MTD 535

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Pat Farrell, Mar 8, 2005.

  1. Do any of you guys own an MTD 535? I have one on order and I know it's crazy but........I've never actually played one.
    I have heard them in different contexts and I chose the timbers I like. I am familiar with the electronics because my Modulus fretless has the same Bartonlini's. Any comments on their sound/playability.

    Pat F -
  2. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I don't own one but have played dozens. They vary widely in tone, as Mike Tobias uses an endless combination of woods to construct his masterpieces. Some of the combinations I wasn't so crazy about, whereas other combinations were some of the most amazing tones I've ever heard. One thing's for sure, though, that he is a true master at his craft. :D
  3. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    FYI, your Modulus probably does not have the "same" Bartolinis. The Bartolinis in MTD basses are custom-wound, only for him. That's the case with many high-end basses that use Bartolinis, they are not the standard off-the-shelf windings.
  4. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    You WON'T be disappointed!!!

    No it doesn't. The pickups in the USA MTD's are unique only to them... custom designed by both Bill Bartolini and Mike Tobias. You can't get'em anyhwere else. I believe the same is true of the preamp, as well. All custom. Not sure about the non-USA stuff.

    Plays effortlessly, incredible clarity and tone, and one of the cleanest most widely usable preamps I've ever touched. Still gettin' used to the fact that I can use full strokes on any knob without risking sound degredation. Watch out, tho, that clarity tells all. It'll lay the smack down on your technique if you let it.
  5. BoiNtC


    Nov 25, 2002
    NYC, USA
    I own one and its my main bass now, its a BEAUTIFUL looking and sounding bass, I love it, just curious, what wood combo did you get with yours?
  6. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    I have an all-ash version, ash body, ash neck, the whole nine yards. Although, it does have a beautiful figured maple top.

    IMO, the MTD has one of the nicest "organic" tones I've heard in a while. It takes some time to get used to, if you're coming from a "traditional bass" background.

    My one complaint is that there's a little too much treble, the treble control is only useful through about half its range. Unless you're playing through a tube amp, in which case it becomes completely mondo, and maybe that's why Mike did things that way, who knows.

    I do know, that the craftsmanship on that bass is superb, you can tell by looking at the headstock. And also, mine has this killer little sliver of ebony, that sits between the neck and the body, and I'm not sure exactly what it does, but I'm sure it's there for a reason. :)

    Here's some pics:

    Attached Files:

  7. Doug Parent

    Doug Parent Supporting Member

    May 31, 2004
    San Diego, Ca.
    Dealer Nordstrand Pickups.
    NONSQTR thats by far my favorite 535 I have ever seen! I hate you now.
    LOL! Actually I have the same bass except the top is quilted maple with a GREY STAIN. Its weird and cool and the same time.
    Maple fretboard, ash body=snap city. I love my MTD 535. Its just the most killer bass I ever had. Its unique, and nothing does what it does. Its not everything to all people, its not traditional by any stretch. It's actually taken me awhile to get used to it, but its worth the process..
    It plays and sounds like NOTHING you have ever played. I have a Fender I use when I need that sound, but the MTD works really in all settings. Be prepared for a new ride.
  8. Wikid, I'm in good spirits! I was a little worried because despite being a fusion-fiend (see my web-site for the insidious truth - i ordered this bass wanting it to be slightly fenderish (read: gig bass - not "in your face or nothing"). And despite selecting the appropriate woods (ash body, neck, maple board, walnut cap) i thought the electronics might be a bit "fusiony". Now that I'm not worried about that it seems like I'll be pleased.

    Thanks dudes.

    Pat F

    ps. would somebody PLEASE sign the guestbook on my's pathetic at the moment.
  9. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I didn't sign the guestbook, but poked around your site. It's really cool! :cool:
  10. Thanks's running pretty slow though.......
  11. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    My 535 (tulipwood/myrtle/wenge) is my favorite playin' bass... something about the asymmetrical neck is sooooo comfy. I agree that it has an organic tone, but I can get Fender-y tones out of mine with little difficulty. I run the preamp close to flat... when I do tweak it's usually the mid control.

    That's gorgeous. I hope I get a chance to play an ash-necked 535 soon. BTW, the ebony sliver is most likely a shim for better neck pocket fit.
  12. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings

    I hope. I think RAM's post is right on the money. The right one will most likely blow you away. Others may leave you wanting. That's not so much a reflection on the bass as what "you" want and desire.

    I own an early gloss finish Ash/Burl Maple + Wenge necked 635 and it's OMFGWTFLOL sweet. Hope yours is too.
  13. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    I felt the same about the treble initially then I learned how to tame it and I can get my bass to go from very bright to normal to thumpy... without EQ tweaks. As usual I keep my amp's EQ set flat.

    My MTD is my favorite "training" bass... once I refined my touch to (somewhat) take advantage of it's capabilities, the payoff was huge. That carried over to every other bass I play.

    Mike is a great guy and right up there at the top of the heap as far as builders go IMO. Good luck.
  14. Joelc73

    Joelc73 Supporting Member

    Nov 13, 2000
    New York
    As has been said, Mike's basses can be configured in so many ways that it's very difficult to say whether or not a given configuration will work for you. In general though, Mike's craftsmanship is first rate and he is one of the most knowledgable luthiers out there. And he should be - he's one of the founding fathers of modern bass construction. Plus he's a hell of a nice guy!
  15. pickles

    pickles Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    I came really close to buying one before I got my Modulus ... and I'm still might someday. I've only tried them in shops, but the things just feel great in my hands. I tried a 4 and a 5 with wenge necks and both felt fantastic.

    A lot of bite and grip to the sound on the ones I played, lots of punch and bottom end too ... really modern sounding. Seemed like the kind of bass you could only use on certain gigs.
  16. Lo end PUNCH

    Lo end PUNCH

    Jan 28, 2005
    I'll tell you this, in terms of craftsmanship, Mike's basses are simply stunning in EVERY little detail. If yuor tone is a little too bright, look at your wood combinations. Ash on ash??? brightness at its best AND a mertylwood top more brightness. I want one with a tulipwood body
  17. lamarjones

    lamarjones Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    Santa Claus/ Jerry Garcia rocks.

    I had a 535 that I really loved, the tone was just a monster. I really dug the assymetrical neck, but after my wife bought me an R bass it got too confusing to switch back and forth on, only reason I let it go (that and I did not need 2 great 5 strings). It had a tulipwood/myrtle body with a maple/rosewood neck. Fabulous.

    When I met Santa (j/k!) I was Chuck Levin's in DC. He was absolutely one of the coolest cats I have ever met, much less one of the coolest heroes in my book, Vic Wooten being the other coolest guy in person. Then when I dealt with him on random issues, his responses and response time blew my away!!!

    The dude rocks the casbah.
  18. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    I'm clearly biased, but I very strongly disagree. I'm able to get very vintage tones out of this bass by simply tweaking the EQ as needed. Otherwise, I think the modern tone works great on tons of stuff... even cover material.

    Put another way, it's not my only bass, but if it were, I seriously doubt I'd be left "wanting" for a sound I couldn't get pretty easily.

    IMHO, anyway...
  19. Halftooth

    Halftooth Supporting Member

    Nov 24, 2002
    Tri-Valley, NorCal
    When I received my first MTD 535 3 years ago, I was in for a rude awakening. The first time I played it, I thought there was something wrong with the bass, but then I realized that it was me and my sloppy technique. A month of non-stop play really cleaned up my technique quite a bit, then I was in love with the MTD vibe. The detail in clarity makes subtle play and tapping really come out nicely on these basses.

    My personal favorite combination is the Tulipwood body and the Myrtle top. I think all around, this combination gets you every tone you could need.
  20. I've got three 535s and they are superb, versatile basses. Warm, big sounding with fine texture and they feel great in your hands. The shape of the body & neck as well as the perfect crafting & finishing is a delight.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    This is my spalt maple on koa with wenge/wenge neck 535 fretted, and it is my all time favorite bass.

    Birdseye koa on mahogony fretless 535 with ebony on birdseye koa neck

    535 passive P-bass

    I have a truly great Sadowsky M5 with single coils that is the only other bass I've had that sounds & plays in the same class.