Fretless 5: MTD Saratoga or Peavey Cirrus?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Bryan Hassing, Oct 9, 2003.

  1. Hey:

    I'm looking for a mid-priced ($900-$1300 street price) five-string fretless and am interested in the Peavey Cirrus and the MTD Saratoga. I owned a Peavey TL-5 bass several years ago that I really liked and like the fact Cirrus basses are built in the USA whereas Saratogas are built in Korea. What do you think the MTD's ebanol fretboard would do for the fretless tone. I'd think it would lessen the chance for dead spots to appear on the fretboard. These two basses are priced about the same. Any one have opinions on what the better sounding/more reliable bass would be between these two?
  2. Bryan, I've never played either bass you're talking about here, but I recently bought an Ibanez EDA905F fretless bass, which has an ebonol fretboard.

    I love the sound and feel of it.(ebonol)

    Feel wise, it's very smooth. If someone didn't tell you it was plastic, I don't think most players would notice too quickly. It just looks like a brand new piece of ebony, that's been polished.

    Sound wise, it's very lively. It's very bright. Each note seems to jump off the neck. As for mwah?
    As much as you want. I used to have a MIM fretless Jazz (rosewood board) and having played the two, I much prefer the ebonol.

    I've had it almost six months and have been playing it pretty regularly, and don't see ANY wear on it at all. I do have a light touch, and I'm using Elixir strings on it, but all things being equal, I think the ebonol will stand the test of time better than most woods.

    For fretless, I don't think you can go wrong with ebonol.

    Good luck.


    Here's the fretted version. It has a rosewood board, but the fretless (now discontinued) had
  3. I just bought a peavey cirrus 5 string fretted and am very pleased with it so far. I have played a fretless 5 and really like it too. the electroncis on these are awesome and they playability is is superb. very easy basses to play. that said I have never played the MTD you are talking about so could not make a acurate comparison. have a look at both if you can.
  4. Poon


    May 20, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    Hey Bryan:
    I'll try to give you as impartial of a opinion as I can. I've been recently in the market for a MTD bass, but not an American made one. I've been looking at the Heir and for a while I was looking at the Grendel/Saratoga, but I recently tried one out with the Ebanol Fretboard and to speak hoenstly, I didn't like it one bit. I've never liked Ebanol fretboards much. I used to own a Cort Curbow 6 and found the freboard to feel very cheap to me. It was bright and very tinny sounding, but it just didn't sit well with me. Anyway, back to the Grendel that I tried out, the bass sounded too thin to me. And the playability and feeling of quality wasn't there in comparison to my Cirri. So I wasn't really impressed with the Grendel(The predecessor to the Saratoga-Czech made rather than Korean made). It did have Bartolini pickups in it, which sounded nice to have Barts in a bass, but I still will vouch that the VFL pickups in a Cirrus are better in quality than most stuff out there, depending on what sound you want.
    Just to put this is perspective, I own two Peavey Cirrus 5's. They are different wood combinations with one being my backup, however I can tell you that they are an inredible bass. They have an unmatchable tone that I love to death. Why am I looking for an MTD bass then? Well 1.) I have extreme GAS and 2.) I want an exclusively slapping fingerstyle funk bass and i love MTD necks for that. The string spacing and feeling of the neck is great (especially in that price range). I would honestly and whole heartedly recommend you getting a Peavey Cirrus 5, especially if you are getting a fretless. I mean if you are going to get a fretless, the string spacing won't be an issue because you probably won't be doing a lot of slapping. The tone, the playability, and the impecable quality can't be matched for that price. You are getting an American Made work of art with a Crappy Name backing up the company. But if you get the Saratoga, you are getting a Korean made bass (which is subjectively good to some--and okay by me) with the name of a Luthier Legend behind it. I hope this helps and I can give you more input on it if you'd like.

  5. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    I have not played the new Saratoga. Unfortunately, Dallas/Fort Worth does not have an MTD dealer.

    I will tell you this, though.

    When I was on my quest to get a world class fretless 5, I was trying to choose between a Lakland D55-94, a Pedulla PentaBuzz and a Zon Sonus Custom. I walked in a local shop, and they had a Cirrus fretless 5. I had never played a Cirrus fretless.

    The tone and playability of the Cirrus were so good, that I immediately dropped the Lakland and Pedulla from consideration. If the Zon had not been in the equation, the Cirrus would have been the clear winner, for me.

    As it was, I agonized over the decision for several days, and made numerous trips to the store that had the Cirrus to play it again.

    In the end, the main reason that the Zon won was because it was used, and if I decided that fretless wasn't for me, I could get all of my money back upon selling the Zon, since somebody else had already taken the depreciation hit.

    The dealer wanted too much for the Cirrus, and the Zon was only $400 more, that made the Zon the winner.

    But if I had bought the Peavey, I would have been just as happy with it. It sounded every bit as good, and had a better B string.

    I own a Cirrus fretted 6, and it sounds just as good as my Zon fretless. I have a very hard time deciding which is my favorite bass. I will never part with either of them.
  6. Heh, you could save a lot of money and get this guy [​IMG] in fretless.
    Ha, never mind, you could prob buy 3 of these or an actual vintage. Just advertizing...dont know why...
  7. superphat


    Sep 30, 2001
    some people will like the cirrus (actually most probably because it's been around a lot longer) and others might suggest the saratoga...

    i've played both (owned a cirrus and mtd's but not the saratoga) in fretted models, not fretless.

    i think both basses are equally of excellent build quality regardless or country of manufacture.

    one thing is clear to me though... it's going to depend on the type of sound you want cuz that's where the 2 basses differ.

    apples vs. oranges in terms of sound comparison; comparable in terms of reliability.

    so IMO the questions is not which sounds better or is more reliable, but rather what kind of sound do YOU want?
  8. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    I've played some Cirrus' in the past and was not too impressed, although a student of mine has a 6 that sounds great.

    as for the MTD Saratoga. I have a Saratoga 5 (fretted). Understand that all the hardware is American made - Bartolini pickups and preamp as well as hipshot bridge and tuners. The top is 1/8" of maple with a matching headstock.

    Someone earlier mentioned that the tone is "thin". I do not think that that is a good characteristic of the sound. The sound is modern and hi-fi - this ain't your daddy's p-bass with flatwounds. The modern hi-fo sound is the sound that, sonically, cuts through the band (like a razor). The bass is wonderfully constructed. The relief on mine is set to .008 of an inch and the action at the 24th fret is between 1/32 and 2/32 of an inch. That kind of setup just cannot be done on an instument that is not made to the highest tolerances.

    Michael Tobias is a master luthier. As an MTD clinician, I know Michael very well and I also know that he takes as much pride in the Korean made instruments as he does in his hand made ones. Are there differences - of course. But the Saratoga is a bass that can be used by players of all levels - just ask Gail Ann Dorsey who plays a Amber Saratoga with a maple/maple neck on the road with David Bowie.

  9. superphat


    Sep 30, 2001
    and mike tobias will talk to you on the phone about your saratoga (or kingston even)!!!!

    pretty fantastic...
  10. Poon


    May 20, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    I retract my previous statement. I've recently bought an MTD Saratoga 5 and now I'm searching for a second one. They play absolutely like a dream and sound incredible. I don't know what I was thinking in the past to say that the Saratoga sounded thin...I just played it through my Aggie Rig (DB659--->QSCPLX1602---->(Aggie GS112 X 2)) and it sounded incredible. While I still maintain my previous statement that the quality of the hardware isn't quite as high as the Cirrus, I will say that the quality isn't bad by any means.

    I will concede to Mr. Dimin, that MTD truely does make astonishing products, the Saratoga included in that. I actually like mine so much, I'm selling my Cirrus 6 to get another one. I feel like the Cirrus is a more expensive feeling instrument, however, I feel like for what I need now (which was different from when I wrote my first post) that MTD has the feel and sound that I want in a bass. So bottom line to whomever is digging this thread up, the MTD Saratoga and the Peavey Cirrus are both great basses. Depends on if you like neck-thru basses or bolt one. If you like 17mm or 19mm String spacing. If value or aesthetics is more important. I still contest that the peavey cirrus is great instrument and incredible value, however I just can't get over the string spacing ever since I started playing Laklands and MTDs.

    It is funny, that over time my tastes have changed. I guess first impressions aren't always correct. When I first played Laklands, I wasn't impressed with them all that much, now they are my main basses. The same thing goes for the Saratoga, I didn't like it when I played the Grendel (which I understand to be the exact same just Czech made). However, I love the sound and feel of the Saratoga now, so that just shows you, don't always judge things based on one or two sittings. Basses are meant to be played, so I guess the lesson learned here is to just keep playing basses and you'll find out that your former opinions aren't always correct....