This year's Christmas bass was a surprise. It is MusicYo Tobias copy from somewhere around 2000. These basses weren't very popular and aren't overly common, so I thought it might be worth posting about. Part of their lack of popularity was probably due to them being a final kick-in-the-nuts to Michael Tobias. The MusicYo Tobias basses really represented the final step in the dismantling by Gibson of one of the premier lines of high-end basses of that era. Aside from their shape, I really don't think these basses had anything in common with a real Tobias. Another part of their lack of popularity was that MusicYo was one of the first internet-only stores for musical instruments, so you couldn't really go and try/buy them at your local mom-and-pop. That may be acceptable now, but it was somewhat unusual then. Another popularity killer was probably because they were Korean. At this point in time, IMO, the Koreans skills had risen to the point that they were really making some great instruments, but their reputation was tarnished by some of the horrible stuff they had made while they were getting it all figured out. Mine is a Tobias Toby Deluxe V (not to be confused with the current Epiphone Toby Deluxe V) in violin burst. It is a 24-fret bolt-on bass with jazz pickups. There was also a Toby Pro model that was neck-through that had humbuckers and a much higher price tag. The bass itself is of surprising quality. I have played some of the MusicYo Steinbergers, so I was not expecting much. However, this bass is very well done. The finish is well done. The only real flaw is that the dark burst was sanded through on the rear cutaway, showing the lighter color underneath. I'm not a huge fan of the 1/16" layer of black plastic on the front of the headstock, but it is neatly done and shows no signs of separation. The jumbo frets could use a fret dress, but the fret aren't bad as is. It took a very low action without much complaint, and the fret ends are done well enough that I doubt fret sprout has ever been an issue. And, like almost every cheap bass, the nut slots were too high. Since the bass looks to have Mighty Mite hardware, I am going to assume that it was made in the Korean Cort factory. I have a couple Dearmond Pilot basses that were produced from this factory at about the same time, and they are surprisingly well-done too. I think the Korean G&L's and Skylines came out of the same factory. Still, I wouldn't have expected this bass to be quite as nice as it is, since it was built to sell for something like $369. I guess that would make it a $500 bass in today's dollars, though, and there are certainly some pretty decent instruments to be had for that now. The main complaint about these basses is the tone and output level. I have to agree that the output level is surprisingly low, but I think the bass sounds just fine - like an active jazz bass. I took it to rehearsal yesterday, and even with dead strings, I didn't have any trouble making it work. It is a jazz bass, after all. I got a couple surprises when I remove the back plate. First, who puts threaded inserts on a low-end instrument? That is a completely unnecessary non-costcutting move. Second, the preamp itself appears to be a copy of a fairly iconic design, as far as preamps go. I'm going to guess that the preamp is an MM114 with the 500k volume pot for passive pickups. Aside from that, a little bit of sloppy routing confirms that this really was built to be a cheap bass.