I Just Played a Lakland 55-94
By Eli Fletcher
Oct 1, 2001
I just played a Lakland 55-94. It was great! The shop I visited, “Makin’ Music” in Chicago, only had one, and it was fretless, but they have tryout rooms for gear, so my wife and I got to hear it in exclusion of any other sounds. A brief review:
Lakland fretless 55-94, rosewood board, sunburst finish, ash body.
It was lined, and I found the position of the side marker dots very confusing because they were in the same position as a fretted bass (not like my carvin which has a naked board and dots at every 2 or 3 frets.) but someone new to fretless would probably find it quite comforting. The fretboard and string spacing was very wide, but I found it quite comfortable.
The neck profile was wonderfully flat and comfortable. Supposedly the necks are oil finished, but it felt a lot like a satin finish to me. Either way it was quite fast and very smooth.
The electronics were very versatile. A variety of tones, though all of them a bit too clear (a good thing) to be truly vintage, were possible and when I swept out the highs, something I personally like, and boosted the bass, it didn’t veer into the muddy territory that happens when you cut the treble on a passive (and many active) basses. My wife said it was the best bass she had heard me play, and she has sat through a lot of bass playing. Surprisingly, the 3 way coil tap switch didn’t have as much effect on the sound as I would have expected, even with the bridge humbucker soloed. At greater volumes and on a fretted instrument with fresh strings, it might make a more significant difference, but I didn’t have those factors to work with. The general finish and fit was superb. The neck pocket was tight, but unlike other testers, I could have slid a piece of paper in there.
Playing it… superb instrument, the action was set super low, and still there was no buzzing, fretting out, or dead spots. The 35″ would probably take some getting used to on a fretless, but on a fretted (what I am really looking to get some day) I don’t think the difference would make that much difficulty for me. The b string was tight as can be and rang with such clarity!
In the end, I am sure that it is not for everyone, but all I can say is that I want a fretted Lakland. Not only was it tonally incredible, the simple sunburst finish, and the shapes of the body and headstock, are an intoxicating classy nod to both modern and vintage stylings. You really could strap on that bass in almost any situation. The reality is that I will either have to buy used, or go with a Skyline model to get one, but very possibly, Lakland may be my favorite bass now.