EDIT: I just finished the exchange on the phone with GC and got the black MIM Active Fender Jazz Deluxe. I couldn't be happier with my choice. I feel like this bass will be with me a long time. Now, having had my hands on a Lakland I'm gassing for a Joe Osborn or a Decade. Once I save enough scratch to buy one of those maybe I'll play well enough to do it justice. Thanks everyone for all the feedback and nudges. ========== I know, I know. But trust me, if I wasn't pulling my thinning hair out I wouldn't make this post. The deal: I just turned 40. To kick off my mid-life crisis I want to get back into playing. In the 90's I had an Epiphone Accu Bass and played in a band that covered The Cure and Joy Division and other post-punk songs. That bass sounded like dung, but I didn't know any better. I sold it in '97 and haven't touched a bass since. For my b-day I got a new Sterling Ray34 mostly because I used to lust for a Stingray back in the day. Well, I'm not 25 anymore and that Lou Ferrigno sized neck coupled with its 11 pound weight is killing me. I thought I would get used to it, but it is going back. Money: $800 is the max. And this is a serious chunka change for me. The Choices: Sterling SB14 or Fender Highway One Jazz or Lakland 44-01? SB14: I've spent waaaaay too much time in GC playing the SB14. I don't think I like the tones I get from it. I like the Ray34 way better in this respect. But the SB14 feels great and the build is excellent. Both the Ray34 and the SB14 feel AMAZING compared to anything in this price range. Completely superior to anything else I've picked up in this price range. I'd keep the Ray if it wasn't such a PITA for me to strap on and fret. Hwy 1 Jazz: The local GCs don't have one to try so I've played the MIM and the American Std figuring the Hwy 1 is somewhere in the middle. There is a million miles between the two in build quality. I thought I was going to cut my fingers all up on the MIM fretboard. Crazy. But the weight and width feel great. The tone is nothing special. I don't love it but I don't hate it. It just is. I figure this is the safest purchase since everyone loves Fender, right? Lakland 44-01: This is the wildcard. GC doesn't carry. I absolutely LOVE the tones I've heard on the Lakland website. The nut dimensions seem right (1.6") but I've heard they are a bit heavy and the build quality can be iffy. I think a store 40miles away might carry these so I'll go try it out, but until then, anybody comment on the 44-01 in this mix? Mods: I plan on picking up an SX to geek out on modding so I want my main ax to be stock for a while. I'm interested in impressions of the stock setup of the above basses. I'm sure any bass would sound better with an additional $500+ in pickups and preamps modded in. But for $800 I would like to think the stock config would sound and feel good too. Stylee: I play mostly The Cure, Joy Division and Bauhaus type stuff with a little dub-ish type stuff mixed in. Slight chorus/distortion. I don't slap at all, though I'm interested in learning. I'm a mellow dude that loves the sound of a smooth finger roll over a low E and the shimmer when I go high. Soooooo.... which would you go for if you were me? I hate to ask, but I'm totally stuck. Once I think I've made a decision I immediately start lusting for the others. If I wasn't such a lazy-ass with little 9yo girl hands I would just keep the Ray34. Thanks for any nudges.