Tobias basses?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Tupac, Dec 20, 2012.


  1. Tupac

    Tupac

    Joined:
    May 5, 2011
    What's the general consensus on these? Rob Trujillo seemed to swear by them in the Infectious Grooves era, and he had a mean tone there.
  2. bongostealth

    bongostealth Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2011
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    Depends on which Tobias basses you are talking about. There are the original Tobias basses which were pre-Gibson era, there are the Gibson Tobias basses, and there are the MTD (Michael Tobias Design). As far as just 'Tobias' is concerned, the most coveted are the pre-Gibson basses. These go from $3K-$4k (here's one currently for sale here on TalkBass.com: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f126/pre-gibson-tobias-389-5-string-938212/). The new high-end MTD basses are also great basses and can go for $5K+ but these always seem to come up for re-sale. There are also the cheaper MTD basses that are made in Asia. The Gibson Tobias basses came in Basic, Classic, and Signature models with the price being greater, respectively. I'm not sure if these three models were also available during the pre-Gibson era Tobias. I used to have a Gibson Tobias Basic 5 string and it was an awesome bass. It played like pure butter but I sold it because I just don't play 5 strings any more. I've never played a pre-Gibson or an MTD. I also had a Tobias Killer B 6 string. The Killer B series was a "cheaper" model but not that much cheaper. The quality was still excellent. One of the biggest differences was that the Killer B basses have very thick neck profiles (a.k.a. "baseball bat necks"). These were also very good basses but my thumb always felt uncomfortable moving around the neck and holding the neck up. I could never get used to it. However, the Basic, Classic, and Signature models had a thin neck profile and thus these basses played effortlessly.

    As far as sound goes, the majority of Tobias both pre-Gibson and Gibson come with Bartolini dual coil pickups and Bartolini 3-band preamps. I am willing to say that the Killer B series probably used a custom winding on the Bartolini pickups because some of these Killer B basses had a warmer burpier type of sound, somewhat similar to a Ken Smith but not entirely -- more like a Roscoe (which uses custom-wound dual coil Bartolini pickups). This sound was not true of the Tobias Basic, Classic, or Signature models. The majority of MTDs seem to have single coil Bartolini pickups in an EMG shape housing because most of the MTDs that I've heard sound like jazz basses. There are also the Tobias Growlers which have a single Bartolini Music Man pickup in the "sweet spot". I've never played these either but they sound great and have always been another very popular Tobias model.

    All of the above-mentioned models are available in 4, 5, and 6 string configurations with the exception of the Growler models which are only available in 4 and 5 strings.

    Either way, you can't go wrong with Tobias basses. Michael Tobias knows how to make a killer bass.

    I hope this helps. Here are some sound clips:

    Killer B:
  3. Tupac

    Tupac

    Joined:
    May 5, 2011
    Bravo, excellent post :bassist:
  4. bongostealth

    bongostealth Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2011
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    Glad you liked it! :hyper:

    Are you looking to purchase one of these?
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  6. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2011
    Location:
    Milton Keynes, UK
    I only have experience of the MTD Kingston (far east) range. Really well-built instruments and the asymmetric neck is fantastic (I think this has been a feature of Mike's basses from the beginning, but I stand to be corrected).
  7. gregwatts2008

    gregwatts2008 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    Location:
    Jupiter, Florida
    I own a pre-Gibson Tobias and two custom MTD 534s. Mike Tobias is all about tone! He is a great Luthier but he really knows wood, wood combos, and tonal qualities. If you can describe what tone you are looking for....he can prescribe which wood is best suited for you. I have ownes Roscoes, Ken Smiths, Rics and ......I personally think Mike makes the best basses. I have also owned many, many Tobias over the years and would have kept them all if finances would have allowed it. It was a process I had to go thru to learn what "my" tone was. No matter which pre-Gib Tobias you buy....they are all awesome.
  8. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2005
    Location:
    Southwest Michigan
    Disclosures:
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    Agreed that Mike knows woods, and is a great Luthier. I have been accused of almost worshiping him...LMAO

    I have owned Pre Gibson Tobias I had custom built, an early Gibson era Tobias, and a couple of MTD's(both USA made). For me, the Pre Gibson and early Gibson era Tobias's are far and away the better instrument for playability and sound. BUT, if you want the more percussive nature and slightly dampened sustain of a bolt on, the MTD's are an excellent choice. Again going back to which sound you desire.

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