MTD Tobias Beast 5-string Reviews 4

$500 from Jammin Jersey [online]. I hugely enjoy my Beast 4-string, so I've been looking for a Beast 5. Actually, if I'd seen the 5 "in person" I might have changed my mind because it's not so light and sleek like the 4 string. But I'm happy that "buying blind" put this in my hands. It's light-to-medium weight and in all other ways very satisfying.

The maple fretboard give me more tonal options with heavy flatwounds, keeps them from sounding dead, especially the low-B and especially since I like the Rotosound black nylon covered flats. And it does this with a simple passive 3-knob set up, which I also like [simple-to-use controls, no battery to die]. I can get really deep tones but with life definition to them, and the upper end is not twangy, but it sings. The 35" scale must be helping with the B-string. BTW it was delivered with roundwounds and if you want to hear RWs really strut their stuff, this is your ax. I play RWs on SOME axen, but this one -- NEVER, way too hot. As mentioned, it's of reasonable weight and size for a 5 string [lighter than a Fender 4 string, etc]. It's also a wide-5, with 19mm spacing at the bridge, and a fairly wide nut. Looks cool too with headstock matching the body [mines metalic medium red].

I don't care for the 4+1 peg-head layout. It make for a long bass, and is counter- intuitive when tuning. Has 2 gain knobs but I prefer 1 gain plus a PU blend knob. With the naked pole PUs, I tend to get the strings stuck on the magnets when muting with my right hand. I only experience this on 5 string basses, never on a 4. There are no dots on the front of the fret board. This is OK with a dark wood like rosewood but with maple, I got 25 frets crossed by ten long parallel lines when the spotlights throw the string shadows sharply on the maple board. That's 200 little blonde rectangles and no visual points of reference. Maybe it's just me, but why DO maple Fender boards have those huge black rectangular markers? Guess you could lump all my dislikes as just personal quirks. It's a great ax in tone, action, weight, and balance.

Body of mystery wood, not too heavy, with typical shape, sort of a sleek version of a P-bass body. 4 bolt neck joint is very user friendly, not blocky at all. Neck appears to be one piece plus the fret board, all maple, with the Tobias profile, assymetical, thinner on the treble side. 4+1 peg-head, black nut, seems like very ordinary plastic, plus a zero fret. 35" 24 fret scale. String runs are straight crossing nut to pegs. Head is tilted back and painted to match body. Truss rod is easily accessed under large cover plate at neck joint. I've used it, work well. Bridge and tuners are HipShot Ultralite. Standard [not extra long] set of Rotosound flat fits, but barely [had to push back a 1/16" of silk on just 2 of the 5 strings]. Strap buttons are conical, not [my preferred] mushroom shape, but are rather large, so the strap is secure. Battery access is "on your other bass". This one is passive, 2 ten-slug Bartolini jazz PUs with exposed poles. Slugs are set in depths that match the neck radius. The tone control is very effective, as is juggling neck to bridge gain balance, and noise when they are set to very different gains is minimal, almost totally absent if using the lower half of the tone knob's range. I haven't openned the control pit, but my Beast 4-string is well shielded.

It's a "get the job done" ax with no major warts, serious tone, and few "features". 3 yrs ago, looking for a 35" scale wide-5, I landed an Ibanez custom shop BTB905 [the ovangkol Japanese-made premium job]. I do love playing it, but if I had found this Beast instead, I'd be $500 richer and at least as happy about it. The beast is lighter, has simpler controls, an equally huge voice [though less tonal adjustment at the knobs], and doesn't eat pairs of 9v batteries. OTOH, the flatter neck of the BTB is friendlier, as are the markings on its fret board. BTW, I have the same type of strings on both the Beast and the BTB. I'm rating it a 4 because it's basically a user-friendly utilty 5-string with very good tone. I'm very fond of it because wide 5's are rare and I'm a klutz, but not everyone needs 19mm spacing on their 5 [I can play ANY 4, it's just with 5 that I'm too klutzy for narrow spacing]. YMMV.

Golem rated this unit 4 on 2003-11-13.

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