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Suggest Woods for my first MTD bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Robin Ruscio, Mar 11, 2009.


  1. Robin Ruscio

    Robin Ruscio Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2003
    Denver, CO, USA
    I'm considering getting into the MTD american line after following Mike's instruments for 15 years.

    I am mostly a fingerstyle player who generally is looking for a darker then average tone these days; smooth but clear and tight. The bass would be used for contemporary pop. funk, and rock music situations.

    I'm fairly certain I will go with a rosewood board. I tend to prefer softer woods. My current basses are an Alder body Sadowsky jazz bass with an Ebony board and a Roscoe 6 with a madrone top (I'm told it sounds like mahogany) and cedar body with a wenge board. I also have some serious chronic neck and shoulder problems and would prefer something on the lighter side. I'm looking for a 24 fret 535.

    It seems that many MTD users are going for a brighter, hi-fi sound and are heavy slappers, so I wondered where I might fit in. Amongst MTD users, my playing style might be most akin Jimmy Haslip.

    Any suggestions would be appreciated, and let me know if there's anything else I can tell you about my playing that might influence which woods would be best for me.
     
  2. I'd say Wenge/Wenge neck w Black Korina body. I have two MTD's one is exactly like the one I suggested and the other is Maple/Rosewood and Ash/Figured Maple combo. This one is much brighter. I use Korina/Wenge one for rock music without any problem. Although a big part of MTD's sound is related with the Bartolini active pickups/preamp.
     
  3. Here it is...
     
  4. steve21

    steve21 Banned

    I'd say call Mike Tobias and be like "Hey, Mike (or Mr. Tobias, I don't know what he likes) I want you to make me a pretty lookin' bass with a dark tone and weight that won't kill me!"

    Sounds crazy, but the dude's been putting pieces of wood together for a long time. He knows better than random schmucks on talkbass.
     
  5. Robin Ruscio

    Robin Ruscio Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2003
    Denver, CO, USA
    I sent Mike an email, but I'm sure he's a busy guy. And I like the random schmucks on TB.
     
  6. PocketGroove82

    PocketGroove82

    Oct 18, 2006
    Chicago
    Have you considered the brown one?














    :D
     
  7. Robin Ruscio

    Robin Ruscio Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2003
    Denver, CO, USA
    Que???
     
  8. You tone goals and description don't really bring an MTD in any wood combination to mind IMO.

    If you dig your Roscoe, but are looking for a lighter instrument with similar fat, punchy tone (but even better IMO), check out the Sadowsky Modern bass. It has 24 frets and the more traditional 19mm spacing at the bridge, and has big, fat humbuckers placed close to the bridge, similar to the Roscoe. However, the weight and playability are far better than any Roscoe that I've played, and the tone is much punchier and tighter than the very wide and very modern sounding USA MTD's.

    IMO and just a thought. The NYC version of the Sadowsky Moderns are routed, and typically under 8 pounds!!!! Stay away from the Ebony board option, since that gets quite pingy and modern sounding to my ear with these instruments. An ash or alder body with a rosewood board (or even a maple board) would just KILL for you IMO.

    Edit: The other issue with the MTD, which makes them so popular with the gospel and funk guys, is that the pickups that Mike uses are unusual proprietary active Bartonlini's (i.e., there is no passive mode with these basses, since the pickups have preamps and electronic voicing over and above the master preamp which always needs to be turned on). The specific Bartolini's that Mike uses bring to mind the EMG soapbars more than the traditional passive Bartolini soaps that are used, for example, in most of the Roscoe's. Combine those wide, hi fi pickups with the custom voiced Bart preamp, that is also very wide (the bass shelving point is very low, and the treble is very high), you get a built in modern tone that is great, but hard to 'get rid of'. The Sadowsky Modern can achieve some of this tone with EQ, but also has a nice passive tone, and can be wonderfully warmed up with the standard passive tone control (VTC). It is always very punchy, but the tone brings Haslip's current tone to mind more than any MTD I've owned or played (or that I've heard Jimmy play in the past).
     
    bass nitro likes this.
  9. 18eranaRic

    18eranaRic Banned

    Mar 7, 2009
    Malibu, USA
    balsa...kidding.

    Do the rickenbacker thing making a walnut sandwich with maple "bread".
     
  10. 18eranaRic

    18eranaRic Banned

    Mar 7, 2009
    Malibu, USA
    the walnut gives the deep core and smooth thump, while the maple gives the upper, cutting, charm. a delightful combo for the music you're going to play with those fingers.
     
  11. 18eranaRic

    18eranaRic Banned

    Mar 7, 2009
    Malibu, USA
    forgot, rosewood board on a maple neck.

    so it's walnut body with maple top and back, rosewood board on a maple neck...yay, it took three posts, but that's my vote.
     
  12. Robin Ruscio

    Robin Ruscio Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2003
    Denver, CO, USA
    Thanks for the intelligent replies Margus and KJ.

    I actually already have a 24 fret 5 string Sadowsky. It's routed and about 8.25 lbs. I do regret getting the ebony board on it. Rosewood would've suited me better, although it's fine if i keep the tone control down. I love the look however, as it goes well with my black hardware and caramel flamed maple top.

    From a versatility standpoint, I don't need another Sadowsky. I'm sure the Bart's have a more modern sound but if I add another bass I want something more contrasting. I wanted a bass similar to my Roscoe but a 5 string version I can stand with on gigs that I don't solo and won't need the C string. I got into thinking about this on some gigs where I wanted the 35" scale and tight modern sound but the 6 just felt silly, like backing up a singer. Also, the wide string spacing would be nice if I do want to slap and I generally like the wider boards.

    Maybe MTD's are not right for me. Obviously the quality is top notch and I like the artistry of Mr. Tobias. I am attracted to what I'm hearing online, but I haven't heard anyone going for a darker sound.


    P.S. My Roscoe outplays my Sadowsky, especially in the upper register. (My Ken Smith's outplayed both, but I never loved the nasally sound.) The neck moves around alot less as well. Perhaps you've not encountered one well setup.
     
  13. Robin Ruscio

    Robin Ruscio Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2003
    Denver, CO, USA
    Good suggestion. I had a Ken Smith like that but with an ebony board. I actually swapped it for a maple top/back mahogany core and liked that more. (Then I heard a Roscoe and have been much happier ever since.) I also had BT Smith with Walnut top/back and maple core and mahongay veneers, and it was way to heavy and compressed sounding.

    I don't think MTD does backs. And adding more layers off wood tends to make everything more compressed sounding, which is why I'm looking for a harder top/softer back combo.

    I was thinking a maple top/mahogany back might be a good option. I don't know where tulip wood (an MTD favorite) fits into the hardness scale. I wondered whether there's much else out that's similar.
     

  14. Do you have a 24 fret Sadowsky with J pickups in J position? That's a VERY different thing from the Modern.

    Many often describe the Sadowsky Modern as a 'Smith with more balls'. The pickup placement is similar, but it's MUCH fatter.

    MTD's are great (I played a wenge/ash model for years.... stay away from that wood combination.. it was VERY modern and wide, and also an ash body/ash neck with maple board... more mid aggressive, but still very bright).

    The trouble with the wood combinations on the MTD's that are reasonably dark and fat (walnut and mahogany) is that now you are talking about heavy again.

    Edit: Tulip Wood is very soft, and for the most part, very bright. It's typically paired with a wenge neck for that classic Norm Stockton MTD tone (BIG low end, super upper treble sizzle and a bit of low mid scoop).
     
  15. 18eranaRic

    18eranaRic Banned

    Mar 7, 2009
    Malibu, USA
    Maybe, I've never really though of them first for the type of music you describe. A bass that's been kind of on my radar for this though is the Lakland Decade...you could go with a mahogany body etc... http://www.lakland.com/decade.htm I don't know if it's what you're into though, it's some distance from the MTB's line.:meh:
     
  16. Robin Ruscio

    Robin Ruscio Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2003
    Denver, CO, USA
    I have the J PUPs in the conventional place. A custom job. I guess Jason Newstead has a few like that.

    I guess you really like Sadowskys! So do I and it will see more action. It's the only bass I've never thought about selling, I think it's a lifer.

    But I'm a collector and just looking for another high quality option that has a completely different vibe to it. Trying to keep my work interesting to me and get myself to try some new things. Buying another Sadowsky would be like having two shirts in in different colors.
     
  17. Another comment. While the MTD's are fantastic basses, the wide sonic footprint makes them a little picky in matching them up to backline amplification to provide an even, punchy tone. I see you are using a 502 and 410UL. That is a wonderful rig, but the super fat, deep low end, polite lower mids and airy top end is, to me, too much of a good thing with the MTD basses.

    I really dig the tone of the MTD's that show up at our GTG's though, for example, a Thunderfunk/Berg AE410 rig, since the wide, open voice of most MTD's balances the tight, warm, mid punchy, lower mid present voicing of that rig, and vice versa.

    Just another thing to think about:D
     

  18. Actually, I personally hate the Modern:D (I'm a J bass guy through and through. I don't even like the Sadowsky HC J pickups much.. singles for me!) However, for the tone goal you are trying to achieve, I feel it's perfect, and superior to the MTD. Again, the Modern Sadowsky model has virtually nothing in common tone-wise with the JJ models, and is much closer in tone to a very fat Ken Smith than to the classic Sadowsky JJ's (24 or 21 fret).

    I do like the Sadowsky fit and finish, playability, and weight a lot though!

    If you are set on an MTD, I agree that talking with Mike is the thing. If you can find a mahogany or walnut model that isn't too heavy, you might dig it a lot.
     
  19. Robin Ruscio

    Robin Ruscio Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2003
    Denver, CO, USA
    I think I'm good in the modernized vintage dept. I love Laklands, I've gotten about 10 of my students into their skyline series.

    I guess I want something completely original- one of those basses that you wouldn't mistake for something else in design and tone, but with absolutely top notch sound like the brands we've been talking about. Fodera comes to mind but are out of my budget. I figured I could find a used MTD for under $2700.
     

  20. +1 A used Lakland USA 55-94 with the original Bart pickups and pre might do the trick also.. very warm, punchy and a bit dark, along with being lightweight. Those models have AAAAA fancy tops and most have beautiful birdseye maple boards. REally nice and very lightweight.

    Most Fodera's are boat anchors weight-wise... I wouldn't even think about that.

    Edit: And just one more time... the Sadowsky Modern has NOTHING to do with 'modern vintage' like the Sadowsky J's... totally different thing. Closer to the MTD than a boutique J. Again, not trying to talk you into it at all, but it is REALLY modern sounding with those big Seymour soapbars, just not as scooped and sizzly as most MTD's I've owned/played.

    Anyway, good luck with the search. As you can tell, I love trying to match tone goals with instruments, even if those tone goals are quite different than mine!
     

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