Lakland Skyline basses receive the PLEK treatment and have graphite rods

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by road-cat1, Dec 9, 2015.

  1. road-cat1

    road-cat1 Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2008
    Mesa, AZ
    I ordered a Lakland Skyline 55-02 using the "Black Friday" 20% discount and it will be arriving tomorrow. I was getting concerned after reading conflicting reports about whether or not the Sklyines also get the PLEK treatment and the graphite rods to reinforce the necks (and help get rid of dead spots).
    I sent email to BRIAN at LAKAND and received his email response to my questions. The answer is Yes and Yes. Ends the debate about that! I am looking forward to getting the bass tomorrow. I do have other Sklyines (Scheff 5 string, 4 string hollowbody and 55-60 (formerly Joe Osborn) and have been very impressed with the quality for a NON- USA made instrument.
  2. friskinator

    friskinator Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure only the 5 string Skylines have the graphite rods. They aren't used in the 4 string Skylines. Still great instruments, though!
    Tbone76, odarellmc and GregC like this.
  3. Snakeman1066

    Snakeman1066 Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2007
    Central Valley
    according to the website the Skyline 4 bangers do not have graphite rods but do get the Plek treatment

    as far as the 55-02 goes:

    Welcome to Lakland
  4. road-cat1

    road-cat1 Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2008
    Mesa, AZ
    I have read on TALKBASS in many threads that the PLEK treatment was not used on Skylines and that is what prompted my email to Brian and Lakland. Then after reading more posts, the graphite rods came into question.
  5. Wallace320

    Wallace320 Commercial User

    Mar 19, 2012
    Milan, Italy
    what can I say?
    you lucky!

    I feel glad for ya man:woot:
    that helps explain higher price point for import basses.

  6. GregC

    GregC Questlove, Black Thought, Hamilton Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 19, 2007
    Yep, glad Brian set you right.

    I should add: US Laklands do NOT get Plek'd (unless there was a recent change) as the crew takes great pride in its in-house fretwork--justifiably so.
  7. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    The point of Pleking for Lakland was that they could produce more basses in the same time frame if they didn't have to manually dress the frets. The craftsmen at Lakland are capable of first rate fret work. But they are not up to producing the volume of necks that can be done with the machine at a suitable level of quality.
    GregC likes this.
  8. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    I've read that too, and I find it kind of curious. I mean, I build basses too, every single step. In the whole picture of the labor that goes into building a bass, leveling the frets doesn't take long at all. My entire fretting process, including installation, up through polishing, is only about 1.5 hours. If someone gave me a PLEK machine, it might save me a half hour per instrument at most. And I don't know if it would even be that much. That's out of 60-70 hours total labor. It seems like an expensive investment for a small labor savings. If I were going to spend $100K to speed up my production, I'd spend it other places. But, I don't know, maybe it makes sense to them.
    MarkoYYZ likes this.
  9. Kukulkan61

    Kukulkan61 Suspended Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2011
    Northern Arizona
    All Skylines are plekd...
  10. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    I suspect there is more to it than just time-savings. Like customer relations. Lot of places will tell you how great is their attention to fret work but you buy one and you get something less than optimum. Understandable if necks are being cranked out manually in high volume. Sometimes lemons just slip through. And then a disgruntled customer is all over the internet whining about it. The machine makes sure every neck is perfect and that trims the bad press. Plus I'm sure it does save some time too since the Plek machine also cuts nuts perfectly. Pleked instruments seems to have developed into a good selling point. So maybe the cost of the machine comes out of the advertising budget?
  11. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Yeah, I'm sure that the PR angle is part of it. They probably also got a pretty good deal on the machine too, because it's in Plek's interest to promote the use of their machines by boutique builders. And I'm sure that the guys at Lakland also just wanted to experiment with it, to see what it can do.

    I also have doubts that use of the Plek significantly improves the net quality of instruments in the store. When you find a good quality instrument out in the store that has "bad fretwork", that doesn't mean that someone screwed up the leveling at the factory. Very rarely are instruments shipped out with badly leveled frets. The problem develops after the bass leaves the factory, from the wood moving. The neck bows or twists or gets a lump or a kink. Or the fingerboard dries out and a couple of frets pop up. Those are the real quality control problems, and they have nothing to do with the quality of the leveling work at the factory. A perfectly Plek'd fret job isn't going to prevent a neck from warping, if it wants to warp.
    MarkoYYZ and nouroog like this.
  12. road-cat1

    road-cat1 Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2008
    Mesa, AZ
    That's why the reinforcement rods (on the Skyline 5) was also a selling point to me. I received the SKYLINE 55-02 a couple of days ago. It plays perfectly, sounds great....but it is a bit on the heavy side. (10 lbs and 10 oz.) SO, while I like the bass for it's sound and easy play-ability, this may not be my "go to" bass.
  13. Eilif

    Eilif Holding it down in K-Town. Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    I could be wrong, but the amount saved on the act of PLEKing may be alot more impactful on an imported instrument.

    Completely guessing here, but figure that the amount of time a stateside Lakland employee would spend doing the fretwork and inspection might be 1-2 hours. If we assume 2 hours minus 30 minutes of fret leveling, that's at least a 25% savings (probably more) on what is by far the most expensive labor involved in the instrument produciton. That's quite a bite out of the bottom line.

    Added to that is the consistency of the PLEK but that's not all. The fact that PLEK'ing can even be handled by someone who isn't a fretwork master of the level that Lakland has built their reputation on allows your most skilled techs to work on more vital tasks.
  14. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    1.5 man hours per neck by a qualified luthier or fret tech is a lot more expensive than an automated process that requires a 5 or 10 minute setup.

    After the initial investment all it costs is maintenace, the electricity, plus one operator to fo something like 5 or 6 necks at a pop - with 100% repeatability and accuracy. No benefits. No wages. No vacation or sick time.

    A PLEK will definitely save you money if you have the volume to justify getting one. And if you can't keep it fed with your own production, you can sub it out as a service to others - as some PLEK owners are already doing.

    Dunno. Sound like a wise investment to me.
  15. Templar

    Templar Supporting Member

    If I had to guess.....they may spend that much time (or more) on a USA Lakland, but can't imagine that happening on the Skylines. Next time you're in Players ask Jerry if you can watch him do a fret level. He can knock one out in 15 minutes, I've seen him do it more than once.

    Plus, as Bruce mentioned, there's no reason to assume that Skylines arriving from overseas need major fretwork to begin with. Do they arrive from Cort completely devoid of any fretwork? Hard to believe that they do.

    I'm sure a Plek machine saves time and money for Lakland, especially in the long run. But there's no denying the PR benefit that comes with the $100,000 (or whatever a Plek costs) price tag.

    Maybe someone from Lakland will chime in with real info, but I wouldn't blame them if they prefer to keep that to themselves.
  16. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    All automation saves money so I would imagine that one of the main benefits from a Plek machine is the guarantee of a consistent quality.
  17. GregC

    GregC Questlove, Black Thought, Hamilton Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 19, 2007
    They've had the machine for 7 years already--as I recall, Dan bought it around the time Skylines started being made in Indonesia. So I'd imagine the cost savings to be significant by now, and I assume it was cheaper to buy back then.
  18. Tommy33


    Dec 11, 2015
    Skyline pleked 4 string no rods . that's what the site says and that's what I own .
  19. Smooth_bass88

    Smooth_bass88 vaxx! Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2006
    North AMERICA, USA
    Proof positive that there is A LOT of wrong, incorrect or otherwise useless information on TALKBASS. Never believe everything you read!
    Tommy33 likes this.
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