - seems like both these concepts are counter to each other



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My vote would be that you could still try: Raising your string height to lessen the input and "defeat" some of the p/u's tendencies, or eperiment with strings, all you can. I second Tom's Highbeam suggestion, I have used them for years, and my B is pretty fat and full.

Perhaps either one of these may help alleviate your problem.

Good luck...






I'm a lot more like I am now than I was when I got here.






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wraub I think the problem is solved now - the only "problem" remaining is I'm not sure I like the Bartolini sound very much - from what I gather over at the Dudepit, I'm not alone, in fact it appears that Lakland have been surprised by the recent feedback they are getting on this. I suspect they may even be thinking of changing their current strategy whereby the Bartolinis are on about 20 basses for every one with Seymour Duncans. The Bartolinis still have their fans of course, but the suggestion seems to be that if SD equipped Laklands were more generally available a lot of people might prefer them.
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I'm glad to hear that you have located your original problem. Here are some things to think about before you decide to sell or modify the bass. (I wouldn't do either.)


(1) Does the bass sound better in some rooms than others? How does it sound if you plug it into someoen else's amp? How does it sound when you record it?


(2) How does it sound when another player plays it and you're on the other side of the room?


(3) Is there a chance that you're boosting the bass (EQ) too much, either on the bass or and the amp? Have you tried a low cut filter?


(4) Have you tried the bass in passive mode (volume knob pulled out)?


(5) Have you tried some different strings?

The Black Knight always triumphs!


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Thanks for the suggestion Dan but this bass has been my main bass for over a year. I've used it at gigs and/or rehearsals with three different bands, practised with it at home, I've probably played it through nearly a dozen different amp set ups.


The sound that I'm thinking of as characteristic Bartolini is remarkably and consistently "there" in every situation. It changes character somewhat with the age of strings - it becomes softer. I've described the sound as "diffuse" - I think if I was playing ballads or jazz on a four string I might love this sound, but for funkier stuff on a 5 string it lacks definition and punch on the lower notes.


Here are some of the comments from the Dudepit thread:


The output was kind of low and they sounded muffled to me (a little too much colour in the midrange and a slight lack of booty). ..... My concern with the SD's is that they would be too "scooped" and hi-fi sounding. It seems like the options are super-mellow and coloured, or super hi-fi and agressive.
Personally, I could never get the Barts in my 55-94 to work for me live. The weren't open sounding enough for my ears and I could never get enough point or tonal definition for my personal taste. I tweaked the preamp for days but it didn't change the fact. I first thought that they were defective.

I first spotted these comment a few days ago (there are plenty of similar ones - see




This is reassuring in a way because it tells me, first it's not just me, and second it's not a fault with the bass. But it does leave me with a bass that I love in terms of playability and looks but not in terms of sound, and it'd be difficult to replace in terms of quality in the UK.


Someone else commented


A lot of the guys LOVE the SD pickups in their Laklands and several players here in Memphis have had the local dealer (Martin Music) trade out their Barts for the SD Basslines while keeping the Bart preamp.

That sounds like it could be the right solution for me if it can be done at reasonable cost.
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