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MTD 535

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by gfab333, Feb 13, 2001.


  1. gfab333

    gfab333

    Mar 22, 2000
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I just received an email from a Talkbass member who is interested in buying an MTD 535. He had seen my pic post of my bass in this forum, and wanted to know what I thought of MTD basses. Here are my comments...

    First, where am I coming from? I'm a funk / top 40 bassplayer from the late 70s-80s. After that, I got a 9-5 job and now play for fun. I usually played Fender P-basses and Jazz basses, and I listened to Rocco Prestia, Larry Graham, Marcus Miller, Will Lee, Louis Johnson, you get the picture (alot of slapping, plucking, and syncopated bass riffs). Now that I have some bucks, I play an MTD 535, Lakland 55-94, and a souped up active bart-equipped Jazz bass. Frankly, if I were still playing bar gigs full time, I would never have bought the first two basses for obvious reasons (could not afford them).

    Most MTDs have what I call a Hi-Fi tone. The frequency response goes way up to ultra highs and way down to ultra lows. I believe that this is a function of the Bart PUs and the proprietary Michael Tobias active electronics. The extremely articulate definition and tonal nuances of this bass, I believe, is also influenced by the combination of neck and body woods. My bass has a maple burl top on swamp ash body, and a maple neck with wenge fretboard. Using a combination of my own and my friends' observations, I would say the bass sounds like a Fender Jazz bass on steriods with the ability to dial in super-ultra lows and super highs at will. The low B and E strings have a very focused, cohesive, punchy tone with a lot of definition. Not muddy and boomy like many other basses. In my opinion, the tone quality of MTDs are predisposed to being used in jazz, fusion, funk, and R & B material. I don't think that the bass would do itself justice in the blues, rock, and heavy metal types of music. All the refined tonal nuances of MTDs kind of get lost in the mix for some reason (I've tried playing blues and rock on my MTD, and a plain Fender seems to sound better!).

    I have an open mind when it comes to basses. I love my MTD bass, but I also like the sound of my Lakland and my Jazz. I also appreciate Fender P basses, Sadowskys, Musicmans, Warwicks, F basses, Foderas, Ken Lawrence, Hofner Beatle, and Mike Lull basses.

    Getting to the bass that you're looking at, it is very similar to my MTD. However, that solid wenge neck will give it a slightly different tone as compared to my bass, which has a maple neck with wenge fretboard. Your bass will have an even more focused "low-mid bass" and mid-range frequency response. This is based on my interviews (on the topic of woods) with many experienced professional bassists over several years. You can also check out Michael Tobias' web site, or just call him and ask him. he's a great guy, and he will help you out even if your looking at buying one of his basses on the used market. Also, you can check out Glenn at Austin Basstraders, I bought my bass from him. He is an MTD dealer and sells new and used MTDs (email: astromaven@prodigy.net).

    I hope this helps.



    [Edited by gfab333 on 02-13-2001 at 12:50 AM]
     
  2. Bass7755

    Bass7755 Supporting Member

    Oct 27, 2000
    Roanoke, Va.
    Gil, Thanks for your review on your MTD and the american MTD line. I had to think quick about this bass. I did not think it would last very long. I decided Sunday to purchase the bass. I don't have a problem with the "hi-fi" tone. I play "lite" rock, pop,blues and a few others. In the past I have played Tobias', Roscoe's,Modulus',Lakland's and Fodera's. Fodera being my main bass now. The Fodera has a "hi-fi" tone also. It has quite a few tones. I have only spent a short time with an MTD but they were on my wish list. After tomorrow I will only have the Fodera left (for about a week). I hope the MTD works out, I will always have my Fodera. If the MTD does not work out... well I will continue my search. Could it be an Elrick next....
    Thanks for your help.
    Dan
     
  3. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    AL/GA
    GFAB, your findings echo mine exactly. I loved my MTD 535, but since I primarily play blues-based classic rock, I had to go another route for optimal results. I agree that many times a plain old Fender works best in that context, and I frequently pull out my old P-bass. But, I've been playing 5-string for years now and just feel uncomfortable on a 4. I got a Lakland and have found that it's a good compromise....Fender-ish tone (and lots of others too), but playability and B-string quality of a high-end bass. I'd say with the 3 beauts you have there, you've got all the basses covered <bad pun intended>.
     
  4. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    AL/GA
    Oh, and Bass7755....speaking from the experience of someone who recently sold an MTD...if you find that it's not for you, you should have no trouble selling it. I turned buyers away for weeks after I actually sold mine, and a couple offered me more than my asking price. That never happens BEFORE you sell, does it??
     
  5. I think you're right on with the MTD description. If you play those styles, you should be fine. I love my 535! I sold a StingRay 5 to get it, which was a mistake, cause I miss that signature sound, but I use the MTD on all sorts of gigs, and it seems to fit right in.

    I'm finding most of the way I get it to sit in the mix is with my hands. I play disco/funk, "art rock" (styles of the Police, Cure, Gabriel, Enya), and even in church worship. It's my only bass right now, since I just spent some serious cash on a new bass rig....

    Believe it or not, I was playing that beautiful bass thru a Nemesis 210 combo...not a bad little amp...just no headroom!

    I just bought an Ashdown ABM500 and Epifani 310. I played an MTD 6 string thru that combination, and it was wonderful! I'm waiting for both the head and cab to get here...Can't wait!

    At some point, though, I'm considering getting a Sadowsky to give me more the vintage tone thing. I've also thought about going for a 6...so I might evenutally do a Sadowsky 5 and then sell the MTD to get a 6 string MTD...

    Of course, this would all require permission from my very patient and gracious wife (did I mention she's beautiful, too?).
     
  6. Bass7755

    Bass7755 Supporting Member

    Oct 27, 2000
    Roanoke, Va.
    I received the MTD 535 today. Used it a practice tonight. It sounded great. But the MTD strings ripped up my fingers. It's been a long day. I will give some thoughts tomorrow.
    Dan
     
  7. gfab333

    gfab333

    Mar 22, 2000
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    What kind of strings do you usually use?
    After the MTD strings that came with my bass went dead, I tried several other brands (DRs, Ken Smith, etc.) that sound great on my Jazz and Lakland basses, but they didn't sound as good on the MTD 535 as when I had the MTD bass strung with MTD strings. It seems that the MTD bass sounds best and plays well (less buzzes etc.) when strung with MTD strings. I would not believe it, if I hadn't experienced this myself.

    Just my 2 cents, and ofcourse other people's taste might be different than mine as far as sound and tone.
     
  8. I only use the MTD strings...mostly cause I really want to not mess with Michael's setup! The B is taper core, which seems to be important for intonation.

    Yeah, they do rip your fingers a little, especially if you're used to nickel. I went from Slinkys on my StingRay (nickel strings) to the MTDs, and definitely had some sore fingers at first...

    But NOW...woo hoo! They hold their high end for a LONG time. Make sure you buy from a cheap place...some of the online string places, like juststrings.com. You generally buy the B string separately from the 4 string set.

    I'd consider changing string brands at some point, but would think I'd need a taper B.

    Oh, when you FIRST get them, they REALLY have a lot of high end snap, so you'll hear lots of squeaks and stuff. However, they break in pretty soon, so they don't have that initial bite, but they still have snap when you need it.
     
  9. Bass7755

    Bass7755 Supporting Member

    Oct 27, 2000
    Roanoke, Va.
    I ask G.Guitars to ship my MTD FedEX overnite. I wanted to use it at practice last night. I received it right after lunch. All I can say is WOW. Man, the Figured Maple is freakin beautiful!!
    I must have had 10 people come by and check it out. I work with a bunch of musicians (Lenmonster, John Yates was at Vic Wooten's bass camp) He would not put the bass down!! I took it to band practice last night. It does have a lot of high end "snap". I backed off the treble and some mid-range and got a great finger style tone. You could here every note. The E and B strings could be heard and felt. We went through quite a bit of our song list... From newer Santana,old Santana.. older classic rock(Bad Co.,Stones) and a lot of Bonnie Raite stuff. It worked great on every tune. I have to compete with a Hammond B3 too(he likes to plays loud). The Wenge neck did feel "sticky" at times (not sure why it has an oil finish). The strings did a number on my fingers. I normally use nickle strings. Most of the reviews I have read have said MTD's sound best with MTD strings. I will give them some more time. I think the MTD will get as much attention as my Fodera Emperor Elite 5. They are both amazing basses. I have completed my "wish list" and I hope this will be my last bass purchase for a while. I am going to work on my amp setup now...later.
    Thanks for you responses, Dan
     
  10. gfab333

    gfab333

    Mar 22, 2000
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Hey Bass7755,

    Have you gigged with your new MTD yet? I'm curious to hear your post-gig review.
     
  11. gfab333

    gfab333

    Mar 22, 2000
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    hey Bass7755,

    How's that new MTD doing?
     
  12. Bass7755

    Bass7755 Supporting Member

    Oct 27, 2000
    Roanoke, Va.
    Hey Gil...How ya doin?? Well, the MTD is still a great
    bass!! I have used it on about three pactices. No
    gigs yet. Our Gu***r player had a Moto Cross
    "crash". He ripped his knee up pretty bad. He has
    had a couple surgeries and should be good to go
    soon. I did notice that it did not have the gain that
    the Fodera has. I popped open the back and turned
    up the gain...wow what a difference! It is a great bass. Every time you post a picture of your bass...MAN..it looks just like mine.
    One more thing... I LIKE the hi-fi tone. I have to compete
    with a Hammond B3. He has a "heavy left hand". The MTD
    cuts BIG time, you can hear every note!! Man... keyboard players.. they want to play bass too, But thats another
    thread....
    P.S. I love the MTD strings now!!





    P.S. I like the MTD strings now.

    Dan