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Tobias Trio

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by tombowlus, Nov 3, 2005.


  1. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    If nothing else, I am a man prone to obsession once something sparks my fire. :D Unfortunately (or is that fortunately?), I tend to have many obsessions. :meh::help: I have cab obsessions, amp obsessions, bolt-on bass obsessions, and neck-through bass obsessions, to name a few. But, very near the top of my list has been my longtime love affair with the basses made by Michael Tobias. It was only long after the dreaded "G-word" came into play that I was able to even consider buying one of his basses, but the thought that I might be able to find one of Mike's early basses was never far from the surface.

    So, in typical Tom Bowlus form, once I found myself a nice pre-Gibson era Tobias, I quickly had to jump on two more! :p I keep telling myself that it beats a drug addiction... Right???

    At any rate, I am lucky enough to now own three of Mike's early basses. The red one is a Basic 5 (#766), and this was my first score. It has birdseye maple wings, and a pao ferro fingerboard. Mike tells me that this is the unofficial "Jimmy Haslip model." The next one I picked up is the Classic 5 (#602; in the middle). It was actually made for one of Michael's employees, Richard Oblinger ("Obe"). It has a highly figured koa body, purpleheart top, and some serious flaming in the maple in the neck. My latest acquisition is the bubinga winged Basic 5 (#1353). This was made in Burbank by Mike and his crew, and Mike claims that this is one of his favorite wood combination for these basses.

    Here are some shots:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Here is a closeup of the inlay at the 12th fret on Obe's Classic 5:

    [​IMG]

    And a better look at the killer koa body:

    [​IMG]

    I have nothing but respect and admiration for Michael Tobias and his work. Truly, I consider it an honor to own even one of these "mythical pieces of wood." Given that these are somewhat hard to come by nowadays, I just wanted to share the images of these beautiful instruments with my TalkBass brothers and sisters! :)

    Of course, Michael's contemporary work is pretty darn nice, too... ;)

    Take care, Tom.
     
  2. thestevo

    thestevo

    Aug 12, 2004
    NJ
    WOW! Spectactular trio you have there Tom.
     
  3. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    I don't care if bubinga is his fave, that flamed neck is killer.
     
  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    A great lineup of Tobiases you have there, Tom!

    One quick correction, though...Michael's Burbank employees were not his original crew. His original crew is from Orlando, and they included Billy Fels and Douglas Montgomery, who now own and operate the Guitar Factory in Orlando. I own two of their basses. You can check them out at http://www.guitarfactory.us/ .
     
  5. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Thank you for the clarification!
     
  6. Moo

    Moo Banned

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    That koa one is insane!

    Do you know what the bridge spacing is on those? 16.5mm I think isn't it?
     
  7. Ian Perge

    Ian Perge Supporting Member

    May 11, 2001
    Evansville, Indiana
    Give me your full address and when you'll be home so I can... congratulate you in person. ;)
     
  8. Tom... here's a topic where we can even agree on the finer details. I love my Signature, so I can relate to your passion first hand. That's a beautiful collection you have there!

    I'll need to work up some new pics. It's difficult to capture the true colour and character of the goncalo alves.
     
  9. Thurisarz

    Thurisarz

    Aug 20, 2004
    That red one is a beauty! *Insert alot of drooling smileys here*
     
  10. Plowboy22

    Plowboy22 Guest

    Sep 27, 2004
    Sarasota, Florida
    I would never know which one to play! *drool*
     
  11. Fran Diaz

    Fran Diaz

    Mar 28, 2002
    Santander, Spain
    Bassist
    Great trio Tom, but where is the nice rug that we can see in the Sadowsky Sa200 thread? :D
     
  12. Fire-Starter

    Fire-Starter Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2002
    MINNESOTA
    Is it a sin for me to hate you! :D actually I am happy for you because I am still trying to find just which bass I truly have just one passion for, but I still have gas pains for so many :bawl:

    GOOD SCORE!!!!!! hey can you post any sound clips of each one to share with us!!!!! :hyper:
     
  13. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars
    Yup! :)

    If you look closely at the photo in my avatar, you can see my Guitar Factory fretless 6!!!

    I also have the "fretted twin" of that bass as well.

    Billy & Doug are geniuses at what they do, and great guys on top of it. Tell 'em I said hey next time you're in there, Jimmy...I miss hangin' out & swapping lies with those guys!
     
  14. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    That is, indeed, the problem! The koa Classic has probably the best midrange that I have heard in a bass. The bubinga Basic has a very powerful, yet clear, low-mid. The maple Basic has the strongest low B and the most aggressive overall tone. But, the setup on the red one is such that its strings are a good bit closer to the bridge pickup than on the other two. Ideally, I'd like to spend some time tweaking the setup on each bass to make the most fair comparison between the three. As they are now, they all play great (no fret buzz, decent action), but somewhat surprisngly, they are all set up fairly differently (differing amounts of neck bow and differing bridge heights). There does not seem to be any warping problems with any of the necks, so I think it's just a matter of tweaking them so that they are all set up more or less the same.

    Tom.
     
  15. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    It is there, hiding in the shadows. :ninja:
     
  16. Pete skjold

    Pete skjold

    May 29, 2004
    Warsaw Ohio
    Tom ,

    I still get a little ckoked up when I see that red basic :crying:

    I will have to scan some of my old photos , but if any one has the original catalog from hollywood era they can see my old 4-string in the basics page .

    I think it was #427 :crying: :crying: :crying:

    I gotta go now ... :bawl:

    Pete :D
     
  17. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Sonomagun, that IS a GF bass! Mine are a 5-string fretted and a 4-string small body with a whammy bar, which I have to say that they were dead set against doing and only put it on because I had talked about getting one for years.

    Haven't been in there for years either, but that's another story unrelated to their work, which definitely is brilliant.
     
  18. That Classic 5 in the middle is to die for! I'm getting some serious GAS for koa! What a lovely wood!
     
  19. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    What amazes me is that Michael used that for a body wood! You just don't see that done much anymore. A luthier could get much more money out of a nice chunk of wood like that if they only used it for top woods. Same goes for the birdseye maple in the red Basic.

    Tom.
     
  20. Aj*

    Aj*

    Jun 14, 2005
    West Yorkshire, UK
    That Classic is a spectacular instrument, possibly the nicest wood combo EVER.