Lakland Creates ‘Burning Earth’ Bass Guitar For Spinal Tap’s Derek Smalls

Lakland Music Company, a Chicago-based bass guitar manufacturer, has created a special ‘burning earth’ bass guitar for Derek Smalls, bassist for heavy metal band Spinal Tap. The band will reunite to perform July 7 at London’s Live Earth event. (For more about the Spinal Tap reunion, view Marti DiBergi’s video:

Spinal Tap was the subject of the 1984 (mock) rockumentary “This is Spinal Tap,” in which documentary maker Marti DiBergi (Rob Reiner) chronicles the English rocker’s (ill-fated) 1982 U.S. tour. The band continues to maintain cult status with rock musicians and music lovers alike.

Tap’s Bassist Derek Smalls is also known as comedian, author, musician, playwright, radio host and blogger, Harry Shearer. ( When not holding down the low end for the Tap, Harry Shearer voices scores of characters for TV’s “The Simpsons,” and hosts a weekly radio series Le Show, which is broadcast in over 90 markets. “Not Enough Indians,” his comic novel, is a national bestseller and his popular blog appears on The Huffington Post���s “Eat The Press.”

In a March phone call to Lakland chief Dan Lakin, Shearer, who owns several Lakland basses, laid out the idea for an over-the-top five-string bass that would depict the earth exploding. To help execute Shearer’s vision, Lakin tapped Chicago artist Gary Weidner. Weidner is a successful painter with numerous solo shows in Chicago and New York to his credit and his paintings were recently featured in the film “The Break-Up” starring Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston. He has created special edition basses for Lakland in the past, including an American flag bass for the cover of “American Basses, An Illustrated History and Player’s Guide,” by Jim Roberts (Backbeat Books, 2003).

To create the collaged art for Shearer’s bass, Weidner used his trademark process, a combination of traditional etching and inkjet printing on Japanese rice paper. The result: a dramatic textural image of the earth (as seen from outer space) on the body of the bass, with flames shooting out of the top and up its neck.

Says Lakin: “It’s been a pleasure to work with Harry to create this instrument, which is also art that reflects the current state of the world. And not only do we get to be a part of another milestone in rock history with the Spinal Tap reunion, we also get to create something that we hope will help draw more attention to the importance of caring for the planet we live on, before it’s too late.”

The Lakland/Spinal Tap ‘burning world’ bass, which started off as a standard Lakland 55-94 model, also sports six of Lakland’s new “Chi-Sonic” pickups*. (Typically, a bass guitar has one or two pickups.) *Pickups appear to be “bars” on the body of a guitar and are made up of materials that convert the sound produced by the steel strings into electrical signals, which then can be amplified.) The electronics are powered by a Lakland LH3 preamp, and individual switches will allow five of the pickups to be turned on and off at will.