Next: Part 3:  1994 – 2005

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D. Lakin Basses is not affiliated with Lakland Guitars LLC

I graduated college in the spring of 1988.  I moved back to Chicago and began working for our family business – A. Lakin & Sons.  A. Lakin recycled tires – making die cut parts out of tire strips.  It was a good business, but not too exciting.  I didn’t aspire to work there, but after meeting my future wife, I was ready to settle down and start a family.  I met Cheryl at my favorite SIU Bar – The Hangar 9.  We decided rather quickly that we wanted to settle down together.  Our main attraction to each other was music. We both loved the Beatles – and beside a few artists – we were on the same musical page.


Dan and Cheryl 1987

Dan at a Tire convention 1988

Dan at a Tire convention 1988

Around 1990 a few important things happened.  First Bass Player Magazine was introduced.  Finally, a mag for bass players only.  In the past bassists would get 2 to 3 pages per 100 from a Guitar Player Magazine.  Bass Player was well written and much fun.  In Vintage Guitar Mag I saw a store that specialized in guitars used by The Beatles.  They only carried models that were used by the Fab Four.  What a great niche they made for themselves.  I decided to get into the game with a specialization of bass guitars only.


Dan Lakin Basses

Pre – Internet, I started sending out monthly mailers listing my stock of used and vintage basses.  I didn’t have much inventory so I also began listing basses for stores that I was friendly with – Music & More in Florida and Guitar & Bass Center in New Jersey to name a few.  I specialized in post-Fender Leo Fender designs  (i.e. Musicman and G&L). Aside from being great basses they were less trouble to sell.  With Fender there are so many replacement parts available we basically have to do a forensic inspection to see if they are all original.  This is not the case with Musicman and G&L.  99% are all original.

By 1993 I was sending out about 1000 mailers per month. I even bought a paper-folding machine to help with the task.  It was fun and I got to see almost everything on the market though various trades and consignments, etc.


In 1992 I met Hugh McFarland.  Hugh was recommended as a great Luthier  (or guitar builder/repair tech).  I was getting my stock ready for a vintage guitar show, and I had a J bass with a neck PU that was not working.  I called Hugh in a panic and told him or the problem.  His reply will stay with me forever. He said, “How’s that my problem?”

We actually became close friends. As my business grew I needed him to help me with everything from electronics repair to refrets.  When he would refret a bass it was magic. He made any instrument feel like a high-end hand made product.  In 1993 we began talking about collaborating on a bass together.

Hugh working on Lakland #001 with Greg Rzab

Hugh working on Lakland #001 with Greg Rzab

MM & J

The origin of the PU configuration – 1 MM and 1 J is a point of contention. I read a review on a Warwick Dolphin in Bass Player Magazine. It showed the MM and J config and discussed dropping (or tapping a coil on the MM pickup so then you had a J bass. Soloing both coils of the bridge (MM) pickup gave you a Stingray and soling the neck j-pickup (hum cancleed type) gave you P-Bass. Basically the greatest hits of Leo Fender in one bass! It turns out that Hugh’s mentor – Ed Reynolds did a number of basses with this config back in the 80’s. I really don’t care who should get credit but I will say, getting the public to recognize the config is a great feat, as great or greater than actually inventing it. The problem with the Dolphin in my estmation was that it was a strange unfanilier shape. I wanted all the electronics features but on a Fender Style bass. Add a great hand done fret job out of the gates and you have the formula for Lakland USA series  basses.


Part 3:  1994 – 2005

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