IN 1994, DAN LAKIN (PRONOUNCED LAY-KIN) AND HUGH McFarland formed Lakland Basses, a company that quickly established itself as a leading player in the bass market. The Chicago-based builders introduced a new platform with their 44-94 bass, an artful, and functional hybrid of the Music Man Stingray and Fender Jazz that contributed a few new ideas of its own. Soon they added their own versions of classic Fender P- and J-Basses to the lineup, choosing two top studio players associated with those instruments to be their first signature artists. The Lakland Joe Osborn and Bob Glaub models were excellent representations of their species, and brought some well-deserved attention to these relatively unsung (at the time) giants of the bass. The high-quality U.S. Laklands became a popular choice for players looking for an alternative to the skyrocketing vintage market. Lakin also expanded the operation and introduced the lower-priced, Asian-built Skyline series with the intent to provide an affordable professional-quality instrument. In 2010, Dan sold Lakland to his business partners, and he spent his contractual three-year non-competition period re-evaluating his life, as well as making connections that would ultimately lead to his new venture. Now, Lakin is back in the game with new Korean-built versions of the Osborn and Glaub basses, with an attention to detail that make them stand out in the crowd.
These two offerings meet all the requirements for a classic P- or J-Bass, with specs following the familiar parameters of alder or ash bodies, bolt-on maple necks, and rosewood or maple fingerboards with 20 frets. The Osborn neck profile is based on Joe’s 1960 J-bass with a 1.5” nut, while the Glaub’s 1.75” nut and flat C profile match Bob’s favorite ’64 Precision. The basic recipe of these classics stays unchanged, but the DLB basses distinguish themselves with several refinements. “Most companies go to an overseas factory to see what they can get built for $200,” says Lakin. “Instead, I gave the factory a list of what I wanted, and when I was convinced they were able to give me that, we went from there.” With a street price of $1,250, the DLB is priced comparable to other premium imports, but has some distinct advantages in features.
Hipshot provides the U.S.-built hardware package with its brass A-style bridge, which allows for stringing through the body, and vintage-style reverse-gear tuners with tapered shafts. All D. Lakin Basses feature a bone nut, Dunlop dual-design strap locks, spoke-wheel trussrod adjuster, and dual graphite stabilizing rods in the neck. The Korean-built Alnico V pickups follow traditional lines for each model, but Lakin took his time dialing them in: “We went back and forth with prototypes about four times until they nailed it for me,” he states. The 5mm-thick fingerboard extends past the nut, adding critical strength to the thinnest part of the neck. The nicely carved volute also beefs up this area and has a highly satisfying feel. Four counter-sunk bolts and a super-tight pocket give the gun-oiled neck confidence-inspiring rigidity.
Another standout for DLB is the healthy selection of available colors from the classic 1960s automotive palette. Mr. Lakin says color matching is possible for one-offs at no extra charge, with an approximate three-month build time. The finish work on our test Ocean Turquoise Osborn and Candy Apple Red Glaub was top-notch, typified by the clean lines surrounding the matching headstock—a standard feature on all DLBs. The basses come with a lifetime limited warranty and certificate of authenticity signed by both Dan and the signature artist. The DLB business model is direct-to-consumer, and each bass comes with a 30-day approval period. Orders are processed via the web or phone.
CUP O’ JOE
Asian imports have improved greatly in the last ten years, and for the most part, I see reasonably built, good-for-the-money axes that fill out the various sub-$1K price ranges. While many are perfectly competent instruments, they rarely excite my admittedly jaded senses. At worst, they suffer from cheap metal parts, lifeless pickups, and poor setup, but even some of the better ones have necks that feel dead. The Osborn neck brought an instant smile to my face with its slim profile and smooth finish, and the volute fit my hand like an expensive leather driving glove. Looking down at the healthy slab of fingerboard and feeling the strength of the neck, the DLB imparted a sense of subtle quality. I plugged it into my Greenboy F112 1x12 with a BBE BMax/Carvin DCM 2000 amp and fell in love with the round, fat texture I got from the front pickup with the tone knob rolled back. Blending the two pickups with the tone wide open gave me the full, articulate quality that launched a thousand hits, and the bridge pickup burped like Jaco after eating a Chicago-style hotdog. Slapping the Osborn produced an organic grind reminiscent of Victor Bailey’s tone back in his Candy Apple Red ’66 Jazz days. We have a winner.
WHAT ABOUT BOB?
The Glaub is a stellar example of the P-style bass, and the wide C-profile neck gave me the same inspirational feeling as the Osborn. I dug in on the G string, and the DLB produced a chunky bark that clearly stated its dynamic potential. The DLB Glaub nailed all the archetypal P-Bass tones and played like a broken-in favorite. Dialing in a basic neutral tone on my reference rig, the Glaub responded quickly to commands, effortlessly switching between thick Jamerson tone, ’70s funk, punk thrash, and Sheehan-esque growl with just my hands and the tone control. It completely satisfied my expectations of what a great P should be, and gave me a newfound appreciation for the aircraft-carrier-like neck profile of the early ’60s. If your preference runs toward skinnier necks, the Osborn neck can be substituted at no extra charge.
D. Lakin Basses’ two new offerings are fine examples of the P- and J-style approaches. Plans for an active model are in the works, as well as a line of strings, both roundwound and flatwound. Built in Korea with an aim for quality first, the custom-colored, matching-headstock DLBs are competitive with U.S. instruments costing much more, and are a blast to play.
D. LAKIN BASSES
Joe Osborn & Bob Glaub
Pros Pro-level P & J tone and feel
Bottom Line D. Lakin Basses offers custom-colored classics, built with attention to detail, for a great price.
Fingerboard Rosewood (as reviewed)
Fingerboard radius 10”
Scale length 34”
Neck width at nut Osborn, 1.5"; Glaub, 1.75”
Pickups Osborn, two single-coil with Alnico V magnets; Glaub, one humbucker Alnico V
Hardware U.S. Hipshot
Case G&G Hardshell $250, SKB Hardshell $125
Weight 8.7 lbs (both)
Made in Korea