Lakland Skyline 44-60 (formerly Joe Osborn signature model) 5-String Review
Lake Placid Blue 5-string with maple neck, rosewood fingerboard, pearloid pickguard; Lindy Fralin Jazz Bass pickups; 35′ scale; Hipshot ultralite tuners; Vol-Vol-Tone controls; passive.——- I’ve played bass professionally for 44 years. I currently play in a praise band in a local church and also do studio work. I favor rock but have played just about every style, even — shame — disco. Favorite players include Paul McCartney, James Jamerson, Tony Levin, Chris Squire, Joe Osborn, Bob Glaub and Sting.
Purchased used from Ebay in September 2009 for $799. MSRP $1,650; street price new ~ $1,200. I have a Lakland USA Series 55-94 and love the neck and workmanship, but have wanted a backup fiver in a different configuration and this Korean-made Lakland is modeled after veteran session player Joe Osborn’s 1960 Fender Jazz Bass. The flat-sawn maple neck with graphite reinforcement bars on has the same specs as the quarter-sawn neck on my 55-94, so there was no adaptation needed. Ideally, I would have liked Candy Apple Red, but LPB is a close second and no longer offered on the Skyline models. Previous owner had a bone nut installed and had the bass Plekk’d, which is a process to improve fretting and intonation that costs $200 extra.
The JO looks and sounds great. It adds a tougher, more massive bottom than the 55-94 and sounds as you would expect a Jazz Bass to sound. Fralin pickups are very hot — the signal for passive bass it quite high. The bass gives me a more aggressive rock sound, especially when strung with roundwounds as oposed to the 5-94’s more hi-fi tone. The compound radius neck is a bit wider than some fivers at the top, but the neck gets thinner as you ascend and is quite comfortable. 19mm strings spacing at the bridge is just what I like. 35′ scale makes for a killer B string. Nut width is 1.81′, not too wide but wide enough to avoid feeling cramped on the lower frets.
I love everything about this bass. Workmanship and finish is second to none, as is typical with all Laklands, even the Korean-made Skylines.
Skyline basses are assembled in Korea to Lakland specs but finished in Lakland’s Chicago workshop. Fit and finish is superb. Action from the factory is typically quite low. This bass, having been owned before, was set up a little higher, but I like my action high so that wasn’t a problem. Skylines share electronics with their American cousins and most specs are the same. The Skylines are a bit heavier but the balance is perfect and this bass is not too heavy. Neck finish on the Skylines is gloss whereas USA made finish is satin, but it’s virtually the same. Bridge hardware is brushed chrome on Skylines, polished chrome on the USA models. All Lakland basses except the Hollow Body have dual design bridges that allow for stringing through the body or through the bridge. Lakland recommends that if you use Lakland JO Flats, you run them through the bridge to avoid the possibility of breakage. I have TI JAzz flats on this bass through the body with no problem.
The Lakland Skyline models are among the best import basses made. The Joe Osborn line is a bit higher priced than the entry level 44 and 55 series, but workmanship and sound are worth the extra bucks. If you like old school fender Jazz Basses, you’ll like the JO. It’s also available in a 34′-scale 4-string with a neck that more closely resembles the standard Jazz Bass neck.