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I have seen and played the new Lakland Skyline prototypes (J.O., B.G., & 4-94)-WOW!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by JPJ, Jan 5, 2002.

  1. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    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!!!
  2. barroso


    Aug 16, 2000
    really interesting report JPJ! i have never played a Lakland but your words are really helpful!
  3. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    There's a Bottom Line post on the Skylines that agrees strongly with your assessment, JPJ. Due to input like yours,
    my 55-02 is due for delivery this Tues.

    Here's what the author of that TBL post, Peter Vescovo, had to say, (with some editing I did of the technical content and extraneous content) -

    "Last week, while in Chicago for a gig, I had a rare opportunity to briefly visit the Lakland factory.

    It was sort of like stepping back in time.. real craftsmen doing diligent painstaking work .
    I was amazed at the relaxed pace and the atmosphere in the main shop area. They perform final assembly one bass at a time with great care and undivided attention. After witnessing this level of excellence.. I won't blink at the price of a Lakland bass anymore.....

    While there, I played practically every model. Then, Dan Lakin asked me to play their new Skyline series of basses and give him my honest opinion....

    I was, of course, skeptical at first and then I played them.. WOW! I could not believe how great these basses were.. the feel and the sound really hit the mark. I would have never known that they were imports.

    First of all the low B was what you'd expect from a Lakland.. full, focused and well defined. The pickups and electronics were excellent.. and the neck has an unmistakable Lakland "feel".. and as hard as I tried I could not detect any dead spots on the necks of either bass that I played. Both have excellent hardware, tuners, a superb finish and excellent attention paid to detail.

    The 55-01...pickups have a wide range and an openness that reminiscent of Lane Poor's.
    They can be easily shaped by the excellent sounding and quiet onboard Bartolini designed preamp.. but they sounded excellent flat to me.....

    The 55-02...contains Lakland's custom USA manufactured Bartolini pickups and electronics found in the 55-94. Since I own a Deluxe 55-94, I was very critical of this one and it really felt like home and sounded great to me....

    A lot of thought and preparation has gone into the design and manufacture of these basses.
    Another cool thing is that these basses will be assembled and tested by the same craftsmen that make the regular US basses....

    I would not have a second thought about playing one of these on any gig or session and visually they are identical to the originals..

    They compliment the main Lakland line and are treated with the same care and respect as their most expensive instruments. These aren't "B" line / cut rate instruments, their quality surpasses everything I've seen in this price range.....

    Gard handled my sale and his comments were high praise, too. He said if he wasn't on the verge of buying a new amp, he would have stashed the one I bought, for himself.

    I thinking of the boring, plain-Jane woods used for this thing and I'm scratching my head, "How can these be such hot poop?!? :confused: " But, you all seem to really know what you're talking about, so I took the plunge.

    I'll see for myself if the hype is justified starting Tuesday ;)
  4. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    Thanks for adding that piece about the 5-strings, rickbass. It looks like we were on the same page as far as our opinions of this new line are concerned. I am not a 5-string player, so I didn't even bother trying one of the Skyline 5s. I'm not sure I would have been able to offer any constructive feedback. Nonetheless, I'm sure that my observations apply to the 5ers as well. Please be sure to let me (and the forum) know what you think when you get yours in this week. Can't wait to hear what you think!

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