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Michael Tobias' Response to Epiphone's Toby Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Bassology, Apr 24, 2013.

  1. Bassology

    Bassology Supporting Member

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    I am subscribed to MTD News on Facebook, so a few times a week I would get some updates from them, mostly to do with their latest built. But this one caught my eyes today. Here goes:

    "MTD Friends,

    While the Toby instruments being marketed by Epiphone/Gibson today are likely based on the Killer B that I did design while at Tobias(Gibson) in the early 90's, they no longer bear my fingerprints. I have had nothing to do with the choice of component selection, quality standards, or manufacturing tolerances. There are certainly no "classic Tobias Design" pickups (the original Tobias round top pick up shells were suggested by me but the coil forms and winding/voicing was by Bill Bartolini. The pickups on the Toby bass appear to be "Fender" style J bass shells). I have had no relationship or collaboration with Gibson or Epiphone since the end of my agreement with them at the end of 1993.

    Sincerely,
    Michael Tobias"

    http://www.mtdbass.com/the-toby-instruments-by-epiphone/

    It seems to me even after selling the company over 20yrs ago, Michael's reputation still being persecuted to an extent due to the quality/design issues on some of these newer released instruments, even though he has absolutely nothing to do with Tobias as a brand. I guess that's what happened when a product bears your last name, or in this case it's similar to the last name.
  2. pudgychef

    pudgychef

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    persecuted? imho that may be overstating it....I imagine what Epiphone/Gibson is doing falls within the agreement/terms of sale - if you don't want that to happen, don't sign the deal...
  3. dje31

    dje31

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    Well, it's an example of the pitfalls of using your surname for your business. In the event that you hit the big time and someone buys your business, there's no guarantee they'll run it the way you would. More often than not, they run it into the ground, taking your good name and reputation with it.

    Regardless, I think the world of Mr. Tobias, and the success and impact he's had in his industry. I look forward to adding at least two MTDs to my stable, even if they're just the import Kingston models.
  4. TN WOODMAN

    TN WOODMAN

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    The devil 's advocate could say this happened when Leo sold out to CBS.

    Not my personal opinion , mind you, I possess some excellent post Leo Instruments, guitars and basses, just sayin'.
  5. pudgychef

    pudgychef

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    awfully comfy necks imho

    fwiw - I played a couple Epi Tobys...nowhere near the Korean MTDs..imho :bassist: mind you I haven't played the recent MTD incarnations....but those Kingstons etc were great bang for $ (imho)
  6. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt Supporting Member

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    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist: Accuracy, Carvin, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    I will tell you that I was told by Michael that he regretted selling to Gibson in hindsight. They have a checkered history with acquisitions to say the least.....
  7. hdracer

    hdracer Supporting Member

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    He gave up his rights to complain when he cashed the check.
  8. mmbongo

    mmbongo Supporting Member

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    Maybe Mike should ask Ned Steinberger how to keep that from happening.

    Oh no wait....
  9. Lee H

    Lee H

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    I know it is business, but it always bugs me when the larger companies buy out smaller ones, and quality suffers.

    Traben is another that suffered a disheartening fate. The quality of the very early traben botique basses was superb. Hanser music now turns out junk BC Rich scrap wood with the traben name
  10. sigmafloyd

    sigmafloyd

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    +1
  11. Bassology

    Bassology Supporting Member

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    I bet the story is more than just he cashed the check and end of the story. Remember he did work under Gibson for a little while, the first few batch of Gibson Tobias, is still considered by many as pre-Gibson.
  12. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp Supporting Member

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    I have to say that while I understand his dislike for what Gibson is doing, it must be within their rights according to whatever agreement he signed with them way back when. If they were violating a prior agreement then he would be suing Gibson, not complaining about them on his website.

    I really like the basses he is making today. They look good on the website and when I got the opportunity to play one a few months ago they play better than they look! I don't think he is being hurt by Gibson. I don't really know the full story but I thought it was pretty obvious that he must have previously done business with Gibson as soon as I saw the Toby model. I thought it equally obvious that Gibson is acting on an older agreement and that he and Gibson are no longer business partners. The Toby model has some interesting features but I would rather have a current MTD/Kingston.

    Ken
  13. toolewab

    toolewab

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    I imagine what Epiphone/Gibson is doing falls within the agreement[​IMG]
  14. Bassology

    Bassology Supporting Member

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    I bet they do. I am sure Gibson owns the right to all classic designs of Tobias basses. But if you check the Epiphone site on their Toby Deluxe IV, I do think their marketing campaign is stretching the truth a bit.

    http://www.epiphone.com/Products/Bass/Toby-Deluxe-IV.aspx

    "The Toby Deluxe IV was designed by Michael Tobias and ...." I was not aware such bass existed back in the earlier 90's when Michael was still with them.
  15. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Casting out the nines Supporting Member

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    Michael Tobias may regret the deal but for the most part I agree with those that say he forfeited his right to complain about what Gibson does with the Tobias brand when he sold his company to them.

    That said, I DO think it's a bit shady on Gibson's part to introduce a new bass and say it was "designed by Michael Tobias". It may fall within their agreement to make such statements but it still strikes me as disingenuous to say the least to imply that Michael still has an active hand in Gibson Tobias basses.
  16. phillybass101

    phillybass101 Supporting Member

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    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist: Brubaker Guitars
    Never sell your Birthright. Quite simply, that is your Good Name. Lesson for us all if we create something and think about putting your name on it.
  17. ddnidd1

    ddnidd1

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    While its probably 100% legal for Gibson to make such representations (maybe not), it still reeks of a snake oil sales pitch.

    However, when the rights to the name were sold, obviously Gibson intended to use the brand name developed by Michael Tobias' stellar reputation to their total advantage. Tobias knew he was dealing with a large corporation. Les Paul certainly had major heartburn about working with Gibson. Not a secret.

    I just feel badly for those who get suckered into buying these basses thinking they're getting something they're not.
  18. Dan Knowlton

    Dan Knowlton Supporting Member

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    Or Gretsch drums...or a BUNCH of other formerly great brands.

    Dan K
  19. Lublin

    Lublin Supporting Member

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    /thread
  20. Handyman

    Handyman Supporting Member

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    Gibson really is the king of running great brands into the ground.

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