Friday, August 15, 2008

Lakland Skyline Duck Dunn Signature P Bass

I've had a chance to take the Lakland for a spin twice now. Once with the Lunds and once with the Scheme last night. I'm already confident that this is a purty bass. Who doesn't like candy apple red with black? Add in those ivory inlay fret markers and a matched headstock? Yum Yum.

But, when I got it home, it just didn't play right. The strings seemed to lay down on the neck, from the first to the 5th fret. I did some web research and attempted to adjust the truss rod (increases or decreases tension in the neck, allowing the neck to get straighter or bow a little). The way the strings were led me to think the neck was too tight, and needed to be loosened. So I cranked it loose a little and let it sit.

After a few hours of sitting to let the wood in the neck settle, I tried it again. Same problem. Flat strings and it didn't seem to have changed at all.

Fast forward to Monday and I called Mike Lull's Guitarworks, where magic happens. Roger was working and I told him about my predicament. I took it in and he took a look at the neck. Apparently there was a hump right at the nut (far end of the neck), and then again at about the 7th fret. I asked if adjusting the truss rod would help that. He said maybe, but it wouldn't be long before there were more issues. He suggested plugging the neck into their Plek machine.

The way I understand it, the Plek takes the guitar's neck and levels all the frets by 1/1000th of an inch at a time. This way, it's much more precise than a human could ever be and it results in an emminently playable neck. The trouble is, the service starts at $250 and I wasn't ready to nor wanting to shell out on this bass.

But, of course I did.

Anyway, I picked it up later in the day and Roger told me that not only was the neck a mess, but some frets were loose and needed to be glued. WTF? All my research on Laklands indicated that one thing they had were killer necks. Well, this one didn't, but it appears that the Plek made it so.

The other weird thing was that the previous owner seemed to not notice, or care, that the neck played so low. I mean, the action was super-low, to the point of me taking it in as I did. Even if I was into low action, I think it was too low for that. And as I like my action higher, I just couldn't play it as such.

So off to practice went I with the DD. After having played the SB-2s almost exclusively for a year now, I found the DD to be a different beast, definitely. First off, the neck smelled nice! Roger, in a setup (like a tune-up), had redressed the frets and must've oiled up the fretboard. Plus, as an added bonus, the neck played SUPER smooth. Don't know if it was me feeling it because of the $$ spent, or if it was real, but it definitely was nice.

Then there was the sound. With the SB-2, I get a really dirty, growly, snappy and twangy sound. It's super-agressive and full of attitude. Since the DD is lacking the J (bridge position) pickup, it loses a little high end. But, it does have a tone control, something the SB-2 doesn't. What does all this mean? Well, the DD has a nice fat, round, bottomy P-bass sound. It's passive (like the SB-2s) and it definitely growls. But, the zing is gone. It doesn't match the "meanness" of the SB-2.

The tone control is really wide in its range. It can go from no treble at all, resulting in a really dull, vintage thump, to an almost hissy high, where all fingerslides and squeaks are heard. The output seems to be pretty hot, too, but not as hot as the SB-2.

I think overall, I am a fan of this bass. I don't think it'll supplant the SB-2 as #1, but it'll make a fine #2, with an occasional start when #1 needs a break. Now I just gotta get some gigs lined up. Any offers??