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When comparing Lakland Skyline basses to Fender American basses, bassists frequently praise the Skylines. Even fans of vintage-sounding Fender Jazz and P-basses who try one tend to fall in love with a Lakland Skyline. They often compliment the Lakland’s build, bridges, aesthetics, and pickups.
Since Dan Lakin founded the Lakland Skyline series in 2001, the basses in that series have consistently ranked among the best Fender-style bass guitars on the market.
Many other brands, including Lakland, have created their own versions of Fender designs. However, they are far from being just “rebranded” replicas of the original Fenders.
Lakland Skyline basses are intended to “out-Fender” Fenders by augmenting and improving the basic characteristics of the original P and J bass designs.
Meanwhile, some people feel Fender is resting of their laurels and merely preserving their past designs.
Lakland Skyline models come in a variety of weights, pickup options, and electronics. However, many bassists have tested their original Jazz and Precision bass models.
Some believe companies like Lakland force Fender to continuously enhance their bass goods.
Lakland is not the only firm that produces Fender-style basses with their own twists. Fender alternatives include Sadowsky, Avella Coppolo, Lull, and many others.
Fender never trademarked the body designs of their guitars (just the headstocks), therefore other bass makers are free to create instruments based on these designs, including instruments with identical bodies.
Original Fender basses continue to provide the traditional tones that everyone craves, but firms like Lakland have gained prominence for producing J or P-style basses with improved tones, more modern neck constructions, and additional wood possibilities at lower rates than high-end Fenders.
Lakland Skyline vs Fender American: Overall Comparison
In general, Lakland Skylines and American Fenders are both excellent instruments with comparable quality and overall feel. However, for many bassists, the Lakland has the upper hand. It is often enough to own just one Lakland to fully abandon the Fenders.
The Lakland Skyline 55-02, for example, is frequently judged to be of equivalent quality to an American Fender despite being less expensive. The Skyline 44-02 and 44-64 (Duck Dunn) basses are widely regarded as fantastic instruments to play.
Lakland Skyline signature models such as the Daryl Jones, Joe Osborn, and 55-01 are known for their high-quality construction, pleasant feel, and precision. They provide a more cohesive feel than just assembled parts.
Other than basic pickup or string tweaks, very few faults have been reported on these basses, whether for live playing or recording. One of the reasons many bassists prefer the Lakland Skyline is because of its value and quality control.
Few Skyline basses have quality difficulties, whereas MIA Fenders appear to be considerably more variable — construction and setup issues are widespread (particularly in pricy $1400 basses), resulting in inferior value for the Fenders.
Skylines such as the 44-02 and 55-02 are regarded as some of the most flexible Fender-style basses on the market. Even die-hard aficionados of the American Standard Fender P-bass say that the Lakland Skylines are as excellent as or better basses at comparable pricing.
Lakland Skyline vs Fender U.S: construction & playability
The Lakland Skyline basses include ash bodies, plek’d frets, ultra straight necks, high-quality tuners, and are made with the same attention to detail as US Fenders.
The Lakland’s key strengths are its low motion and playability. The craftsmanship on these basses is likewise comparable to that of Fenders.
Skyline necks are highly comfortable, often a touch thinner than a conventional Fender Precision, and allow you to string through the body or the bridge.
The Skylines are typically found to be a lot more playable than the Fenders in music stores, though this is largely due to the Fenders being poorly set up.
People love the Lakland’s body shapes and contouring, which they find far more accommodating than the Fender Standard.
In terms of build quality and polish, the Skyline Darryl Jones 5-string can be likened to the American Standard Jazz. The DJ-5 is quite playable and has a very low action setting. It’s well-balanced, with no neck dive and an excellent neck feel, even for small-handed players.
The Skyline DJ-5 and 55-02 have a 35-inch scale, compared to the Fender American Standard’s 34-inch scale, which provides stability to the B string. Many bassists believe that the DJ-5 (and DJ-4) has the greatest J neck among basses priced under $1500.
Overall, while most bassists appreciate both the MIA Fenders and the Lakland Skylines, many would select the Skyline if they had to pick just one.
Lakland Skyline vs U.S Fender: tone & pickups
Many bassists believe that the Bartolini Mk1s found on the 44-01 and 55-01 basses provide far more tonal diversity and power than any Fender single coil. Skyline basses have either active or passive pickups. The mid frequencies can be adjusted using DIP switches in the cavity.
While Fender Precisions and Jazzs have a very distinct and unmistakable classic tone, Laklands come in a variety of tone flavours. You can select a P-bass or J-bass tone, a Music Man tone, or a tone that is unique to the pickup configuration (e.g. P&J) and electronics.
The 44-01, although being the most affordable bass in the Skyline series, is widely praised for its excellent tone. Some players favour the dark and velvety sound of the Bartolini, while others prefer the more aggressive tones of the Lakland preamps and pickups.
While passive, the Skyline J bass has a more current J tone than the Fender — some players even possess both. The Skyline offers a very clean and even sound across the neck and across all strings. Fenders, on the other hand, tend to have a few weak notes.
Bassists love the sound of the Skylines with just the neck pickup. They also appreciate the bass’s incredibly smooth tone control.
Lakland vs U.S Fender: Quality & value
In terms of quality control, the consensus is that Lakland Skyline (and US) basses are more dependable than US Fenders. Skylines are known for keeping constant high-quality construction between models, which Fenders do not always do.
The Skylines’ fit and finish (done in Chicago) and fretwork are generally thought to be superior to the Fenders. Lakland pays meticulous attention to every bass they build and maintains strict quality control. In comparison, Fender’s QC varies significantly more, including for US models.
Lakland’s customer service is likewise highly regarded by bassists, particularly when compared to the Fender customer experience. This also helps to increase the value of Lakland Skyline basses.
As previously stated, some Fender 5-string basses feature a weak B string (which can be compensated through EQ). The Laklands fivers, on the other hand, have a very consistent B because to the 35′′ scale.
While many bassists prefer Lakland Skyline basses over Fenders, others stick with the originals, complimenting Fender’s tiny, well-contoured bodies, strong preamps, and comfy necks with rolled edges – all of which can tip the scales in favour of Fender over even a fast-action Skyline.
The Geddy Lee and Marcus Miller from the United States are competitively priced and provide good value in comparison to the Skylines. The Geddy Lee is a full-size guitar with a traditional look. While these two models are not as good as the Lakland Darryl Jones or Joe Osborne, they are less expensive.
In terms of price, the Skylines are more comparable to a Fender American Deluxe than a Standard. When comparing a Lakland 44-01 to a Fender American Deluxe, most people believe that the Fender is superior in terms of quality (e.g., far more elaborate fretwork), feel, tone, and style.
Fender’s Custom Shop models are often regarded as one of the company’s strongest points. Another advantage of US Fenders is that they retain their resale value very well – some antique Fenders actually grow in price.
Some contemporary Standard Fender U.S. basses are exceptionally well-built, with quality parts and additions like the Custom Shop pickups, making a more expensive Lakland a less appealing option. The American Deluxe P-bass and J-bass 5 string basses are likewise of exceptional quality.
U.S Fender vs. U.S Lakland
While the focus of this essay is on comparing US Fender basses to Lakland Skylines, I’ll conclude with a quick look at how the US.A Series Lakland basses compare to the Fenders.
While the American Laklands are a step above the Skylines, bass players typically think they outperform the American Fenders. The US Laklands are said to be exceptionally good and nearly faultless in terms of construction.
The 55-94, for example, is more adaptable and playable than the American Deluxe Jazz 5 – despite the latter’s comfortable compound radius neck and excellent build quality.
US Lakland necks are frequently praised by bassists as the greatest they’ve ever played, with incredible smoothness and fretwork. These basses play and sound amazing pretty much out of the box.
When compared to Fender American Standards, US Lakland basses have more finish possibilities.
Fenders in the United States are more expensive than Lakland basses in the United States. A new Lakland in the United States can cost up to $4000. A few years old American Deluxe P-bass can usually be obtained for around $1000.
A used J-configured Lakland Bob Glaub can be obtained for around $1800, while a 4-94 is frequently found for between $1500 and $2500. (based on wood options).