Developing new appreciation for a bass you have but hardly touch
About a year ago I was talking to my instructor about something I've been doing in my lessons. I've always played fives but, just to force myself to think differently about the neck and to play in different positions than I was used to, I was intentionally not using the B string. In other words, I was playing exercises and assignments only the the E-A-D-G strings. So after doing that for a while, I decided to get a cheap 4 string just to simply get more comfortable playing a four. I ended up finding a cheap Tobias Toby Pro in a pawn shop. I was surprised how light and comfortable it was to play compared to my fives, plus it was something different from the basses I've always owned (I'll call them classic models, my other current basses are a Stingray, a Precision, and a Jazz, go ahead, call me a boring old fart if you want to :p). So I bought it. The electronics were kind of scratchy, but the luthier I go to has been talking up Audere preamps for a long time so when I found a good deal on a 4-band here on TB I bought it and had that installed.
Then, for a variety of reasons, I hardly played that bass at all in the past year. It's not that I didn't like it, but I was always in the habit of grabbing my fives. And, to be honest, it was also out of some laziness because it was harder forcing myself to play in different positions than I'm used to on my five (the real reason I play fives is the added positional options available to me).
For the last couple of weeks, I decided to go back to the Tobias for my lessons and use that one for a while. I'm really kicking myself for not doing that all along. It really does feel nice in my hands, the neck is really comfortable, it's really lightweight, the build quality is fine, it's set up VERY low and easy to play with a light touch (something else I'm trying to do in my practice), and the Audere I put in sounds amazing and has a ton of tonal variety. I haven't seen much info on the Toby Pros here on TB, but most of the little info I found was pretty negative. I realize it's not a $3000 MTD, but for a cheapie I bought in a pawn shop I'm really enjoying playing it. Who cares what other people here think, I'm liking it a lot more than I did initially. Here she is:
So who else has a cheap, low rated, or little known bass they didn't really pay attention to in the beginning, only to find out how much they really liked it?
my first bass back in the early 90's was a peavey fury 4. it had a great skinny neck and sounded really good unplugged, but I saw it as a cheapo and daydreamed about having a musicman or a Spector. I abandoned that bass years ago in my parents house. last time ibsaw it, it was out in the garage leaned up against the wall. they're still not worth anything but they've gotten kind of a cult status along with the old foundations and t40's. deservedly so.
I bought a headless riverhead bass here in Japan because it was small, good for traveling and cheap. Never really liked steinberg basses, so I never really played it much. One day I decided to pull all the frets out. It took me another year to figure out how to set it up properly after the defret. Now the way it plays and the way it sounds is awesome. Very happy with it.
Can't really see the neck, but here it is before the defret.
I go through this every couple of years with my Carvin B4. My main bass is a walnut Carvin LB70 neck-through that I bought a decade ago, and I picked up the B4 in college solely as a backup for gigging. I almost always grab the LB70, because it is incredibly comfortable and my style and "ear" are more or less directly based upon its tone (modern hi-fi, but with a touch of warmth from Aero pickups, and prominent mids) and playability. That doesn't leave much room for another fretted four with essentially the same body style but with the annoyance of a bolt-on neck heel and two fewer frets.
However, every now and then I actually sit down and play the B4 for a good while (usually due to an alternate tuning) and realize how good of a bass it is. It's very light, the neck feels great, and the action is possibly better than the LB70. It also sounds amazing soloed -- it has a more scooped, beefy, slap-happy sound that is not "my sound" but, to be honest, the average bassist would probably prefer easily over the LB70.
Every once in a while I threaten to sell the B4 since I now have another fretted 4 and a fourth on the way, both of which give me more of something "different," but then I play it again and don't have the heart...
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