Can my Squier ever be like my Lakland?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by GassieBall, Jan 14, 2009.

  1. GassieBall


    Oct 15, 2006
    Well, no.

    But I have a wonderful Lakland "Adam Clayton" Darryl Jones 4. It was just setup by Phil at (whom I can't recommend more highly) and it plays wonderfully and sounds great in a mix. It has the Lakland pickups in it. I bought on sale a Squier Vintage Modified 70's bass as a beater. After having a bass totally messed up at a rainy outdoor gig with drunk friends, I decided I needed a "beater". I've gotten the Squier to feel good but it just doesn't cut in the mix. A Gotoh 201 bridge is on the way.

    QUESTION: Can someone recommend pickups that will help the Squier sound/cut more like my Lakland? Dimarzio UltraJazz, Basslines Vintage SJB-1, Hot SJB-2?

    Not looking to spend more than $100-ish. It's a Squier. :bag: Thanks.

    Attached Files:

  2. Those basses look nice, I like your style.

    You have to tell us what style your going after and a then a few people will chime in.

    You should have a few choices in pickups for a hundred bucks.
  3. Perhaps you've wondered what caused the price differential between the Lakland and the Squier...;) :D
  4. GassieBall


    Oct 15, 2006
    Thanks, and good points. Yeah, I know there is $700 dollar price differential. :oops: You get what you pay for, eh? I just don't want what I payed for to potentially get beat up.

    I play mostly classic rock/alternative. I'm looking for a pretty warm pseudo-vintage tone that can get a little growly when pushed. I prefer the 70's to the 60's jazz tone. I haven't had too much experience with pickup swaps and reading the Jazz bass pickup shootout made me dizzy. The only other pickups I've had personal experience with are the DiMarzio Model J's and I thought they were to muddy for my taste.
  5. Wafoleri

    Wafoleri Guest

    Jan 15, 2008
    Greensburg, Pa
    I absolutely love the Nordstrand NJ4's I put in my Jazz bass. Great vintage sound but enough punch to get through in the mix. I've never played a Lakland though, so I'm not sure how they would compare there. I got mine second hand, but still new in the package here on talk bass for somewhere between 100-150.


    Dec 27, 2007
    If you feed it well, and exercise it on a daily basis, maybe one day your Squier can become a man´s bass like your Lakie...

    hahah kidding, as a matter of fact your Squier is an excelent instrument, i think that a Pup swap and a nice setup (w/ really nice strings like DR´s) will do ya.
  7. GassieBall


    Oct 15, 2006

    My Squier isn't even into puberty yet. Well, actually, I already put some DR Sunbeams on it, so perhaps it's a tweener. For the money, it's an excellent bass. Tonally, it's just not where the Lakland is (yet) and I'm trying to get it there.

    I think the stock Duncan Designed sound a little bit scooped with harsh highs. Not what I'm looking for. :(
  8. Eublet


    Jul 28, 2006
    Less than a $100 total or per pup? If it's per pup, the Aero type 1 pups will give it some serious grind like the DJ. I bought a Squier 70 VMJ as well, and sent it back after a couple of days. Just didn't do it for me, and I didn't want to spend any money on it.
  9. GassieBall


    Oct 15, 2006
    Oh, dear, $100ish for both. For $200 I would have bought a much better bass in the first place. :)
  10. SteveC


    Nov 12, 2004
    NE ND
    I agree. I have a Squire VM Fretless and with TI Flats on it. Better but not there yet. I don't think the pups are what I want. I was thinking Bartolini. I have had DiMarzzio Ultra Jazz pups before and liked them, but I really like the Barts in my other bass.

    I was thinking I should dump the Squire, but it does play nice and sounds OK and I need a fretless for my jazz gigs. Maybe it's time to spend $100 on some pups and see what happens.
  11. Eublet


    Jul 28, 2006
    And you wouldn't have to be spending money to make it sound better. I guess I just find this a bit perplexing with all the TB folks buying SX or Squier basses and trying to get them to sound like something that costs 5-10 times more. If it's for fun, then no problem I guess. But if you really want something that sounds and plays like the real deal, better to just buy it than do the upgrades. YMMV.

    FWIW, the Aero pups would likely make it sound much, much better. But the Squier I had needed much more work than that. It had dead spots everywhere becuase of the wood choice and the neck pocket. Nut was insanely high, fret level was horrid, pots felt bad out of the box, hardware looked like it would corrode in the first year, no sustain to the notes at all....all in all about what I should have expected considering the cost. I would guess that some of these basses are better than others just because of the nature of how they're made. I'm certainly not opposed to budget instruments, especially if it's a "beater" bass, but I guess I'm just at the point where a beater bass is the same as the instrument I would take to the studio. I take care of my instruments as best I can, so I don't really worry about them getting destroyed or beaten. If that's what you're afraid of, then maybe something like a Squier will fit the bill, but I'd suggest that you prepare for a lot of compromises so that you can try to enjoy playing it. Once you've played an instrument like a Lakland, US or Skyline, then playing a Squier, even with the improved quality over the last few years, is going to be disappointing. Before you spend money on pickups, make sure that the rest of the bass doesn't need a lot of work as well.

    Respectfully and IMO/E.
  12. bassie12


    Aug 23, 2008
    Your Squier can be just like your Lakland! Case in point: A friend of mine was faced with a wife inspired moratorium on new guitar purchases. She had put her foot down, and there were to be no more large guitar related purchases. Over the course of a few months, my pal discretely, one by one, purchased the most expensive boutique components for a custom strat. He then, part by part and over a period of time, replaced every bit of his Lake Placid Blue Tokai Strat copy with parts by Fralin, Warmoth, Callaham..... including a gorgeous Mary Kay Blonde swamp ash body from Warmoth. When the transformation was complete, he brought the guitar to a gig. During a break his wife came up, complimented the band's sound, and asked her husband "Is that a new guitar?" and he, in all seriousness replied, "No Babe, this is my blue Strat."

    So, based on this experience, in short any guitar or bass can easily be mad to sound and look like any other guitar or bass, either over a period of time, or in one quick swap.:D:D:D
  13. Eublet


    Jul 28, 2006
    Proves my point. I guess if you want to swap each individual part out, including the body and everything else like this guyd did, you can have a nice instrument. I'd rather just go buy the Strat, or the Lakland, or the whatever. Like I said, if you do it for fun then it's different. But if you start out with a HUGE compromise like Squier, and then have to spend $1000 on parts to make it play like a Joe Osborne or Darryl Jones, what's the point?
  14. cabrego


    Jan 21, 2007
    I put quarter pound pickups on mine and run it through an outboard sadowsky preamp. I like it better than my friends Sadowsky.
  15. Without beig able to put my hands on your bass it is hard to answer the question properly. The VM basses are darn good for what you pay for them, but the Lakland has had the time and effort put into it, to make it sing.

    Your VM may just be a really good bass, hiding behind a poor setup. I personally find that you can't really unlock a jazz style basses true potential until it is really setup well. Then you really need to play with pickup balance and find a, or, the sweet spot range for that bass.

    I personally find the SD pickups in those basses pretty darn good. They have good bottom end, and with the right amount of bridge/neck pickup balance/adjustment, you should be able to achieve a tone window to work from. This is all dependant on the personality of your bass as far as where that window falls.

    How would you compare the acoustic tone of the two basses? Are they close or vastly different. I would assume fairly different given the body woods, and body thickness. Then there is the difference in the necks as well.

    It is not as simple as saying try string/pickup "X" I use them and there great. They are great on that bass with it's personality. While you can generally have an idea of how something will work, you don't really know till you hear it on your bass.

    Can you be more articulate in your description as to what you are hearing is different in the two basses? You say the Squier feels good, but say it in a way that leads me to believe it is not quite where you want it to be.

    I think that in the end you can tweak the Squier into a darn good playing sounding bass, but you need to approach it with clear thoughts as to exactly what aspect your trying to hit with each adjustment. Will it ever be exact, no, and I don't think you meant that anyway. I think that it can be so good that you will really aprreciate it, and maybe not want to take it to those rainy gigs either.

    I've used the Gotoh 201 bridge in the past. I thought it was a well made bridge, and looked great. Tonally, after trying some other bridges, I'm underwhelmed by them. Personally I'd opt to use the Gotoh vintage style bridge, and make a few tweaks to it.

    Most of all have fun with this. I love doing this kind of work with my basses.
  16. GassieBall


    Oct 15, 2006
    Thanks for all the input, guys. I am in total agreement with Eublet that it seems sort of silly for me to have a nice Lakland and expect something (more?) out of a Squire. I also have a Sterling, Bongo, L2000, all US made so I think I sorta know what a good production bass feels like. As for boutiquey basses, I am not good enough of a player to be worthy.

    I think the first reason I got the Squier was to be a beater. The secondary reason was to be a project bass. I want to learn more about setup and electronics and if I mess up on my Squier, I won't feel too bad. Perhaps it will in the end have the same path as the "blue strat."

    The Squier is actually a pretty darn good piece of wood. Phil also did a little fretwork on it for me. The action is low. The sustain is OK. I think that'll improve with the bridge that is coming. I did notice a couple harmonics that I use to tune do have an early decay to them that I find somewhat annoying and I think show an underlying issue.

    As compared tonally to the Lakland, it's a woodier bass. The DJ4 has pretty light ash and weighs about 8.5 lbs and it's got an agressive mid punch to it. Ironically, it seems to have less bottom than then Squire. I think the main reason the Squire does not cut is that it's too scooped. I know it's supposed to have a 70's vibe to it, but it sounds more 60's when I compare it to the DJ4.

    I suppose what I'd like to do to the Squire tonally is to emphasize the mids, calm the harshness of the highs, and give it a sweeter tone. In the price range, the Basslines Hot Jazz pickups seem to have a mid bump that might be beneficial.

    I'm concerned that if I put in a vintage style pickup, I might get stuck with more of the same of the original tone.

    Also, the Squires come with 500K pots. I think 250's might tame things a bit.
  17. Eublet


    Jul 28, 2006
    Some of the Squiers I've played were nice for their price, and others not so much. I've not seen one that approached the playability of a Lakland, especially stock, but one might exist.

    Those are all very good reasons to do it. I just wanted to warn you against turning a beater into an expensive bass by putting a bunch of upgrades into it. Unless that's what you want to do, then it's all good. If I had $1000 into an instrument, I wouldn't want it to say "Squier" on it though! :D And I'm not ashamed to play them. I bought one expecting to do just that, in public and all. :D
  18. GassieBall


    Oct 15, 2006
    LOL, at the venues to which I'd bring my Squier, I don't think anyone would know the difference. You know, bars, outdoor picnics in the humid summer, "charity" events. You betcha the Lakland would come to the hotels and weddings :)

    I think something I'm also gonna learn from this project is how much each component will really add to the sound/quality of an instrument. It's my little experiment to see how shiny I can make the s**t.

    On that wonderful note, what are some opinions of what I should drop in?

    JEDI BASS Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2008
    Knoxville, TN
    Have you tried an outboard pre?
  20. bassnug47

    bassnug47 Guest

    Oct 7, 2007
    Birmingham AL
    life is good, Dead is better
    you should put darkstars in it...