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Lakland Skyline J-Sonic review

A classically styled Jazz-inspired five-string bass with a sonic twist

Lakland J-Sonic
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

An impressive instrument, the J-Sonic riffs on a familiar format, and does so well, but the whole endeavour is elevated by a pair of Chi-Sonic pickups that add a little je ne sais quoi in the upper-mids. Lovely stuff.

For

  • Classic tones.
  • Cool pickup choice.
  • Very playable bass.

Against

  • There are cheaper, yet similar spec'd, basses.
  • Can be hard to pick up stock.

This five-string Lakland may look like a familiar J-Bass, but look – there’s something a little different in the pickup department. 

Instead of a standard set of single-coils, Lakland have utilized a pair of Chi-Sonic Jazz units which claim to offer increased upper-mid focus, as they’re modeled on Hagstrom Bi-Sonic pickups, but with improved warmth and a rounder response. We ask– why reinvent the wheel?  

Build Quality

Resplendent in a luscious Candy Apple Red finish over an ash core, the J-Sonic looks the part, with the very familiar offset body-shape, mint green three-ply scratchplate, extensive lower cutaway, and chrome control plate.

The instrument feels substantial, weighing in at a sturdy 10 pounds, so it’s not surprising that there’s some headstock bias. Contouring at front and back is as expected, and allows the bass to sit comfortably against the player.

The satin-finished neck sports a shallow D-shaped profile and 40mm nut width dimensions, especially for a 35” scale, five-string instrument. The neck is extremely playable, despite several sharp fret ends in the upper regions, while the broad rosewood fingerboard is suitably easy to play, and instinctively simple to navigate. No twisted fingers here!

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Lakland J-Sonic

(Image credit: Lakland)
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Lakland J-Sonic

(Image credit: Lakland)

Clay-style position markers adorn the front-facing of the rosewood fingerboard with white dots along the side edge. Chrome and satin chrome hardware has been used throughout, and the familiar oval Lakland bridge plate – offering top-loading and through-body stringing – and volume/volume/tone control layout exude a vintage vibe. 

However, your attention is instantly drawn towards the shiny Chi-Sonic pickups. The look is different, but the styling isn’t out of context, as the chrome casings contribute to the vintage looks. Plugged in, what do we have?

Sounds And Playability

With both volume controls wide open and the tone control set halfway, you can already hear the upper-mid focus of these pickups: Their signal is extremely vibrant and resonant. 

Thankfully, although the highs are more pronounced, they aren’t extreme, so clank is restrained for the most part. Naturally, if you require more of this, open up the tone control and go for it! 

Digging in will give you a significant attack and grinding tone, and pick players will no doubt enjoy the extra clarity. Mention should be made of the impressive string response due to the 35” scale.

Lakland J-Sonic

(Image credit: Lakland)

The level of natural punch and clarity is highly impressive. Fretted notes across the whole neck sustain well, and the natural resonance can be felt when holding the body of the bass. Despite the significant neck dimensions, the sonic performance lives up to the claims made by Lakland. 

The low B string is taut under the fingers, so if you like a fluffy, woolly low B this bass probably won’t be for you. The extra scale length gives the bass improved clarity, and unsurprisingly, the note to note/string to string volume is extremely consistent. 

The controls themselves are a bit of a mixed bag, unfortunately – the volume controls don’t have much effect between the two extremes of the control turn. However, the tone control offers light and shade across the whole turn. 

The overall playability is very welcoming: This bass is supremely comfortable to wear, and the 19mm string spacing, broad finger-board, fine setup, and comfortable neck profile make this instrument a real joy to play, whatever your approach.

Conclusion

Lakland basses always tick a few boxes, and this bass is no exception to that general rule. It feels classic, it looks traditional, it plays very well indeed, and the sounds and tones are extremely effective. 

It covers a lot of musical ground at a price that won’t make your hair curl, and although Lakland stopped making this particular model a couple of years ago, there are quite a few around. Check one out.

Specs

  • PRICE: £1299
  • MADE IN: Indonesia
  • COLOUR: Candy apple red, gloss fi nish
  • BODY: Ash
  • NECK: Maple, 35” scale, satin finish Neck Joint | Bolt-on, fi ve-bolt attachment
  • NUT WIDTH: 44mm
  • FINGERBOARD: Rosewood
  • FRETS: 22
  • PICKUPS: Lakland Chi-Sonic Jazz single-coil pickups x 2
  • ELECTRONICS: Passive
  • CONTROLS: Volume, volume, tone
  • HARDWARE: Chrome hardware, Lakland dual-access bridge, Hipshot Ultra-lite satin chrome machine heads
  • WEIGHT: 4.5 kg / 9.9 lbs
  • CASE/GIG-BAG INCLUDED: No
  • LEFT-HANDED OPTION AVAILABLE: No
  • CONTACT: Lakland