Bass Player Magazine, May/June 1995
LAKLAND LUXURY – THE USA SERIES 44-94
Chicago bassist/retailer Dan Lakin is a Music Man fanatic, and one look at his used-inventory list reveals his soft spot for the single-pickup Stingray. Working with Chi-town luthier Hugh McFarland, Dan set out to create a hand-crafted bass that combined the best elements of the Music Man vibe with the sounds of other classic axes.
Our USA Series 44-94 test bass came with a quilted maple top and a beautiful cherry-sunburst finish. Talk about a sweet neck-the Lakland has an ultra-smooth, already-broken-in feel that melts in your hand. With its resonant body, custom-built bridge, and responsive string-through-body design, the 44-94 is a player’s dream.
“The 44-94 is a player’s dream.”
The 44-94 doesn’t come with off-the-shelf pickups: a custom-made Bartolini double-coil humbucker (which houses two side-by-side 9W4 linear humbuckers) and a J-style 9W4 linear humbucker are connected to a Bartolini NTMB preamp with master volume (with active/passive bypass), blend, 3-band EQ, and 3-position bridge-coil switch. Smooth-turning pots, a preamp output-level control, and tidy wiring complete the package. We loved the non-slip rubber knobs; these make control adjustments easy-even with sweaty fingers. We weren’t crazy, though, about the pickup-blend controls; the range is concentrated within the first 1/8″ on either side of the center detent; the sound stays the same the farther you turn to either side. Tone changes are just too abrupt-we’d like to hear the blend spread more evenly across the range of the pot. (Dan Lakin replies: “We agree. The pot will be replaced with more even-tapered blend control on future versions.”)
While the Lakland doesn’t have the killer slice of a Stingray, the treble does have a musical bite that brings out fingerstyle attack. You won’t get a crispy, 90’s style funk tone from the electronics; this bass gets more of a 70’s slap sound with its tight, mid-rangey punch. Soundwise, I’d say the Lakland is a hybrid of many classics – its voice is nestled somewhere between a grindy Music Man and a fat Fender. And I’d be happier if I could hear a bit more upper-end sheen. Nonetheless, the Lakland 44-94 is an impressive bass with some of the most impeccable hand-babied craftsmanship we have seen.