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MY Lakland 55-01 DIY Pickup & Preamp upgrade

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by pablomigraine, Mar 2, 2008.

  1. pablomigraine

    pablomigraine Commercial User

    Feb 9, 2005
    New York
    VP & Managing Director - Willcox Basses
    So after falling in love with my big soapbar equipped '98 Warwick Thumb, I decided to order a Lakland Skyline 55-01 with the intention of upgrading the pickups and electronics.

    After looking at tons of different options, I decided to go with the Bartolini CBC soapbar pickups and the venerable Bartolini NTMB preamp. Now, Bartolini offers its preamps in pre-wired harnesses, so that connecting the pickups is the only actual wiring / soldering required, and allows a novice like myself minimum opportunity for error... In this case I opted for the 5.4 A/P.... which adds a 3-position toggle for the midrange frequency, and a preamp defeat for passive operation.

    When the bass arrived I was again struck how incredibly playable these basses are for the money. I still maintain that Lakland ties with the Ernie Ball Musicman Stingrays for the most playable neck in Bass'dom, insofar as mass produced instruments go.

    I plugged her in and played some, taking care to set my DB750 flat so as to try and gain an idea what the stock preamp and pickups were capable of. HERE

    The stock system wasn't as bad as I'd anticipated by a long shot. Smooth lows and nice full mids, and while the preamp did offer good flexibility, requiring very little adjustment to get big changes in tone, too much movement fore or aft of center usually resulted in unusable tones. Too much bass boost produced mud, too much treble got clanky and weird, and cutting or boosting midrange tended to either add honk or notch the tone. I popped off the control cavity cover and found the wiring neat and clean, with the area well shielded. ( I had bought some copper shielding tape just in case ) PICS HERE

    After removing the old harness and pickups I compared the MK1 pickups to the CBC's. The covers were of a completely different material, and seemed of much better quality overall, with epoxy bottoms and thick, shielded wiring. HERE

    The first big challenge was, drilling a hole to accommodate the 3-position toggle switch. I decided to place it in between the Pan and treble knobs, the factory location on the 55-01's bog brother, the 55-02. I Decided to use gradually increasing drill bit sizes, starting very small and each larger than the next until the needed diameter was reached, rather than just ram right through with a large-bore bit and risk damage. I was concerned about chipping the poly finish around the hole, so I placed a piece of painters tape over the hole before drilling in an attempt to prevent any chipping or shattering. It worked perfectly! HERE

    After this, the rest of the job was simple. I literally "dropped" the new preamp module right in, secured the pots, wired in the new battery terminal wiring, soldered the pickups into the board and refitted the knobs! HERE!

    After plugging and playing for just a few minutes it was plain to see why bass makers like Kieth Roscoe, Dingwall, Kenneth Lawrence, and ZON all use Bartolini pickups and preamps. No matter what setting I used I couldn't find a bad tone anywhere. Despite having a great del of cut / boost available no one setting was too extreme or sounded bad, It was great!! While the 3-pos midrange was a cool feature, the best part was the treble control. Even set flat the bass sounded fuller but moreover it sounded more ALIVE! Boost the treble little and you have a glassy sheen over top of everything, Just top notch.

    Hope to have sound clips up in a few weeks.................................

    ps: I have never successfully changed the lock on that camera. I change it to the correct time, save the settings and power the phone down. As soon as I turn it back on again however, the incorrect time is back up/
  2. Kitsapbass

    Kitsapbass What key is this?

    May 26, 2005
    Bremerton, WA
    and......SUBSCRIBED! I can't wait to hear what this bass sounds like!!!
  3. pablomigraine

    pablomigraine Commercial User

    Feb 9, 2005
    New York
    VP & Managing Director - Willcox Basses
    I'm gonna get some software from my buddy when Im in Florida later this week, and when I come home next week I will begin my first ever recording into my computer!! YAAAAYYY. Wish me luck!

    Seriously though.... this new system sounds amazing. Being that the pickups are wired in parallel, they naturally sound very "Deep", but a low-midrange punch is always present unless EQ'd out. I love this setup. It sounds amazing. It really does sound Expensive..........
  4. sgorman


    Apr 16, 2008
    Thanks for the advice pablomigraine. I was never satisfied with the sound of my Skyline 55-01. Always sounded a bit too deep, and woofy, without enough growl. The new Bartolini MK5CBC pickups were easy to install, and do give the bass a bit more punch and clarity. Now I'm feeling I should go all the way and get the NTMB preamp assembly, since I still feel the bass could sound better. I love the look and feel of this bass, so it's worth putting money into.

    mrbanzai10 likes this.

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