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MTD vs R-Bass (A/B'd today)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by JRBrown, Sep 21, 2002.

  1. JRBrown


    Jun 21, 2000
    North Carolina
    Today I was fortunate to have the opportunity to A/B a MTD 535 and a R-Bass 5-string single cut. This was the first time I had seen either bass up close.

    For what it's worth:

    Both basses were outstanding but not equal. One had a deeper and wider variety of sounds. That same bass had a "cleaner" build quality. It had a better finish, better mating of laminates, and perfect fit of compartment covers. The other bass, also a killer, looked more "homemade" than "handmade". I was suprised. Check them out for yourself. ;)

    My personal results below:
  2. Jerry J

    Jerry J Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    P-town, OR
    But you didn't tell us which one won out.:)

    I have a 535 and it is pretty awesome in all the above (er, below) categories so I can probably figure it out.
  3. JRBrown


    Jun 21, 2000
    North Carolina
    Seeing as how you asked:

    The R-Bass was awesome! Precision craftsmanship, everthing matched up perfectly. Is this guy that good? Maybe it had "too many" sounds.

    The MTD had more character. It was easy to tell this bass was hand made: glue between the string spacer and zero fret, bare wood showing through the stain where the laminates meet, etc. There were "dimensions" in the curves of the body that say no two MTD's will be the same. The sound was all I could ask for--the R-Bass just had more opions. (I'm being picky--about $3.2K worth).

    JB's rating: R-Bass - 98%, MTD - 95%. (My Ken Smith-5 is a 97%)

    If that MTD was a 4-string, I would have bought it.

    Amplification: Ampeg SVT-3Pro and SWR Grand Prix w/Crown Amp into Ampeg 4x10s.
  4. I havent had the pleasure of trying out an MTD but I agree on the R-bass I just got a single cut 5 and it blew me away, soundwise and craftwise. So will you be adopting that R?;)
  5. pd_5string

    pd_5string Admin: Accnt Disabled

    Jan 23, 2002
    If you want a picture perfect MTD, get a Saratoga. I played one of these recently and was really impressed...would make a great alternative to a Lakland or even Sadowsky. Shiny, glossy and perfect looking.

    The MTD is for those that have somewhat more "sophisticated" tastes, i.e., they like the hand made vibe, the "character" of the instrument if you will. I too, being a Zon player where fit and finish are second to none, was surprised that the knots and little "holes in the wood" are left exposed often on MTD basses. The stain is also hand rubbed and as such doesn't take to the wood in a uniform manner but rather gives it an antique vibe. I have grown to like the hand made look to the bass, and have a second one on order. As long as the neck plays well and it sounds good, this is primary to me.

    BTW: That isn't a "nut" that is just a string spacer. The nut is actually the "zero fret" which the strings rest on.

  6. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia In Memoriam

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    i have owned both- and though the R bass was super- the MTD cuts thru the mix better and offers more sounds- which is interesting because they both had bart pups and the ntmb pre- kudos to Ray Rogers, but NOTHING sounds like an MTD... to me , at least.
  7. Pd 5 String.....Adrian,
    IMO :)
    You guys are absolute right about the vibe /character of the MTD.
    My recent purchase, (Bluebird) has the same flaws.(if you will)
    I will bet that the GLOSS finishes are void of those flaws. Matte finishes lend themselves nicely to invisibility and player comfort.
    I LOVE them, It's the handmade quality!
    As far as cutting throught the mix.....
    MTD is phenomenal !!!
    Yea, It's not the most picture perfect bass out there, But it sure endears the player to his instrument.
  8. WinterBass


    May 19, 2002
    Hudson Valley, NY
    Endorsing Artist: MTD
    My MTD 535 has a highly figured burl maple top. It was a conscious decision to not fill in every fissure in the wood and it truly does give the instrument some character. The craftsmanship on my bass is first rate. The joints are clean and tight, the finish is consistent and the frets are well dressed. Most importantly the sound and feel of the bass is everything that I wanted. You may want something different.

    Good luck with your new bass!
  9. Jerry J

    Jerry J Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    P-town, OR
    Gosh, I musta lucked out since my 535 seems pretty much perfect in the fit and finish department.

    I recently did an A/B with a absolutely incredible new Conklin Sidwinder (zebrawood top on a very lightweight piece of swamp ash and a cocobolo board). The Conklin was appeared to have better sustain, a sleeker neck and was very much louder. I'm not sure if the comparison was fair since I found that the master volume on the 535 was set for 1/3 volume. Also, I am using D'addario nickels and the Conklin was set up with the SS Conklin Snakebites with the exposed cores.

    I wouldn't have traded my 535 for the Conklin but I sure would have bought that Sidewinder if somebody hadn't beat me to it.
  10. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia In Memoriam

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    cant say that ive ever had any issues at all with Mike's craftsmanship- ive owned, lets see...going on 5 MTDs and ive yet to encounter anything that looked like a flaw- besides, the man builds them completely BY HIMSELF - sometimes he has a helper, but not often and he is totally hands on- i just heard a final mix of a track i recorded with my recently sold MTD635 thru an Avalon DI and the sound pretty much floored me- tons of punch and bottom and that " piano wire" zing and snarl they wrote about-
    but then again- no visible flaws on the R bass i had , either. Sounded and played great. Just didnt cut thru and have that character that MTD gives me- 2 weeks and counting!!
    D'Angelo voice: on
    ".. want some of that Brown Sugar.."
  11. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Both the MTD's I've owned have had what I'd call very minor fit-and-finish issues--a slight gap around the control cavity cover, a touch of glue seepage along the seam between the neck and fretboard, that kind of thing. They were both bought (thoroughly) used, though, so I have no idea if they left the shop that way, or if these things are a result of temperature and humidity changes over the years since the basses were built--I don't remember noticing things like that on the new MTDs I've played, but I didn't really look.

    Whatever. I've never played an R-bass, but I can appreciate small builders like Greg Curbow, who does everything himself and whose work is absolutely flawless, but I also appreciate the slightly more "organic" and "handmade" character of Mike Tobias's basses. The MTDs have a feel and sound all their own that's almost magical to me (as do the Curbows), and I feel fortunate to be able to have one. They won't be what everyone is looking for, though.

    My $.02,

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