Made By Hand. For Life.
The Michael Tobias Design family of instruments includes custom basses and guitars (MTD USA) hand made in the MTD shop in Kingston, New York, and the production series (MTD Kingston) guitars and basses made by a trusted, well supervised high quality instrument manufacturer.
Both the custom and the production basses and guitars carry the key design attributes of world renowned luthier Michael Tobias including the asymmetrical neck design for fast, natural playing, ergonomic body design for comfort, superior weight/tone ratio and the Buzz Feiten Turning System for true intonation.
Both MTD USA Handmade and Kingston production instruments are built for working musicians that require superior sounding instruments that can be gigged with, recorded with, and passed on to future generations.
The table below compares features of the MTD USA custom and MTD Kingston production basses.
|Feature||MTD USA||MTD Kingston|
|Compound fingerboard radius||X||X|
|Bridge||Hipshot||Proprietary MTD Quick Release|
|Buzz Feiten Tuning System||X||X|
|Machine Heads||Hipshot||Ping OEM|
|Pickups and electronics||Proprietary Bartolini pickups and 3-band 18 Volt electronics with 3 mid frequencies.||Proprietary MTD pickups and 3-band 9 Volt electronics.
AG and ZX: Custom Bartolini Pickups and 3-band electronics with 2 mid frequencies (9 Volt power system
|Custom wood selection for neck, fingerboard, body, top.||X|
|Custom Satin finishes||X|
|Stock gloss and satin finishes||X|
|Custom Scale length and number of frets, number of strings||X|
|Standard 4-string scale length||35”
|Standard 5 and 6 string scale length||35”
MTD Handmade American Basses are available in 4 (MTD435), 5 (MTD535), 6 (MTD635), and 7 (MTD735-24) string configurations. These basses all have 35″ scale bolt-on necks, with 21 fret (plus 0 fret) standard on the 4, 5 and 6 string models, 24 frets optional, 24 frets standard on MTD735-24. Standard necks are maple with a rosewood fingerboard. Ash necks are available at no extra charge. Optional fingerboards are Honduran rosewood, maple, zirocote, ebony and Rose of the Mountain have an additional upcharge. Wood body choices are medium weight ash, domestic tulip wood (aka eastern yellow poplar), alder, or mahogany.
The necks and bodies are available in a variety of combinations.
The most popular are woods combinations (with other combinations are available upon request) are listed below:
- Domestic tulip wood (aka poplar) with exotic top, maple neck, rosewood board
- Poplar body with exotic top, wenge neck and board
- Ash body with exotic top, maple neck and rosewood board
- Ash body, with exotic top, wenge neck and board
- Ash body with exotic top, maple neck maple board
- Ash body with exotic top, ash neck, maple board.
- Alder body with exotic top, maple neck ebony board
- Mahogany body with exotic top, maple neck maple board
- Mahogany body with exotic top, wenge neck and board
The MTD Standard Finish is a catalyzed acrylic urethane satin that looks and feels a lot like oil but is many times harder without building great thickness. This allows the bass to breathe, sounding more wooden. Other finished are available upon request.
MTD Handmade American bodies and necks are ergonomically carved to allow comfortable access to the extended scale bass. In general, ash (medium weight) has more growl and is more aggressive, poplar bodies have more punch, mahogany is more piano like with a slightly darker overall voice. Alder makes a very warm, big sounding, punchy bass, slightly compressed. Adding a top helps to focus the low end. A hard top tends to create a quicker response with more bite and definition while a soft top will tend to round out the voice.
A wenge neck and board add compression and focus to the speaking voice of the bass. A maple neck and rosewood board is more open and slightly warmer than a maple neck and maple board. Ebony on maple is very quick in its response with lots of snap. Michael Tobias has been trying ash as a neck material and found it to be leaning towards wenge but more “open”.
The pickups and active electronics are a proprietary design for MTD made by Bill Bartolini which consist of a master volume and pan pot, treble, mid, bass cut and boost, with center click (from neck to bridge). The three position switch selects the mid range cut and boost point. Down is lower mids, center is middle and up is upper mids. When the mid pot is at center click, the switch has minimal effect. The EQ has 2 batteries and is a +/- 9 volt system.
- There is great variety in the settings of the EQ. The basses can be made to sound very traditional by cutting the mids all the way at 1000 (switch in top position), and boosting the bass and treble to 10 with the blend pot at center. This offers a great slap tone. Boosting the mids at 250 ( switch in lower position), with bass at 10 and treble at 9-10 with the blend pot on the bridge pick up gives the early Bartolini TCT tone. This offers a very percussive finger tone. These are just suggestions. The tone will vary depending on the rig and technique used.
Bridges and tuners are custom manufactured for MTD Handmade American Basses by Hipshot.
MTD Handmade American Basses all use the Buzz Feiten Tuning System. This revolutionary tuning system enhances tuning dramatically, allowing the player greater freedom of expression.
|Frets||21 (24 optional)||21 (24 optional)||21 (24 optional)||24|
|Width (0 Fret)||1-1/2″ or 1-11/16″||1-7/8″ or 2″||2-1/8″ or 2 1/4″||2-1/4″ or 2 1/2″|
|Width (last Fret)||2-1/2″||3-1/16″||3-1/2″||4-1/4″|
|Spacing at Bridge||0.75″ or 19mm||0.75″ or 19mm||.0708″ or 18mm||0.687 or 16mm|
- “10″ Top (Price depending on choice of wood)”
- 24 Fret Fingerboard
- Birds Eye Maple Fingerboard
- Black Limba Body
- Chambers (semi-hollow body)
- Ebony Fingerboard, Honduran rosewood, Rose of the Mountain, other exotic woods.
- Epoxy Fingerboard (for lined or unlined fretless)
- Korina Body
- Laquer Finish (Sunbursts, See-through’s, Fades: red, coral blue, amber, tobacco, cherry)
- Lined Fretless
- Maple Fingerboard
- Matching Peghead Veneer (matches face of instrument)
- Matching Trussrod Cover (matches face of instrument)
- Matching Trussrod Cover (matches fingerboard)
- Piezo Bridge System (Ghost Piezo system in Hipshot A bridge with matching Bartolini preamp)
- Rubbed Oil Stain (Sunbursts, stains, Fades:chianti, amber, tobacco)
- Walnut Body
- Wenge Neck/Fingerboard (very limited supply)
The full 2013 price list can be downloaded here.