1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Gibson Tobias

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by air_leech, May 4, 2001.

  1. air_leech


    Sep 1, 2000

    I've lately seen some pre-Gibson Tobias basses surfacing on E-bay, and I wondered how different are they in terms of quality compared to the Gibson ones?
    if there is a difference what is it (I mean as in different quality woods, cheaper hardware, construction issues etc.)?
  2. Taurus


    Feb 2, 2001
    The Tobias basses currently produced in Korea are supposed to be very good value for the money but they really can't be put in the same category as the "pre Gibson" models.I think the woods used are roughly equivilent but the hardware,pups and electronics are not going to be on the same level.Probably the biggest difference is that you're comparing something that has been carefully handmade and individually setup to something that gets cranked out on a mass production line.So,that's why you can get a brand new model way cheaper than an older used model.Still,one of the current models,with a hot-rod job[new pups and ???] and a full setup,might be surprisingly good.
  3. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    The difference is night and day. The newer Korean basses aren't bad for the money. The US Gibson basses were very spotty as far as quality, it was possible to find a good one and even more possible to find one not really up to par if not downright bad.

    I have two pre-Gibson Tobiases, one California and a Florida bass (very early model). Neither looks like later pre-Gibson T's. I haven't found a later Tobias that really sounds or plays like either of them yet.

    Some of the upper end Gibson's have asking prices in the same range as pre-Gibsons. I don't think it would be hard to figure out what would generally be the best deal.
  4. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    To further confuse the issue, the currently available "Toby" basses sold at Musicyo.com and elsewhere are NOT the only "Gibson" Tobiases out there. The chronology is somewhat more complicated than that.

    First, Tobias was bought by Gibson at the beginning of 1990, but the basses were still made by the same people (in a bigger shop) in California until 1992. So, those are technically not "pre-Gibson", but are exactly the same as the "pre-Gibson" instruments.

    In 1992, Gibson moved Tobias production to Nashville. At that point, the were still building the same Tobias models (Basic, Custom, Signature), but started suffering the quality control problems that give "Gibson Tobias" a somewhat bad name. Specifically, the quality of the wood was often not as good, so the basses would sometimes show fretboard shrinkage, warping, that kind of thing. Also, the quality of the fretwork and otehr details tended not to be as good. They look just like the "pre-Gibson" Tobiases, though. You have to check dates and serial numbers to know whether it was made in California or Nashville. The last California serial number is 2044, according to Michael Tobias' chronology.

    Gibson built Tobias bases in Nashville for maybe 7-8 years, I think. During that time, they also introduced the bolt-on Killer B, Growler, and Renegade basses. They also experimented with a cheaper Korean-built "Toby" line, which included the bolt-in "Deluxe" and wenge & maple neck-through "Custom". However, Gibson halted Tobias and Steinberger (another Gibson buyout) a few years ago. (Supposedly production was going to start up again at a new factory in Memphis, but the projected date for that has some and gone...)

    After Tobias production shut down, Gibson resuscitated the Korean "Toby" basses, along with the Steinberger "Spirits", and started selling them through MusicYo.com. Those are the only "new" Tobiases available at this point, and they're sold a lot on Ebay as well as through MusicYo. As someone else said, they are a fairly good value for what they cost, but they're in a rather different class from the original American-made Tobias basses (both pre- and post-Gibson).

  5. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    I'm an ooooold customer ;)

  6. air_leech


    Sep 1, 2000
    hey, first of all thanks for the replies.
    now I need to make something clear, I'm not even talking about the Toby ones.
    I read the history of Tobias on the MTD url (a great site btw) and what I'm comparing is the original pre gibsons (including the 90-92 gibson owned original team creations) against the post '92 Nashvile stuff which were the first Tobiases not built by Michael's crew (except for a few being finished in nashvile bu built in the previous factory). sorry for any misunderstanding.
  7. ZuluFunk

    ZuluFunk Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001
    Wow, the first I ever heard of Tobias was in a Bass Player Magazine article on Chris Squire. It was also the first I heard of a 5 string. He had it made special and was using it in sessions for Big Generator. (which includes one of my favorite songe to play of all time "I'm Running")
  8. acebass


    Dec 11, 1999
    toronto canada
    A couple of months ago I bought a renegade that had been hanging in the local music shop for two years...maybe i just lucked out, but i love it to death.It's got a really fast neck and it's punchy as hell.It also plays great up and down the finger board.It's not a $4000 bass like a sadowsky or even an original Tobias...but damn for $1300 Canadian it's a great axe!!
  9. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    acebass, as was pointed out earlier in the thread, there were bad Gibson era Tobias', but there were also good Gibson made ones as well. Really hit & miss.

    Sounds like you got one of the good ones.:)

    Congrats on finding a keeper. Enjoy.

Share This Page