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Touring with an OLP 5 String

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Big Benner, Mar 1, 2005.

  1. Hey everyone,

    I'm looking at a used OLP Music Man 5 string and was wondering if anyone had any comments or suggestions for me before I bought it?

    I play a Ken Smith 5 string and 99% of the time the jazz pickups are blended 50/50 and I run it in passive mode so I figure the one pickup OLP might not be that far off. I'm just wondering about the string to string balance and wondering how the neck sounded and if there were any dead spots?

    Anyone play one and how do you find it? Also to the people who play a Ernie Ball/Music Man, do you miss not having a second pickup and how do you use/set the onboard EQ?

    I'm looking to do some touring this summer and feel much more comfortable bringing the $250 OLP than the $2500 Ken Smith. Anyone else feel/do the same?
  2. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    It's like this:

    The OLP's are great basses for the money, the Smith a great bass, period!!!
    The OLP compared to the MM is alot like the USA Deluxe5 compared to a Squire, or a MIM jazz5..
    If you've been Smithin it, I don't think you'll be really stoked on the tone or feel of the OLP, why play if your not stoked!!Look into the lower end Lakeland, I think the tone will be closer to a Smith(snappier) and its a better bass...

    P.S.-I wish those OLP's were around when I started, what a great first bass!!
  3. cheezewiz

    cheezewiz Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002
    Wow....that's kind of like comparing a Morton's steak dinner to a
    chili cheese burrito at Taco Bell. I somehow doubt you'll be pleased with an OLP (I've played a few, and despite popular opinion around here, I found them to be complete junk), if you are used to a Ken Smith.
  4. Shoot,... I wasn't expecting to be blown away by the OLP but if it's really going to be super super sub par compared to the Smith then I might rethink this.

    I'm playing in an original alt rock band so there is something else that's been on my mind,... looks. We're doing music along the lines of Radiohead, Sam Roberts, Billy Talent. A 5 man band with two guitarist, Fender Tele and Gibson Flying V and an old 70s organ player plus drums. So with all that, usually wearing black in some dingy club,... and me with my exotic wood 5 string. Visually, doesn't really fit.

    Don't get me wrong, I love the Ken Smith, will never get rid of it and will always use it for recording,... but a rock band has to have somehting of a look. Plus if anything were to happen to it while on a gig. :crying:

    IMO, a black Lakland Daryl Jones 5 string with matching headstock would be the perfect visual bass for this band.

    I do have a fretless Lakland and am always dissapointed when ever I play it in the rock band. It gets lost and really doesn't have the string to string balance I need. It works great for anything with a lot of sonic space (like a 3 peice jazz band) but I haven't been able to make it work with 2 guitars and organ,..... a lot of compression, EQ and "Bass Driver" with a BOSS ME-50B helped but still wasn't there.

    Kind of a different topic but,... is it in the neck? String to string balance, no dead spots and an eveness up at the 10 fret and down at the 3rd fret. I believe the Ken Smith is a 7 peice laminated neck where the Lakland is one peice with rosewood fingerboard. Are other Laklands like this or is it just mine,... and this isn't something I notice until I start playing with the band and am carefully trying to find my sonic space without just turning up.

    How are Sadowskys? Within a full band setting, string to string balance up and down the neck without the need for compression? Ernie Ball/Music Mans? New Fender 5 strings?

  5. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    If you get a Lake, get one with a maple fingerboard, that will give you that "cut" you need to define yourself...did you say your organist was in his 70's??wow(ha)
  6. BartmanPDX

    BartmanPDX Supporting Member

    I'd look at getting a used Lakie 55-02 Skyline w/maple board. It would probably run you about $700-800 (the used one on bass central is $799), so it wouldn't be a complete tragedy if something happened to it. The active electronics and the Bart pickups would cut through much better than a passive bass. The MM pickup at the bridge would give you a somewhat similar sound to the Ken Smith, while the Jazz pickup at the neck offers other tonal options.
    You could get it in a plain black, I think, which wouldn't stand out too much visually. I can't comment on string-to-string balance; it seems to vary from bass to bass, though I've yet to see a major problem with any of the Laklands I've played. A much bigger issue with Fenders and other mass-produced basses, to me.

    Sadowsky's are great, but then it seems to me that you're right back to the being-worried-about-your-bass-while-on-tour thing. :(

    Musicman Stingray 5 would work great, and you could probably get a used one for not too much $$$.

    By the way, I've got a black Darryl Jones 5-string w/J-retro onboard preamp ordered. :D :hyper: :bassist:
  7. cheezewiz

    cheezewiz Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002
    A Black DJ would be a great way to go. I have a black DJ4, and replaced the white guard with black. It looks terrific.
  8. BartmanPDX

    BartmanPDX Supporting Member

    Another option for a cheaper touring bass would be a Musicman S.U.B. They run about $700 and would be a MUCH better option for you than an O.L.P. They have a black one at BassCentral.com, though it has a rosewood board.

    Going from a Ken Smith to an OLP is like going from a Mercedes to a Daewoo. Sure, they're both cars, but once you've driven a Benz regularly . . . :)
  9. Thanks for the advice lowphatbass and BartmanPDX,... but I think I wasn't clear on the problem.

    First let me say that all of this only has to do with my alt rock band = 2 guitars, organ and drums: 100% of the time I run the Ken Smith with both pickups blended 50/50 and in passive mode. I run my SWR WM 12 combo with gain, aural enhancer, High and Mid all at 12o'clock with a slight bass boost at 2o'clock and volume usually at 9-10 o'clock. This gives me a great balanced rock sound that sits really well with the rest of the band. I can play low D on the B string and get the same punch and clarity as playing D on the A string. I can also slide up to High D on the A string to build up the last bit of a verse going into a chorus for dynamic effect. I use very very little compression (the Threshold on the NATURAL setting on the ME-50B is set at 9o'clock,... really, I can hardly tell it's there).

    Running the exact same set up using the Lakland fretless (both pickups blended 50/50 and passive EQ) the low D on the B string has great low throb to it but loses any power if I go up to the D on the A string. I do this walking line on one of the tunes and it jumps out in certain places and not in others. I have fooled around using more compression, EQ and the Bass Driver in the ME-50B so it's not a matter of getting the Lakland to "cut" as lowphatbass suggested, because the problem is I can get it to cut when I play the D on the A string but then it's too much or too little when I play somewhere else on the neck.

    Now as I'm saying this,... I notice it. My bandmates do not. So it's there but I don't want to give you the impression that it's super exaggerated or way out there. I change the strings on both basses usually every 3-6 months and the Lakland has been professionally set up six months ago.

    I guess I'm comparing BMW to Chev and that's not fair. I just wonder if perhaps something like the OLP with a Warmoth neck (with carbon fiber rods) be something to satisfy me. Kind of like a Chev with after market turbo and 19inch rims. :meh:
  10. pil


    Feb 17, 2005
    Pimlico, UK
    ive played a few o.l.p's recently and all but one of them had problem pick ups...ive read this in a few other places aswell. I actually owned a four string and the g string was twice as loud as the other 3... so i would say try before you buy, or be prepared to change the pickup.

    Other than that they're very smart quality basses :hyper:
  11. mike sancho

    mike sancho SANCH

    Feb 10, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Here's what I did. I also play a Smith a lot of the time but for gigs where the health and future of my basses is a concern I have an OLP MM4. I replaced the PU with a Bartolini MM and the tone is OK for most of what I do in a live setting. It's not a Smith, never will be but if it takes a shot or gets completely wiped out or stolen I still have my pretties. The OLP is black with a white pickguard.
  12. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    Hey Big,
    With the type of music you're playing it's going very tough to get good/even definition on fretless without it bieng way "out front"..I've seen(heard) some guys do it, though....on a fretless the low notes just take a while to happen so you have to compensate w/ electronics, this can cause unbalance...I don't think you'll have any problems with fretted Lake, they are pretty crisp basses, top to bottom...
  13. BartmanPDX

    BartmanPDX Supporting Member

    I get ya now . . .

    But I do think that if you're that "attuned" (bad pun) to the sound of your bass, even a OLP/warmoth frankenbass won't totally satisfy you. You would probably find yourself wanting to replace the electronics and the bridge, and even then you probably still wouldn't be happy.

    I've found Laklands to be consistent, top to bottom, but maybe my ear is not as good as yours. I've never played a Lakie fretless, but my general sense is that many fretless basses aren't as even top-to-bottom as basses with frets, perhaps because you're hearing the wood more, or it's more "pure" in some way. :confused:

    I'd say you probably need to shop around and play a number of basses before you make a decision. Anything that's a lot cheaper than your Ken Smith will probably require you to sacrifice something in some area (tone, feel, looks, consistency), and only you can tell if it's worth it. One of the unfortunate things about playing such a great bass is that other ones will seem like a definite step down. Still, it would REALLY stink to have something bad befall your Ken Smith. :(

    I will say that I love my Steinberger XL-2 (even though many people here really look down their noses at them as a relic of the '80s), for some simple reasons: It's impervious to temperature changes, virtually indestructable, has a great consistency top-to-bottom, and is extremely portable. For me, it's the ultimate bass to travel with, though it SCREAMS '80s. :D It's not by any stretch the right bass for your needs, but works for me!
  14. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    Hey, the 80's are coming back around soon and when they do your Steinberger will seem more like a lefty Hoffner!!!
  15. Hey thanks everyone.

    I was all set to go out and plunk the money down for the OLP but now I've got more of a perspective on things.

    I just finished e-mailing the OLP guy and saying that I'll need 20-30min with the bass and my SWR WM12 to get a feel for the sound, and then perhaps a day or two to think about it.

    I've got time to go out to the local music store and check out some cheaper Warwick, Lakland & Fenders, and there is a beatiful G&L 2500 at a small shop just up the street,... it'll give me some chioces and ideas of what I'm looking for.

    I think I've got it a little bit easy because I don't mind passive electronics but trying to find a cheap good 5 STRING will take some energy and some luck.

    And it's too bad that I know almost every bass that I will try will sound good wherever I'm trying it out,... but it'll be at the rehearsal space with the full band that will tell me if it's going to work or not.

    Thanks again everyone.

    Just to maybe continue this thread,... who has a really nice expensive bass that they leave at home to take their cheap one to the dodgy bar gig?
  16. BartmanPDX

    BartmanPDX Supporting Member

    Let's just hope big hair doesn't also make a comeback! :D :D
  17. Hey Mike,

    What is it about the OLP that is different from the Smith? Is it feel of the bass (easier to play)? Is it the string to string balance and eveness (do you notice anything like that or am I just picky/crazy)? :) Is it the actual tone of the pickup or the variety of tone.

    I understand a BMW is better than a Chev for reasons like - you can take a corner a little faster,... you can feel more confident passing another car at 75 mph,... that last pothole didn't hurt all that much.

    Any descriptive terms would be most helpful.

    BTW,... I'm not Chev bashing. I have a 94 Chev Cavalier that I'll run into the ground before I ever get rid of it. :)
  18. BartmanPDX

    BartmanPDX Supporting Member

    Actually, I have a lot of sympathy for the OLP bass. When I started looking for a new bass, it was the temptation of a $250 Stingray 5-knock off that got me started down this path. Then my wife got her annual bonus, and I went and played an OLP and a Stingray back-to-back. Big mistake, in some respects. I might have been happy with the OLP, but not after that. Then I began coveting Jazz basses, and ended up pulling the trigger on the DJ5.

    Still, part of me is thinking about getting an Essex fretless to fool around with, to see if I enjoy playing a fretless. But then I think why not spend a little more for a quality bass, and pretty soon, I'm gassing for a Lakland hollowbody fretless. It never ends . . . :rolleyes: :(
  19. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    If you're really worried about your bass' health on tour why not get insurance? That way if anything happened to it you could get it repaired/replaced. Seems like it's help put your mind more at ease no matter what bass you eventually tour with.
  20. Good idea WillPlay4Food. The Ken Smith and the Lakland were THE two reasons why I got apartment insurance.

    BartmanPDX, what made you go from the Stingray to looking at Jazz basses? And I'm assuming that your Steinberger has a carbon fiber neck? From a string to string balace and eveness point of view, how does it compare to your Rickenbacker or any other basses that you've tried?

    I'd love to hear a review after you've received your Lakland DJ. :bassist: