Gibson to make Tobias basses in USA again...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by SMG, Oct 26, 2003.

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  1. SMG

    SMG Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2000
    metro Detroit
    the following is from the Gibson products/Tobias web site...

    Innovative Tobias Basses to be made in USA

    Tobias, the premier bass for tone quality, voicing and innovative ergonomic design, is bringing production home to America with a new line of basses handcrafted in Conway, Ark. The new U.S.-made Tobias basses will feature exotic wood combinations, custom Bartolini electronics, neck-thru-body construction and all of the other design elements that have made Tobias the bass of choice for professional musicians.

    "Tobias set a standard for professional-quality instruments that is still unmatched in the bass industry," said Henry Juszkiewicz, chairman and CEO of Gibson Guitar Corp., Tobias' parent company. "The return of Tobias to the U.S. means that bass players can be assured of the highest level of quality control and, more important, they can look forward to a new era of innovation and refinement of bass designs from Tobias."

    Tobias basses offer a wide range of tone qualities and voicings from different tone woods. Because they employ a neck-thru-body design, the composition of the neck also plays a critical role in the tone. By combining different soft and hard woods, the sound is tailored to the needs of the player, making for an extremely versatile instrument. Tobias basses are fitted with highly respected Bartolini electronics, and Bill Bartolini is working with Tobias to design new pickups for the U.S. models.

    The first Tobias basses were made by luthier Mike Tobias in Orlando in 1977 and sold through his store, The Guitar Shop, later in California. The Tobias company joined the Gibson family in 1990, and production was moved to Nashville in 1992. The new USA Tobias basses will be made in a facility previously used for Baldwin grand piano production; Baldwin was acquired by Gibson in 2001. The Toby line of basses, modeled after the Tobias line and produced overseas since the mid 1990s, will continue to be offered through Gibson's internet-based direct sales division,
  2. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia In Memoriam

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    yeah, well.. Mike isn't making them :rolleyes:
    this never made sense to me: for a while there, a Gibson Tobias was priced higher than a USA MTD. :confused:
    if you want a Tobias, why wouldnt you go find a preGibson one or go to the man himself?

    i dunno, unless Mike gets some of the $$, i say, let it rest.
  3. yep. they should go back and fund the rippers and grabber's 03!!!

    :mad: :eek: :bassist:
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well - MTDs are different - bolt-ons for a start. And there is supply and demand - Mike Tobias can only make so many MTDs - whereas Gibson can mass-produce, make more and push them out more quickly.
  5. LarryJ

    LarryJ banned

    Dec 12, 1999
    Encino, CA (LA)
    A number of the Gibson-Nashville Tobias basses were bolt-ons. Gibson retained some design elements of Michael Tobias such as the asymetrical neck, body shape etc.
    Several posts here have discussed QC problems & inconsistencies with the Nashville-made Tobias.
    The original Tobias product, made by Mike & crew, were hand-built & flawless, as are the MTD series today, one of the best of the best.
    For the record, I played and bought a Renegade, the "economy" model of the Gibson era.
    I got a winner. It's a beautiful, fast, light
    well-made instrument. I learned to dial in the tone with the Bartolini pre & pups, and that bass has a great range, from a round, mellow jazz tone to an awesome slapper. It holds its own with basses costing much more. That's the deal with mine; others weren't (or aren't) so enamored of theirs.
    I hope Gibson presents a nice well-made product with their Conway AK series. IMO, they should just label them Gibson; that name has enough tradition and could use bolstering as far as history in making high end basses. No need to use the Tobias legacy, except maybe they want to get their money's worth from what they paid to Mike, or trade in on his name. Most serious players (should) know the difference, as well as the differences between the MTD foreign & domestic series of basses.
    "Love what you play, Play what you Love"
    Now go practice.
  6. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Soooo, Gibson is trying to undo the damage - too late IMO.
  7. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    I predict that they will make fantastic basses and people who buy them will love them, but the controversy over "pre-Gibson" and "MTD" will rage on.
  8. LarryJ

    LarryJ banned

    Dec 12, 1999
    Encino, CA (LA)
    What damage is that? Trying to market a high-end bass in their product line? No one forced Mike Tobias into selling his name; the "history" of his works explains why he sold the name & production rights to Gibson, much as Leo Fender to CBS back in the days; much like SWR today, much like Eden and others. Making or "mass-producing" musical instruments is a business.
    There's always the option of ordering a hand-built from a "boutique" if you want.
    From my experience with the Nashville-made Gibson/Tobias Renegade I play, along with my ASAT,
    and my '69 Fender Precision, there was no damaged goods, but a modern, fast, killer-sounding axe. I've
    heard that other basses had problems, I can't
    make that claim.
    Fortunately, there happens to be a LOT of good instruments to choose from, so if Gibson wants to be a "player" in the bass guitar market, they'll have to bring their game, like all the mfrs. do.
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    The more I think about this, the more I disagree. So I know a lot of bass players who would be interested in a pre-Gibson Tobias and the Tobias Basic, Classic and Signature models were "classic" designs of their time.

    But - only 2,000 odd were made and are now scattered across the world - a lot of bass players have no chance fo ever getting one and as you say Mike's not making any more!

    So - it would be nice for a lot of people to have the chance to buy something that is closer to the "original" Tobias bass, than the Tobys.

    The other thing is that you can only buy the pre-Gibson Tobiases in the specifications that exist and that people would want to sell.

    So if you want a particular mix of woods and finishes - you can't have it! :(

    I really like the way mine plays and sounds - but I don't like the Zebra finish much or the chrome knobs - I would love to get a different spec bass and would consider a Gibson Tobias if I could could get exactly what I wanted.

    OK - their quality control might not be as good - but I'm in no hurry and I look forward to trying many examples in shops and picking the one that comes up to my own personal quality control criteria!! ;)
  10. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Buying a highend brand and using its image to sell budget basses.
  11. LarryJ

    LarryJ banned

    Dec 12, 1999
    Encino, CA (LA)
    Miracle of miracle, I agree w/Bruce L.;) !

    I HOPE that Gibson paid attention to the QC problems SOME Nashville basses had & produce a high-end series of bass guitars that do justice to the Tobias name, rather than the low-end Toby's, which like Lakland Skyline, G&L Tribute,
    Warwick Rockbass, MM-style OLP's, and even the MTD Kingston/Saratogas, are what they are.

    Go for it Gibson- & if a player doesn't want one, or doesn't feel 'em.....
    There's a few other basses out there to choose from.
  12. Gibson didn't steal, but paid, for the rights to use the name "Tobias." I wish them well in their new venture.
  13. LarryJ

    LarryJ banned

    Dec 12, 1999
    Encino, CA (LA)
    J- as I stated, there are great Nashville Tobias basses out there. I have one.
    The "Toby" is what it is- an allright bass for the money.
    If someone bought one for 600 bucks and felt that they were getting a MTD type handbuilt;
    Same with Mike's Kingston/ Saratogas.
    They are good, playable basses, but NOT MTD's.
    I've heard from players that like them very much, as well as those who actually dig their Tobys for what they are.
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    It's all detailed on Mike Tobias's website :

    "The business grew by leaps and bounds. In June of 1988 we had so many back orders that we could not accept any new orders until the January NAMM show in 1990. (For another view of the California years, see Bob Lee's story on the Articles section.)

    The Gibson Buyout...

    After several attempts to move the business to larger, better equipped facilities, I sold Tobias Guitars to Gibson on 1/1/90. The first Tobias Gibson serial number was 1094. At that point, Gibson was instrumental in moving us to a bigger shop in Burbank and setting us up with a great spray booth and dust collection system. We finally met So Cal safety codes. Basses built during 1990-1992 era were built initially by the same crew that had helped establish Tobias Basses as one of the most sought after basses on the planet. We added several people during 1990 and ended up with a great 10-man shop.

    Business was still very good and we were not able to make anywhere near enough basses to fill the orders. Instead of trying to jack up production, we tried to get outside vendors to build for us. We had 110 "Model T" basses made for us by a very fine builder in New England, and then we got the Terada factory in Nagoya, Japan to make the "Standard" bass for us. This was and is a great bass, but the $/yen ratio killed the project. There were about 400 Standards.

    Late in 1992, it was decided that in the best corporate interests, Tobias would move to Nashville. After much deliberation, no one from the original Tobias Guitars crew went to Nashville. The final LA Tobias/Gibson serial number is 2044. Despite Gibson's ownership of Tobias, all of the basses made up to 2044 were built by the my regular crew. The first production from Tobias/Nashville consisted of about 60 basses that were not numbered or finished by this crew.

    I left the company in Dec '92 and was a consultant for Gibson for the operations they set up in Nashville. They had some trouble at first, but have since done a fairly good job making Tobias basses. "
  15. Leo Fender isn't making Fenders, Music Mans, or G&Ls either, and that doesn't make the current ones bad instruments.

    Don't get me wrong: I'm not all that confident about Gibson's *current* ability to carry this off, though Tobias himself notes that at least the earlier Gibson Tobiases were pretty good.

    But why not let the basses speak for themselves when they arrive, rather than prejudging?
  16. hands5


    Jan 15, 2003
    good 'ol USA/Tampa fla.
  17. hands5


    Jan 15, 2003
    good 'ol USA/Tampa fla.
    The Kingstons/Saratogas are MTD'S it just so happens that both of these basses are made in Korea however both of these basses are are built under Mikes specs for the budget minded basses
    Now here is something real funny the MTD Grendel that was made in the Czech Republic was constuc ted with Maple Neck/Rosewood fingerboard,standard 24-fret and Tulipwood body.On a good day,you could get 1 for under a $1000.00 maybe even lower with this in mind if this same bass was made in the u.s.a. the price of it would be well over $3000.00 I know because I have both of them
    If the New Gibson Tobias is going to be made with quality materials and good craftsmanship in mind and also sound good I'm pretty sure I will purchase.Also I doubt very seriously that Mike would care at all.
  18. LarryJ

    LarryJ banned

    Dec 12, 1999
    Encino, CA (LA)
    Profit Margins are the reason for the "MTD"
    Kingston/Saratogas. And the G&L Tributes, the OLP's, Warwick Rockbasses and Lakland Skylines.
    (and of course the Toby's). There were never MIM or offshore Fender's in Leo's day.
    Point is, these are good basses designed by master builders and made offshore to increase the profit margin and capitolize on the good name of the high end basses with a lesser profit margin and a smaller customer base. It's a good thing, and offers the entry level bassist a decent quality instrument insread of a POS.
    But the Kingstons are not hand-built MTD's, the Tributes are not hand-built in Fullerton, and the OLP's sure as hell aren't a MM!!
    Who cares about status and where an axe is made?
    Well, I do kinda, but its about how well you play what you play.
    So love what you play & play what you love & never mind the drama.
    Now go practice.
  19. Dude

    Dude Commercial User

    Mar 19, 2000
    Owner: The Dude Pit Forum (closed) Producer: School of Bass
  20. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia In Memoriam

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    guys- there seems to be a good bit of support for Gibson here, and that is all good-
    in fact, it WOULD be nice if they got it right- i was refferring more to the outrageous prices they were asking for Gibson Tobiases where for a time it was cheaper to find an early MT made one or get a USA MTD ( different as it may be) - paying more for Gibson bass than Mike T bass makes no sense to me- that's just me.. if anyone here has a pre-Gib Toby they would like to trade for a Gib- Toby- i will make sure i find one asap to trade you... no takers?
    i am not prejudging. i am referring to what has already happened.
    Again, my personal opinion... i am a person.;)
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