MTD Kingston - thoughts?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by secretdonkey, Oct 8, 2003.

  1. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Sorry, a simple search didn't lead me straight to the cheese, and the "Stingray Alternatives" thread got me thinking...

    I've been kinda wanting an instrument that does the Music Man thing, but honestly, neither the 'Ray nor Sterling has just the right feel in my hands.

    Anyway, I was just noticing the MTD Kingston. Everyone seems fond of the MTD line, the price on this relatively humble axe looks right, and it's got a big pickup in the right spot -- so far, so good.

    My questions, then: 1. The neck - is it a big ol' chunk like a P or a 'Ray? Or maybe something more thin, fast, and modern-like? 2. The sound - this looks to be a passive instrument. I only really expect one tone out of it -- but is it a tone that would be acceptable for someone like me who isn't a hardcore 'Ray purist, but who wants something in the ballpark?

    Inquiring minds want to know... thanks!

  2. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    The neck of the Kingston is a joy to play. I have an Heir, Saratoga and an American made 435 (and another on the way). michael Tobias invented the assymetrical neck. Although the neck is wide, it is very thin. It also has an assymetrical shape - a cutaway of it looks like an airplane wing. It really enhances your playing if have have decent technique.

    The sound is a bit one dimensional. Modern and hi-fi. UMuch more like a Ray than say a P-bass.

    For the price there is not too much of a better bass

  3. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    I'll second Mike's comments above. I had a Kingston 5 which I ultimately traded to flatwound.

    It was a great bass for the money (I paid $275.00 for mine and it was just barely used).

    The only realy problem I had with it was that it was not terribly versatile in terms of tone, thus I was finding that I wasn't able to use it much in the situations in which I was playing, thus the trade.

    The neck is really sweet. Not at all like any P-Bass I've owned/played.
  4. I agree with Mike (as i always do!) that it is one of (if not THE) best bass around for the money, i am nearly always considering one, and has been a close alternative to my last 2 basses (one of which being a Corvette Jazzman!)

    It definately does its job of a Stingray-esque tone and does it very well. wouldnt go as far as saying it has its "own" tone, but definately a decent tone of some sort!

    The asymetrical neck seems a little strange when you first pick it up, but it sits in your hand suprisingly well and does give you a playing advantage in some ways, but it can come down to personal preference quite a lot.

    Hope that helps!!

  5. I've got one and I love it. I paid $300 for it used off of ebay, in like-new condition.

    I couldn't be happier with it. The tone cuts like a knife. Lots of mids with the tone control on full. The low B is thunderous and feels tight. It's probably the best low B you'll find under $1000, IMO. The assymetrical neck profile lets you fly up and down the fretboard with ease. The string spacing is perfect for me. I always found Stingray 5s to be just too tight. The spacing at the bridge is about the same as a Fender P-bass, but up at the nut it's a lot closer. I plan to add a preamp to mine at some point, since like others have said it is a one-trick pony, even more so than the Stingray.

    The one gripe I can think of is that the pickguard is kind of ugly. It comes off with 5 screws, though.
  6. dabshire


    Dec 15, 2002
    McKinney, TX
    I had a K5 fretless.

    The necks on the Kingston are awesome. Nice wide string spacing, easy to play. And they feel good under your fingers. Mine had a pre installed when I bought it, so I can't really comment on the sound of one without a pre. Like everyone else has said, great for the $$$ in my opinion.

  7. Mike A

    Mike A Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2002
    I bought funkycarnivore's Kingston 5 for my younger brother as a first bass.... and it's one helluva first bass. I'd love to have one myself. Killer value... moreso than an Essex, IMO.
  8. Scott D

    Scott D

    Apr 21, 2003
    Minneapolis, MN
    Just some questions...

    are these gibson-made (like the "Tobias" name)?
    Or are they just made somewhere else, kind of like the "Ken Smith Design" Proto-J?

  9. Mikemike

    Mikemike Miscreant

    Jun 18, 2002
    Minneapolis, Minnesota
    Actually, Michael Tobias sold Tobias to Gibson and started up MTD independently.

    I bought one here on TB from cheezewiz, and I love the thing! It really does a great job of cutting through a band. I'd say the sound is pretty much like a passive stingray, for the most part, with slightly less bottom. The neck is great, somewhat odd at first, but really a good thing when you start playing. And it's really light, too! about 8 pounds, and that's a five string!
  10. Tim Cole

    Tim Cole

    Jun 12, 2002
    Findlay, Ohio
    I am going to go against the grain and disagree here. I had one for a short time, and wjile it was nice, and sounded good, it sounded nothing like a stingray, or any other humbucking instrument I have owned for the matter. To my ears, it sounds more like a J bass than a ray, LOTS of mids which is cool, if that's what your into. I had an OLP ray at one time that sounded much more like a ray that the kingston.

    The 535 on the other hand......
  11. cheezewiz


    Mar 27, 2002
    They are great for the price. I have owned two.
    The necks are fabulous. The pickups are a little weak, but still sound good.
  12. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    If (goddess forbid) I ever had financial misfortune and was forced to sell my current stable of basses (which includes an MTD 535), I would get an MTD Kingston 5 and not feel like I was "settling".

    Obviously, one bass can't please everyone, but I also feel that it plays like an absolute dream. I wouldn't say it sounds like a 'Ray, though.
  13. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I guess I can hijack my own thread, eh? I've now got my eye on a Kingston Heir, the version with the J neck pickup. Thinking that would add some dimension and a bit of versatility, and likely work as a real workhorse gig bass...

    Thoughts/opinions on the heir? I might get a fellow TBer to part with one (nudge nudge), or I may have to score one new...
  14. Poon


    May 20, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    From what i've been told, the additional J pickup will help its versatility. I haven't actually played one yet, but I've had my eye on one as well. I love the neck of the MTD's. I had the opportunity to play a Kingston at a local music store and I actually like it better than the more expensive "Grendel". Well the older used Grendel that I was comparing it to. Just my thoughts.
  15. I just tried a Kingston 5 out, and I fell in soon as the Modulus is sold and the MM J-bass is traded off, I'm getting one! Used, of course, with maple fretboard.

    So the necks are really asymetrical? Wow, because I sat there in the music store like a crazy-man trying to eye up the neck...well whatever it is, it was sooooo comfortable, almost like a 5-er version of my P-bass...I am in love...:smug:
  16. I don't have large hands -- actually, their kind of small, so I didn't want just any 5-stringer. I played a Jazz 5 and didn't like the B. I played the Heir. Great feel. The neck is wide, but the tapered effect really compensates, and makes for a comfortable feel even for smallish hands.

    So there you go.
  17. I bought a used Kingston Heir 5 w/ an added Aguilar OBP-3 about five months ago, and I gotta say I love everything about it (even the retro looking pickguard)!

    I'm gonna reinforce everyone else's thoughts on the neck - it's wide, but fairly thin, so my small hands don't have any problem moving around it. In fact, it's shaped nicely enough so I can utilize my left thumb to hold the bottom note when I slap in keys other than open E or A, so I really like it. Also, I like the wide string spacing since I do slap a lot. Past 5 stringers I've had had close spacing making it a little difficult to slap freely.

    That J neck pup does give you versatility, but I like it cuz it really makes the slap tone come alive, especially in the lower registers (thumpin' w/ the thumb on B and E and pullin' on A and D.

    With all that being said, I'll thrown in my .02 cents and say that IMHO, it doesn't come to the Ray tone, especially the slap (I've had my Ray over 20 yrs.)! But that doesn't mean you won't like the Heir, just don't expect it to sound Rayish.
  18. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX

    you dug up this old thread just to rub salt in a wound, owing to the fact that no one posted a single reply to my other thread bragging about my new Heir, now didn't you?


    ;) j/k -- I'm sure you just missed that thread, thanks for the input!