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Need help on a new bass (long post)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Herbie Chesnutt, Mar 19, 2010.

  1. Herbie Chesnutt

    Herbie Chesnutt Guest

    Mar 19, 2010
    Wake Forest, NC
    EDIT: I just finished the exchange on the phone with GC and got the black MIM Active Fender Jazz Deluxe. I couldn't be happier with my choice. I feel like this bass will be with me a long time.

    Now, having had my hands on a Lakland I'm gassing for a Joe Osborn or a Decade. Once I save enough scratch to buy one of those maybe I'll play well enough to do it justice.

    Thanks everyone for all the feedback and nudges.


    I know, I know. But trust me, if I wasn't pulling my thinning hair out I wouldn't make this post.

    The deal: I just turned 40. To kick off my mid-life crisis I want to get back into playing. In the 90's I had an Epiphone Accu Bass and played in a band that covered The Cure and Joy Division and other post-punk songs. That bass sounded like dung, but I didn't know any better. I sold it in '97 and haven't touched a bass since.

    For my b-day I got a new Sterling Ray34 mostly because I used to lust for a Stingray back in the day. Well, I'm not 25 anymore and that Lou Ferrigno sized neck coupled with its 11 pound weight is killing me. I thought I would get used to it, but it is going back. :crying:

    Money: $800 is the max. And this is a serious chunka change for me.

    The Choices: Sterling SB14 or Fender Highway One Jazz or Lakland 44-01?

    SB14: I've spent waaaaay too much time in GC playing the SB14. I don't think I like the tones I get from it. I like the Ray34 way better in this respect. But the SB14 feels great and the build is excellent. Both the Ray34 and the SB14 feel AMAZING compared to anything in this price range. Completely superior to anything else I've picked up in this price range. I'd keep the Ray if it wasn't such a PITA for me to strap on and fret.

    Hwy 1 Jazz: The local GCs don't have one to try so I've played the MIM and the American Std figuring the Hwy 1 is somewhere in the middle. There is a million miles between the two in build quality. I thought I was going to cut my fingers all up on the MIM fretboard. Crazy. But the weight and width feel great. The tone is nothing special. I don't love it but I don't hate it. It just is. I figure this is the safest purchase since everyone loves Fender, right?

    Lakland 44-01: This is the wildcard. GC doesn't carry. I absolutely LOVE the tones I've heard on the Lakland website. The nut dimensions seem right (1.6") but I've heard they are a bit heavy and the build quality can be iffy. I think a store 40miles away might carry these so I'll go try it out, but until then, anybody comment on the 44-01 in this mix?

    Mods: I plan on picking up an SX to geek out on modding so I want my main ax to be stock for a while. I'm interested in impressions of the stock setup of the above basses. I'm sure any bass would sound better with an additional $500+ in pickups and preamps modded in. But for $800 I would like to think the stock config would sound and feel good too.

    Stylee: I play mostly The Cure, Joy Division and Bauhaus type stuff with a little dub-ish type stuff mixed in. Slight chorus/distortion. I don't slap at all, though I'm interested in learning. I'm a mellow dude that loves the sound of a smooth finger roll over a low E and the shimmer when I go high.

    Soooooo.... which would you go for if you were me? I hate to ask, but I'm totally stuck. Once I think I've made a decision I immediately start lusting for the others. If I wasn't such a lazy-ass with little 9yo girl hands I would just keep the Ray34. ;)

    Thanks for any nudges.
  2. 3toes


    Aug 30, 2006
    Denver, Colorado
    I'd put the build quality of the Lakland over both the SBMM and the MIM Fender... Dunno where you heard that from but I couldn't disagree more. Also, the several SBMMs I've picked up has weighed more than most Laklands and Fenders I've played.
  3. ausf


    Jun 24, 2008
    New York
    I was in two same boat a few years back. I opted for the Highway One P and had no regrets. I eventually decided I wanted to slap, so I quickly outgrew the P and went for a StingRay.

    I think a HW1 jazz would fit your bill exactly.

    Or a used Sterling. It's a lot lighter and smaller than a Ray. My buddy just scored one for $500 and it's mint.
  4. Herbie Chesnutt

    Herbie Chesnutt Guest

    Mar 19, 2010
    Wake Forest, NC
    Musician's Friend and Harmony Central. I know, sucky sources. I'm sorta on my own, not around other players to bounce stuff off of. That is why I posted.

    Thanks for your input. I am really drawn to the Lakland based on the clips on their site. LOVE that tone and I assume they hold their value for when I want to trade up to the nicer Lakland, unlike the SBMMs. Your helping get to the decision I think I want to the most.
  5. 3toes


    Aug 30, 2006
    Denver, Colorado
    Well, regardless of my thoughts on the matter, when you get down to it... you really need to play it first just to make sure.

    I'd definitely call that shop and maybe make a little day-trip to go try out any they have in stock.
  6. Herbie Chesnutt

    Herbie Chesnutt Guest

    Mar 19, 2010
    Wake Forest, NC
    I got the SBMM Ray34 new for $470 which was a nice deal. The HW1 would be the safest choice. But honestly, Fenders don't speak to me like the SBMM does. The HW1 would totally be a choice from the head. I wouldn't be sorry for getting it cuz the bridge/neck combo can go molten at any moment and with the right attack I can get into it, but it would jsut take a little more time and fiddl'n to get it perfect.
  7. Herbie Chesnutt

    Herbie Chesnutt Guest

    Mar 19, 2010
    Wake Forest, NC
    Word. Thanks again.
  8. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    FWIW, every Lakland I've played - domestic or imported - was very well made and played great. The sounds are every bit as good as you expect, too. Really nice basses.

    3toes is right, though. Get something you can play first. You've got something to play for the moment, even if it's not meeting your expectations, so you're in a position to be able to take your time and find a bass that really grabs you by... well, a bass that really grabs you.

    Just curious; did you try any G&L Tribute L2000s? Some can run a little heavy, but if you find a light one they fit right into the tonal territory you're describing. You can get used USA G&Ls in that pricerange, too.
  9. thwump64


    Feb 2, 2010
    Oshawa, ON
    From personal experiences I have to say that the jazz is probably your best bet, but that's from personal experiences. You're the one who's gonna be playin' it so it's all up to which one feels best to you.
  10. Herbie Chesnutt

    Herbie Chesnutt Guest

    Mar 19, 2010
    Wake Forest, NC
    Imagine you and I were belly up to a bar, having a couple beers and shootin the s, er, breeze. From your experience, what makes the Jazz the best in your opinion? In the end I'll go with the one suits me the best, but I'm so on the fence on each right now that I'm looking for exactly the kind of info I think you have.

    Tone? Versatility? Sound guy plug n play? Resale?

    That American Standard Jazz felt niiiiice. Just wasn't grabbed by the tone. Sounded tooooo mellow on the neck. Too weak on the bridge and it takes a bit for me, essentially a rusty old novice, to dial in on the Jazz what I hear in my head and never really got it right while sitting at GC with Little Johnny Slapsalot in full SlipKnot mode showing off next to me. :eyebrow:

    Thanks for any benefit of your experience you can lend.
  11. Stranger Danger

    Stranger Danger Feel Like A Stranger Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2010
    Used Am Std P-Bass
  12. Herbie Chesnutt

    Herbie Chesnutt Guest

    Mar 19, 2010
    Wake Forest, NC
    I have not considered the G&L. Hmmm......

    The nut is 1.75 and the radius is 9" compared to the Ray34 at 1-5/8 and 11" radius. I weighed my EBMM and it is a real-life 10.75 lbs and feels heavier somehow. I know I would need something in the 8-9 lb range to be comfy if I were to get back to the old three hour rehearsal type routine. Not sure the G&L would be a good fit, but I'll see if one is around when I make my trip up north.

    Thanks for your input on the Lakland. Exactly what I wanted to hear about the build quality and tone. I gotsta get me hands on one!
  13. Herbie Chesnutt

    Herbie Chesnutt Guest

    Mar 19, 2010
    Wake Forest, NC
    I just played the Active P Special. Godawful pickguard, but that can be changed. It has a Split P and a Jazz neck. The build was meh. The frets were rough, the knobs felt loosey goosey, but I liked that tone and a good setup guy could smooth it all out. I had a epiphone version of a P back in the day and love that feel-it-in-the-gut tone a P gives ya.

    Here ya go, this is contrary to my mod statement above, but if I were to switch out a hwy1 jazz neck on the hwy1 P body would the strings still lineup on the pickup or did they do a special rout on the P Active?
  14. Herbie Chesnutt

    Herbie Chesnutt Guest

    Mar 19, 2010
    Wake Forest, NC
    Just called around and I can't find anybody that carries Lakland in the Denver area. The Guitar Cellar in Boulder may not be there anymore since the phone line is disconnected. Argh.

    Any forum members in the Denver/Colorado Springs areas know of a place that carries Lakland?

    I found a 44-02 Deluxe at the Music Go Round by my house. Would that be anything at all like the 44-01? Plus they have that Gretsch Jr Jet that I want to pickup for my boy so I'm going anyway and will play the 44-02 DLX, but just wondering if it is anything like the 44-01, just nicer.
  15. thwump64


    Feb 2, 2010
    Oshawa, ON
    Again, just from my experience, but I play a lot of the music that you mentioned, and IMO the tone was brilliant, and the feel was the best I've ever felt. Also you have to remember that personal preference comes into play. But anyways it's your pick, just throwing in my 2 cents.
  16. Herbie Chesnutt

    Herbie Chesnutt Guest

    Mar 19, 2010
    Wake Forest, NC
    Well there you go. I can't think of a better recommendation. I'mma try that Jazz again this weekend. The American Standard felt great. Maybe look at that Active P Special with the p-j and jazz neck. Is the HWY1 closer to that American Std than a MIM? Looking for one locally. Guitarland is outta stock.

    One thing that is becoming clear is that the SBMM SB14 is not going to happen. I tried and tried at GC but just didn't like it. I think that one is pretty much a goner.

    So, down to the Jazz or a P-J with a jazz neck and the Lakland. I contacted a Craigslist ad with a red 44-01 for $700 with a hard case.


    At the very least I will get a chance to play one to see how I like it. If it doesn't work, I would be more than happy with a Fender after this exercise. Sometimes you just gotta bounce things off people in the know. :cool:
  17. colcifer

    colcifer Esteemed Nitpicker Supporting Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    A Galaxy Far, Far Away
    I'd say either a J or a P/J
  18. zeke917


    Mar 18, 2010
    Herbie what a sweet dilemma you have maybe i can help you...I am a few years older than you and I know what you mean about the 'ray - I don't own a MM but I do own an Ibanez ATK300 which is a poor mans version of the MM/SR and nearly as heavy - and it DEFINITELY doesn't have the weeny Ibanez neck . I have played Lakland basses and I absolutely love them - They seem to be the best of show in terms of vibe, versatility and they look SO good on stage. If you aren't stuck on the Jazz sound think about the Lakland my friend
    BTW I took an old Accu-bass about replaced the stock pickups with Seymour Duncan 1/4 pounders and re-wired everything with new pots,a jack and some vintage fender dome knobs. I gutted the crappy stock bridge with the corroded brass saddles and stuck on a Leo Quann BA II. It plays and sounds great! I ordered a custom white perloid pick guard from pick guard Heaven, I'll post pics.
  19. Herbie Chesnutt

    Herbie Chesnutt Guest

    Mar 19, 2010
    Wake Forest, NC
    Man I would love to see that Accu Bass. Post em when you get em. Here is a pic similar to what mine looked like:


    Thanks for the two cents on the Lakland. I'll give the Lakland a run and see how it feels and sounds. I'm neutral on the jazz sound. But they feel great to play. I am anxious though....
  20. Ilikejazzbass

    Ilikejazzbass Inactive

    Feb 20, 2010
    Its so rewarding driving a great distance for a instrument. I love driving to music stores that are far away from home and you get there and its always magical. Not really. You get there and you find out your women left you and you forgot to shower and you smell like roses.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

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