MY ILLUSTRATED BASS HISTORY 1976-2020
1976 - First Bass - a Nashville Brand - EBO copy
1977 - Ibanez Jazz Bass
Me in 1977 - Marie Murphy Jr. High (I’m in the green shirt)
1978 - Rickenbacker 4001
I was (and still am) a big Paul McCartney Fan
1978-1982 - 1972 Fender Jazz Bass
This bass was mine to use during high school day. It belonged to New Trier High School. I had to give it back in 1982.
1981 - Musicman Fretless
The lack of lines caused me to replace the neck with an all rosewood Schecter neck.
1982 - Hamer 1st Hamer Cruise Bass (stolen in 1984)
1982-83 - 2nd Cruise bass to replace the stolen one.
1983 - G&L El Toro
2020 - My Current Collection
1976 - Musicman Stingray
I bought this in 2016. The owner told me he bought it from a high school. Apparently sometime, I’m guessing, in 1977-78 the bass stopped working. The battery ran down and these Stingrays didn’t have a bypass. No battery, no sound. The bass was untouched after that. It lived in a closet at the school. I believe it from the condition. Great sounding bass but very heavy – 12 pounds! Also, it came with chrome knobs. Must have been one the first one’s like that. I like the radio knobs, so I replaced them. Of course, the original chrome knobs are safely in the case!
Harmony H22 - (Korean Reissue)
Around 2006-2008 an individual (don’t know his name) decided to revive the Harmony Brand. This was one of those. I prefer it to the originals. It has a much more comfortable neck shape and better tuners.
2015 – D. Lakin Joe Osborn with Spitfire Pickguard
This is a great Korean made D. Lakin Bass. All USA hardware. Great neck with oil finish. My first, “Spitfire Pickguard”. The headstock was not so well received…
2019 - D. Lakin Basses 1930 Prototype
2010 – Lakland Decade w/ Novak BiSonic Pickups
Back of headstock autographed by Adam Clayton of U2
Lakland X01 – Prototype built in 1994 (more photos coming soon)
1978-1993 - Before Lakland
Fender Bassman – Silver face. I used these designs at high school from 1978-1982. These are “CBS” made products and were not very good. Sound quality was just fair. They were built well and short of an occasional blown fuse, the amps worked reliably.
My first personal was a Sunn Beta Bass bought in 1981. Good sound but very heavy – 80 pounds or so. But it did have casters.
I Sold it and traded it in on a Musicman Bass Amp head 130 – and single 15” cab. It was a beautiful Cream colored tolex with a black grill in 1983. Sadly, it was stolen from my car while I was attending Depaul university. I bought a standard black/silver 115 cabinet with an EV speaker which was an option.
The Rig of Doom…
1984 I went a little wild to get the ultimate bass sound. I bought a Crown DC150 power amp, Ashley bass preamp, DBX 160 X compressor, and a 1 -18 JBL Caberet Series refrigerator size bass cab. The Musicman 115 was still a part of the rig as well. A great sounding rig but way too much…. I was not gigging much so it didn’t matter.
1985 I went to SIU to join a band. I downsized, my entire rig was now just the 115 Musicman Cab and an AMP (Amplified Music Products) a 240-watt bass head. This was a great head. It got a little hot when pushed but it never failed on me. Relatively light weight it was a perfect gigging amp. I used it exclusively till 1990.
In 1990 I started Dan Lakin Basses and sold used bass gear via a US post office delivered newsletter.
I didn’t do much with amps. I did buy an Ampeg B15 but was frustrated it wouldn’t go louder(it only has 30 watts) . I did very little recording which is what these amps are famous for…
I do remember getting some SWR gear. An SM400 head and a great sounding combo amp – the Red Head. Probably one of the best sounding combos ever made! I had an SM400, but I never really cared for it. Too HiFi, too clean.
Then I founded Lakland in 1994…
1994-2010 - The Lakland Era
When I started Lakland I did as much barter (bass for amps) as I could. Cash was always thin, but basses were not (even though they are really the same thing!). I thought it was great to have my basses at the various amps companies for demo when they had visitors testing their products. And Visa Versa!
Following are amps I owned during the years 1994-2010. They are not in any particular order.
SVT VR with 810 Cabinet circa 2000 – made in the USA. I still own this head. To be honest I wasn’t that crazy about it when it was there at the Dominick Street Lakland shop. It wasn’t as clear sounding as I liked. Not very HiFi. It was used for rehearsals and demoing Lakland’s, but it wasn’t my favorite amp. When mt family moved out of the factory, I took the head home and sold the 810 to a friend. At home (2017) I put the SVT head on an Epifani 410 DIST and powered up, What I heard was incredible. Best sounding bass amp I ever heard! At 85 pounds though… I could not enjoy this tone at any gig, Simply too heavy.
Aguilar – I had a number of Aguilar products over the Lakland years. Amps and Preamps, no cabinets. They get the award for best looking gear! But I never sound my ultimate tone with these products, very well built but not my flavor. The tone sounded like a blanket was put over the amp.
Crown K2 & Demeter bass preamp – This was my reference rig for many years. Great tone, not much Eq. But not much was needed. A great sounding rig! Not very portable, that wasn’t as issue back then as I rarely gigged.
Eden – I had lots of Eden gear over the years. Especially when David and Judy Nordscow still owned the company/brand. VT.40 – great head with the best onboard compressor I have ever heard. WT-500 – Another good head, but I always preferred the VT. 210XLT and 410XLT cabinets. My main reference cabinets were a pair of 410XLT. These sounded great. They were heavy but they had removable casters.
Genz Benz – I had a few speaker cabs from Jeff Genzler. They were lighter than most on the market. I had a 1-12 that was a great lightweight cab. I used for the occasional gig.
Bag End – Chicago land neighbor Bag End worked with us. I got caught up in a system they called the ELF (extended Low Frequency) not intended for bass players, I still had to have it. It was like a crossover but more … It sucked huge amounts of power. When properly hooked up it did sound great but not worth the expense and lack of portability. I actually did take it out on a small gig. Not worth the effort for volume level we were at.
Line 6 – I got a Line 6 combo bass amp that used modeling to sound “like any amp ever!” It was very heavy and one of the worst sounding amps I’ve ever plugged into. Absolutely horrible!
Acoustic – 360/361 – Head preamp and single 18 cabinet. A friend brought this over for us to hear. Great sounding amp, I little dated sounding. But very cool. I still own it. Not very portable.
Hartke – On a trade we got a head (I don’t remember which one…) and the iconic 410 aluminum cone speakers. I don’t remember much other than I hated it. When the new Lakland people bought me out, this amp was part of the deal! Good riddance… I think they still use it…
Ashdown – I met Mark Gooday in 2000. He was working with John Entwistle of the Who. They were in Chicago and Mark introduced me and my wife to John and his right-hand man – Cy Langston.
What a fun few days! Then we met them in Florida a few months later and had more fun than before. Truly one of my highlights of the Lakland Days. Mark and I traded a few pieces. I got a ABM400 and ABM900 that we used a lot in the factory. The Blue faced amps look as great as they sound. I never really got into their Speaker cabinets. Not my tone – similar to the SVT speaker cabs. Pino Palladino came through in the early 2000’s and he needed to source amps for an upcoming D’ Angelo tour. He needed to be very loud! He tried everything we had at the shop, spent 4 days doing it and ended selecting the Ashdown head (900) and – 2 /Epifani 2-12 cabs.
Epifani – I fell for these hard… First, I heard the cabinets. My favorite was the 2-12. Great tone, a little on the heavy side. The 2-12 ‘s were my go-to cabs during 2002-2008. At this point I tried his new Lightweight DIST (dual impedance speaker technology.)I loved them. All the tone at about ½ the weight! I still have all my cabs from this series – a 1-12, 2-10, and 4-10. I can even lift the 4-10 myself! I also have 2 of his heads – Piccolo 999 and UL501. Very good sounding solid state amps. If I have one criticism it is, the heads are too lightweight. You pull them right off the cabinets if you are not careful! Nick Epifani great and he has always taken care of me. I’ve turned many a bass player on to these amps and cabs. GREAT STUFF – I’m still using them today.
Thunder Funk – A very similar design to the AMP I used in the 80’s , this medium weight head was a pretty nice sounding amp. Light and gig worthy. It gets a thumbs up. It’s the modern version of my AMP shown earlier.
Accugroove – Not sure the model number or config. What I do remember the cabinets liked lots power. Other than that, I don’t have much to say.
Stewart Power Amps – Lightweight, I think they call it switching power. I had a Stewart World Tour 2.1, lots of power and very lightweight. I had both single and double rack models. Good stuff.
GK – I had a smaller head – MB-500. Very good solid little amp. Again, a little too lightweight for me. Sold it to my buddy who uses it with my 115 Musicman Cab. He owns both but I have visitation rights!
TC Electronic – I fell for this design “Rebel Head” – later renamed a 750 due to a copyright issue, at a NAMM show in the late 2000’s. I took one home with a 2-10 matching cabinet. This amp is extremely well built. It has a lot a great features but the tone overall is lacking. The cabinet is super heavy – 50 pounds or more.
Demeter (again) – In September of 2019, I decided to try a New Demeter VTBP – 800 D Amp head. I ordered one in cream (I have a thing for cream amps!).
It arrived in October. First off, it’s the perfect size. I think they call it a “Lunch Box” amp. It has 800 watts and weighs about 10 pounds. So, it can’t be pulled easily off the cab during a gig.
Shoot Out! – Time…
On a sunny Tuesday afternoon in Lake Forest, the shoot-out began!
First off, I noticed the heads sounded very similar. Which as I’ve said is a good thing. A very good thing. I played them loud, very loud. All and all, if it were a blind test, I would have picked the Demeter.
A word about Demeter build quality…
In February of this year, I had my brother send the Demeter Head to me, from Chicago to Florida. He did. When it arrived, I first noticed it was a in a very big box, at least 3 to 4 times as large as the amp. I was immediately terrified that the amp would be damaged. I was horrified when I opened the box. No packing material of any kind. Shipped from Chicago to FLA, would be a like to throwing it down 5 flights of stairs! Expecting the worst, I plugged in…. Amazingly – it worked perfectly. I’m using it through a Epifani 1-12 & 2-10. Tone is wonderful, best amp I’ve ever used regardless of weight!
The Next Step…
On June 10th I’m getting this system. I’ve heard it’s the best system money can buy! I’ll report on Wednesday.
Demeter Flip top with 400D Head