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Any Tobias users here? Looking for feedback

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by PolkaHero, Oct 9, 2005.


  1. PolkaHero

    PolkaHero Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2002
    Michigan
    Not having the opportunity to try many boutique basses, I just happened to pass through a store on my way to a gig this weekend that had a couple in stock. I was really impressed with the sound of a used Tobias Basic 4 string they had in stock. Plugged in, the bass sounded like thunder; huge bottom end but with good definition probably due to the active Bartoloni electronics. I also liked the playability of the neck, probably due to its asymmetrical design. I don't hear many users on this board discussing these basses; how do they stack up compared to other boutique lines such as Ken Smith, etc? Aren't they made by Gibson? Not sure if I can justify spending a couple of grand even on a used instrument. I'd like to hear some comments from some experienced members of this community. Thanks!
     
  2. Simball

    Simball

    Mar 26, 2005
    Portland, Oregon
    I owned a '94(Gibson) Basic 5 for about 6 years. It had quilted maple body wings with a 7 piece neck. Got a killer deal at $2050 new. Nice bass. Not to many complaints really but I ended up selling it on ebay. You know how it is, GASing for other basses. It was an exceptionally solid instument, got tons of compliments on the looks but not so many on the tone. Rather dry sounding and not very versitile, IMO. Just my 2 cents. :D
     
  3. Moo

    Moo Banned

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    All pre Gibson Tobias' are great, that goes up to around serial #2044. In around 1992 they moved the factory to Nashville and the quality of many of those instruments sucks. There are some good ones and I recently got a '93 Killer-B which is kind of a bolt on version of the basic. Mine is great and was listed at $950.

    A couple grand is a lot for the Gibson ones and they do seem to be way over priced but if you found a nice one it can be as good as any boutique instrument.
     
  4. geshel

    geshel

    Oct 2, 2001
    Seattle
    I had a 1988 Sig 6 for a little while. I didn't like it - but it was an excellent bass. The only real flaw was that it was neck-heavy - but for a 6 in 1988 that was pretty common. Other than that, it was just personal stuff (didn't like the neck shape, or the fact that the neck was glossy, didn't like the string spacing, didn't like the Bart TCT preamp).
     
  5. Steve

    Steve

    Aug 10, 2001
    I have a late '97 Classic 5...great build quality. Gibson knows how to glue wood together when they want to. I probably got lucky.

    Amazing 18v. electronics package. Tonaly, it takes up a lot of room which is great but, when the dual humbuckers and distortion pedals come out...not so great. I never had much issue but I have a SERIOUS rig. It's not the kind of axe you want to take into a dense mix with a combo amp.
     
  6. PolkaHero

    PolkaHero Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2002
    Michigan
    Well, I'm not competing against distorted guitars at all in any of my bands. Just a drum set and miked acoustic instruments. I also have a pretty serious rig (check out my profile)! I was surprised how good this bass sounded even with dead strings. It had huge bottom end but the note articulation was still there. I just can't figure out how much they're charging for these with them being mass-produced now. Aren't MTD basses cheaper?
     
  7. pickles

    pickles Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    I've played some Gibson Era Killer Bs and Classics that were fantastic basses.

    Theres also MTD, basses made "by the man".

    Come to think of it, I've never played a Tobias or MTD of any era or an MTD that I didn't like (i've never played the cheap imprt models)
     
  8. PolkaHero

    PolkaHero Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2002
    Michigan
    Bumping this up for more feedback.

    Can somebody tell me what body woods these are?
     
  9. Moo

    Moo Banned

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    Bubinga (pretty sure), with a purpleheart & maple neck.
     
  10. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Were you able to get the serial number off of that bass? I own two pre-Gibson era Tobiases: a Basic 5 (#766, the unoffcial "Jimmy Haslip" model) and a Classic 5 (#601, made for Mike's setup/assembly guy, Richard Oblinger, in March, 1987). These are phenomenal basses. A friend of mine owns a Gibson era Tobias (Basic 5, I believe), and while nice, it just doesn't sound/play/feel as good to me (but I may be biased!).

    Tom.
     
  11. whoapower

    whoapower

    Jul 14, 2005
    Austin, TX
    The number is on the back of the headstock. Here's mine.

    [​IMG]

    Playability? Wow. Sound? Wow. Looks? You must get over the 'nice piece of furniture' phobia when playing these. The Wilkenson bridge on my era of basses well.. I went through a handful of them with Wilkenson before they got it right, adding the extra post to hold in the string, or else the saddle would bend up over time. The only thing I can say bad about it is weight. Damn, I need a really good very short strap to replace the one I've been using for so many years. It is just heavy. I cannot say I can play it for an entire gig, but it is a 6 and not necessary with the current band.
     
  12. I was fortunate enough to snag the last California-made Tobias: s/n 2044 which is a Signature 5 model. It's a superbly-made instrument and I truly love the asymmetrical neck. Full agreement with the post above on playability and sound.

    At one time I also had a Gibson-era Classic model 4-string with a s/n in the 3000 range which I traded towards my Wal MkII fretless fiver. It was an excellent bass, but the quality on these did seem to be hit-or-miss.
     
  13. PolkaHero

    PolkaHero Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2002
    Michigan
    The serial number is 10246, which I believe makes it a recent instrument. So does that make this bass inferior to the pre-Gibson era instruments? Is it worth spending $2000 on this or should I be considering other makes/models?

    I need to take a field trip to Low Down Sound in Detroit one of these days!
     
  14. gyancey

    gyancey

    Mar 25, 2002
    Austin, TX
    It looks like one of the NAMM basses I played in 2004 in Annaheim, in which case it's terrible. That was when Gibson still let non-dealers into their booth. This year you had to be a dealer to enter, probably to keep nosy people like me from experiencing how terrible their new products are and spreading the word. Stay away from it.
     
  15. PolkaHero

    PolkaHero Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2002
    Michigan
    Can you elaborate more on what's terrible about it? I thought it played and sounded really good, but of course I don't any experience with boutique basses!
     
  16. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    If you really like it, then it may be a really great bass for you. From what I have read, the Gibson era Tobiases are somewhat hit or miss, but if you have a hit, then I'd say enjoy it! However, I do think that you should be able to get it for a little less than that, if you're lucky.

    Definitely! That store is a blast, and I find all of the guys who work there to be really friendly. Well worth the trip.

    Tom.
     
  17. Here is my story with Tobias basses. After trying a friend's Classic 5 I fell in love with their necks and their sound, so I bought a Gibson era Basic 5 and the bass SUCKED!!! so bad!!!, It had problems with the frets, with the intonation, and with the electronics, to make a story short I sold it and never looked back at Tobiases again. But in August I tried a MTD 435 bass and fell in love with it... So much that I bought it and haven't played any other of my basses after buying it...

    check out my review here:

    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=201111


    But my opinion is: try out a MTD, if you still feel the same way about the Tobias, go ahead and buy it...
     
  18. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    That is good advice, Ruly!

    Tom.