Lakland 4-94 Dan Lakin Era Compared to an Indonesian Made 44-02 Deluxe...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by peteybass, May 28, 2016.

  1. peteybass

    peteybass Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2008
    Roseville, CA
    Have a 4-94 that looks like it is on the way out (need the money) and a 44-02 that just arrived (from a trade plus cash to me). Since they have crossed paths for a few days I thought it would be fun to play them side by side for a few minutes.

    This 4-94 (2006) was changed to the Lakland/ Hanson USA pickups and Pre 3-4 years back from its original Bart's and has a Rosewood board, Alder body. Set slightly hotter than the passive mode and mids @ default 600. New DR Sunbeams 45-105.

    44-02 (2012) Lakland/Hanson Pickups and Pre, Maple board, Ash body. Same Mid setting & active-passive volume was similar in difference, also with new DR Sunbeams 45-105.

    Just a few things I noticed:

    1. The preamps and pickups are both from somewhere around 2012 but were different. Both the 4-94 pre and the 44-02 said Rev-A. The 4-94 pre has similar dip switches but also had a gain control I didn't see on the 44-02. Could be a lot of reasons for this including revisions.

    2. The 44-02 had a painted cavity while the 4-94 had copper foil.

    3. The preamp in the 4-94 looked much nicer and was tidier and screwed in. The 44-02 preamp was sitting inside the cavity. Not sloppy but not nearly as neat.

    4. Both necks are nice but the 4-94 had the oil and wax treatment and felt much smoother and easier to play. Also seems slightly shallower, the best neck I have ever played. Not sure how the newer 44-94's compare.

    5. Finish is excellent on both. Dont know when Pat Wilkins stopped finishing Lakland basses or what that means but again they were both nice.

    6. Hardware. The 4-94 has Hipshot tuners and the 44-02 are licensed Hipshots. The 4-94 tuners feel smoother but both are nice. The knobs look the same but are a bit thicker feeling on the 4-94. The pots feel slightly smoother on the 4-94, really noticeable in the 3 way toggle which I noticed on a previous Skyline. Nothing wrong with the 44-02 here, just not as nice. Bone nut vs Plastic ?

    7. 4-94 is 9 lbs and the 44-02 8 1/2 lbs. The 4-94 just feels better and balances better to me.

    8. Frets are really nice on both. No sharp edges and rolled. Very smooth. I prefer the feel of the 4-94 but am partial to Rosewood and love the maple dots. I believe the 44-02's from that era are Plekd.

    9. The sound...Set passive. Not sure how much of this is due to Rosewood and Alder vs Ash and Maple but the 4-94 wins here hands down. IMHO it just sounds better in that the mids are more prominent and tone is punchier. The bass sounds more dynamic and has more presence. the 44-02 sounds really nice but more polite almost mid scooped but without additional snap some people associate with the Maple/Ash combo.

    10. The sound...Set Active. Again the 4-94 is quite a bit better/different IMHO. The bass, treble and mids on the 4-94 do more to my ears. The high's get brighter without getting raspy. The Mids have that punchy sound and the bass was pretty similar but more controlled & usable on the 4-94. Overall again more present sounding and dynamic. The pre was nice and really usable on both. The range seemed wider on the 4-94.

    Anyway that is my quick comparison. I know wood types, neck material, preamp revisions ETC ETC can make a difference. I think the 4-94 again IMHO is a work of art and based on past experiences it cuts through better in a Rock band situation.

    I have owned several US Laklands and Skylines. They are both often called Swiss Army Knife basses. Between these two the 4-94 gets closer to the Fender and Musicman sound where the 44-02 covers a lot of ground but not quite as convincingly. I guess this is what you would expect based on the price difference and says a lot for the 44-02 at its price point...

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 31, 2016
    Dark Horse, GregC and Tbone76 like this.
  2. GregC

    GregC Questlove, Black Thought, Hamilton Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 19, 2007
    Nice, detailed comparison, thanks. Hope you don't mind a couple notes from a Lakland aficionado:
    Lakland switched from Barts to the LH-3 system sometime in '06, so that 4-94 must have just missed the changeover.
    The US Lakland finishes were done by Pat Wilkins until the past year or two. The Skylines have always been painted overseas.
    Pleking of the Skylines started in '08, right around the time production moved to Indonesia.
    Last edited: May 29, 2016
    peteybass likes this.
  3. peteybass

    peteybass Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2008
    Roseville, CA
    Thanks for the information, good to know.
    GregC likes this.
  4. wvbass

    wvbass Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2004
    West Virginia
    I've had both, and still have my 1998 4-94. My two cents: the 44-02 is excellent. The 4-94 is just a better bass for me, though.

    Both basses played great, although the necks aren't the same shape, as best I can recall. My 4-94's neck is extremely slender and comfortable. It had the Bart system, which compares favorably to the LH3, but I did eventually swap the Barts for an OBP-3 and Nordstrands. Also, and it may be purely psychological, but the 4-94 seems nicer in every detail. The 44-02 seems like the nicest possible incarnation of a mass-produced, Cort factory bass. I own several Cort factory basses...Skylines, Tributes, etc. They are all nice, but they all have similar qualities. The extra attention to fretwork on the Skylines makes them just a bit nicer than other basses out of that same factory, IMO.

    The birdseye maple dots and wood selection of the rosewood fingerboard on the 4-94 are a nice touch, setting it apart visually from the plastic dots and "next available" rosewood board on the 44-02.
    peteybass likes this.
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