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MTD vs Gibson Tobias

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by MEKer, Apr 15, 2009.

  1. MEKer

    MEKer Supporting member

    May 30, 2006
    What gives with the two Tobias's anyway? The Gibson has the classic notched headstock, several models. The MTD has limited models, etc with Michael right there doing it. Is the Gibson the "poor man's MTD" or what. FWIW, Gov Huckabee has the Gibson Tobias and it sure is a looker and sounds great, but can it be said then the MTD is more a cadillac Tobias and the Gibson is a Chevy? Pardon the probably bad analogy--but what gives? Anyone here have or has played both? Hmmmmm.
  2. Curious as well. I do know one thing -- the Gibson Tobias site is terrible.
  3. Steve K

    Steve K

    Jun 20, 2007
    Vancouver, BC
    Michael Tobias originally started Tobias Guitars back in the late seventies but eventually sold the company to Gibson in 1990. He stayed with Tobias until '92, when he left the company, but Gibson continued manufacturing Tobias basses. Mike went on to start MTD (Michael Tobias Design) and now both companies continue producing instruments.
  4. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    In a nutshell: Mike Tobias started Tobias in 1980, building neck-through basses more or less like the current Tobias designs. The instruments were very popular and soon the small shop couldn't keep up with demand, so he sold the company to Gibson.

    A few years later, he started MTD in a small shop with a new ideas and designs --bolt-ons -- but some of the same features as the Tobiases, particularly the asymmetric neck shape.

    More detailed history is available on the MTD website: http://www.mtdbass.com/pages/company.html

  5. xk3smith


    Mar 6, 2009
    I have a Gibson Tobias. I'll probably pick up a MTD later this year just to compare the two. If GC, Sam Ash or other local spots had any MTDs in stock I would be able to get this done faster.
  6. Basseroni


    Oct 17, 2006
    Southern California
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar Amplification, Dunlop/MXR

    Pre-Gibson Tobias=Different type of steak

    Gibson Tobias=Hamburger

    The End
  7. Dan Knowlton

    Dan Knowlton Sarcasm: Just ONE of the many services I offer! Supporting Member

    Aug 12, 2002
    Palm Coast, FL
    Actually, Gibson operates the Tobias line (IMHO) on the blind squirrel building method - even a blind squirrel will get a nut once in a GREAT while. I've played several post-Gibson Tobias's and one was really nice, most were "OK, but not worth the money" and one was a REAL stinker (didn't want to say that to the owner - with what he paid, though).

    Dan K.
  8. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    I'd agree with this, but change the Gibson Tobias to 'really expensive hamburger.

    That being said, the original Gibson Tobias Killer B (before they changed the pickup design many years ago) was a KILLER bass, and VERY similar in feel and tone to the later MTD's. I played one for years, and dug them much more than even the real Tobias basses made by Mike back in the day. I believe Jimmy Haslip was involved in the design and spec of that bass. They changed the pickup design a year or two after introduction, and it really changed to tone from punchy and growly to more 'hum canceling modern'.

    I had a lacewood body on mine, and it was just wonderful.. punchy and growly versus the more hi fi tone of the earlier Tobias models, which were a bit too 'hi fi' for my tastes.
  9. Supertanker

    Supertanker Watch the dog! He is trained to bite!

    Jun 23, 2005
    Really expensive hamburger that maybe delicious or rancid.

    I've played some GTB's that were horrid, including the floppiest B string I've ever seen...
  10. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    My 'really expensive hamburger' was not meant as a compliment... more to indicate a very poor price value compared to other high priced basses, like the MTD!

    So, +1
  11. edubb


    Dec 6, 2006
    is funny as hell!, lol.
    I did have a Gibson Tobias Growler 5 string that was a beautiful, nice sounding bass. The B string was mediocre though, and my non American made MTD Kingston Heir passive 5 string (w barts to be fair) actually sounds better overall and slays the Growlers B string.
    Plus it has way more "Growl" than "The Growler", lol.
  12. moonshinegtrs

    moonshinegtrs Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 28, 2009
    White Bluff,Tn.
    Owner: Moonshine Custom Guitars
    AMEN!!! (Trust me, I know!)
  13. gregwatts2008

    gregwatts2008 Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2008
    Jupiter, Florida
    I own # 708 and # 1661. Both are incredible basses. I recently ordered an MTD 534 which will be built by Mike Tobias with the same specs as the original Tobias. Will be ready in Dec 09. Mike Tobias is a master craftsman, Gibson is a mass-production company. I would take a pre-Gib over an MTD and you could not give me a Gibson anything.
  14. xk3smith


    Mar 6, 2009

    My B string actually tunes, stays in tune, plays and sounds better than my Macus Miller 5.
  15. bassface2


    Jun 6, 2008
    NOW MY USA Gibson Tobias .... though beat....
    has a stiffy of a B,
    stays in tune rain and shine (drifts a smidge from season to season etc..)
    hasn't seen a case for 2+ years (except for a few trips here and there).

    I keep Warwick BL's on it (135 B etc...)

    I have yet to play anything I like better. I love-love-love the tone and responsiveness. I get compliments often on the tone from sound engineers, and non-bassists (which I take particular pride in).
    Boomy , muddy tone bassists don't say too much.

    I broke down and bought a perfect 2002 Warwick NT Thumb 5 string a year ago just for it's tone. I would probably sell it to help pay for an old Tobias Growler though, if I thought I could find a good one for sale ... (hey I'm a realist).

    I play with my fingers though, and slap very little (I don't like slapping Warwick BL Strings - (though the tone and feel is unique)

    Just weighing in with another opinion. I do think I got lucky with the Growler, since I bought it used.

    I wouldn't give a wholesale recommendation on a (USA Gibson) Growler, Just saying there can be decent ones for reasonable money (I paid 600 for mine).

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