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Tobias vs MTD

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Joelc73, Mar 22, 2001.


  1. Joelc73

    Joelc73 Supporting Member

    Nov 13, 2000
    New York
    I'm considering buying an MTD 6. Are the MTD basses better than the old pre-gibson Tobias basses? I really don't have any experience with Tobias, but I know many people really like them. I was wondering if it would be better to find an old Tobias 6 instead of getting a new MTD. I realize scale length is an issue.
     
  2. gfab333

    gfab333

    Mar 22, 2000
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I own an MTD 535 five string bass, and I love the look, feel, and sound of this quality handmade bass. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a high end bass snob. I also appreciate the sound of a simple old Fender Jazz or P bass. I actually have an upgraded 80s Jazz bass. And guess what, I can't get the MTD to sound like a real Jazz bass. So, I use the Jazz bass sometimes.

    I have played Tobias basses. In my opinion, they don't sound as good as the MTD as far as overall tone. The body does not suit me either. It hangs kind of weird on your body, due to the horns and the strap pins/buttons. It kind of shifts the whole bass to the right. The MTD kind of hangs like a Fender, very comfortable.

    I have heard that the Gibson Tobias is inferior to the original Tobias basses. I have also heard that the Korean Tobys are a good deal for the money, if what you want is a $500-600 bass.

    Botton line, you must try each bass for yourself in order to decide. Everyone has a different ear and musical taste.

    Good luck.
     
  3. red_rhino

    red_rhino Gold Supporting Member

    They're not really even the same animal, although it's obvious that Michael Tobias carried forward many of his design innovations to the MTD line. I have a pre-Gibson Tobias 4-string. It's a wonderful bass and records beautifully, but doesn't come across as well for live work. Overall, I think the MTD's are a more versatile instrument. But one thing I've noticed about both the Tobias (pre-Gibson) and MTD lines is that the tonal characteristics vary quite a bit from instrument to instrument. (Also, I believe that all the pre-Gibson Tobias' are neck-thru, while the MTD's are bolt-on.)

    You could be very happy with either if it's what you're looking for. However, you'd probably have better luck finding an MTD you're happy with than a Tobias 6 that someone's willing to part with, as they are become somewhat collectable (and people tend to hang on to the good ones).

    -Red
     
  4. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Most of the pre-Gibsons are neck-thru, though I think Mike did make a bolt-on. The tonal characteristics do vary from bass to bass, tailoring woods to get certain tones is Mike's forte.

    The bolt-on MTD's have a range of sounds that the neck-thru basses didn't, they're different. It's up to the player to decide which you like more. My 84 5 string is still one of the best sounding basses I've played and I prefer bolt-ons.
     
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well, if I can find a pre-Gibson Tobias in England, then there shouldn't be any problem in the US -I'm sure I've seen quite a few come up on Bass NorthWest.

    I've never tried an MTD, but as soon as I played my Tobias Classic 5, I realised that it was the best-sounding and playing bass I'd ever come across - although, like Brad, I was starting to think I preferred bolt-ons - I'm a lover of the Fender Jazz sound.
     
  6. DaveTomasi

    DaveTomasi Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 1999
    Baltimore, Maryland
    I have had my MTD 635 for about 5 months now. Although I have never had the opportunity to play a pre-Gibson Tobias, I have owned basses made by Fender, Gibson, Alembic, Peavey, G&L, and Cort. I can say that the MTD is the best of the bunch. The acoustic sound of the bass is warm and musical and it translates well when plugged in. The choice of woods comes into play here. Mine is a maple neck, rosewood fretboard, and avadore body. The electronics are powerful, especially on the high end. Personally, I love it with all EQ set flat. The playability is superior for me thanks to a neck that is more wide and less deep, but that is what I prefer. I would let you try it out, if you lived near the Baltimore area.
     
  7. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars
    Ah ha, I strike again!!!

    It just so happens, that we at Bass Central are an MTD dealer, and have several examples hanging on the wall. Also, by happy coincidence, there are 3 pre-Gibson Tobias neck-thrus in stock as well, a 4, 5, and an BEAUTIFUL 6.

    They're all incredible instruments, but as has been pointed out, each is unique in it's own way. My preference is for the Tobias basses, not that the MTD's are inferior by any stretch of the imagination, just that I dig the feel of the neck-thru, and the woods are so beautiful, particularly the zebrawood 6 I mentioned earlier. In any event Mike T does amazing work, you can't go wrong with any example of it.

    Red, Mike did make a few bolt-on basses before he turned the operation over to Gibson, but the majority of his work at that time was indeed neck-thru. gfab, I agree, the MTD's sound great, but I wouldn't say BETTER than the original Tobias', just different. And I actually prefer the way the Tobias' hang on a strap, they just fit me better. Everyone's different.

    Joel, all I can tell you is that you can't really go wrong with EITHER choice. Keep this in mind though, they're not making any more pre-Gibson Tobias basses anymore, when one becomes available, it's a rare event. If you're in the market for a 6, give Bass Central a call (800-545-8813), we have both available.
     
  8. DaveTomasi

    DaveTomasi Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 1999
    Baltimore, Maryland
    Gard,

    Beaver himself arranged with Mike Tobias for the purchase of my MTD. Bass Central is a great organization to deal with. Every time I call, I've gotten a super deal and super service. Say "Hi" to Beaver for me.
     
  9. gfab333

    gfab333

    Mar 22, 2000
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Yes Gard, I stand corrected. A Tobias doesn't sound better, just different than an MTD. My preferences are for the MTD.

    The same way I prefer, say, a Jazz over a P bass. It doesn't make one bass better than the other. It's just a matter of personal preference.

    Try them both out, somehow.

    I have to admit though, I had not tried either bass out when I bought my MTD and Lakland 55-94 Deluxe. I bought them from an internet dealer and took a slight risk (the shippiong charge), knowing that I could return them if I was not satisfied.
     
  10. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars
    Dave -

    I'm glad you got good service from Beaver, but I'm not surprised. He's the best (yes, I'm a bit prejudiced :D). We can't make EVERY customer happy (some are apparantly not happy unless they're p!$$ed about something...you know the type :rolleyes: ;) ), but we sure make every attempt to do just that: Make every customer happy.

    As we like to point out, we're not sales geeks trying to get you to buy the most expensive bass, we're bassists (EVERYONE that works there, full or part time, is a bassist) trying to make a happy couple out of a player and and instrument or amplifier. I've seen the other guys talk several customers out of very expensive basses they had their sights on when it was apparant that another, less expensive bass would be more appropriate for their situation. That's store policy, sell them what they really need, not what's most expensive.

    In any event, I'll try to remember to pass your greeting along to Beaver, but I'm leaving town tomorrow morning for a week and won't see him until I get back. If I forget, I apologize.

    gfab -

    I hope I didn't come off as being snotty, I just was making a point. You didn't need to concede it, but I do appreciate it :). You make an excellent point about buying online (or over the phone), you're taking a risk buying a bass you've never played, BUT there is usually a return period and all you're out is the shipping charge (hint hint, Joel, at BC it's 48 hrs ;) ).
     
  11. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    For anyone wanting a piece of bass history, one of the original Tobias omega cut fours is up for sale.

    I've had one for almost twenty years...it's still a pretty cool bass.
     
  12. Bass7755

    Bass7755 Supporting Member

    Oct 27, 2000
    Roanoke, Va.
    I just sold an early Gibson Tobias 5 (#2079) to help
    pay for my new MTD 535. Although the Tobias was a wonderful instrument. I would not hesitate to
    do it again. The Tobias was my main instrument for
    about 5 years. I truly LOVE my MTD though. It will be with me for many years. BUT...please try both if you can. Mr. Tobias has done some great work, old and new. Good luck.
    Dan
     
  13. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
  14. Tuomas

    Tuomas

    Mar 14, 2000
    Helsinki, Finland
    I have only tried two mtds and one pre-gibson tobias bass. The mtd's have both been top of the line, i don't know what that model is called but it is expensive as hell and compared to the used tobias bass (again i don't know what model it was, but it was running for 4000$ used so i guess it wasn't a really bad one) the mtd's suited me better. To me, they were easier to play and had more lively sound and more punch, although i think the tobias had a bit more musical and sweeter harmonics (maybe because of the neck trough construction?). I'd go with the mtd.
     
  15. Bass7755

    Bass7755 Supporting Member

    Oct 27, 2000
    Roanoke, Va.
    Hey Brad, You did get me thinking.. I was sure that Gibson started in Nashville at around 2055. So I checked the MTD site again. Mike says the last Gibson/Tobias bass made in California was 2044
    (made by the California crew). Mine was a VERY early Gibson. I think it was started in Calif. and finished in Nashville.
    Dan
     
  16. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Sorry about that..what the heck was I thinking? I knew 2044 was the last pre-Gibson, though yours could definitely be a California bass.

    BFOMP
     
  17. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Argh ... now I might have to start thinking about a 6, just when I had thought I had finally found a bass that I would never sell or replace!

    Gard - what's the neck like on a 6 compared with a 5? Does it feel narrower in terms of string spacing. I must say that I haven't really missed the C string on my Zebra 5, as with the 24 frets being all very accessible I usually have more than enough range. But I sometimes feel I would like a wider neck.
     
  18. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    The standard (not custom ordered) neck on a pre-Gibson 6 is not wide. No 3/4" spacing on that, but not uncomfortably narrow for me though I do prefer 3/4" (or aircraft carrier on a 6) spacing.

    Then again, after my last answer, I could definitely be wrong:D
     
  19. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I didn't expect that it would be as wide as a Ken Smith or TRB, but I do find the 5 quite comfortable now - just that if the 6 was any narrower then it would rule it out completely. I was just thinking of the particular bass that Gard was talking about - maybe he could measure it for me, next time he sees it ;) - do you ship to the UK?

    I don't think I'm going to get a Mediterranean holiday this summer, as my partner wants to do a University course, so my "bass-buying" holiday to the US might be on! Cheap flight to the US with an old case - just a question of what destination has the most basses to try! I am tempted to go to New York and take in some Jazz clubs as well, but I could always divert if I find somewhere else with more or cheaper "high-end" basses! :D
     
  20. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    When you asked "what's the neck like on "a" 6" as opposed to the specific 6 Gard mentioned I thought you wanted general Tobias info;)

    Nevermind