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Lakland - 55-94, 55-02, or Darryl Jones? Help me out...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by tommixx, Oct 11, 2005.

  1. I have another Lakland DJ 4 on the way after having one very briefly and selling it (should have kept it but wanted a black one!) However, I am not an officianado of anything Lakland and was looking at the 55-94 threads after someone offered to trade one for my Sadowsky NYC...Anyway, after reading everything I am wondering if I would be better off with the 55-02 or 55-94 over the DJ? I will use this bass as a live weapon and studio tool...I currently have a Sadowsky MV5, and a Sadowsky NYC Vintage 4 (I am selling or trading the Vintage 4 in favor of 5's or a GOOD passive 4 since I lost my Vintage Fenders in a fire). I play almost ALL styles and I do mean Almost ALL (I haven't gotten any calls for death metal or goth....yet!! I think it would actually be fun so I'd be down if the call came...) from blues to bebop, rock to rap, R&B, Old School Funk, Disco, Motown, Soul, Boogie, Old Country, New Country, Pop Country, you get the idea.

    I have seen lots of these (55-94's mainly) on the studio scene and I just never had the chance to play one. I have been seeing a lot more of them on stages in the last year or so (55-02's, DJ's, and 55-94s but it seems like there are a LOT of 55-02's out there on the circuit) I have played a Glaub that I though was OK and really nailed the P bass vibe.

    Like I said, I am looking to replace some of the gear I lost in the fire so a really good passive is good. I like my Sadowsky with the pre bypassed for recording so I have a good one already. I am hoping to find a good hybrid with a lot of GOOD tones. I want good tones though, I am not interested in a bass that does a LOT of tones but not all of them well. If it only NAILS a few that is better than being decent at a half dozen. I have read where some people say that it does and other people say it does not get a good SR tone. I LOVE a GOOD Ray tone (Paul Spencer Denman from Sade/Sweetback fame has a really good tone in my opinion) and that would be a BIG bonus for the 55-02...I also see where people say the 55-94 is not that much better than a 55-02 so I am leaning more toward the 55-02 for what its worth.

    I could refuse delivery on the DJ I have coming and send it back to the dealer and swap it out for the 55-02 (they have a KILLER Quilted 3 Tone Burst available in a 55-02) someone tell me why I should or shouldn't trade for the 55-94 or swap the DJ for the 55-02 OR just keep the DJ I have coming....I have to admit I really need the 5 strings though :) Thoughts?

    Many Thanks in advance....


  2. cheezewiz

    cheezewiz Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002
    I have owned 3 DJ's (still have one, and probably always will),
    1 55-01, 2 55-02's and a 44-02 with Seymour Duncans.

    I greatly prefer the DJ. I find the body more comfortable, and something about the Aero pickups with passive electronics just works for me. The Bartolini equipped Skylines didn't do so much for me. They were greatly constructed and really nice looking basses, but the tone was lacking to my ears. They were very mellow sounding, and I like a little more aggressiveness. The Duncan equipped 02 was very nice. It was much more my sound. I don't do studio work, other than an occasional demo, so our needs may be different, but I haven't found a bass yet in anywhere near the same price range that I think is any better than a Lakland Darryl Jones.

    I can't speak to the US Laklands, as I've never owned one or played one.
  3. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    It all comes down to if you want a Jazz Bass type instrument or not. If you like a traditional J Bass sound, the DJ is the way to go.... great instrument... although a little heavy. That bass with the optional J Retro or some other preamp would be amazing.... and it sounds great even in the standard passive configuration. I find the neck profile on the 5 string quite 'chunky' at the nut... quite a bit fatter than the Sadowsky profile, which I prefer, but that's just a personal preference thing.

    The 55-94 and 55-02 are very similar IMO. They have a very distinctive 'Lakland' sound. While they do a moderately good job of copping the J Bass thing using the coil tap and the MM thing using the back pickup with both coils on, they really don't sound like either of these instruments. They have a very strong midrange punch (especially with the stock Barts) and are a great basses for fingerstyle playing... a little too nasally IMO for more slap style. Similar to the NYC versus Metro Sadowsky's.... the American Lakland 55-94 is typically ligher weight than the 55-02, along with the birdseye neck and other very nice aesthetic differences.

    If I had to choose, it would be the DJ all the way (but I like J Basses!).
  4. bino


    Jun 27, 2002
    Orange County
    KJung, that's the best description I've seen for the 55-94.

    My tastes lean towards the P-bass end of the spectrum; therefore I opted for the 4-94 over nice jazz basses I've owned. It's a great fingerstyle bass. At first glance it does seem mellow, but only because it doesn't have the open or sparkly highs of a jazz. I like it because it cuts through without sounding aggressive like an MM or G&L.
  5. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    I was trying to make the same decision a few weeks ago, with basically the same reasoning except that I mostly play live. Came down to 2 things:

    1) Everyone said that the 55-02 came "close" to a J bass tone but didn't nail it when you used the coil tap and blend to get to a "j bass" pickup config.

    2) Toss of a coin.

    I bought a DJ5, and it is a great bass. Still trying to get my fingers and brain used to an ash body on a J bass ... but I think I'm going to end up really digging this bass. The tone has a lot in common with my all time favorite bass: a rosewood board '78P .... but of course with a little different shape from the J pickups. Its got loads of great "vintage" vibe, and ash/rosewood is a great wood combo (I bought my metro a few weeks before the UVs came out . :bawl: ).
  6. bassjam

    bassjam Supporting Member

    Aug 2, 2004
    Lakland Basses, G&L Basses, Genzler Amplification
    i agree with KJung-it depends on if you want a j type bass or not.ive owned all three of those basses and liked them all.i kept and still have a 55-94 (classic-alder body)as i felt it was more useful for the work i do.i can still get a pretty close j bass vibe with it and still switch over to modern tones.i play all type of gigs too and until i bought my skjold custom,used it almost for everything.very versitle bass and i highly recommend it.there may be better slap basses,or jazz type basses,or p type basses,or modern sounding basses,but if versitility is important to you the 55-94 is tough to beat.
  7. Thanks guys...Looks like the consensus is on the DJ. I am leaning toward the DJ at this point myself but I am intrigued by the flexibilty that it seems like I would have with the 55-02 or 55-94. Or is it not as flexible as I think. If it is just "OK", I don't think I would be interested. But if it does what it does as well as the DJ does what it does, I would definitely be interested. I have the Sadowsky MV5 and I DEFINITELY will never be without at least 1 of his basses (probably 1 more, a PJ5)...I am still on the fence....somebody push me over!!!!


  8. bino


    Jun 27, 2002
    Orange County
    The 55-94 is very flexible with very good tones, but probably only more flexible than your MV5 because of the 3-band preamp. The appeal to me is more in the unique sound of the bass than anything else.
  9. bassjam

    bassjam Supporting Member

    Aug 2, 2004
    Lakland Basses, G&L Basses, Genzler Amplification
    this is where it is tough-without you being able to play both side by side its hard to know what would work for you.for me nothing slapped like my old warwick 4-string just like to me nothing sounds as jazzy as my old 70 fender jazz.id like to have em all-but how many basses do i want to carry to a gig.(and do i want my old jazz to even leave the house)i was very happy with my 55-94-toured with it,recorded with it,and toured some more.dont get me wrong,if you are into the jazz vibe the dj's are great.but my 55-94 covered the full spectrum better than okay.of the two that would be my choice.

    you may want to check out the skjold basses.they are the most versitle basses ive used(very modern to very useable vintage tone).ive retired my old lakland and use a fretted and fretless.try a search on them.
  10. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    I'll agree with this. My favorite Laklands have been (in descending order): DJ,55-01,JO,55-02

    I prefer an agressive sound too, and found the bart equipped 55-02 just too mellow sounding also.
  11. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I love the looks of the DJ5 but I have never played one. I have played the 55-94 and I really like it. I know KJung is a 1000x better player than I, but I like the slap tone on the 55-94. I think these are great basses with really comfortable necks and lots of good tones. I have experience with the Bartolini version and it strikes me as a really versatile bass that would work quite well with the music Tommixx is playing. I would not rule out a 55-94/55-02 without giving one a good workout. I know you didn't mention it, but a USA Peavey Millennium 5 also gets a vibe very similar to the 55-94 and is probably superior in build quality to the 55-02. It might be worth checking out too.
  12. BartmanPDX

    BartmanPDX Supporting Member

    I played a 55-02, and while it was nice, it didn't "speak" to me tonally in the way that my DJ5 does. I guess it just seemed a little too mellow for me -- lots of nice tones, but nothing that just grabbed me the way the Aeros on the DJ do. The growl on the Aeros is fantastic -- I still find myself grinning like a fool when I've got that classic growl tone dialed in.

    I think I'm a passive bass guy (i.e. an old fart), though I'm loving the flexibility the J-retro gives, as well. Most of the time I use the J-retro, though I play in passive mode a lot, because the pure tone of the Aeros is just so wonderful.

    Go with the sound that works for you -- if you want a more aggressive tone, get the DJ. You won't be sorry. If you'd like something more laid-back, warm, and versatile, go for the 55-02. For me, the best option was the DJ w/J-retro -- all the sound of those wonderful Aeros, yet the J-retro adds a lot of flexibility.

    If I had it to do over again, though, I'd pay the extra $75 ($25 parts plus $50 installation) to get the J-retro DELUXE instead of the regular J-retro. The Deluxe adds the vintage tone control where the input jack is (they rout a new jack location on the side of the bass), which is a really nice feature when the pickups sound so darn good in passive mode -- probably even more useful than on a Sadowsky (blasphemy, I know, but the DJ is originally a passive bass, and it's nice to be able to put it back in that mode). :bag: The only thing it lacks with the J-retro is the ability to blend the pickups in passive mode, so an outboard preamp is another possible configuration allowing flexibility, yet still preserving the tone of the Aeros.

    Bottom line: you'll like whatever you get. :D
  13. Thumper


    Mar 22, 2000
    Syracuse Ut
    For all-out versatility, it's hard to beat a classic alder bodied Duncan equipped 55-94. Mine is my go to bass, meaning it goes to every gig and practice.

    I retro'd my ash bodied 55-94 with Duncans and it's very nice, but kinda' unforgiving like my MTD was (notes ringing out everywhere, much muting required). I'm seriously thinking of leaving the Duncan bridge PUP on, and going back to the Bart neck PUP. Anyone ever play one in that configuration?
  14. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Well, I've played a 55-94, 55-02, and a DJ 5. I love em all, but I only own a 55-02 (for now).

    Obviously there are differences based on the wood choices you have (the 55-94 can come in alder) for the body and the fingerboard.

    And, there's the issue of cosmetics. The 55-02 and DJ have limited finish options. The DJ has the cool blocks and binding, as well as the matching headstock. If you're into vintage looks and a comfortable body, the DJ is the way to go. The 55-94 and 55-02 are comfy basses too, and they have 22 frets instead of 21.

    Personally, I'd take the 55-94. I just plain out love my US Laklands to death, and they have a sweet finish. But for budget considerations, a 55-02 is no slouch. It just doesn't have all the nice appointments and extra attention to detail that a US does.

    I agree that the 55-02/55-94 have a mellower sound compared to the DJ5. On the other hand, I find that I got alot of the aggressive thump back by changing the mid boost freq to 250hz. Doing that changed my view of the Bart electronics. The downside I find about the 55-02/55-94 is that the bass boost can make things sound too boomy by boosting at 30hz. Passively, the pickups sound pretty dark. For that reason, I almost always run my 55-02 active.

    I find that the DJ has an excellent J bass tone, but the 55-02/94 has more versatility in tones due to the electronics. I like the tones out of both, it's just that the 55-02 seemed to have a few more than the DJ. The DJ5 I played was passive, so it's not a fair comparison.

    But, I have had a chance to play a DJ4 w/ J Retro and holy versatility Batman. I really dig the Aeros, and the J Retro did nice things with them. But, from a practical standpoint, at a gig I'd prolly just find a nice tone with the DJ and jam it all nite.
  15. bino


    Jun 27, 2002
    Orange County
    That's how I roll as well. I also like roundwounds with lots of mid character (D'addario, TI's, Laklands) on my 4-94. I should mention that I prefer the sparkle of my jazz basses when practicing alone, but the 4-94 is my #1.
  16. My current #1 is a classic 55-94 (barts, alder, rosewood). I previously owned an SR5 and a DJ4 with J-retro. Comments are with regard to live (not studio) settings.

    The 55-94 has a great midrange "grunt" that makes it ideal for fingerstyle. It might sound kind of plain on its own but it sits in a live mix very well. While the 55-94 can pull off several excellent tones, I don't think it quite nails the SR5 tone - but I'm not sure if that's what Lakland was going for. It can produce a good J-tone. Playbility wise, the 55-94 is exceptional. The slap tone is decent, but I preferred the slap tone of the SR5 and DJ4 - this may have to do with the wood combo.

    The DJ4 is a fine bass (huge bottom, as I recall), but the J-retro was just not my cup of tea.

    Good luck!
  17. DaveDeVille

    DaveDeVille ... you talkin' to me ?? Supporting Member

    keep the DJ4 , YOU KNOW YOU WANT IT ... :D
  18. Hi,

    Have you thought about a 55-01 - if as you say you prefer amore agressive tone ? I would say the non-NTMB equipped model.

    What I love about the 55-01/55-02 - I have a fretless 55-02 on order - is the 35 inch scale - which makes the low B sound fantastic - in fact I tune my low B down to A and it still sounds tight - moves a lot of air believe you me ! I think the mellower sound will suit the fretless on th3 55-02.

    Another thing I notice about the 55-01 and love is the tonal differences between playing at the neck and working back to the bridge pick up. I've never heard such a varied pallet of useful tones on a bass just by moving ones hand position. Superb !

    To sum up - give the 55-01 a try !

  19. GRoberts

    GRoberts Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2003
    Tucson, AZ USA
    I have a DJ5 and was just doing an A-B Comparison this past weekend between it and an F Bass BN5. Not the exact comparison tommixx is asking about, but I'll offer my observations. The DJ5 Aero pickups aer as impressive as everyone else has already said. They are punchy, clear, and growl nicely. The low end on this bass possess a fullness and punch that remind me of a P Bass in some aspects. The lows are very rich, deep, with decent focus. They are punchy without being overly bloated. The tone knob on the DJ5 passive bass is VERY powerful. Surprisingly so. With the tone control all the way on 100%, the bass is too bright in my opinion. But it dials down sweetly.

    I wouldn't define the tone of the DJ5 as a classic Jazz bass tone. (although it does Jazz bass sounds too, and nicely) The volume and punch of the DJ5 is much more impressive than most stock Fender jazz basses in my experience.

    The DJ5 has tone in spades. Truly one of the best Jazz bass(ish) values on the market today from what I see. The bass is very well constructed, and I love the MOP fretmarkers with bound neck and matching headstock. Those details are so rich and classic to my eyes.

    The one area I personally had a bit of an issue was controlling the slap tone. I find the low notes on the B and E string to be a bit unwieldy. The DJ5 for my playing style is better suited to fingerstyle grooves.

    When I strapped on the F Bass BN5, it was simply no contest. Especially in terms of slap tone. (But since you didn't ask for that comparison, I won't elaborate too much)

    The DJ5 does possess a bit deeper, more authoritative, punchy low end than my F Bass, but when I boost the active Bass boost on the F bass, again, ... no contest. F Bass blows me away everytime.

    From what I remember about an in store demo I did of a 55-02, I really liked that bass. I did feel it had better slap tone than the DJ5, and more versatility. But for what the DJ5 does, it does it better than almost all the other Jazz bass wannabes, and with style and performance. I think I'll always keep my DJ5 because it's just so cool. But when I compare, I put it back in the gig bag and play my F Bass. That bass is my holy grail and continues to impress me. Hope that helps.

  20. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    I found the same thing to be true with the Lakland strings strung though the body, switching to sadowsky stainless and stringing through the bridge cured that in a hurry!

    My DJ5 has lindy fralin pickups, and it sounds an AWFUL lot like a 70s J bass to me. I asked Dan Lakin about the Aeros and he said they are "very simmilar". :meh: