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Pondering an MTD 635 - opinions?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by cptnhook, Jan 16, 2006.

  1. cptnhook

    cptnhook Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2005
    Northern Virginia
    Hi everyone,

    I had the opportunity to play an ash/wenge/wenge MTD 535 recently, and it sounded amazing and played well. I'm thinking about ordering a new 635 with similar specs, but since my experience was limited to an hour jamming in an isolation booth, I would appreciate any of your real-life comments/experiences about MTDs, especially with the above wood combo or similar.

    My main player for pop/rock/country is a Lakland classic 55-94. The MTD will be more for jazz/fusion/funk stuff which I hope to get into more in the future. I'm looking for clarity and punch in the fingerstyle tone, and an articulate slap sound. Hopefully, it will be versatile enough to at least fake it in the all of the above styles.

    I have taken the time to read the archives, but thought I'd try to get fresh opinions from y'all. Thanks!
  2. Dan Knowlton

    Dan Knowlton Sometimes you're the dog, sometimes the tree Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 12, 2002
    Palm Coast, FL
    I have a 535 (aviodore body, wenge neck) and a 55-94 (maple fretboard). The Lakland is MUCH less articulate than the MTD - in both fingerstyle and slap. I use the MTD much more often as it just plain sound and feels better.

    Since I have a bunch of nice basses to use (not as many as some, though!) I switched the Lakland to TI flats and it gets used more than it used to because of the old school vibe with the different strings.

    That being said, my current order of preference for my basses is:
    Ken Lawrence Brase 5
    MTD 535
    Sadowsky 5-24
    Lakland 55-94

    Just my opinion, YMMV!

    Dan K.
  3. cptnhook

    cptnhook Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2005
    Northern Virginia
    What a coincidence - I recently switched to TI flats on my 55-94 as well. Nice low-mid punch.

    But back to the MTD 535/635 - any other thoughts/opinions?
  4. Doug Parent

    Doug Parent Supporting Member

    May 31, 2004
    San Diego, Ca.
    Dealer Nordstrand Pickups.
    If I had Dans basses my order of preference would be the same.

    My ash/maple/maple 535 is articulate and punchy as hell, and the slap sound is ridiculously good. Its the best bass I have for funk/fusion.

    But-(here somes the 'but")my wood combination has some "scoops" in the mids that sometimes robs the clarity. The wenge neck should sound very different.

    The ash bodys on MTD's really tightens up the low end IMHO, but its still just HUGE. The MTD B string swallows up every other B in my arsenal.

    My Mike Lull MV5 is the better choice for most non fusion settings with traditional jazz bass tones (Sadowsky pickups)and is more Clear because of more high mid information, and less low end godzilla.

    My MTD may be an exception, other MTDs may have much more upper mids with both pickups on full than mine, I have to dial in more neck pickup and then the upper mids are there in abundance. But its more of a P bass sound then and I lose some of the tightness I get from both pickups at equal volume/panning.

    Hope that helps a little. I personallly think a fender style jazz bass is must have basic tool in any arsenal for the multi faceted versatile bassist.

    Dans Brase 5 would be a great combination of both worlds.
  5. Joelc73


    Nov 13, 2000
    New York
    +1 on the B string. The great thing about Mike's B strings is that they are huge even when played acoustically. His design yields what I consider one of the best B's in the business.
  6. Sean Baumann

    Sean Baumann Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2000
    Livin' in the USA
    I think that is a great wood combo for what you are looking for.

    I still have my MTD 535 with mahogany body and maple/ebony neck. Its got he clarity thing covered, but it is probably heavier in the lower mids than a bass with ash wenge/wenge. The B on my MTD is not huge by any standard, it leaves me a little lacking sometimes. Slap sound is truely great, when I used the ridiculously steely sounding MTD strings (until they go dead heheh).
  7. cptnhook

    cptnhook Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2005
    Northern Virginia
    I prefer a B string that sounds as much like an extension of the E string as possible. A "huge" B is definitely cool, but my first preference is that the B sound relatively "even" with the rest of the bass. Not muddy, no wierd overtones, etc. How does the MTD rate in this category?
  8. +1 on that wood combination. That's the wood combo I have for my 535, and it really results in that 'classic' MTD sound (ala Norm Stockton), with lot's of low mid growl combined with that amazing 8K sizzle. For the type of music you describe, it's literally perfect.

    The only negative I have with my bass is that the rear pickup solo sound is pretty thin (although you can punch up the lower mids at 250 to make up for it). I typically play it with both pickups wide open.

    Anyway, that wenge/wenge neck and board with either a light swamp ash or tulip wood body will give you that magic combination of light weight but still lot's of punch.

  9. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL


    between this and my sadowsky's, the GAS is gone. instant bean-o. hell yea.
  10. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
  11. That's a very, very good point... a lot of times, a B string that sounds just huge at home or in the store can be overwhelming on stage. I do find the MTD B string to be very big sounding versus, for example, the Sadowsky B that seems more like 'the E string but lower' to me.

    The MTD B is very clear and doesn't have any 'problem's, but you do know you are 'playing the B string' when you play it. I feel it works very well with the very modern vibe of my particular bass.
  12. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    on many basses, i hate doing slap/pop anywhere on the low B.

    but on the MTD that transition is effortless and eventless. no issues, and the bass plays like butter no matter where you are.

    its the rare bass that's done that for me.
  13. cptnhook

    cptnhook Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2005
    Northern Virginia
    Nice bass joker! I notice that it's a 24-fretter. Do the 3 extra frets make much of a difference *tonewise* when you're slapping?

    I must say, the playability on the 535 I played was top notch. The action was extremely low, and yet I was able to play with a regular/mildly aggresive touch without any buzzing.

    Do you 635 players find the neck to be comfortable? I understand that feel in this regard is quite subjective, but I'd like to know your experiences. That board looks fairly wide.

  14. I had an ash neck 535-24 for a short while. The 24 fret MTD's have a larger neck profile than the 21 fret (at the nut), and have a somewhat larger body... so they are bigger all the way around. I greatly prefer the 21 fret necks and body. Unfortunately (depending on what you like!), the 635's are all 24 fret... large neck and body.
  15. beadgc


    Oct 10, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    I've got a 635 with 21 frets. I find the neck extremely easy to play for a six. Something about Mr. T's "offset" neck profile makes it really work for me. I also have a 635 fretless ("24 fret"). The neck on this one is the same contour as the fretted, but even thinner, front to back. I just measured them to confirm that impression. The fretted 635 is 3/4" at the first fret; the fretless is 5/8. I would describe the feel of the fretless neck as "knife-like."

    FWIW, the bodies seem to be very similar shapes, except that the 24-"fret" fretless has a deeper treble cutaway. They fit in the same hardshell case.

    My wood combos are different. The fretted is ash with a myrtle top, maple/rosewood. I would say it's sound is balanced and sweet, especially in the upper registers. Very different than the couple I've played with a wenge necks, I would say, more "traditional."

    The fretless is walnut/walnut, with a walnut neck and ebony board. Very articulate, huge mids, kind of "barky" overall.

    Superb instruments.
  16. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    not at all. frets are just frets. dont think they affect the sound all that much. and despite being 24 frets, i have plenty of space for slap.

    as for playability, again, the MTD is just tops. no other 6 string feels like it.

    i've tried:

    - Ken Smith Burner-6, didnt like the "U" shaped neck, which felt kinda bulky near the G string, and the gloss neck wasnt nice.
    - Yamaha John Patitucci, awesome sounding bass, but the neck width was ridiculously wide. maybe good for big mitts man, but not moi. gloss neck sucks.
    - Warwick Thumb-6, total opposite to the yammer. too narrow a nut width, which made slapping difficult, and very neck heavy.
    - Ibanez noname, neck was a touch bulky, and hated the gooey gloss neck. but loved the wenge neck's feel.
    - Roscoe SKB3006, similarly gorgeously fast feel. in the same realm of "holy crap" as the MTD. in hindsight, the Roz' neck is a touch wider than my MTD. still, the MTD neck width is perfect for me.

    at any rate, like a bass wielding goldielocks, the MTD is the most comfortable. satin neck makes moving a joy, and LOVE the asymetrical neck profile. makes moving to the higher strings that much easier, unlike other basses i've tried. and very comfy and balanced in my lap.
  17. cptnhook

    cptnhook Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2005
    Northern Virginia
    Thanks for the in-depth comments! You guys are certainly steering me towards a 635.

    How do you guys like the EQ section? Useable and musical? My experience with Bartolini electronics has been hit/miss. It would be nice if a passive tone control was an available option.

    Also, does the neck have a double or single truss rod? Have you guys had to mess with the neck much due to change in weather, etc.?
  18. Doug Parent

    Doug Parent Supporting Member

    May 31, 2004
    San Diego, Ca.
    Dealer Nordstrand Pickups.
    The B on mine is a tad louder than the E. And fuller. That bass is a monster. It will suck every watt out of your amplifier.
  19. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    You cannot beat a Dingwall for a clear B and eveness between the strings (both feel and sound). I know that's a little off topic of the MTD, but I just had to put my $0.02 in there.

    The MTDs are beautiful instruments.
  20. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    I was sitting here checking out an old Bas Day video with Oteil, Patittcci and a few other players when the urge to pick up my 635 hit me, around 9pm. It's 1am and I just put it down. Apparently I plugged it into my Ampeg B100-R combo and went into a trance.

    Mine is Ash w/Burl Maple top, Wenge-Wenge with a gloss finish. 21 frets. Mine is also pretty old (Serial # 29) so maybe the new ones are all 24 frets.

    I do stuff on this bass that I can't do... that's how good it is. I used it on a Hip Hop/Jazz trio gig last night and it sounded so good I was humbled. The on-demand growl, the effortless playability...

    This bass is perfect.

    The truly sick thing about it is the string to string response. They all match tonally, the B is a tonal extension of the E, the C of the G, it just sounds seamless. Chords? I need to learn some new ones, the ones I do know sound beautiful. Seriously... "Damn, that's pretty!" beautiful.

    It's a finesse bass you can bang on. It shouldn't exist in nature. Buying this MTD and learning to play it was one of my best musical instrument decisions ever.
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