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Lakland Skyline vs US

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by busta_bird, Apr 30, 2010.

  1. busta_bird


    Mar 11, 2010
    Lexington, KY
    I've searched around for 20 minutes, and not really found an answer to this (I'm sure I've just missed it).

    I'm looking to step into a Lakland and had a few questions. I've read the differences between the Skyline and US models. My actual question is, how noticeable is the difference? Are we talking MIM/USA strats?
  2. I think that the only real differences will be noticeable only to you. That is, coming through a PA or Amp, they'll sound the same, and from afar they look the same. The differences will become a lot more pronounced when you step up close and strap one on. The neck finish is different for one. Also (IIRC) the US necks are quarter-sawn rather than flat-sawn. The tuners are better on US models and I think the bridge uses better materials. The electronics and such are the same, -01 series notwithstanding.

    My Skyline has been a bloody disappointment, but I'm in the extreme minority, so I'm of the philosophy that I got a lemon rather than that the line is poorly made.
  3. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    I can't help you with a head-to-head comparison, because I've only owned two Skylines and not a US Lakie. I'm an old cat and have played a lot of basses over the years, though.

    With that disclaimer, I can tell you that the Skyline 55-01 and 55-02 I own are very good quality instruments. I play slap, have a light touch for fingerstyle, and like low action. The fret dressing (pre-Plek, no less) on both is among the best I've ever played. (I've got an MTD 535, for comparison.)

    The dead spots are minimal to nil on both of them--something that plagued every Fender I've owned. The quality of the neck pocket is great. The truss rod works well, as does the bridge adjustment. The finish is smooth and even. About the only complaint I can come up with is that the fret tangs on the 55-02 weren't dressed quite as smooth as I'd like.

    As you know, the 55-02 has the same electronics as the 55-94 US build.

    I bought both of them used, here on TB. IMHO, these are great values for playability and tone. The 55-01 was modded by the previous owner, so it has Nordy Big Singles and an Aggie OBP-3 pre. I can't comment on the stock electronics in the 55-01.

    P.S. Both my Skylines are Korean-built, an '05 and an '07.

  4. Could you elaborate on how the skyline disappointed you, exactly? :eek:
  5. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Depends... I have two US Lakland 4-94 and a Skyline 55-10, and I owned one other US 4-94. The quarter-sawn vs. flat sawn-neck is subtle, but does make a stiffer neck, which I think contributes a good bit to the stability of the necks as well as the sound I like. But beyond that, it's mostly cosmetics.

    Lakland picks the finishes for the US ones based on the appearance of the wood grain, the Skylines aren't. The individual birds-eye in the center of the maple position markers for the US rosewood boards is stunning, but it doesn't impact the sound nor the feel of the basses.

    The final set-up and adjustments are done in Chicago regardless of whether they're made in the orient or in the Chicago shop. So it's some materials differences and some cosmetic ones, but not a huge difference like the difference between Fender's Standard Series the the US Vintage Series. I can't comment on other MIM vs. US Fenders because I simply ignore them. BTW, my experience is that the MIM Classic Series is generally very close to what the US stuff is lately. But then there's not a Fender dealer within 50 miles of me any longer so I haven't played any new Fenders in over two years...

  6. I don't really want to go into it too much publicly for two reasons:

    a) I was unlucky. The Skylines are very well made machines, and
    b) Dan Lakin is in the midst of making it all better for me. Which, by the way, is an excellent argument for going with either one: Lakland's customer service is very, very good.
  7. Ah, so *that's* how the birdseye maple is used! I haven't seen a US rosewood 'board up close, and was sondering what the point of the birdseye maple was. they actually pick out a birdseye for each marker? That's cool as he77.

    Uh, even after going the Lakky route for my 55-02, I still went Fender for my P5. I think that if you tried out the 2008-and-later American Standard series, you'd find a whole new Fender. I wouldn't back any other Fender line, granted, but the Am. Std. series is a quality line.
  8. I owned a Lakland 55-94 a couple of years ago and I now own a Lakland 55-02. I once sold the 55-94 because it was too expensive an instrument for the gigs I had those days. I was afraid it would be damaged.

    I regard my 55-02 as an excellent instrument in its class. It's been my default instrument for years. There's only one major gripe I have with this instrument and that is the fact that the volume drops significantly when switching to passive mode.

    The difference with the American 55-94 I owned however is still huge. The 55-94 had a swamp ash body which had a lot of impact on the sound. The neck was made of birdseye maple. Overall the American instrument felt and sounded much more professional than the Skyline.

    So just imagine how good those American 55-94 instruments are when I am already raving about the Skylines.

    One thing though. Even though the American 55-94 is a wonderful instrument, I think it is overpriced. I now own a Mike Lull M4V which is just as good or even better than the 55-94 and is a lot cheaper. $3200 would be a decent price for a brand new Lakland 55-94.
  9. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    When the 55-01 and 55-02 were introduced (1999?), Bass Player magazine ran a review that did some comparison with the 55-94 USA model.
  10. blondmix3

    blondmix3 Supporting Member

    May 30, 2007
    Evansville, Indiana
    Although I think you'll change your mind when you get to play the Lakie P5, lol.

    To the OP, I have owned both (still have one US and a Skyline), and yes, it's a subtle difference in the neck, but honestly, I love playing them both nearly equally.
  11. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    I'm watching this thread with interest as my Lakland 55-02 should arrive today. Already have a 55-94 but, as mentioned by another, its simply too nice to take to the more "hostile" venues. When researching the 55-02, the most unsettling and recurring reference was "inconsistency" in terms of weight, tone, and occasionally, build quality / character. The Lakland website addresses this citing a somewhat diminished level of control with foreign manufacturing (as opposed to in-house operations). So be it. I opted for this particular Skyline as it was, per report, hand-selected by Dan Lakin and the original purchaser for a tour.

  12. That's possible (or rather, that's very bloody likely), but after the LOG bass special pricing's over, they look like they're going to be priced all wrong, comparatively-speaking. The Am. Std is very well priced for an American-made bass with a flight case.
  13. My 55-02 definitely doesn't show Lakland in its best light, but they're swapping it out for a new one when the new ambers come in, and that kind of customer service makes the company worth spending your money on, whether it's a Skyline or a US bass you're looking at buying.

    I'm sorta going the opposite way to you: I'm thinking that maybe I'd like to switch up my 55-02 for a 55-94 one day, even though 99% of my gigs are in pubs. I just find I play better when I get a bass that excites me (mostly because I practise a lot more), and after my 40th birthday Sadowsky purchase (in 2012. I can't afford to buy a new bass more frequently than every two or three years), I might look into making the change.
  14. I found the number one thing against Lakland is their strings... Once I put a set of DR Hi-Beams on my 55-02 fretless it played like a dream. The Lakland strings are rough, honky and have really strange overtones... They're usable, but not very full sounding.
  15. I use 66s on mine. Sounds great, though I can't string through the body with 'em. Might just be that my local music store doesn't carry extra longs, though.

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