Music Biz Magazine, June, 2001 – “The Bottom Line”
by Jack Conrad
When the plain, nondescript and brown-wrapped package from Chicago landed on my doorstep, I had no idea I was in for a real treat. And no, it wasn’t a complete vintage collection of Playboy magazines. Lakland’s wonderfully enhanced version of a bass you’ve heard thousands of times on radio and records was produced through the combined efforts of the world-class master craftsmen at Lakland, and the incomparable legendary electric bassist, Joe Osborn.
Joe’s original, 1960 Fender Jazz Bass was the foundation for over 200 Top-40 Pop hits and over 400 Top-40 Country hits winning him acclaim and awards from both those branches of the music industry. At a time when most producers demanded their bassists use a Fender Precision Bass on their sessions, Joe’s Jazz Bass, combined with his unique style of playing, was a singularly distinctive sound.
The Joe Osborn Signature Series Lakland Bass faithfully continues that tradition with a buggywhip, full scale 34-inch maple neck with 20 frets on a rosewood fingerboard highlighted with Birdseye maple dots. The black beauty I got for this review was so much fun to play right out of the box, a couple of hours went by before I knew it. She’s slippery fast and easy on the eyes with an immaculate overall finish and custom guitar shop fit and detail. There’s an incredibly slick invisible finish on the neck that makes it feel like it’s been rubbed on for years, a vintage feel not often found outside of collectable guitar stores or pawn shops.
“When the plain, nondescript and brown-wrapped package from Chicago landed on my doorstep,
I had no idea I was in for a real treat.”
Specially designed GHS strings sit low on the neck thanks in part to the tapered Hipshot tuners and bone nut. The round-wound strings it shipped with were strung through-the-body via Lakland’s specially designed bridge. I like the extra sustain and resonance with this setup but later, to be historically accurate, I switched over to a set of flat wounds and I ran them through over the top of the bridge. I liked the sound either way with my preference depending on what use I had in mind.
The bass speaks clearly and distinctly in all ranges and intonation is accurate all the way up and down the neck. The fretwork is low and well finished. The transition from string to string is smooth and even, audibly unnoticeable in most cases.
There are concentric pots (stacked) with individual volume and tone for each of two passive Lindy Fralin pickups. By the way, unlike the original Jazz Bass pickups, I never seemed to be able to overload these even when I beat the crap out of them. I prefer passive pickups and those of you who are active pickup fans will be glad to know that Bartolini humbuckers are also available and you can add either the Bartolini three-band or the Aguilar two-band pre-amps. There are 16 different colors; three different neck styles, fretted, fretless-lined and fretless-unlined; choices of pick-guard colors; and a Hipshot D tuner option.
The Joe Osborn Signature Series Lakland Bass sells for $3,300 MSRP with hardshell case. This is a hefty, nine-pound classic ax, one that I’d proudly take to war! For more information about this and a full line of quality basses contact: Lakland Basses, 2044 North Dominick, Chicago, IL 60614. Phone: 773-871-9637, Fax: 773-871-6675.
Jack Conrad, proud owner of a black, 1960 Fender Jazz Bass, one of only five he has ever seen, is an ex-studio musician, former bass playing, recording and touring sideman with The Doors, The Beach Boys, those rave faves The Captain and Tennille and Australia’s Sweetheart, Helen Reddy. He has co-written hits for Three Dog Night, The Babys (2) and Heart.