What a fun day of bass playing I had today. I just spent 2 hours at the Lakland shop and thought that you fellow talkbassers might be interested in my findings. I was lucky enough to catch Dan right before he was packing up the new Skyline prototypes in preparation for the NAMM show coming up soon, and came away extremely impressed with what I saw. First, I should mention that Dan Lakin in an extremely nice, knowledgable, and friendly person. I know that people reiterate this all the time on this forum, but it really is true. His shop is not a "music store", and he and his staff were very busy today preparing for the NAMM convention, but he was still interested in getting my feedback on the new bass line. I don't think that one should spend one's hard earned dollar just because someone is nice, but he was very interested in my opinions of the new basses, and was very helpful in answering all of my questions. To give you a little background, Dan will be introducing the new Joe Osborne, Bob Glaub, and the 4-94 models at this year's NAMM show as the newest additions to the Skyline series, which is already comprised of two 5-string models. Do a serach for discussions about these basses as they've been talked about extensively on the forum. Since I'm a jazz bass guy, I mainly focused my attension on the Osborne, although I did play a bart-equiped 4-94 and the hollowbody model, which may also be added to the Skyline series if the Korean factory can handle this instrument's unique design features. Dan recently purchased USA Fender Standard series Jazz and P-basses so that they could compare apples-to-apples, and I did the same. I also have a '62 Jazz Reissue and a '77 Jazz, so I have a good deal of familiarity and experience which made the comparison/evaluation easier. In a nutshell, although I love Fender basses, I can't see how they are going to be able to compete with the Skyline series, as I was COMPLETELY & TOTALLY IMPRESSED by what I saw, felt, and heard!!! I first played the Fender, and it felt and sounded very familiar to me...thick finish on the back of the neck, neck joint was very good, treble was a bit subdued, with an overall focus on bass with a strong mid punch. When I examined the Lakland Skyline J.O., I couldn't believe the level of craftsmanship that went into the bass. The J.O. had the same bridge and hipshot tuners as the USA model, it had the same Fralin pickups as the USA model, it had a flawless finish, great nut, and a neck joint that was as tight as I've seen....probably couldn't fit a sheet of paper in there! The back of the neck did have a light lacquer finish on it, as opposed the the USA J.O.'s oil finish, but you probably couldn't tell the difference unless someone told you. Overall, the Skyline looked and played EXACTLY like the USA version...AMAZING!!! Now, for the sound, right. First, it is important to point out that the Skyline series bases are, at the moment, only available with ash bodies. When I was comparing the Skyline to the USA J.O., I felt tha the Skyline was a little lighter, but the overall tone was remarkably similar. I'm not sure how much the different body woods (and the differences between one piece of wood and another) affected the tonal differences between the basses, but the Fender was the most "nasal", controlled, and least "alive" of the three. I felt as if it had more of a focus on the mids, but didn't really have much top-end presence. Depending on your personal style, this may be good, bad, or indifferent. The Skyline had noticeably more top end presence than the Fender, but overall, I think that the Fralin pickups and the tone controls provide for a wider and more even reproduction of all frequencies. I felt as if the Skyline was much more balanced. The highs were just right-sparkling and brilliant, but not overbearing...very "vintage", and the lows were tight and focused...not mud to be found anywhere. Classic John Paul Jones influenced Zeppelin bass lines flowed from my fingertips! Further, the USA model has the most brilliance and snap, and seemed to have a bit more tonal completity, in my opinion, but we're talking about small, minute details here...basically splitting hairs. The USA J.O. had the most presence and has a more "lively", sophisticated tone, but overall it was remarkably close to the Skyline. Again, these differenes would not be noticeable to an audience-nor even the average bass player, in all likelihood. The bottom line is that I feel that the new Skyline series is a TREMENDOUS value. For all practical purposes, you get the quality, craftsmanship, and performance of a Lakland bass at a fracion of the price. Further, those of you who are fans of the single jazz/MM pickup versions should love the 4-94 model. It was just as good as the J.O. model I tried, and I looked over the Bob Glaud prototype and can report good news to all of you P-bass fans as well!!! Although these are not "budget" basses, they are positioned directly at Fender's USA standard series, and should be priced VERY competitively. Dan indicated that they should have very similar list prices, so that the buyer will be able to compare the two (Fender & Skyline) using the same price points. Dan's original intent was to design a bass that felt, played, and sounded like his USA models, but at a considerably lower price, so that he could make his basses available to a wider range of players. I think that he has definately succedded. Start saving up your pennies, because the new models should be ready this summer, and I'm planning one getting one of the first ones off the line!!!