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Lakland DJ4 and JO4, compared both today

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by sb69coupe, Jan 23, 2006.

  1. sb69coupe


    Aug 9, 2004
    Raleigh NC
    I stopped in a music store today and spent a little time with both a DJ4 and JO4 this afternoon. I was really digging both basses. I played both of them through an SWR Workingman combo amp with all tone controls set flat. I played both of them passive as well as through my Sadowsky outboard preamp pedal. Here's my thoughts, in no particular order:

    When I first picked up the DJ4, I was immediately taken aback by the considerable weight of the bass. It was at least 10 pounds, probably more. It balanced well both sitting and with a strap, and the weight wouldn't be an issue for me, regardless. The DJ4 was set up with really low action, lower than I prefer. I have a fairly aggressive attack and was getting some fret buzz at times. Nothing that a good setup wouldn't fix though. The strings on the DJ were kind of dead, but it still got a very nice tone in passive mode. Through the Sadowsky pre the lows tightened up but the mids continued to punch. Very nice.

    The DJ neck was very comfortable, and I really liked the blocks and binding. The fretwork was great, and I really like the smaller fretwire that Lakland uses. I'm not 100% in love with the smaller, curvy body design once I saw it in person. That's still an open issue with me.

    Now on to the JO4. I didn't expect to like it as much as I did. First off, this example was LIGHT!!! Way lighter weight than the DJ4, yet it had tons of sustain and punch. It was strung with much newer sounding strings than the DJ, which I know made a difference in the overall tone. The action on the JO was higher than the DJ, even though the saddles were set lower than the ones on the DJ. Both the DJ and JO necks had very little relief, so I can't explain the difference in the string height when comparing the two. The Fralin's in the JO were warmer than the Aeros in the DJ. The mids were not as punchy on the JO, but the overall sound with the newer strings was really nice and full.

    Overall, I do prefer the appearance of the blocks, binding, and painted headstock of the DJ. I'm not sold on the smaller body of the DJ. The neck was really comfortable and the overall tone was a great mix of punchy mids and full lows. The JO felt like the real deal in terms of a true Fender-spec Jazz with excellent workmanship. It had that warm Jazz tone in spades.

    Summary: I am more confused than ever. I went in expecting to prefer the DJ over the JO, but now I am firmly on the fence. Oh well, I guess I can spend some more time deliberating since a LPB DJ is nowhere in sight......
  2. Piedro


    Jan 23, 2001
    Montréal, Qc, Canada
    Endorsing Aguilar Amp product.
    Thanks! Great Review!
    i've GAS on a DJ5... should try the JO5 too...
  3. BartmanPDX

    BartmanPDX Supporting Member

    The weight on the Skyline DJs and JOs seems to vary a little bit from bass to bass, from what I've heard -- my DJ5 is actually pretty light, but maybe I got lucky. IIRC, Lakland doesn't list the weight of their basses on the website, perhaps due to this variation. If weight is an issue, then it would be wise to try the individual bass in question (or have it weighed) to make sure you don't end up with one on the heavy side.

    The body shape is a little unusual, but I've gotten used to it. It does have a bit of neck dive, but then again, almost every bass but my XL-2 has a little neck dive, and it's not nearly as bad as some basses I've played.

    Good review!!
  4. Pindy


    Jan 3, 2006
    Funny, the JO4 (Skyline) I tried was much heavier than the DJ4 I tried, so clearly there's variation. The woods are not hand-picked for the MIK basses, so it must be a fairly random choice.

    I had a similar experience, though, overall. I went in expecting to love the DJ. I only liked it. When I got to the JO, I freaked and knew I was playing a special bass. Not sure why, but it just suited me. The DJ pickups weren't my favourite, and there was no preamp (I don't think). That may have changed things. Both necks were very enjoyable to play.
  5. JoshB

    JoshB A great man is always willing to be little. -RWE Supporting Member

    nice review! I've been interested in the JO for awhile, but only time will tell if I get one...
  6. ill get the DJ5 with Fralin's.. The looks and the sound :bassist:
  7. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    Fremont, Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Obviously, this is all a personal preference thing, but it is kind of cool that Lakland offers two different takes on a "J-bass" for us to fret over [excuse the bad, and actually unintended, pun!]. I happen to prefer the DJ in 4-string configuration, but I could see preferring the JO as a 5 (haven't played a JO5, but I didn't care for the neck on the DJ5 - but love it on the DJ4).

    Also, while I have not weighed mine, I am struck by how light my DJ4 feels. I'm guessing under 9 lbs.

    And let me add that being fortunate enough to have some high end basses to compare to my Lakland Skyline, I am very impressed with the bass you get for the money. Heck, I'm impressed from a price-independant perspective, too!

  8. chrisp2u


    Aug 15, 2005
    Buffalo, NY
    Hmmm... my new DJ5 definitely has a couple pounds on my 55-02, which is really light. Don't have a scale to check for sure, but I'd guess it in the 9-10 pound range. I love it regardless though :D
  9. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I've been thinking of a DJ5 with Fralins. (the aero's are too
    gnarly for me) If I don't get J Retro, what's a good preamp
    for these basses. Maybe a Sadowsky? Looking for a modern
    sound, with lots of booty punch.
  10. LiamCohl


    Jan 29, 2005
    Toronto, ON
    that is definately strange about the weight, I have played one of daryll's personal bass' before and it was very light.
  11. Dan Lakin says DJ4 is 8 to 10 lbs.
  12. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    I was just about ready to sell my DJ5 with fralins since I don't "need" it anymore with the band I use it in dissolving. We played a farewell gig on saturday, and the thing sounded amazing all night. In that room (which was real boomy), it sounded better than my MTD. Go figure. I'm keepin it.
  13. Larry99


    Aug 17, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    I have a JO5 with a Sadowsky/VTC on board. The range of tones I can get is AMAZING! I'm sure the Sad pre with the DJ5 will be equally impressive.

    As for the weight, my JO5 is pretty heavy. I never weighed it but I'm sure it's pushing 11 lbs. However, the instrument is incredibly balanced so it's not really an issue with me. Weight will definitely vary from bass to bass across the same model.
  14. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
  15. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    My DJ4 is like 8.5 lbs. I love it, love it. Terrific bass. I can't afford a '66 jazz bass but the DJ is close enough for me.
  16. fclefgeoff

    fclefgeoff Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2002
    My DJ4 is also suprisingly light. I have never actually weighed it but if it weighed 8.5 lbs I would be shocked. My Modulus VJ seems to be at least 2 lbs heavier but the body is alder as opposed to the swamp ash of the Lakland. Also, I originally wasn't keen on the smaller contoured body until I started playing 2.5-3 hour sets. It is extremely comfortable. I love my DJ4! :hyper: :hyper: :bassist:
  17. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    If the bass is that light, are there any neck dive issues?
    I would think at some point, if the body is so light, it
    might effect tone or balance. I could be wrong.
  18. GRoberts

    GRoberts Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2003
    Tucson, AZ USA
    I am fairly certain the neck profile on the JO5 and the DJ5 are the same. I read that on the "Dudepit" forum. Anyone know for sure?

    I have a Lakland DJ5 and it's not what I would call lightweight, but it's not unreasonably heavy either. Not sure what it weighs, but there is no neck dive that I am aware of and it's very comfortable to play at a 4 set gig. I was thinking of selling my DJ5 for a while, but when I used it at a couple gigs, I was very impressed at how well it sat in the mix, and how well it cut. My band mates liked it too. (Probably because it looks like a Jazz bass. "My guitarist loves what looks familiar." My DJ5 has a fullness that is focused and works very well live. The pickups have been described as aggressive, but I find that depending on how I attack, they have a very rich, sweet tone. And they can bite and growl when I want them to. The D and G Strings in the upper registers are fuller and fatter sounding than my other basses too which works really well on Motown/R&B and classic rock music. My DJ5 stays! End of story. Incredible value and an exceptional bass no matter what the price. Plus, I'm a sucker for Block inlays and matching painted headstock. Lastly, I am blown away at the power, volume and punch for a passive bass. - Gary
  19. RudeMood


    Nov 7, 2004
    Austin, TX
    Great info! Thanks for sharing - I will be in the market for a DJ in the future and this info will be helpful, especially knowing the weights vary.

    I recently discovered that the smaller/different DJ jazz body is based on Darryl Jones' A-Bass, a custom bass made by a guy who no longer is in the business. Bass Palace has an A-Bass for sale now and you can see the body similarity (the pics rotate):

  20. Larry99


    Aug 17, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    Previous owner had the pre installed but by the looks of it, it seemed pretty involved. They had to rout out a space for a battery (under the pick guard) and drill a hole to move the jack to the side rim to make room for the 4th (stacked bass/treb) pot. A pro job is definitely required and whoever did it seemed to do a decent job on mine. The only thing I don't like about it is the control cavity is a bit tight and they kinda just stuffed all the wiring and such in there; seems kinda sloppy. In fact, I had to change out the VTC pot - not sure if that was because of the install or just an unfortunate coincidence?