'Organic' sounding 5 string: Dingwall Combustion vs Lakland 55-02 vs Fender Jazz

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by SumOne, Jan 25, 2021.

  1. SumOne


    Oct 26, 2017
    London, UK
    I own a Dingwall Combustion (5 string) but have a feeling that it's not quite designed for me because I'm deliberately downgrading it's more 'modern' tone aspects to suit the more organic/woody/warm/thump I want. Feels like I'm deliberately limiting the Combustion's technical abilities, like putting offroad tyres on a sports car.

    Low action + small frets + long sustain + hi-fi tones + active EQ are perhaps best suited to fast technical playing rather than my less skilled, laidback 'hold the low end thump' style, obviously it can do that too but it seems perhaps not the right fit for me as I'm looking forward to the strings getting older, it's usually on Passive, and run it through pedals to get closer to the tone I want rather than getting the tone directly from the Bass (I'm even thinking of using a bridge mute). Whereas I used to have a 4 string passive Fender Jazz and found I could get the tones I wanted directly from the Bass by blending a neck-heavy pickup setting and dialling down the tone.

    I'm after a 70s passive Jazz Bass tone (playing stuff like Reggae, Funk, Blues) 5 string (probably 35"+) with wide string spacing, ability to blend between pickups, and for a cost equivalent of trading the Combustion. I generally hear that Fender aren't necessarily the best for 5 strings so I've got my eyes on a Lakland 55-02. Has anyone here got experience with them compared to a Combustion (or Jazz) or any other options you'd recommend?

    Trying one out for myself is the only real answer but I'm trying to narrow down the field seeing as I can't try out Basses in shops at the moment but I'm impatient with practice time on my hands.
    DJ Bebop likes this.
  2. taconeko


    Mar 13, 2020
    Tokyo, Japan
    Given your criteria, a Lakland Darryl Jones signature bass would be the best bet. I had the four string version a long time ago with the Aero pickups and I regret selling it. It was truly a wonderful instrument. Definitely up there in best passive Jazz style bass I had played and heard.
    MonetBass, Steve88, bassbully and 2 others like this.
  3. SumOne


    Oct 26, 2017
    London, UK
    Thanks, the DJ5 looks like a good option.

    I'm also considering the Sandberg California TM5. And not ruling out the Fender Jazz (American Professional). All a similar sort of price range for exchanging the Combustion.
  4. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    As a former long term (three years) owner of a DJ5, I second that they are great basses, but the bass was based on Daryl Jones’ 1966 Jazz. The pickups are not in the seventies position. A reasonably priced option for a five string with Seventies position pickups would be a Carvin JB. They sound fine passive. A Sire Vintage V7 would work too since it can go passive also.
    Root 5, Steve88 and SumOne like this.
  5. SumOne


    Oct 26, 2017
    London, UK
    Thanks, I'm not actually sure if it's the 60s or 70s Jazz Bass pickup position I'm after but most of the Bass tones I'm aiming for are from 70s recordings with players that used Jazz Basses.... Generally I think a Passive Jazz type setup where I can select mostly neck pickup would do me fine. The easy thing would be to just get a passive 4 string Jazz Bass, but I'm keen on 5 strings and ideally want the longer scale length.
    Dr. Cheese likes this.
  6. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    The sound of a bass is any sound you can get out of it. If that sound suits you, then you are playing the right instrument.

    I'm not sure how selecting a sound "downgrades" a bass at all.
  7. SumOne


    Oct 26, 2017
    London, UK
    I'm not able to quite get the tone I really want and am needing to try things like use old strings, Bridge mute, running it passive, pedals etc. Trying to 'downgrade' things people would generally consider positive and pay for in a Bass like a Combustion - like the sustain or the bright clear tones. Perhaps there's a better word than downgrade, but that's the jist of it.
    Ricky Rioli, sonojono and chris_b like this.
  8. I find that it’s easier to add thump to a bright bass than to add brightness to a thumpy bass.

    My main bass is brighter than what I usually use it for. But I’m not getting rid of it, because when I want that brightness...it’s there.

    Be sure you won’t want brightness in the future before you get rid of your bass.
    Pugosaurus and SumOne like this.
  9. deff


    Oct 15, 2018
    Gloucester, MA

    SumOne likes this.
  10. jobu3

    jobu3 ¿Huevos?!

    Feb 17, 2002
    Mountain Top, PA
    You need a passive bass with single coil pick ups.

    Lakland DJ5 or JO5/55-60 would be my recommendations.
    Steve88, SumOne, aus_bass and 5 others like this.
  11. MDBass

    MDBass Supporting Member

    Nov 7, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Dingwall-Fender-Bergantino-Dunlop-Tech 21-Darkglass-Nordstrand
    Remove the preamp and four way rotary, and install a standard passive tone control and blend pot: that will get you much closer to the passive Jazz tones you enjoy, and you can also switch the strings to flats if desired.

    There are plenty of players using Dingwalls to create warm/woody sounds instead of modern sounds if that’s what you’re after.

    @BurningSkies uses his for some really rich, dark reggae tones, Sklar gets really woody tones out of his when the singer/songwriter gigs call for it, lots of other examples.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2021
  12. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I agree with those who say DJ5 it’s an awesome bass with great jazz tones plus the necks a dream. As for the 55-02 it’s a very versatile bass with many tone options and another great neck.
    I have not played a Dingwall but my Lakland 55-01 has Dingwall pups made by Nordstrand. It has great growl but I tame it a touch with nickel strings.
    As you can see I’m a Lakland fan and understand the hi-fi sounds some basses can have. You sound like me with the voice you want in a bass, no hi-fi ....just good warm thumping tone. I hope you find it
    SumOne likes this.
  13. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    Totally possible. But I'd start by playing with my amp EQ and my bass' EQ to see what you can do. I've been using Dingwalls for much more traditional sounding stuff now for about 15 years, and have been active most of that time. I usually run them with both pickups on, in parallel or series. From there I generally roll the bass control up a bit, the treble back from center a bunch, and then ride the mids up or back just a little depending on what I want to hear.

    I play with fingers either over the front pickup or between pickup and bridge. My amp is set up similarly with the mids flat, a bit of boost in lows and roll off in the treble range.

    Set up this way:

    Dingwall Z1 (not the bass in the video):

    Dingwall Combustion NG3:

    NG3 Live covering Pink Floyd:

    All with stock round wound nickel wrapped steel strings. DI'ed with my Monique.

    More studio and live stuff up on that account.
  14. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    * other thoughts...You're using that Combustion passive, and though counter intuitive, it's gonna stay bright. The tone control doesn't work to roll off any of the treble when you're passive. If you want to be dedicated to not using the preamp, either change out the electronics to a passive setup with a traditional tone control that works, or get yourself a LPF on your board that you can use as a tone control.

    Don't be afraid to EQ at will and/or feel bad if you DO want to only have it passive. It's not bad. There's whole ranges of Dingwalls that are passive (My newest is passive). Don't feel that 'this is made to be bright and modern so why bother'...the bass has a lot of tonal variety at hand for a reason, to be able to use it. Don't feel like you're betraying the intent of the bass.
    SumOne and MDBass like this.
  15. OptimalOptimus


    Jan 4, 2019
    Why did you buy the Dingwall if it is the total opposite of what you want tone wise ?
    gebass6 likes this.
  16. Gizmot


    Mar 22, 2009
    Pittsburgh area
    I’ve been wanting a Dingwall for awhile and I think they’re awesome. If their sound isn’t what you want, so be it. If I was looking for an alternative, I’d give a G&L L-2500 a try. Theo Se MFD pickups have a ton of power and range, and the pickup switching and minimal EQ give you a lot of different tones.it even has a passive mode too.
    One Way and SumOne like this.
  17. The Super P will do retro all day long.

    But don’t give up on the long scale combustion just yet. Try some Payson flats, or TI jazz flats.

    I ran all my Dingwalls that had preamps passive 95% of the time.

    The Ptone pickup was a must for any of my Dingwalls that didn’t already have one. I was on the fence with an AB-1 five string, but a Ptone was a game changer.

    Good suggestions above for further mods.
    SumOne likes this.
  18. IronSpatula


    Dec 13, 2003
    Northern CA
    I love my Dingwall but on some gigs I just get what I want quicker with a Fender. If "thump" is what I need my go-to is I an inexpensive P with flats. I would certainly not say that the P bass is better in any way (actually I would say the Dingwall is better in a number of ways :smug: ) but sometimes it's just easier to dial in.

    YMMV but I feel more and more that the best way to get a specific sound is to play a bass with that sound baked in. I wouldn't get rid of the Dingwall though, they're just too cool.
    SumOne likes this.
  19. bordinco90


    Dec 7, 2011
    SW Louisiana
    Maybe a Kiesel JB5? You can one that is strictly passive.
    SumOne likes this.
  20. SumOne


    Oct 26, 2017
    London, UK
    Thanks everyone, lots of great suggestions basically boiling down to:

    1) Find the tone using EQ on the Combustion and pedals/amp etc.
    2) Mod the Combustion.
    3) Get something like the Lakland DJ5.

    I'm in no rush so will work through things in that order.