Tobias and Steinberger USA production restart?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by embellisher, Jan 20, 2001.

  1. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    According to the Gibson website, USA made Tobias brand basses will be reintroduced some time in 2001.

    Now obviously, if Gibson holds true to previous form, I doubt that the USA Tobias' will compare with the pre Gibson models, although there were occasional gems among the Gibson models. Of course, you could always buy a pre Gibson model on the used market or buy a new MTD model.

    There are also plans to reintroduce Steinberger composite instruments, although the site does not say what country that they will be produced in.

    Any thoughts on these apparent plans by Gibson?

  2. Yvon

    Yvon Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2000
    Montreal, Canada
    I think it's so sad to see where Tobias is right now. Steinberger also. I'm wondering how Micheal and Ned feel about that, having their name on sub-standard products. I guess they wanted it that way, money helped.

    I can't wait to see them back. I wish they will be great quality.

  3. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    I'm really glad that Gibson's bringing the Steinberger bass back, but who cares if they bring back Tobiases? Even if they do, the instruments will just be Instruments built to look like a Tobias, since Michael Tobias is no longer involved in its production. I know he didn't build them on his own, but at least he was there to supervise the instruments that left the shop bearing his name.

    Before someone brings up Fender, It is worthwhile to point out that Fenders were built in an assembly line with a Mass production mindset from the start, rather that Tobias' "one bass at a time" hands-on philosophy.

    All I'm saying is that if Gibson wants people to buy their Tobiases they'd better be VERY good and competitively priced.

    To quote Tina Turner: "We don't need another Cirrus"

    ...or was that "hero"?

    Will C.:cool:

  4. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    The chances of Gibson making Tobias-quality Tobiases at a reasonable price-point are probably slim and none. They were trying to get over $4k at the end of the run...that's Fodera money.
  5. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member


    They were charging $4K list for basses that Michael was not involved in the manufacturing of?

    No wonder the line went belly up, it wasn't just poor quality, it was a combination of that and being overpriced.

    Michael didn't charge that much for a Signature, back in the old days, did he?
  6. Bass7755

    Bass7755 Supporting Member

    Oct 27, 2000
    Roanoke, Va.
    I have a post Gibson Tobias. Number 2079... It is a Classic
    model. It is a woderful insturment!! It was one of the first
    made in Nashville. I have played some pre and post Gibson Tobias basses. I would have to say that my Tobias is as good as some of the pre-Gibson Tobias' IMO...The neck is wonderful ...the fret work is great. Looks great!! I must have got a good one! Its a keeper!!
  7. I can't speak for Ned S. , but I know Mike Tobias is living large off those checks, substandard products or not, but at least Mike thought enough of it to start the MTD line, which he has a say so in the making. Sometimes makes them himself.

    $4,000 for a Gibson Tobias - No Way!!!!!!!
  8. I too had a Classic V, one of the last basses built at the legendary Tobias shop in Los Angeles (S/N 2086). According to Michael Tobias, it was made in L.A. and shipped to Nashville for finishing, so it was kind of an "on the cusp" model in terms of the sale of the Tobias company to Gibson.

    It was a nice bass, but I sold it after buying my Lakland Deluxe 55/94. The B string on the Tobias was dull and indistinct compared to the awesome B string on the 35" scale Lakland.

    I ended up selling it back to the guy I bought it from because I couldn't find any takers to buy it. Sold it for $1200, and it was in terrific condition. Never regretted selling it, IMHO the Lakland is a FAR superior instrument in every way.
  9. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    I agree, Herm. I'd guess Michael's crying all the way to the bank though I'd also guess that at some level he'd be annoyed at what Gibson ultimately did to the Tobias brand.

    $4k for a Tobias Signature back in the day? Yes. The demand far outpaced the supply back then, by a year or more.

    The sale to Gibson occurred before they left Cali. The Tobias crew still built up until the move to Nashville. Michael's website has the story.
  10. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    I wonder too if Gibson will continue making the higher end models such as the Classic and the Signature. I don't think that there's much of a market for them at this time. However, if they lowered the list on the Classic and Signature, were consistent about the build and sound quality that name could come back to life. This rarely happens though with a large company, so I'm simply dreaming...

    I have a Gibson era Classic V that I got for a song at GC which looks great and sounds great which I will be keeping.

    As for the Steinberger, if they use a different "blend" the bass is going to sound different from the older composite models. They have already moved to the cheaper "Spirit" bridge to cut costs, I have one of those bridges on the XQ5 that I have.

  11. I'm kind of lost...

    When did Gibson buy Tobias?

    Is Nashville a Gibson plant, or a Tobias plant?

    Where does the Growler fit in all of this?

    I am suddenly wondering just what I have: a 4-string Growler and a wonderful instrument. But is it really a Tobias?
  12. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Steve, any Tobias made after serial number 2044 had nothing to do with Michael Tobias, they were Tobias in name only.

    Michael sold the name to Gibson in 1/1/1990, but was involved in production until late 1992, when production was moved to Nashville.

    After the production was moved to Nashville, production was very spotty.

    Some basses were very good, almost worth the list price, some were very poorly made, worth 1/2 that much, or less.

    I have seen a couple of very good Growlers, a couple of okay Growlers, and a few poor Growlers, one with the fingerboard separating from the neck, 2 with very badly warped necks, and a couple with minor fit & finish issues like shoddy fretwork, uneven finishes, poorly cut nuts, etc.

    Get the whole story at
  13. Thanks. Sadly, it would appear I have a copy--mine was made in Nashville, and I got in in 1994. This does not bode well.

    Like I said, I have been fortunate in that it is a great and sturdy bass. But now I am not so leery of giving it up in trade. It appears that I don't have anything special, after all.

    Thanks again for the info.
  14. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Steve, if you are happy with the tone and playability of your Growler, I wouldn't worry about it being a Gibson model.

    But it will never appreciate in value the way that the pre Gibsons are starting to.