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MM sub 5 vs Lakland 55-01/02... advice?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by plugger, Aug 11, 2007.

  1. I'm a guitarist who doesn't know too much about basses (my total bass ownership experience is an old Vantage P-bass copy I bought in the '80s for some demo recording... still has the original '80s brass nut!). OTOH, my 15yo son is getting very serious about his bass playing, and is looking to get a better bass.

    He's looking for a 5-string, and I knew this was going to be tricky. Fortunately, he's discovered he gets on very well with a MM sub-5, and this is within budget, so that's a good option. Something else I've been looking at is the Lakland 55-01 (or even the 55-02). This is based on reviews I've read and some impressions gleaned from talking to bassists. Unfortunately, actually getting one to try out is a bit of a challenge (there doesn't appear to be a Lakland distributer in our area).

    Anyway, that's my main motive for joining up at this stage: getting your collective wisdom on 5-strings, Laklands vs sub-5s (or whatever). Any thoughts or comments re the MM vs Lakland, or even the 55-01 vs the 55-02 (the 55-02 seems to have more versatility with the MM/J pup configuration), please advise! :D

  2. Double Agent

    Double Agent

    Mar 10, 2006
    Lakeland, FL
    Well, for starters, both the 55-01 and 55-02 are very nice instruments. They are also both going for more in the used market than the SUB, with the 55-02 going for a LOT more. So it depends on what he can spend. I think that SUB is an extremely well put together instrument. I don't like the finish on them, but it wouldn't stop me from buying one. Plus its made in USA vs. the Lakland being made in Korea, if that makes a difference to you.

    FWIW, I think it might be a better learning experience for your son to learn how to be versatile with a one pickup bass rather than overwhelming him with options like a Lkaldn 55-02 has.

    The 55-02 is a beautiful bass for sure, and the 55-01 is nice as well. But if your son knows he likes the SUB, I wouldn't go in a different direction as neither of those basses will get the MusicMan sound like a SUB will.
  3. Baird6869

    Baird6869 RIP Gord Downey. A True Canadian Icon.

    I have owned a SUB until recently (just sold it) and I currently own a 55-02.

    Hands down, the 55-02 is a far superior bass IMO. Better hardware, better wood, better electronics and better overall quality. It sounds and looks much better than the SUB.

    I have played a 55-01 briefly, and thought it was ok, but not even close to the sound of my 55-02.

    But.... A used SUB will sell in the $450-500 range and a used 55-02 is more expensive in the $700-800 range.
  4. JebSmells


    Jul 23, 2007
    I have a Sub4 and could not be happier, i was amazed at the variety of sounds i could achieve when i got it home, so much more than just a funk machine (but still a damn good funk machine :D)
  5. The 55-01 & 02 are great instruments and so is the Sub. The biggest difference between the Lakland and the MM is the scale length. The 55-01 and 02 are 35" scale and the MM is the more standard 34". Of the 3 basses you are considering, I think the best one is the 55-02. But your son may not like the tone and 35" scale. Also you might look at a used SR5. These can be had in mint condition for around 1K the same basic bass as the SUB but with premium electronics and hardware and an outstanding fit and finish.
  6. dcr

    dcr Supporting Member

    First off, welcome to TB. You'll find a great group here with tons of combined knowledge.

    Second -- and the reason you asked -- if he's getting along well on the SUB5 and if he likes it, then that's the bass for him! By all means, let him play the 55-01, 55-02, and anything else he can get his hands around. Find something that he really likes, seems to be constructed well, and sounds decent to him.

    Then let him go for it!


  7. Thanks all for your friendly and informed advice.

    Looking at the prices quoted above is interesting: One of the odd things about living in a different country is the way it can skew prices.

    The sub 5 in the music store my son was playing would work out about the same price as a 2nd hand (but essentially new condition) 55-02 ordered from a US music store (including shipping)! I can get a _brand new_ 55-01 shipped from music123 for less than the price of the 2nd hand 55-02, or the new sub 5 from the local music store!

    So putting price to one side for a moment -- let's assume that they are all affordable -- the question is really what bass will suit for the medium to long haul. I think he's at the stage where he could get a "keeper" if chooses well... I've still got my first "real" guitar from all those years ago when I was about his age.

    He plays a variety of genres -- he's playing metal, funk, grunge, 60's rock (Hendrix, Cream), and jazz. That's obviously covering a lot of ground sonically, and the main reason I was thinking of something that had a lot of sounds in it. He plays a fairly solid finger technique, a less convincing slap technique, but this is something he wants to get much better with.

    So to me this all adds up to a bass that has excellent playability first and foremost. But for playability, the only data point we've got to work from is that he likes the sub 5, as I've mentioned.

    Apart from the slightly longer scale on the Laklands, is the string spacing and overall feel and playability up and down the neck similar at all the sub 5? Would you expect someone who likes the playability of a sub 5 to get on with a Lakland (in terms of playability, not considering sound for a moment)?

    Or is it just too much of long bow to draw to try to guess about such things without actually playing one?

    Thanks for your patience with this clueless guitarist everyone. :)

  8. Afrokid


    Nov 24, 2006
    im currently looking at buying a DJ bass, also made by lakland and take my advice they play like a dream
  9. nastyn8c


    Feb 7, 2005
    Tampa, FL
    I would hands-down recommend the 55-02. I owned a 55-94 Deluxe for about 2 years and it's the second best bass I've ever owned. If you have the money, and it sounds like you do in your OP, go for the 55-02.
  10. philthygeezer


    May 22, 2002
    A well playing/sounding bass in the hand is worth twenty internet risks no matter what the price. I learned this first hand. IMO if you can't play it first then don't bother.

    Stop worrying and get the SUB. I have a SUB5 Fretless and like the way it sounds and plays just as much as basses at twice the price.
  11. bovinehost

    bovinehost Supporting Member

    Dec 5, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: Ernie Ball Music Man/Sterling By Music Man
    I think there are answers to this without delving into "feel" or "mojo" or personal bias.

    The string spacing is completely different between the SUB and the Lakland. The Lakland is wider, the SUB's strings are closer together. Some people prefer one, some the other, but there's no doubt that the spacing is considerably different. I've owned a number of Laklands, both Korean and US models, and found most of them comfortable to play, but still prefer the spacing on Ernie Ball basses.

    And it can take some getting used to, that wider, flatter fretboard on the Laklands.

    When tone is introduced, that's when things get way more subjective, but I'd say the Laklands are much more polite across the board than are the Music Man basses.

    Good luck, hope that helps.
  12. Thanks all for your advice and input... based on this, and doing some further investigation of prices, etc., I'm actually thinking a SR5 may be the one. My reasoning is that since I know my son likes the MM SUB 5, it's very likely he'll gets on even more with a SR5, but not at all sure bet when it come to the Laklands, the Lakland being a sufficiently different kind of animal.

    The reason I'm leaning more towards the SR5 rather than the SUB 5 (which I think is a great instrument, BTW) is simply economics... it's going to cost about $200-300 to ship a bass out from the US to Australia, and it really makes more sense to do this for a bass worth $800-$1000 than a bass worth $400-$500. It means that a higher percentage of the overall investment of $ actually remains in the instrument. Also, the resale price in Australia means he would basically get his money back if he decides to move on and he resells it locally... less clear for the SUB 5.

    Anyway, I've yet to see anyone have a bad thing to say about the SR5. A few are for sale on eBay at the moment with sellers willing to ship to Australia -- I'll also keep an eye on the classifieds in TB to see if there's a seller here that will be willing ship to Australia. If someone's reading this that might be willing to consider selling their SR5 to an Aussie buyer, drop me PM -- perhaps we can keep the whole thing in the TB "family".

    Thanks again guys. :)

  13. You always have the option to buy locally as well. I just bought a mint SR5 in Australia for $1700. When you take into account shipping plus customs/duty and exchange rate, it could be just as good to buy local without the wait and added risk of an international purchase. Just a thought :smug:

    By the way I have a Lakland 55-01 and an SR5 - both are great basses but I am on the honeymoon period with the SR5 so my vote goes for him :hyper:

  14. IF you've decided to go for the SR, then might I suggest getting a two-pickup model? If your son's still in the early days, he's probably got a bunch of different musical styles ahead of him, and getting the widest possible array of tones is important.

    Another thing to consider is that if he's going to be looking to get into slap, the four-string might be a better bet, simply because the string spacing is pretty damned tight on the 5. My former main gigging bass has the same string spacing as the SR5, and as I recently got into slapping a lot more, I went out any bought a 55-02.

    Twice, I have *almost* bought a Stingray5, just because they've always been the epitome of cool to me, but both times I came to the conclusion that I couldn't get what I needed out of them. Now that they make HH and HS models, though, they start to look better on the musical side of things, as opposed to just the image side.
  15. Scotty! A Brisbane boy! My man! :)

    We're in Kenmore Hills. So there _are_ Laklands in Brissy... where did you get yours? I've been trying to find one in a store around here just so my son could try one out... no luck at all. The nearest place I can find that stocks them is in Melbourne (which is a bit of a drive).

    As far as the buying locally... yeah, always an option. But with the Aussie $ strong against the greenback at the moment, it's hard to justify paying even AU$1700 for a SR5 locally (which sounds like you got a very good price, BTW) when spending (say) US$1150 to get one shipped equates to about AU$1370 or so... still enough of a difference to concentrate the mind. And of course I can get a _new_ 55-01 from music123 shipped in for less than AU$1000... mind boggling difference in price there.

  16. yeah mate Im not far away - in Graceville.

    You can try an SR5, USA Laklands, 55-02, 55-01 all in the one shop - Ellaways over at Underwood. Thats what put me onto Laklands in the first place.

    I dont know the guys there too well but one of them LOVES Laklands and the other bass guy LOVES musicman.

    I'd ring them first to see what they have in stock.

    When working out cost of importing don't forget to add extra customs and handling fees. THis topic has been done to death - the for and against of importing. I have imported basses before but always encourage people to look local first.

  17. That's great... we'll get down there post haste. Thanks for that!

    One of the good things about the current trade agreement is that US made instruments come in duty-free under AUSFTA... _but_ you have to get the exporter to sign the declaration or they will want to charge you duty. I went through this when I was importing a Les Paul from the US... I had to contact the guitar shop in NYC to fax through the declaration to the customs people in Sydney.

    The other thing is the 10% GST equivalent tax, but they only apply this if the cost of the item exceed AU$1000... and even then, not always. I've only had to pay the 10% tax once (on the LP... but it was a pretty expensive guitar).

    So I figure that even if I'm unlucky and they slap the 10% on, I'm still up to ~ AU$1500 for importing a SR5... and of course, the other aspect is the wider choice.

    The main downside is you don't get to try out the instrument before you buy it. And an unscrupulous seller may misrepresent the instrument in some way.

    But overall I've had pretty positive experiences importing from the US... only one bad deal, but that wasn't disastrous... just got an instrument that was much more beaten up than indicated. But it was still a great player, so I decided I could be philosophical about it. :)

    You playing in any bands locally?

  18. Cool Mark - I sent you a PM

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