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New Lakland DJ w/J-Retro

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Billygoat666, Sep 18, 2008.

  1. Billygoat666


    Sep 19, 2007
    Hi Folks,

    My new Skyline DJ w/J-Retro showed up on the UPS truck yesterday and I just wanted to share my initial thoughts.

    First of all, I must say that this is a stunning instrument. I chose the black sparkle finish with a maple fret board. I love the look of this bass. However they finish the neck is my new absolute favorite. I really like the finish on my EBMM Sterling neck but this one is even better. Definitely one of the smoothest necks out there.

    The J-Retro is a killer pre-amp but there's so many controls that it's going to take me a while to wrap my head around it. There's a lot of awesome sounds in it and right now, I can't stop twiddling knobs. I love having lots of control over my sound so this thing is great. Also, it's cool that for the DJ J-Retros, East uses the black lower knobs and the chrome upper ones. It looks sharp and kinda adds some custom flair. I plan on replacing the stock white pickguard with a black cherry pearl pickguard from Jeannie's which should push it over the top with killer looks.

    Now for the negative... I'm getting fret buzz all over the place on this bass even with a light touch. I did some reading in the setups/repair area this morning and concluded that the neck may not have enough relief so I gave the truss a very slight (1/8thish) turn to the left. Still tons of buzz. I did read that you should leave it to settle for a day or so after tweaking the truss, so maybe it'll be a little better tomorrow. If not, I'll turn it another tiny increment. It was sent right from the factory so it kinda sucks that it didn't play very nicely out of the box but hopefully I can figure it out. If after one more slight turn of the truss, it doesn't clear up, I guess I'll have to shell out the $40 or whatever and wait a week for a local tech to tune it up for me. Any other pointers on this would be appreciated.

    Also, the strings all sound awesome except for the E string which sounds completely lifeless like a string that's months old. I'm gonna throw a set of new DR's on but again, kind of a shame to have a brand new bass show up with a dud string. I'm hoping that's all the problem is anyway... For the last of the negative, the neck binding is not done as well as I had expected. There are lots of little black/gray scuff marks on it almost as if someone slipped with a file or some kind of tool and got the plastic. Where it rolls around to the face of the fret board, it looks like there's little hairline cracks in some places. This may sound worse that it actually looks but I just expected it to be done much cleaner.

    I guess looking back at my review here, the negative is almost as much as the positive. Hopefully in a few days I'll have the fret buzzing taken care of and new strings on it so that I can properly enjoy this bass.

    Any pointers on the fret buzz issue would be appreciated.
  2. NWB


    Apr 30, 2008
    Kirkland, WA
    I love my DJ, but it did need a bit of setup to play well.

    The first thing I did (after putting the requisite DRs on) was to adjust the truss rod using a straight edge along the middle of the fretboard with just a slight amount of relief. Then I lowered the string saddles until each one was barely buzzing a bit and raised it slightly from that point. Lastly, I checked the intonation which fortunately didn't need adjustment.

    This approach worked well for me. The Lakland website also has good setup info and is really easy to follow.

    BTW - I have the same color and fretboard and it's really awesome. I was going to drop a J-retro into it, but changed my mind after using it passive for awhile. It just didn't need a preamp to sound perfect IMO.
  3. basspraiser

    basspraiser Jammin for the Lamb! Supporting Member

    Dec 8, 2006
    Chicago - NW Burbs

    if the buzz does not go away, e-mail or call Kirk at Lakland....he should be able to give you some pointers and maybe save you the $40.....
  4. I also have a brand new black sparkle DJ with the maple board, and I'm having the same problem with the strings. The E string sounds pretty dull. All four strings were twisted when I got the bass. I had to take each string off and untwist it, then put it back on. I'm going to go get a new set of strings and try that. I'm also a bit bummed that with a brand new bass, the strings were put on so badly.
  5. AndyMan

    AndyMan Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 17, 2000
    Columbus, Ohio
    Send it back. That's unacceptable, period.
  6. Billygoat666


    Sep 19, 2007
    Anybody know where I can get an 18" straight edge? Is that something I can get at Home Depot?

    I waited about three hours and gave the truss another small turn to the left. Still buzzing all over the place. This is driving me nuts...
  7. NWB


    Apr 30, 2008
    Kirkland, WA
    The straight edge I used was a metal construction level. It was more than straight enough for my purposes. You can get metal rulers at Home Depot which should work fine. I found that straightening (less relief) led to less buzz. I don't know if this is really necessary, but I also loosen the strings to take tension off the neck when I do the truss rod adjustments and then wait a couple hours before bringing them back to pitch.

    My bass is a four-string and the E is as strong as all get out. Typically a weak-sounding string is a result of pickup height and is very easily fixed by slowly raising the weak end of each pickup until the volume is even across all the strings.

    Be patient and you'll be rewarded with a truly amazing bass.:cool:
  8. Billygoat666


    Sep 19, 2007
    To clarify, the E string is not any quieter than the others. It just sounds like a dead string. The silk wrapping on it is even all frayed as though it was taken off another bass or something. I'm pretty confident that a fresh set of strings will fix the E string.

    I guess I'll have to go to home depot to get a straight edge...
  9. Billygoat666


    Sep 19, 2007
    Oh, by the way, thanks for the pointers guys. I appreciate the help.
  10. mattygbass

    mattygbass Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2008
    Stafford Springs, CT
    honestly you dont need a straight edge. hold down the e string with your elbow at the last fret hold the first fret down with your finger then bend your right hand down while keeping your right elbow on the last fret and tap the middle of the fret board around the7th or 8th fret you should hear a little clink. if the string is sitting on the fret and there is no sound then you need some relief. there should be about enough space between the string and the 7th fret to be able to slide a pick or a credit card in between them.and then if there is still buzzing try raising the saddles until it doesnt buzz anymore. this has always worked for me.
    edit: and then put some DR strings on it and check it all over again.
  11. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    YES - Matty has exactly the right idea - I do this all the time to check relief.

    ALSO - be sure to sight down the neck carefully to be sure that it isn't warped or some other problem. AND - be sure that it is not something else rattling that sounds like fret buzzing.
  12. cigi


    Aug 22, 2006
    I don't want to get to much of topic, but some time ago I was thinking about the quality control of skylines. I thought it was amazing they can keep it up at this rate and I also thought when they will start loosing their amazing QC.

    Are these two exceptions? Or is the Skyline QC getting less consequent because of the large amount of basses they put out? I remember a thread about the QC of skylines and allthough a lot of tb'ers said they haven't had a bad one in their hands, there were also a few that had really bad ones. I must say that in the case of the bad ones it wasn't clear if it was due to lakland or to the store. Allthough in this case it seems clear.

    This topic concerns me because I'm planning on buying a skyline in the near future. :(
  13. Bobster


    Mar 27, 2006
    Austin, TX
    Just for the record, I'm not making this comment because the basses in question are Laklands. I do own two, but I'd still have to make this statement even if I didn't...

    Every bass I've bought in my life, needed some sort of setup work, either string height, intonation, pickup height, truss rod work, or something cosmetic. With a few I had more than one problem from that list. Others were more minor, but I (or a luthier) as done some work on every one.

    Overall I've had very positive experiences with the Lakland, but EVERY bass, regardless of brand, needed something. I don't consider setup a QC issue.

    Regarding the OP's buzzy setup, they should be able to find out everything they need at this link: http://www.garywillis.com/pages/bass/bassmanual/setupmanual.html

    or in this link at TB: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=125382

    For any QC issues with Lakland basses, worn string wraps, for example, contact Lakland and let them know. I've personally had nothing but good experiences with Kirk, John, Brian, and Dan.

  14. lamarjones

    lamarjones Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2002
    Raleigh, NC

    A lot of brand new high end basses come with the neck near perfectly straight and action very low so you can be assured that your setup can be as low as possible IF you have that touch. Most don't and to be fair no one really goes for perfectly straight. I should receive a brand new bass setup for a guy who has a strong attack (needing higher action)? How about no.

    There is a notion that a brand new bass should be set up for you? That is ridiculous, people don't use the same setups, and when buying a bass you should plan on having a setup done if that is going to be the bass you use.

    If you learn anything from TB, this is one of the biggies.

    JAUQO III-X Banned

    Jan 4, 2002
    Endorsing artist:see profile.
    Thank you.

    I like extremely low action,so low that very few bass players can play my bass with out getting any fret buzz and they wonder why I don't get any.

    It's all in the touch
  16. YCBass

    YCBass Supporting Member

    Aug 29, 2007
    As far as the set-up/action is concerned, I don't think that has anything to do with quality... Even in the box the instrument is subject to weather and heat in the truck of facility - so the perfect set-up from the factory can get out of wack sometimes. So don't worry about that... Just work on it a bit and you're good there, IMHO.

    The dead sounding string, yes that is a shame on a new bass straight from the factory but for me I would've changed them anyway to DR's (like you)... So I can get over that part also.

    But the binding might be a deal breaker for me... That is directly involved with quality so depending on how bad it really is vs. how long it'll take to get a new one, including possibly having to ship it back at your own expense... I would seriously think about it, you should be 100% happy with your new bass. If it's used, that's a different story.

    Good luck!

    Great choice of bass, btw.

    EDIT: And just to add, in case you're planning on using DR Lo-Riders... Those are higher tension strings that may correct your issue with relief/buzzing. So tune up, play and take a look before making any more adjustments.
  17. NWB


    Apr 30, 2008
    Kirkland, WA
    Above all, please make sure you let us know how she plays after the new strings and setup adjustments.:D
  18. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Retired Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    No it didn't.

    But if it had, here's what I'd say about the J-Retro. The easiest way I found to get a grip on the EQ was to set the mid frequency at about 1 or 2 o'clock as you'd see it from the front. Then set the mid volume at the detent. Set the bass and treble controls at the detent. Slowly increase the mid volume until you hear a tone you're starting to like. After that, pull up a little bass until it fills out the bottom. Add treble if you need to brighten it a little.

    If you're going for the scooped sound, start at the same settings, but roll your mid frequency back to about 10 o'clock, bass and treble flat, then start cutting mid 'til you hear something you like. Then boost bass and treble to taste.

    The key is to experiment to find the mid frequency for boost and cut that gives you the results you require. Then remember where they are, set it and forget it.

    JAUQO III-X Banned

    Jan 4, 2002
    Endorsing artist:see profile.
    Not trying to be sarcastic but you said it came from the factory(meaning Lakland). Did you order it directly from Lakland or some where else and it was sent there from Lakland and then to you?

    It's this a new bass or used?
  20. Thorazine Dream

    Thorazine Dream

    Apr 9, 2007
    SLC, UT
    Here's another simple way to "eyeball" the relief without a straight edge:

    Fret the E string (or any of the strings, for that matter) on the first fret with your left hand and the 16th fret with your right hand. The string creates a "straight edge" between these two frets and you can get a general idea of the amount of relief in the neck (or lack of relief :)). Then simply tweak the truss rod to create the proper amount of relief.

    Truss rod tweaks are nothing to be afraid of and with some practice, it's really quite easy (and satisfying) to set up a bass.

    Straight edges are handy for checking relative fret height, if you still have buzzing once the relief has been properly set.

    Good Luck!! :bassist:

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